Thank you Mr. Chair,
I have the honour of delivering this cross-regional joint statement on behalf of the following 51 countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Eswatini, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Marshall Islands, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United States, and my own country, the United Kingdom.
Members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang continue to suffer serious violations of their human rights by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) relied extensively on China’s own records when it published its Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
This independent and authoritative assessment found evidence of large-scale arbitrary detention and systematic use of invasive surveillance on the basis of religion and ethnicity; severe and undue restrictions to legitimate cultural and religious practices, identity and expression, including reports of destruction of religious sites; torture, ill-treatment and sexual and gender-based violence, including forced abortion and sterilisation; enforced disappearances and family separations; and forced labour.
The assessment concluded that the arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities on a large scale in Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
Over a year has passed since that assessment was released and yet China has not engaged in any constructive discussion of these findings.
Last month, at the 54th Session of the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on China to follow the recommendations of the assessment and take “strong remedial action.”
So far, we have not seen evidence of China taking any such action.
We urge China to end its violations of human rights in Xinjiang, engage constructively with the OHCHR, and fully implement the recommendations of the assessment.