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Global Coalition Calls for Greater Scrutiny of China on Rights

FILE - A Chinese Uighur Muslim participates in an anti-China protest during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019.
FILE - A Chinese Uighur Muslim participates in an anti-China protest during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019.

A global coalition of 321 civil society groups from 60 countries is calling for China to face greater scrutiny for its alleged systemic and serious human rights violations. The coalition plans to demand an end to China’s impunity at the U.N. Human Rights Council, during the council’s upcoming session next week.

The group sent an open letter to the U.N. Secretary-General and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights raising its concerns about China’s human rights record. The signatories stress the need to address what they call rampant human rights violations across China, including in Hong Kong, Tibet, and the northwestern province of Xinjiang.

China Director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, says the sheer magnitude of the violations committed inside China and outside the country warrant a fundamentally different response from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“It is high time the Chinese government actually has some sense that it would face consequences for doing things like continuing to arbitrarily detain a million people simply on the basis of their ethnic identity and for a slew of other serious violations,” said Richardson.

One million mainly Muslim Uighurs reportedly are incarcerated in so-called re-education camps in Xinjiang.

In its statement, the coalition highlights China’s efforts to distort the mandate of the U.N. Human Rights Council. It says China persecutes activists who seek redress from repression. It says the government in Beijing opposes initiatives to shine a light on its alleged serious rights violations and international crimes committed in countries around the world.

The Chinese government rejects the U.N.’s assessment of its human rights record as “gross interference.”

Geneva Director at Human Rights Watch, John Fisher, says the U.N. needs to act on the growing chorus of voices calling for China to be held accountable for its rights abuses.

“I think what has been striking around this appeal has been to say that so many NGO’s from so many different countries, not just expressing concern at China’s suppression of rights within its own borders, which are serious enough and warrant scrutiny on their own terms, but also the global impact of China’s contempt for human rights,” Fisher said.

The global coalition is calling for a special session of the Human Rights Council to explore the range of violations by China’s government. It urges the council to establish an impartial and independent U.N. mechanism to closely monitor and report on China’s human rights situation annually. It says the U.N. must insist that the government comply with its international human rights obligations.