Human Rights Watch said China is “committing crimes against humanity” toward Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the country’s western Xinjiang region.
In a report issued Monday, the group said, “The Chinese leadership is responsible for widespread and systematic policies of mass detention, torture and cultural persecution, among other offenses.”
It called for “coordinated international action” to hold those involved responsible, including “visa bans, travel bans and targeted individual sanctions” on authorities responsible for criminal acts.
“Chinese authorities have systematically persecuted Turkic Muslims — their lives, their religion, their culture,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“Beijing has said it’s providing ‘vocational training’ and ‘deradicalization,’ but that rhetoric can’t obscure a grim reality of crimes against humanity.”
Human Rights Watch said that while Chinese persecution of Turkic Muslims is not new, it has “reached unprecedented levels” in recent years.
“It’s increasingly clear that Chinese government policies and practices against the Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang meet the standard for crimes against humanity under international criminal law,” said Beth Van Schaack, faculty affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for Human Rights and International Justice. “The government’s failure to stop these crimes — let alone punish those responsible — shows the need for strong and coordinated international action.”
The United States and others have said China is committing genocide in Xinjiang.
A spokesman for the ruling Communist Party on Monday rejected accusations Beijing has committed genocide or crimes against humanity in the region.
China’s launch of a sweeping security campaign in Xinjiang has led to the detention of more than one million people, according to rights groups. China denies international observers access to Xinjiang.