Geneva | Canada on Tuesday denounced the United Nations, on behalf of about 40 countries, the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region and Hong Kong, while Beijing responded by calling for an investigation into human rights abuses of indigenous Canadians.
The Joint Declaration on China, which Canada read before the Human Rights Council – the UN’s highest body in this field – has been awaited for a few days by several diplomats and NGOs in Geneva, leaving time in Beijing to prepare its defence.
We are deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Credible reports indicate that more than one million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance that disproportionately targets Uyghurs and members of other minorities, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms and liberty. “Uyghur culture,” said Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations Leslie. Norton.
Beijing denies this figure and talks about “vocational training centers” to support employment and combat religious extremism.
The declaration, signed by some 40 countries, including the United States and France, calls on China to grant “immediate, meaningful and unimpeded access to Xinjiang for independent monitors, including the High Commissioner”.
“Finally, we remain deeply concerned about the deterioration of basic freedoms in Hong Kong under the National Security Act and the human rights situation in Tibet,” Norton said.
China had already commented in an earlier statement by dozens of countries on the plight of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.
In response in advance to Canada, a Chinese representative, prior to the Canadian ambassador, read a joint statement – on behalf of Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and Sri Lanka according to the United Nations – regarding “the gross violations of human rights suffered by the indigenous people of Canada.”
The statement cites the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children near a former Indigenous residential school run by the Catholic Church in Western Canada. It calls for an investigation of all cases “in which crimes against indigenous peoples have been committed”.
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