Friday, July 19, 2024

UN delegate visits Xinjiang, China, where police files detail abuse of Uyghurs


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A cache of leaked documents detailing harsh surveillance and re-education practices in Xinjiang has shed new light on the scale of Beijing’s multi-year campaign against ethnic Uyghurs in the region, and cast a shadow over a six-day trip to China by the United Nations High Commissioner to China. Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The files It includes thousands of gunshots to detainees held in a network of camps in Xinjiang, the youngest 14-year-old girl, as well as details of police security protocols describing the use of batons, assault rifles, methods for physically subduing detainees, and the shoot-to-kill policy for anyone trying to escape.

Collection of documents and photos – published on Tuesday in Washington Victims of the Communist Memorial Foundation A consortium of media including BBC And USA TODAY It dates from 2018 and includes policy notices and meeting notes detailing growing paranoia among Xinjiang officials about the Muslim Uyghur population and forming plans to implement a mass internment program.

They reject Beijing’s claims that people have willingly attended re-education facilities. It also adds to a growing body of Witness accountsAnd public records And satellite images, visits to the region by diplomats and journalists who have Detect the use of forced laborseparating children from their parents, suppressing birth rates for the Uyghur population, and mass arrests in both “re-education” camps and official prisons since 2017.

“The significance of this is that we have unprecedented evidence on every level,” said Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who obtained and collected the leaked information. “It is now beyond any doubt what is going on there, the nature of the camps and the size of the detention.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin strongly criticized the release of the documents, describing them as “the latest example of anti-Chinese forces smearing Xinjiang”.

Who are the Uyghurs and what happens to them in China?

separately Peer reviewed research paper Published by Zenz in the Journal of the European Society for Chinese Studies on Tuesday, it detailed findings from a leaked database that indicated about 12 percent of adults, more than 22,000 people, likely were held in detention facilities or prisons between 2017 and 2018 in One. A county called Konshir in southwest Xinjiang. Zenz did not reveal the source of the information, but said it came from compromised police computers inside Xinjiang.

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Bachelet, who began a six-day visit this week at the invitation of Beijing, will go to Kashgar and Urumqi in Xinjiang, according to China’s foreign ministry, and her trip will be “closed-loop” as part of the Corona Virus Protection Measures, a form that was used during the Beijing Winter Olympics where only approved personnel are allowed in. None of the members of the media will travel with Bachelet.

Critics of her visit say the tour – the first by a UN human rights official since 2005 – is in danger of becoming little more than a propaganda coup for the Chinese government. Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations of cultural genocide against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, in which an estimated one to two million people have been imprisoned, according to rights researchers.

On the second day of her mission to China to look into human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Bachelet posed for photos with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was gifted a book by the nation’s leader: “Excerpts from Xi Jinping on respecting and protecting human rights‘, saying he hoped the trip would “help promote understanding… and clear up misinformation.”

Beijing previously said such a trip would not constitute an investigation into allegations of rights abuse, which it calls the “lie of the century”.

Citing newly leaked files on Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on China to allow Bachelet freely to investigate the allegations. “If this arrival is not imminent, the visit will only serve to highlight China’s attempts to conceal the truth of its actions in Xinjiang,” she said.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that the United States is “extremely concerned” about Bachelet’s visit and “does not expect” that it will be granted the necessary access to make an accurate assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang.

Rights groups are not optimistic about the long-awaited journey, which comes after more than three years of negotiations. Chinese authorities regularly ban or intimidate journalists traveling in Xinjiang while also organizing highly tailored visits for dignitaries and media from friendly countries.

Xinjiang regions, including the cities Bachelet is scheduled to visit, have seen local demolitions and redesigns, replacing parts of the old city’s infrastructure with tourist villages that contrast sharply with other parts of the region.

China repeals evidence of Xinjiang crackdown amid ‘genocide’ debate

“We don’t expect much from this visit. Zumritay Arkin, a spokeswoman for the World Uyghur Congress, said Ms Bachelet would not be able to see much, or talk to Uyghurs in a free and safe environment, due to fear of reprisals after the team left. “We believe that in this context, a visit will do more harm than good.”

The leaked files provide rare glimpses inside active rehabilitation centers during the campaign’s peak in 2018. The images show Uyghur detainees in handcuffs during interrogation and groups of Uyghur men and women during rehabilitation sessions supervised by uniformed police officers. Some of the thousands of shots of Uyghur detainees appear to show them crying or in distress.

When asked if Bachelet would be able to visit detention centers and “re-education” camps – centers that Chinese authorities claim are vocational training schools – China’s foreign ministry said it “rejects political manipulation”. Prior to Bachelet’s visit, state media published articles titled “Xinjiang, the most successful human rights story.”

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Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Tuesday that US and British calls for unrestricted access were an attempt to “sabotage” the flight.

“It seems that the US, UK and other countries don’t care about the truth at all, but they want to use the visit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to mislead about the so-called ‘Xinjiang issue’ and discredit China,” he said.

Rights groups also point to the fact that Bachelet’s office has yet to release a landmark report on Xinjiang although it said in December 2021 that the document “will be released soon.”

Zenz said the timing of the buried document was not originally designed to coincide with Bachelet’s visit to China, but said he hoped the new findings could affect the outcome of the trip. Bachelet has not commented on the files yet.

Some human rights advocates say the visit is still important to raise awareness and that judgment should be retained until after the trip is over.

We must give her the benefit of the doubt and see what the visit will bring. said Christelle Jenaud, a former human security consultant at the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and research associate at King’s College London.

Uyghurs and their supporters slam Chinese ‘concentration camps’ and ‘genocide’ after Xinjiang documents leak

Uyghur researcher and activist Abdulwali Ayyub, who is based in Norway, said that if Bachelet’s visit slightly improves conditions for residents in prisons or detention centers, it will be beneficial.

People there may get better treatment for at least one day. “So it’s important,” said Abdelwali, whose sister was sentenced to 12 years in prison during the crackdown. He is among the many Uyghurs living abroad who are calling on Bachelet to help ascertain the whereabouts of their missing relatives.

“If she can tell me she is alive,” he said, “I would be happy.”

Rainerio Manuel
Rainerio Manuel

"Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst."