China rebuked at United Nations over Uighur detention

Demonstrators in New York hold placards during the rally to support the Uighur community in China

China has attacked a statement by 22 Western countries at the United Nations urging it to cease holding member of its Muslim population in detention centers.

The UN says at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained by China in the western region of Xinjiang.

China claims that Uighurs are being educated in "vocational training centres" created to combat extremism.

The text included concern about 'credible reports of arbitrary detention.as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang'.

The unprecedented letter also calls on China to allow experts, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "meaningful access" to the region.

The signatories issued the statement as a "letter" at the council and stopped short of seeking a council resolution - a testament to the challenges of building support against increasingly influential China.

The decision was down to fears of political and economic retaliation from Beijing, diplomats told Reuters.

United Nations experts and activists say at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims are held in detention centers in the remote western region.

Many appear to have been rounded up as punishment for expressing their faith - praying or wearing a veil - or for having overseas connections to places like Turkey.


"We urge these countries to respect the facts, discard prejudice, abide by the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter, and stop politicizing human rights issues and intervening in China's internal affairs with the Xinjiang issue", he said.

It pointedly cites China's obligations as a member of the 47-member state forum to maintain the highest standards.

One diplomat told Reuters China's delegation was "hopping mad" at the move and was preparing its own letter in response.

Chinese diplomat Jiang Duan told the council on Thursday a few hypocritical Western nations were distorting facts to smear Beijing over what it describes as vocational training centres in Xinjiang meant to combat extremism and provide new skills.

Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on July 5 issued a statement urging the USA government to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses committed while assuming their governance roles in Xinjiang. "The joint statement demonstrates that Beijing is wrong to think it can escape global scrutiny for its abuses in Xinjiang, and the pressure will only increase until these appalling abuses end".

Beijing has said the centers are necessary to steer people away from religious extremism, terrorism, and separatism.

China's representative said worldwide organisations and media who visited Xinjiang had found the situation was different from its portrayal in the West, and that officials from countries behind the letter declined an invitation to visit. This is the Chinese regime's stated rationale for rounding up Uyghurs in the camps.

Beijing was also forced Thursday to defend its human rights record from criticism by Slovakia and Britain.

In March, the U.S. Department of State reported that China "significantly intensified" its crackdown on Muslims a year ago.

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