Britain denounces abuses "on industrial scale" in China's Xinjiang

by Reuters
Monday, 22 February 2021 12:42 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: The Chinese national flag flies outside the mosque at the Xinjiang International Grand Bazar during a government organised trip in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Ben Blanchard

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At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Britain denounced reports of abuse in Xinjiang, including torture, forced labour and sterilisation of women

GENEVA, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Britain's foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Monday denounced torture, forced labour and sterilisations that he said were taking place against Muslim Uighurs on an "industrial scale" in China's Xinjiang region.

Activists and U.N. rights experts have said that at least 1 million Muslims are detained in camps in the remote western region. China denies abuses and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

Raab, in a recorded speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, said that the rights of people in Hong Kong - a former British colony - were being "systematically violated". The national security law imposed by China was inhibiting freedoms, he said, calling for free and fair legislative elections to take place. "The situation in Xinjiang is beyond the pale," he told the Geneva forum where China is among the 47 member states.

"The reported abuses – which include torture, forced labour and forced sterilisation of women – are extreme and they are extensive. They are taking place on an industrial scale," he said.

Raab called for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet or another independent expert to be given "urgent and unfettered access" to Xinjiang and said that there should be a resolution at the council to this effect.

The Biden administration has endorsed a last-minute determination by the Trump administration that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang and has said the United States must be prepared to impose costs on China.

Raab told the rights forum the situation in Myanmar was worsening after a military coup on Feb. 1.

"The military must step aside. Civilian leaders must be released. And the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar must be respected," he said. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Michael Shields)