Crime against humanity 

The United Nations (UN) in a new report has said that China may have committed crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region of the country. 

May have? 

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, whose tenure just ended, stated this in the report which follows her visit to China in May. The report says China’s “arbitrary and discriminatory detention” of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region may constitute crimes against humanity. Bachelet, who was President of Chile from 2014 to 2018 when she took the UN job, has been previously accused by some diplomats and Rights groups of being soft on China. “Serious human rights violations have been committed in Xinjiang in the context of the government’s application of ‘counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies'”, the 48-page report read in part. 

What step is the UN taking on this? 

The UN also stated that the Chinese authorities were involved in “violations of reproductive rights through the coercive enforcement of family planning policies since 2017”. While noting that a lack of government data “makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the full extent of current enforcement of these policies and associated violations of reproductive rights”, the report recommended that Beijing take prompt steps to release all those unjustly detained in training centers, prisons, and other facilities. “To be perfectly honest, the politicization of these serious human rights issues by some States did not help”, Bachelet said on the difficulty faced in preparing the report. 

What’s China saying? 

China has consistently denied the allegations, and in a 131-page response, Beijing rejected the UN report. During a briefing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, while describing the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as “a thug and accomplice of the U.S. and the West”, said the report is “completely illegal and void”. While observers have commended the release of the report, its impact is said to have been undermined by its timing. “She put out the report – which was her job – but avoided the aftermath. It doesn’t show the necessary leadership on how to take this forward”, said Olaf Wientzek of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation. 

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