New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a celebration of the Chinese Lunar Near Year on February 2, 2019, in Auckland, New Zealand.

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(New York) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should publicly express concern about mass abuses of Turkic Muslims in meetings with Chinese leaders, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the prime minister. Ardern will visit China, where credible estimates suggest authorities are arbitrarily detaining one million Turkic Muslims, on April 1, 2019.

“Following the horrific attacks on mosques in Christchurch, Prime Minister Ardern spoke forcefully in defense of Muslims’ rights,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “Ardern should show the same global leadership by publicly calling on China to respect the human rights of Muslims there.”

New Zealand did not join a November 2018 letter with 15 other governments to China requesting access to Xinjiang to assess the human rights situation. New Zealand also did not address the issue in its national statements at the recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, despite significant attention to these grave human rights concerns by the UN high commissioner for human rights, a broad range of national delegations, and human rights organizations.

“Prime Minister Ardern should use her visit to Beijing to join the ranks of governments outraged by the unprecedented abuses of Turkic Muslims in China,” Richardson said. “She should publicly call on Chinese leaders to close the ‘political education’ camps in Xinjiang, end the widespread abuses, and allow independent, international observers’ access to the region.”