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China: UN Secretary-General Should Press Xi on Mass Detentions

Publicly Urge End to Repression of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.  © 2018 AP Photo/Andy Wong


(New York) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should publicly denounce the arbitrary detention of one million Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang during his forthcoming trip to China, Human Rights Watch said this week in a letter to Guterres. The secretary-general will visit Beijing to attend the Belt and Road International Forum on Cooperation on April 25 to 27, 2019.

“While some key UN voices have repeatedly and publicly expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Xinjiang, Secretary-General Guterres’ voice has been noticeably absent, and victims of abuses in China and elsewhere have noticed,” said Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “Guterres’ public silence sends a message, however inadvertent, that the safety and well-being of Muslims in China is not a top UN concern.”

Human Rights Watch urged Guterres to speak openly about the deteriorating human rights situation in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are being held indefinitely in “political education” camps because of their ethnic and religious backgrounds, without any legal process.

Outside the camps, Xinjiang authorities monitor and control every aspect of life, imposing severe restrictions on the freedom of religion, and on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and movement. The Chinese government has also targeted members of the Uyghur diaspora, including at the UN in New York and in Geneva.

“Secretary-General Guterres should speak out publicly as well as privately with a direct appeal to President Xi Jinping to close Xinjiang’s ‘political education’ camps, permit free expression, association, and movement, and respect the human rights of all, at home and abroad,” Stagno Ugarte said.

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