UK on Friday called on China and demanded that the United Nations be given “unfettered access” to Xinjiang, pointing to the grave concerns about China’s policies against the Uyghur Muslims in the region.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, called for “China to uphold the rights and freedoms in the Joint Declaration, to respect the independence of the Hong Kong judiciary, allow unfettered access to Xinjiang and to release all those who are arbitrarily detained”.
He said, “There is compelling evidence, including from the Chinese authorities’ own documents, of systematic human rights violations”.
“Culture and religion are severely restricted, and we have seen credible reports of forced labour and forced birth control. Staggeringly, up to 1.8 million people have been detained without trial,” he said.
The period of “golden relationship” of UK and China has been under pressure of late. The UK fell out with China over the National Security Law imposed by it in Hong Kong. The UK has alleged imposition of such a law in China violates their “One Country, Two Systems” agreement of 1997 when Hong Kong changed hands from the UK to China as their special administrative region.
Raising worry over the lack of media freedom to report on such matters Tariq Mahmood Ahmad said, “In Hong Kong, Beijing’s imposition of the National Security Law is a serious breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration. It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and directly threatens rights and freedoms.”
He further added, “The National Security Law is being implemented with the apparent intention to eliminate dissent. It allows prosecution of certain cases in mainland China, a jurisdiction where defendants are often held for long periods without charge or access to legal counsel, and where we have concerns about judicial independence, due process, and reports of torture.”
The statement on Friday is a follow up on a joint statement made on Xinjiang and Hong Kong on behalf of 27 other countries at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council on June 30 this year, highlighting concerns about arbitrary detention, widespread surveillance, and restrictions in Xinjiang.