China has attempted to block Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa from speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Thurday, where he demanded urgent action be taken over allegations of serious violations committed by Beijing. This interruption was similar to what happened to the Tibetan representative during her oral intervention at the same event.
Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress and based in Germany, spoke up during a general debate about concerns around the world, citing recent reports warning of possible crimes against humanity being committed against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's far-western Xinjiang region.
China's representative in the room, Mao Yizong, objected to Isa's qualification to speak, claiming he was an "anti-China separatist, violence element." After Mao's objection, US representative Sam Birnbaum insisted on Isa's right to address the council. Council President Vaclav Balek ruled that Isa was entitled to finish speaking, as NGOs are free to pick the speakers who represent them during the debate.
Isa told AFP later that China was "trying to manipulate the UN rights system," and lamented the council's failure last October to agree to put the Xinjiang issue on the agenda despite findings in a report by former UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet highlighting credible allegations of widespread torture, arbitrary detention, and violations of religious and reproductive rights.
Isa's speech focused on recent reports, including one from former U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet, which warned of possible crimes against humanity being committed against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's far-western Xinjiang region. Isa emphasized that these allegations require the immediate and urgent attention of the council.
During China's intervention in the U.N. debate, representative Li Xiaomei alleged that the U.S. and others "out of their own political agenda fabricate and spread disinformation" about the rights situation in China. However, the U.S. ambassador Michele Taylor flatly rejected that statement, pointing to the numerous expert findings of "evidence of serious abuses, including possible crimes against humanity."
Isa's speech was allowed to continue after intervention from the U.S. delegation, but the incident once again raised concerns about China's attempts to block discussion of the situation in Xinjiang at the United Nations.
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Edited and collated by Team TRC