Geneva: The UN rights council on Thursday voted down a Western-led motion to hold a debate about alleged human rights abuses by China against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang in a victory for Beijing as it seeks to avoid further scrutiny, reported Reuters.
The defeat - 19 against, 17 for, 11 abstentions - is only the second time in the council's 16-year history that a motion has been rejected and is seen by observers as a setback to both accountability efforts, the West's moral authority on human rights and the credibility of the United Nations itself.
“This is a disaster. This is really disappointing," said Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, whose mother died in a camp and whose two brothers are missing. "We will never give up but we are really disappointed by the reaction of Muslim countries," he added.
“Some member states have adopted China’s genocide denial. They should consider the consequences of allowing one powerful country to effectively have impunity for committing genocide.”, said Rushan Abbas, Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs.
Qatar, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan rejected the motion, with the latter citing the risk of alienating China. Phil Lynch, director of the International Service for Human Rights, called the voting record "shameful" on Twitter.
China's foreign ministry issued a statement late Thursday, saying, "Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all, but issues of counter-terrorism, de-radicalization and anti-separatism."
The post further said that the motion was an attempt by the United States and some Western countries to "use the UN human rights body to interfere in China's internal affairs". China's envoy had warned before the vote that the motion would create a precedent for examining other countries' human rights records.
The UN rights office had released a long-delayed report on August 31 that found serious human rights violations in Xinjiang that may constitute crimes against humanity.
Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Uyghurs, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority that numbers around 10 million in the western region of Xinjiang, including the mass use of forced labour in internment camps.
Edited & Collated by Team TRC