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HRC47 | Governments, NGOs call for High Commissioner to step up work to protect Uyghurs

Following limited remarks yesterday, ISHR joins with more than 20 organisations to press the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to initiate monitoring and reporting on the crisis targeting Uyghurs, as well as other key populations in China, especially in light of growing credible assessments of crimes against humanity.

In a statement today, ISHR on behalf of over 20 civil society organisations called for unequivocal action by the High Commissioner to monitor and report on the human rights situation in China. The violations targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, the groups underlined, have been determined by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to constitute crimes against humanity.

‘The Special Procedures and treaty bodies have repeatedly, for the last five years, raised serious concerns about the human rights situation in China,’ said Sarah M Brooks, ISHR programme director.

‘But despite these efforts, little has changed. More is needed.’

The gravity of the situation was underlined also by a joint statement delivered by Canada, on behalf of more than 40 states, earlier today. Listing a range of concerns about treatment of Uyghurs, those governments pressed China to allow ‘immediate, meaningful and unfettered’ access to the region for the High Commissioner.

Raphael Viana David, ISHR programme officer, added: ‘We heard from the High Commissioner on Monday in her update to the Council that she continues to negotiate modalities for a visit. But we cannot emphasise enough the message from civil society: access is not a prerequisite for accountability.’

The weight of evidence and the gravity of allegations of crimes against humanity against Uyghurs demands that the High Commissioner commence remote monitoring and public reporting immediately. 

Additionally, the Canadian-led statement urged Chinese authorities to implement concrete recommendations on the situation in Xinjiang made by the UN’s experts on racial discrimination during their 2018 review.

Says Brooks, ‘Civil society has clear asks of the High Commissioner, and stands ready to be an ally in this – despite the clear risks of reprisals. All that remains is for High Commissioner Bachelet to step up - China’s cooperation must not be misinterpreted as a precondition for doing her job.’

The full statement can be accessed here and viewed below.  It received support from the following organisations:  Amnesty International*, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)*, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies*, CIVICUS*, Campaign for Uyghurs, China Aid Association, Clean Clothes Campaign, CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)*, DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)*, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Human Rights Watch*, International Bar Association – Human Rights Institute*, International Campaign for Tibet, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)*, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)*, International Tibet Network Secretariat, Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada*, René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights*, Safeguard Defenders, Students for a Free Tibet, The Rights Practice, Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V., Tibet Justice Initiative, Uyghur Human Rights Project, Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, World Uyghur Congress.

Organisations followed by an asterisk have ECOSOC consultative status with the UN. 

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