Penny Wong condemns Beijing over ‘human rights violations’ against Uyghur Muslims

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Penny Wong has slammed China’s horrendous ‘human rights violations’ against¬† Uyghur Muslims and demanded the communist superpower grant ‘unfettered access’ to the UN and human aid workers.

Australia’s Foreign Minister made the stern statement¬†after a bombshell UN report on Thursday outlined China’s ‘crimes against humanity’ in the¬†far-western Xinjiang region where Muslim¬†minorities are cruelly repressed.¬†

Some of the most shocking allegations include torture, forced labour and medical treatment, as well as sexual violence and even organ harvesting.

‘The Australian Government is deeply concerned about the findings of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights‚Äô report on Xinjiang,’ Ms Wong said.

‘The report is informed by extensive research, including the first-hand testimonies of Uyghur and other minority peoples in Xinjiang. It concludes that serious human rights violations have been committed in Xinjiang.

‘It states that allegations of torture or ill-treatment are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence and that some of the violations may constitute crimes against humanity.’

Foreign Minister Penny Wong blasted Beijing after a bombshell UN report outlined the communist superpower's 'crimes against humanity'

Foreign Minister Penny Wong blasted Beijing after a bombshell UN report outlined the communist superpower’s ‘crimes against humanity’

China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region

China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region

China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region

An Uyghur woman holds her relatives' ID cards who were detained, as she and others protests on a street in China

An Uyghur woman holds her relatives' ID cards who were detained, as she and others protests on a street in China

An Uyghur woman holds her relatives’ ID cards who were detained, as she and others protests on a street in China

She also called for China to allow independent observers access to Xinjiang, with Beijing banning media and aid agencies from the region.

‘The Australian Government has emphasised the importance of transparency and accountability, in calling on China to grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for United Nations experts, and other independent observers,’ she said.

‘Australia expects all countries to adhere to their international human rights obligations and we join with others in the international community in calling on the Chinese Government to address the concerns raised in this report.

‘Our thoughts are also with the Australian Uyghur community. We acknowledge the strength and determination they have shown in speaking out, in support of their loved ones.’

The UN and various human 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. 

Despite evidence to the contrary, Beijing has vehemently rejected the claims insisting it is running vocational training centres to counter extremism. 

Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping

Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping

Pictured: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Pictured: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Ethnic Uyghur girls attend a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday

Ethnic Uyghur girls attend a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday

Ethnic Uyghur girls attend a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday

This image shows internment camp police security drills from 2018, taken by the detention center photographer

This image shows internment camp police security drills from 2018, taken by the detention center photographer

This image shows internment camp police security drills from 2018, taken by the detention center photographer

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN XINJIANG? AND WHY ARE UYGHURS BEING OPPRESSED? 

About 11 million Uyghurs face severe oppression at the hands of China’s authoritarian regime, who view religious freedoms as a threat to Communist Party rule.

It’s estimated more than a million Uyghurs have been rounded up and placed into forced labour camps and ‘re-education facilities’ where they face the threat of torture, state-sponsored organ-harvesting and even sterilisation, the UN and various human rights groups claim.

Those living outside of the camps are subjected to constant surveillance, largely forbidden from travel – even within China – and not allowed to communicate freely with friends and family overseas.

Schoolchildren are banned from fasting during the holy period of¬† Ramadan and attending religious events, while parents are not allowed to give newborns Muslim names such as ‘Mohammed’.

Certain symbols of Islam, such as beards and the veil, are also forbidden. 

The crackdown first began in 2009 after riots broke out in √úr√ľmqi with sections of the Uyghur population demonstrating against their treatment at the hands of Han Chinese.

Some isolated Islamic terror attacks occurred in Xinjiang in years to follow and by 2017 a massive campaign to stamp out the local culture kicked into full gear – enabled by new AI surveillance technology, Human Rights Watch claims.

In the six months prior to the Beijing winter Olympics, overseas Uyghurs have revealed to Daily Mail Australia the brutal crackdown they describe as a ‘genocide’ has intensified further with the Communist Party afraid of being ’embarrassed’ ahead of the February 4 event.

However, the report will now pile more pressure on the communist government. 

The report, in the making for around a year, was released in Geneva at 11:47 pm local time yesterday – just 13 minutes before Michelle Bachelet’s four-year term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expired.

The former Chilean president, who has faced criticism from some diplomats and rights groups for being too soft on China, said she was determined to ensure the report saw the light of day Рdespite intense pressure from an infuriated Beijing.

‘The issues are serious – and I raised them with high-level national and regional authorities in the country,’ said Bachelet, who visited China in May.

The report raised concerns about the treatment of people held in China’s so-called ‘Vocational Education and Training Centres’.¬†

‘Serious human rights violations have been committed in XUAR in the context of the government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter- “extremism” strategies,’ the report said.

‘Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence,’ the report said.

‘The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups, pursuant to law and policy, in context of restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,’ it continued.

The report was drawn from interviews with former detainees and others in the know about conditions at eight separate detention centers in the region. Its authors suggest China was not always forthcoming with information, saying requests for some specific sets of information ‘did not receive formal response’.

The report also said that ‘there are credible indications of violations of reproductive rights through the coercive enforcement of family planning policies since 2017.’

It added that a lack of government data ‘makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the full extent of current enforcement of these policies and associated violations of reproductive rights.’

The report urged Beijing, the UN and the world at large to focus its gaze on the situation described in Xinjiang.

‘The human rights situation in XUAR also requires urgent attention by the government, the United Nations intergovernmental bodies and human rights system, as well as the international community more broadly,’ it said.

Bachelet recommended the Chinese government to take prompt steps to release all those detained in training centers, prisons or detentions facilities.

It is assumed that the 2018 photographs are organised drills and not actual escape attempts

It is assumed that the 2018 photographs are organised drills and not actual escape attempts

It is assumed that the 2018 photographs are organised drills and not actual escape attempts

More security drills from 2018 pictured. China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region. Beijing has vehemently rejected the claims, insisting it is running vocational training centres in Xinjiang designed to counter extremism

More security drills from 2018 pictured. China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region. Beijing has vehemently rejected the claims, insisting it is running vocational training centres in Xinjiang designed to counter extremism

More security drills from 2018 pictured. China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region. Beijing has vehemently rejected the claims, insisting it is running vocational training centres in Xinjiang designed to counter extremism

Who are the Chinese Muslims?

Muslims are not a new presence in China.¬†Most of China’s Muslim communities, including the Hui, Uighurs and Kazakhs, have lived in China for more than 1,000 years, according to¬†fact tank¬†Pew Research Center.¬†

The largest concentrations of Muslims today are in the western provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Qinghai and Gansu. 

A substantial number of Muslims live in the cities of Beijing, Xi’an, Tianjin and Shanghai.¬†

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

They make up about two per cent of the 1.4 billion population in China. However, as the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

The Muslim population in China is projected to increase from 23.3 million in 2010 to nearly 30 million in 2030.

Those who grow up and live in places dominated by the Han Chinese have little knowledge about Islam Рor religions in general Рthus view it as a threat. 

Beijing’s policymakers are predominately Han.¬†

At the same time, radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, causing China to implement even more extreme measures to quash potential separatist movements.

Uighurs in particular have long been used to heavy-handed curbs on dress, religious practice and travel after a series of deadly riots in 2009 in Urumqi, according to the Financial Times.

Schoolchildren were banned from fasting during Ramadan and attending religious events while parents were banned from¬†giving newborns Muslim names such as ‘Mohammed’ and ‘Jihad’.¬†

Certain symbols of Islam, such as beards and the veil, were also forbidden. Women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses. Unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca were also restricted.