Beijing, SAEDNEWS: China is committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against its mostly Muslim Uighur minority in the western region of Xinjiang, the US State Department said in its annual report on human rights globally.
Released on Tuesday, the report found that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang”.
It said the alleged crimes included the arbitrary imprisonment of more than one million civilians, forced sterilisation, rape, torture, forced labour and “draconian restrictions” on freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.
The report, required annually by the United States Congress, provides the State Department’s assessment on human rights practices in more than 180 countries.
At a news conference in Washington, DC, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the findings for 2020 demonstrate that in every region of the world, human rights “continue to move in the wrong direction”.
“We will bring to bear all the tools of our diplomacy to defend human rights and hold accountable perpetrators of abuse,” the country’s top diplomat said, pointing to travel and financial sanctions under the US’s Global Magnitsky Act, among other mechanisms.
China has rejected accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, accusing countries and human rights groups of launching “slanderous attacks” about conditions for Muslim Uighurs and other minorities in the far western region.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi, addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, said “basic facts show that there has never been so-called genocide, forced labour or religious oppression in Xinjiang”.
China has acknowledged the existence of the camps in Xinjiang, but has said they are vocational skills training centres necessary to tackle “extremism”.
Western countries have increasingly spoken out against Beijing’s treatment of the Uighurs, amid mounting tensions between the US and its allies, and China.
Blinken’s predecessor, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declared on January 19 that China had committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” against Uighurs and other religious minorities in Xinjiang (Source: AlJazeera).