Israel refuses to condemn China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims

The counter-statement of 62 countries, including 14 Arabs, defended China and its violations.

Jerusalem: Israel has dropped its signature from a United Nation statement condemning China’s human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province, local media reported.

On October 21, 2021, 43 countries condemned China’s practices against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in the Xinjiang region, in a consolidated statement at the United Nations.

The 43 countries that signed the statement are Turkey, United States, Britain, France, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden which expressed particular concern at ‘credible reports’ of the existence of ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang.

The move comes despite Israel having signed a declaration by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June calling on China to allow independent monitors access to the western region of Xinjiang.

According to the The Times of Israel, an Israeli diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the government had received a draft resolution beforehand but decided not to support the initiative, due to “other interests it has to balance”.

“We call on China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet and her office,” Times of Israel quoted reporting the Israel’s statement.

Who are the Uyghurs?

According to the official statistics there are about 23 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, living in Xinjiang, which is officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Uyghurs speak their own language, which is similar to Turkish, and see them as culturally and ethnically close to the countries of Central Asia. They make up less than half of Xinjiang’s population.

The statement cited credible reports that “point to the existence of a large network of ‘political re-education’ camps where more than a million people have been arbitrarily detained.”

In response to the statement, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun criticized the statement as baseless accusations and lies. He accused the US and several other anonymous signatories of “using human rights as a pretext for political maneuvering to provoke confrontation.”

According to the media reports, the Chinese official defended the development of Xinjiang, saying the lives of its people were getting better by the day.

14 Arab countries supported China

The counter-statement of 62 countries, including 14 Arabs, defended China and its violations.

Confrontations over the Uyghur minority between China and mostly Western countries have become a regular occurrence in both the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. But the statement of the countries supporting China, including the Arabs, constituted a new event under the roof of the United Nations.

These countries said in their statement that they “oppose the baseless allegations against China with political motives based on media misinformation and interference in the internal affairs of that country under the pretext of human rights.”

The 14 Arab countries that signed the counter-statement are: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania and Somalia.

Other countries also signed it, including: Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Venezuela and Bangladesh.

It is reported that, China has come under increased criticism for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims. In August 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee reported that Beijing has detained nearly one million Uyghur Muslims in secret “re-education” camps in eastern Turkestan. Many return to their families in a debilitated state, unable to walk and talk, and show signs of abuse.

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