More than 40 countries led by Canada voiced grave concerns at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) about China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet — triggering a fierce backlash from Beijing.
GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions, India’s Neighbors)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
- About the recent move in UNHRC against Chinese activities
- Who are Uyghurs?
- What are the accusations Levelled against China?
About United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
- The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. The headquarters of the Council is in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The Council has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis.
- The Council investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in United Nations member states, and addresses thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
- The members of the United Nations General Assembly elect the members who occupy 47 seats of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
- The seats are distributed among the United Nations regional groups as follows: 13 for Africa, 13 for Asia, six for Eastern Europe, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), and seven for the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).
- The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year, in March, June, and September. The UNHRC can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies, at the request of one-third of the member states.
About the recent move in UNHRC against Chinese activities
- Countries voiced concerns against China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet and this statement was backed by Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the U.S., among others.
- It was said that credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uighurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uighur culture.
- The statement cited reports of torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilisation, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children from their parents.
Who are Uyghurs?
- Uyghurs are predominately Turkic-speaking Sunni Muslims who live primarily in the autonomous region of Xinjiang. Islam came to the region in the 10th century. Prior to Islam, the Uyghurs embraced Buddhism, Shamanism, and Manicheism.
- Uyghurs embraced Islam in 934 during the Karahanid Kingdom. Kashgar, the capital of the Kingdom, quickly became one of the major learning centers of Islam.
- Art, the sciences, music and literature flourished as Islamic religious institutions nurtured the pursuit of an advanced culture. In this period, hundreds of world-renowned Uyghur scholars emerged.
- Uyghurs played an important role in cultural exchanges between the East and West and developed a unique culture and civilization of their own based on Islam.
What are the accusations Levelled against China?
- China is accused of encouraging internal migration into the Xinjiang province to increase the non-Uyghur population and power in the region.
- In recent years, there have been many reports of students, teachers, and civil servants have been forbidden from fasting during Ramadan, forbidden from wearing their traditional dress and even keeping a beard.
- Uyghurs continue to be the only population in China consistently subjected to executions for political crimes, and these executions are often both summary and public. With the rise of China as the expected superpower of the 21st century, such repressive policies against the Uyghur Muslims are likely to get worse.
-Source: The Hindu