A human rights group calls on the UN to investigate allegations that the Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region.
Human Rights Watch cites reports of mass detentions of Muslims, a crackdown on religious practices, and other measures taken against minorities in this region of northwest China.
The organization believes that these are indeed crimes against humanity, as defined by the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.
However, China is not a member of this international tribunal and could use its veto right at the United Nations Security Council to block any motion targeting Chinese officials, Human Rights Watch recalls in its report.
But the New York-based body believes that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights should create a specific body to investigate the accusations, identify those responsible and provide a roadmap to hold them to account.
Beijing refuses access to the UN
On the other hand, China has always denied the United Nations unfettered access to the region to conduct an investigation.
More than a million people have been confined to camps in Xinjiang, according to governments and foreign experts. Beijing is accused of imposing forced labor and birth control on these minorities.
The Chinese government rejects allegations of abuse and says the camps are intended for vocational training, to support economic development and to fight Islamic radicalism.
Beijing is pressuring major foreign clothing and footwear brands to reverse their decision to stop using cotton from Xinjiang.
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Sanctions and motions
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the dying days of the Trump administration that China was committing genocide in Xinjiang. His successor under Joe Biden, Antony Blinken, has taken on exactly the same official position.
The Parliaments of Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands have officially accused Beijing of genocide, although Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been reluctant to use that precise term, speaking instead, for now, of
huge human rights violations in Xinjiang.
A spokesperson for the ruling Communist Party in China dismissed the charges on Monday.
There are no crimes against humanity or genocide, and the populations of ethnic minorities and Uighurs are on the increase.
The deputy general manager of the party's propaganda department for Xinjiang added:
You can see the stability and harmony in Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch, which said it was assisted in its report by human rights experts at Stanford University Law School, said it did not document the intent to genocide. But
if such evidence were to emerge, the acts committed against Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang … could also support a conclusion of genocide, indicates the report of the NGO.
The United States has imposed financial and travel sanctions on Chinese officials accused of abuses in Xinjiang. Washington has blocked imports of several companies and the region's cotton and tomato products.