Rights groups called on the international community to “stand up to the Chinese government” over rights violations against Uyghurs, Tibetans and other ethnic minorities Monday in a joint statement marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The 21 groups—including Munich-based World Uyghur Congress and U.S.-based International Tibet Network—called China a United Nations member state that “stands out as a significant exception against the advancement of human rights,” highlighting its policies over the past year in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Uyghurs have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR, and some 1.1 million people are believed to have been held in the network—equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region.
The groups said Monday that China’s escalation against the Uyghur people in the last year under Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo “surely qualifies as one of the most audacious and outrageous assaults against a people, anywhere in the world” since the UDHR was enacted by the U.N. on Dec. 10, 1948 and established, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
They also highlighted China’s rights abuses in Tibet, which they referred to as “China’s laboratory for repression … where the Chinese authorities have tested, and sought to perfect, systems of mass surveillance and abject control” over the course of decades, and particularly under Chen, who ran Tibet from 2011 up until his appointment to oversee the XUAR in 2016.
Ethnic Mongolians in China’s Inner Mongolia are also subject to “tightening political control,” the groups said, where Beijing’s policies are “threatening the total eradication of the Mongolian traditional nomadic civilization,” and where thousands of herders seeking to defend their way of life and rights to land and natural resources have been detained without due legal process.
Even lawyers and activists from China’s majority Han Chinese population have endured politically motivated prosecutions, while freedoms in Hong Kong have “taken a sharp downward turn” as China influences harsher sentences on dissidents and disqualifies pro-democracy lawmakers from the legislature, they noted.
But the groups said that as China attempts to repress these people, the more their resistance grows, and called for the international community to “follow their example and stand up to the Chinese government.”
“Like-minded world governments need to get together and formally engage in joint initiatives to defend … human rights, democracy and free speech and stand up to Beijing as one,” the groups said.