JOINT STATEMENT: UN Human Rights Office assessment of human rights concerns in Xinjiang, China

Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Senator Claire Chandler, Shadow Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Coalition supports the public release today of the Assessment by the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. This report finds that serious human rights violations have been committed in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.

The UN assessment finds that the application of the Chinese Government’s policies in Xinjiang led to the “large-scale arbitrary deprivation of liberty of the members of the Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim communities.” The report further finds that “allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.”

The Coalition concurs with the report’s recommendations for the prompt release of all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty and urgent independent investigation of all allegations of human rights abuses.

Today we also acknowledge the trauma of Uyghurs in Australia, who have raised harrowing stories about their fears for their loved ones in Xinjiang, and told our Parliament of cases of harassment and intimidation they have faced in speaking out publicly.

The Coalition strongly supports the OHCHR recommendations for urgent clarification of the whereabouts of individuals whose families have been seeking information about their loved ones in Xinjiang, and the ceasing of all intimidation and reprisals against Uyghur and other minorities abroad in connection with their advocacy and their family members in Xinjiang.

Since 2018 the Australian Government has consistently, publicly raised grave concerns about the reports of human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

We have stood alongside other countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Canada and the European Union in calling for the United Nations High Commissioner to be granted meaningful, unfettered access to Xinjiang, and to provide the opportunity for transparency and accountability for any human rights abuses.

The Coalition restates our support for the UN to be given unrestricted access to Xinjiang to continue their independent investigation, and for those found to have committed human rights abuses to be held accountable.