UN envoy cites compelled labor and attainable instances of ‘slavery’ in China
- August 18, 2022
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China’s government is accused of detaining more than a million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
the Chinese authorities imposed forced labor on people from Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, said a special rapporteur of the UN in a report, in which he warns that the facts may constitute cases of “slavery”.
China’s government is accused of detaining more than a million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, as well as organizing forced labor and sterilization campaigns.
The US government and politicians from other Western countries have already accused China of committing “genocide” against these minorities, which Beijing denies.
The report, released on Tuesday by Tomoya Obokata, the UN special rapporteur on modern slavery, points to two “distinct state-ordered systems” in China that involve cases of forced labor, citing testimonies from victims, NGOs and research centers.
One is a vocational training center in which minorities are detained and forced to work, while the second seeks to reduce poverty through the displacement of labor, which forces rural workers to carry out activities in the “secondary or tertiary sectors”.
“While these programs can create employment opportunities for minorities and increase their income… the Special Rapporteur considers that indicators of forced labor that point to the involuntary nature of the work performed by affected communities were present in many cases”, highlights the document.
The nature and scope of the power exercised over workers – including excessive surveillance and abusive working and living conditions – could be “equivalent to slavery as a crime against humanity, something that would require independent analysis”, he adds.
The report points out that in Tibet there is a similar labor transfer system, where the “program transferred farmers, herders and other rural workers into low-skilled, low-paying jobs”.
Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, but who do not speak on behalf of the organization.
Lies and misinformation
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbing accused Obokata of “choosing to believe the lies and disinformation fabricated by the United States.” […] and by anti-China forces”.
Insisting that minority rights are being protected, Wang blamed the UN Special Rapporteur for “viciously defaming (the name of) China and acting as a political tool for anti-China forces.”
According to the Chinese government, professional training centers in Xinjiang are aimed at fighting extremism.
In May, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made a rare visit to China, which included a stopover in Xinjiang.
The US government and human rights organizations criticized Bachelet for this trip and accused her of not showing enough firmness in front of Beijing.
She is due to publish a report on the topic before leaving office at the end of August.