Human Rights Violations in China-Strengthening calls for accountability at UNHRC

UNHRC, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Panellists:

  • John Fisher, Human Rights Watch, Geneva Director
  • Sarah M Brooks, International Service for Human Rights, Asia advocate
  • Arthur Moses SC, Law Council of Australia, President (video intervention)

 Moderator: Claire Denman, CSW, Geneva representative.

This side event addressed those key issues, which all together contribute to illustrate bigger structural problems in China.  It reiterated the call upon the UNHRC to take urgent action to seek access, monitoring and reporting of the situation to hold China accountable for large scale human rights violations. The situation in Xinjiang was put up as a test of the Council’s prevention mandate, adherence to its membership criteria, and its willingness and ability to put universal human rights above economic interests and political expediency.

John Fisher, HRW:

John highlighted the religious oppression, forced political indoctrination, arbitrary detentions, mass surveillance, restrictions on lawyers, internal migrants, corruption of judicial system, mobile phones, the central IJOP system and the apps used by police in China to collect huge amounts of people’s personal information, which has been reverse engineered.

Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP)- a centralized data system that stores data about all of Xinjiang’s residents- is used in China as an intrusive surveillance app to track its Muslim minority, with technology that could be exported to the rest of the world. HRW researchers were able to crack into it by reverse-engineering its source code.

John also discussed the Chinese govt. campaign “Strike Hard against Violent Terrorism” in which the Chinese police officials use mobile apps to communicate with the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), which also lead to extrajudicial killings in Hong Kong and violations of freedom of expression and region, he said.

Sarah Brooks, ISHR:

Sarah discussed the issues in China including independence of lawyers, cooperation of the govt. with civil society, public sector and UN basic principles on racial discrimination. She said: “Notwithstanding its alarming human rights records, China still remains a member of the Human Rights Council, a position in which they have sought to shield themselves from scrutiny rather than live up to the highest human rights standards.……Chinese govt. has to respond in the next session as to how they articulate legal grounds for its policies”.

Arthur Moses SC:

“For more than a year, the international community has had access to credible reports and first-hand testimony of the harassment, surveillance, and mass detention of more than one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. At the same time, the 2015 crackdown on lawyers has let in a traumatic state those at the vanguard of human rights protection. Against a complete collapse of the Rule of Law and human rights in China, the attempt from the Government of Hong Kong to pass a bill facilitating extradition to mainland China generated unprecedented protests since early June 2019.”

In response, some officials from Beijing justified China’s crackdown by calling Uighurs a ‘national security threat’. Xinjiang authorities have the right to stop the Uighur citizens in the region, question them, search their phones, and detain them if necessary, they said, adding that “this event was full of lies and fake information”.

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