Some Vindication

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The United Nations Human Rights Office released a long-awaited report this week that accused Chinese authorities of being involved in “serious human rights violations” over their crackdown on ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The damning report comes months after UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet visited the province in May to investigate alleged human rights violations perpetrated by China against the Muslim Uyghur community.

At the time, many Uyghur advocates had criticized Bachelet and the UN agency for not doing enough to pressure China.

The published report follows months of delays, but the findings are in line with evidence and research provided by other rights groups, diplomats and Uyghur exiles that have documented state-sponsored abuses of minority groups in Xinjiang.

The new report is based on in-depth interviews with 40 firsthand witnesses, including 26 who had been held in detention facilities – which Chinese officials have called “free vocational training centers” – in Xinjiang since 2016.

The UN office wrote that it was “reasonable to conclude that a pattern of large-scale arbitrary detention” occurred in those facilities. It added that there was evidence of “patterns of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Following the report’s publication, China swiftly denounced the findings Thursday. It called the report a “farce” and a politically motivated effort to smear China.

Many Uyghur advocates, however, praised the findings, calling it the “most definitive assessment of the issues faced by Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples” in China. While some said that the report boosted the credibility of the UN office, others criticized the organization for not using the word “genocide” in its assessment.

The findings come as Chinese President Xi Jinping is preparing for a key party congress in October, where he is poised to break with tradition by taking on a third term.

While Xi’s leadership appears secure, the report will add to rising criticism of measures that have put Beijing in conflict with the international community.

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