China, Canada spar at United Nations body over human rights failings

People at a ceremony and a vigil yesterday for the 215 children whose remains were found in Vancouver

People at a ceremony and a vigil yesterday for the 215 children whose remains were found in Vancouver

Canada presented a statement from 41 mostly Western countries that echoed widespread concerns among human rights groups about detention centers in Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities have been held.

We also share the concerns expressed by UN Special Procedures in their March 29 statement on alleged detention, forced labour and transfers of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities and in a letter published by UN experts describing collective repression of religious and ethnic minorities.

In her address to the 47th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Bachelet said, I continue to discuss with China modalities for a visit, including meaningful access, to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and hope this can be achieved this year, particularly as reports of serious human rights violations continue to emerge.

Among the other signatories to the statement were Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United States.

Yesterday's statement was bound to further enrage Beijing, which decries what it says is the interference by foreign powers in its internal affairs.

We welcome the High Commissioner to come to China to visit Xinjiang.

Norton also highlighted the deteriorating "fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong" under the national security law and the human rights situation in Tibet.

The statement "sends a crucial message to China's authorities that they are not above worldwide scrutiny", said Agnes Callamard, head of the rights group Amnesty global. We have long issued an invitation to the High Commissioner to come to China for a visit to Xinjiang and we are in communication on this issue.

China's statement about Canada was on behalf of several other countries, including Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Iran and Syria.

People visit a makeshift memorial on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc band council encouraged mourners to take part in a national day of prayer to honour the remains of 215 children that were found at the site in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada June 6, 2021.

"We acknowledge that Canada has historically denied the rights of Indigenous peoples through assimilationist policies and practices", said Norton. He called for a "thorough and impartial investigation" into cases of crimes against Indigenous Peoples and faulted racism and xenophobia in Canada.

The representative of Belarus read another joint statement on behalf of 64 countries, supporting China and stressing that Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet were Chinese internal affairs.

"Where is China's truth and reconciliation commission?"

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada had acknowledged and was seeking to make amends for wronging its indigenous peoples. "Where is China's truth and reconciliation commission".

We firmly oppose any attempt by anyone to seek political manipulation by using this issue and to exert pressure on China, he said.

"China is not recognizing even that there is a problem", he said. "And that is why Canadians and people from around the world are speaking up for people like the Uyghurs who find themselves voiceless, faced with a government that will not recognize what's happening to them".

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