France renews call for China to allow UN observers to visit Uighur people

China – Uighur situation – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 28 July 2020

I had the opportunity to speak about the situation in Xinjiang on these benches last week, and I answered Senator Vallini on the same subject, again last week. I’m absolutely convinced of the need to speak in democratic bodies to denounce what is happening in that region. There are unjustifiable practices which go against the universal principles enshrined in the major international human rights conventions.

You mentioned the internment of Uighurs in camps, mass detentions, forced labour, forced sterilization, the destruction of Uighur cultural heritage – especially places of worship –, widespread surveillance of the population and a comprehensive punitive system throughout the region. And I think the media today are relaying all this and it’s wholly appropriate, and we’ve taken extremely clear, public, strong positions on the issue, including by my voice last week, in particular by asking for the internment camps to be closed and also by taking action to dissuade companies from employing forced labour or remaining in the territory.

Europe has also taken a position on the issue. My statements last week prompted reactions from the Chinese authorities, maybe you read them. I say to them, here, that I’ve noted them. Since they’re saying my remarks are unfounded, we propose, precisely, that an international mission comprising independent observers under the leadership of Ms Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, is set up and goes over there, sees and bears witness, because if the Chinese authorities say this isn’t happening, well, we must go over there and confirm it. And I think what you highlighted would be a good step and one I readily take up./.

China – Uighur situation – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 21 July 2020

France is looking very carefully at all the evidence, all the documents being relayed by the press – particularly today – and also by human rights organizations about the situation in Xinjiang.

What comes through in all the reports we’ve received or are reading is internment camps for Uighurs, mass detentions, disappearances, forced labour, forced sterilization, the destruction of Uighur cultural heritage and especially places of worship, surveillance of the population and, more generally, the whole punitive system put in place in that region.

We’ve expressed our serious concerns on many occasions – you’ve seen our statements – about the human rights situation in that province, asking specifically and officially, and I repeat this here, for the internment camps to be closed down.

All these practices are unacceptable because they go against the universal principles enshrined in the major international human rights conventions, so we very strongly condemn them.

At every opportunity, in our bilateral contacts with the Chinese authorities, President Macron, I and others reiterate this demand. And we do this in the UN bodies as well, such as the Human Rights Council, urging the authorities to end detentions in Xinjiang’s camps.

For the moment we are quite simply asking China to allow independent international observers access to the area and also allow the High Commissioner for Human Rights freely to visit Xinjiang./.

Published on 29/07/2020

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