49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Photo: file

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Geneva — The European Union and about 14 countries expressed concern about the human rights violations in Tibet and China, and urge China to ensure unfettered access for the High Commissioner during the planned visit, including in Xinjiang.

At the 49th session of the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland, many countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Norway, United States, and the European Union, highlighted the human rights violations in Tibet, East Turkestan, south Mongolia, and called on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Ambassador Simon Manley, UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, delivered the UK's Item 4 statement outlining concerns about human rights violations in Russia, China and said, “We share the serious concerns repeatedly expressed about widespread violations in China. The situation in Tibet remains of deep international concern, including new reports of boarding schools being used to further erode cultural, linguistic, and religious identity. We also call on China to allow journalists to report without fear of arrest, harassment or reprisal.”

Denmark said at the 49th session of the UNHRC," We are deeply concerned about reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet. We urge China to ensure unfettered access for the High Commissioner during the planned visit, including in Xinjiang.”

H.E. Ambassador Nathalie Olijslager, delivered Netherland's statement at the 49th session of the UNHRC and said, "In China, the curtailment of civic freedoms is most severe for minorities living in Xinjiang and Tibet, while citizens in the rest of the country are also denied the liberties of a true civic space. A decline is most visible in Hong Kong, where civil and political rights are rapidly limited. The Netherlands encourages the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to present her report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang as soon as possible and reiterates that a visit to China must include meaningful and unfettered access."

Ambassador H.E. Ms Anna Jardfelt, delivered Sweden's statement at the 49th session of UNHRC on March 21, 2022, and said, “The human rights situation in China remains concerning, including in Xinjiang, Hongkong, and Tibet. Human Rights violations continually target persons belonging to minorities, human rights defenders, media workers, and others exercising their freedom of expression. The continued arbitrary detention of Swedish and EU citizen Gui Minhai must end.”

Ambassador Michèle Taylor, delivered the United States of America's statement at the 49th session of UNHRC on March 21, 2022, and said, " In China, the government continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other minority groups. We strongly urge the High Commissioner to immediately release her report on the situation."

H.E. Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi, delivered Finland's statement on human rights situations that require the Council's attention at the 49th session of the UNHRC on March 21, 2022, and said, "Human rights defenders, opposition representatives, lawyers, ethnic minorities, journalists and many others face severe restrictions also in China. The reports on the human rights situation of Uighurs in Xinjiang are especially grave. We expect meaningful and unfettered access also to Xinjiang during the agreed visit of the High Commissioner and her team to China. Timely reporting by the High Commissioner is important."

Ambassador Tine Mørch Smith, delivered Norway's statement at the 49th session of the UNHRC on March 21, 2022, and said, "We call on China, to respect, protect and ensure the freedom of expression of all inhabitants. China must ensure unrestricted access to Xinjiang for the High Commissioner."

The European Union said, “As to the human rights situation in China, the EU reiterates its persistent and serious concerns about the existence of a large network of political re-education camps, widespread surveillance, systemic and severe restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, as well as about evidence-based reports relating to forced labour, forced sterilisation, birth control, and family separation policies and sexual and gender-based violence. The EU urges China to abide by its obligations under national and international law to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including Uighurs and persons belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities across China, especially in Xinjiang, Tibet and in Inner Mongolia.”

“The EU welcomes the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ announcement to present her findings on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and encourages the release of the report as soon as possible. The EU takes note of the high commissioner’s announcement of the preparation of her visit to China. Furthermore, the EU calls upon UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, in particular the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to review the application of the core human rights treaties, including in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and in Tibet Autonomous Region,” it stated.

The European Union also called on China to release human rights activists, including Dorjee Tashi, Go Sherab Gyatso, and Rinchen Tsultrim.

The 49th Session of the Human Rights Council begins on February 28 and will end on April 1, 2022.