China criticised for human rights violations at UN Human Rights Council

The 33rd session of Human Rights Council is being held from 13 to 30 September in Geneva. [AFP]
The 33rd session of Human Rights Council is being held from 13 to 30 September in Geneva. [AFP]
The government of People’s Republic of China (PRC) was criticised for human rights violations particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang by western countries at the ongoing 33rd Session of UN Human Rights Council under ‘Agenda Item 4: Human Rights Situation Requiring Council Attention’ this afternoon in Geneva.
Germany expressed deep concern about “the human rights situation in China, in particular in Xinjiang and Tibet.” The statement delivered by Germany noted, “Among those who suffer from widespread human rights violations, there are many lawyers, human rights activists or academics whose only offence was to lawfully defend the most vulnerable parts of society. In many cases, their courageous efforts resulted in detention. The widespread harassment and extension of persecution measures to family members of suspects is especially worrisome. We urge the Government to immediately release all detained human rights defenders.”
The UK statement noted that it “remains concerned by reports of restrictions on freedom of religion and expression in China”, adding that “New laws and regulations affecting media, NGOs and religious groups must expand the space for independent civil society and safeguard religious freedom and belief.The UK also called for “the release of those detained for peacefully exercising rights guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution and international law.”

The United States said it was “deeply concerned about China’s narrowing of space for civil society and excessive government controls on religious practices.”

The EU statement urged the PRC “to respect cultural diversity and freedom of religion, not least in Tibet and Xinjiang, and foster dialogue with the different ethnic groups” and called for the “immediate release of all individuals detained or convicted for seeking to protect the rights of others or for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression, including Liu Xiaobo, Illham Tohti, Xu Zhiyong, Li Heping and Wang Quanzhang.” The EU said the PRC’s detention of human rights lawyers and defenders since mid-2015 and the harassment of their families remain as major concerns. It also raised concerns about detained human rights defenders who are “regularly subjected to coercion and prevented from choosing their own defence council or receiving visits from their families.” Concern was also raised  PRC’s new law on the Management of Foreign NGO Activities which the EU said “could hamper the development of independent civil society” and urged PRC “to provide a safe and fair environment for all NGOs to operate freely and effectively.”The statement also noted that the “use of closed hearings and public confessions raise serious questions about China’s respect for its international human rights obligations, and for its own legal and constitutional safeguards and stated commitment to upholding the rule of law.”

Canada raised questions regarding the Chinese government’s commitment to the rule of law citing ongoing detentions and sentencing of lawyers and human rights defenders in PRC. The statement noted that the “immediate release of those arbitrarily detained for undertaking peaceful activities to protect human rights in China would be a vital step to strengthening the relationship with civil society.” At the same time, the statement lauded the recent visit to PRC of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights calling it “a positive indication of a new willingness to engage partners who are committed to supporting China’s stability and prosperity.”

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