China faced criticism by Switzerland and other western countries in Geneva on Tuesday concerning detention camps allegedly holding up to one million Uighurs and other Muslims.
On Tuesday, China took part in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR)external link process at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.external link This peer review of each UN member state’s human rights record takes place every five years before the UN council.
During the review, western countries – including Belgium, France, Germany and the United States - described the deteriorating human rights situation in China since the last UPR, especially its treatment of Muslims in the western Xinjiang region.
Switzerland and other states called for the closure of “re-education camps” for Uighurs in the Xinjiang region and for access to visits by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A UN panel of human rights experts said on August 10external link that it had received reports that one million ethnic Uighurs in China were being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.
China, meanwhile, rejects Western criticism and allegations of suspected mass detention and heavy surveillance of Uighurs in the region of Xinjiang.
“We will not accept politically-driven accusations from a few countries that are fraught with biases,” Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng told the council. China has claims that Xinjiang is under threat from Islamist militants and separatists.
During the UPR, Switzerland also urged China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people and other minorities.
“We also recommend ending the practice of “surveillance residences in a designated location”, specifically for human rights defenders and lawyers,” said Swiss ambassador Sabrina Dallafior.
On Tuesday, around 1,000 Tibetan and Uighur protesters from around Europe demonstrated outside the UN headquarters in Geneva.