Geneva [Switzerland], June 23 (ANI): Expressing grave concerns over the "Uyghur genocide" in China's Xinjiang province, Canada delivered a joint statement on behalf of 42 countries at the UN Humans Rights Council on Tuesday.
"We urge China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers," Canada's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Leslie Norton said at the UNHRC meeting on behalf of 40 countries.
The statement was backed by major countries Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, Britain, Spain and the United States, among others.
Norton also called on China to implement the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's Xinjiang-related recommendations, including ending the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
The remarks highlighted reports of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities.
"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," the statement added.
The countries also urged China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the High Commissioner.
The statement also raised concerns about the deterioration of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong under the National Security Law and about the human rights situation in Tibet. "We call on Chinese authorities to abide by their human rights obligations."
Despite mounting evidence, China denies mistreating the Uyghurs, and goes on to insist it is simply running "vocational training" centres designed to counter extremism.
On Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had said that she hopes to agree on terms with China for a visit this year to Xinjiang province, to look into reports of serious abuse against Uyghurs.
This is the first time that UN rights official has suggested a timeline for the visit amid the growing pressure from the international community to secure access to Xinjiang. (ANI)