Respect and guarantee human rights to Uighurs of Xinjiang, says India

‘We hope that the relevant party will address the situation objectively and properly,’ says Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi

October 07, 2022 10:01 pm | Updated 10:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Uighurs and other members of the faithful pray during services at the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region. File.

Uighurs and other members of the faithful pray during services at the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region. File. | Photo Credit: AP

India on Friday addressed the issue of the Uighurs of Xinjiang directly for the first time saying that the community’s human rights should be “respected”. Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said that the government of India had taken “note” of the human rights “assessment” of Xinjiang that was earlier presented by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) in a 46-page report.

“The human rights of the people of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region should be respected and guaranteed. We hope that the relevant party will address the situation objectively and properly,” he said. India has generally avoided commenting on the reported crackdown on the Uighurs in Xinjiang. This policy was evident In 2016, when India issued a visa for leading Uighur activist Dolkun Isa but cancelled it at the last moment preventing him from traveling to Delhi.

The statement from the MEA came a day after India abstained on voting on a draft resolution at the 51st Regular Session at the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold a debate on the human rights situation in Xinjiang. The resolution was sponsored by the U.S., Finland, and other members of the western group at the HRC but at the end only 17 of the 47 members voted in favour, 19 voted against and 11, including India, abstained.

Explaining India’s decision to abstain at the HRC, Mr. Bagchi said, “India remains committed to upholding all human rights. India’s vote is in line with its long-held position that country-specific resolutions are never helpful. India favours a dialogue to deal with such issues.” In a rare gesture, Mr. Bagchi also recognised the importance of the OHCHR’s report on Xinjiang that had drawn China’s strong opposition earlier.

“We have taken note of the OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China,” said Mr. Bagchi.

The delay to release the OHCHR's report which contains details of atrocities against the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang was criticised by Amnesty International that had sought international investigation into the findings.

“Now that the OHCHR has finally made its findings public, it is time for the UN Human Rights Council to set up an independent international mechanism to investigate these crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations in Xinjiang,” Amnesty said in a statement earlier.

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