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Tuesday, February 18, 2020
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 16 2020 (IPS) - China is currently under heavy scrutiny for its massive human rights violations across different sections, Human Rights Watch (HRW) head Kenneth Roth said on Wednesday.
At the launch of World Report 2020, which focuses largely on China’s record of violating human rights for both its citizens domestically as well as abroad, Roth blasted the country’s government for undermining global interests and interventions with regards to human rights issues.
Roth, who was denied access to Hong Kong over the weekend, said at the launch that China is “using diplomatic clout to silence global institutions”. He also heavily criticised the United Nations Secretary General for not holding China accountable for its human rights abuses.
“At the U.N. headquarters, a major Chinese government priority has been avoiding discussion of its conduct in Xinjiang,” he said. “U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has been unwilling to publicly demand an end to China’s mass detention of its Muslims.”
On Wednesday, Stéphane Dujarric, Guterres’ spokesperson told reporters during a briefing that the Secretary General had previously spoken out on this issue on a number of occasions and raised a number of issues with his Chinese counterparts. He reiterated the Secretary General’s position which is based on principles surrounding “full respect for the unity and territorial integrity of China,” protection of human rights in the “fight against terrorism” and the importance of “each community to “feel that its identity is fully respected.”
He was unable to respond to specific allegations by Roth that China continues to “avoid discussion of its conduct in Xinjiang” at the U.N. In September HRW released a report of the “Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment of Turkic Muslims”.
Meanwhile, Roth also echoed thoughts from experts who have previously said that one of the reasons the Security Council had not been able to take steps against Myanmar is because of pressure from China.
In November, on the heels of a lawsuit being filed against Myanmar by the Gambia, Akila Radhakrishnan of the Global Justice Center expressed similar concerns to IPS.
“Security council has consistently failed to act because of China — there’s no possibility of any strong action,” Radhakrishnan had said, reiterating why it’s important for states to directly take action against Myanmar.
In that regard, especially with Roth’s concerns about China “intimidation of other governments” with threats, one issue of concern would be China’s relations with the Gambia, which has grown in the past few years.
When asked, Roth told IPS he wasn’t aware if the Gambia was going to suffer any threats from China given its actions against Myanmar, but he said Aung San Suu Kyi leading the defence in the case is “appalling.”
“One element of this that is not generally appreciated is the initial hearing that took place a few weeks ago was actually not about the merits of the genocide case, it was about the provisional measures,” he said.
Provisional measures in the case of international law ensures that the main concern at the centre of the suite is not destroyed while the case is pending, which in this case would mean Myanmar imposes measures to refrain from any acts of genocide against the Rohingya community, and would ensure protecting the Rohingya community still in Myanmar.
“It was about protecting the roughly 450,000 Rohingyas who are still in Rakhine state, still within Myanmar,” Roth said. “So these are the people who are living terrified, displaced…unable to move. They are extremely at risk of the same violence that sent 730,000 compatriots fleeing to Bangladesh a couple years ago.”
He said Suu Kyi’s move implies that she isn’t just defending the past atrocities of Myanmar against Rohingya people.
“It’s not just defending past action that she was there for,” he said, “she was defending the future.”
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