NEW DELHI — India on Thursday abstained from voting on a draft resolution in the UN Human Rights Council on holding a debate on the human rights situation in China’s restive Xinjiang region, reports PTI.
The draft resolution on “holding a debate on the situation of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China” was rejected in the 47-member Council after 17 members voted in favour, 19 members voted against, including China, and 11 abstentions, including India, Brazil, Mexico and Ukraine.
The United States, Canada and Britain were among the countries that brought the motion.
Human rights groups have been sounding the alarm over what is happening in the resource-rich north-western Chinese province for years, alleging that more than one million Uyghurs had been detained against their will in a large network of what Beijing calls “re-education camps”.
China director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, said in a statement that for the first time in its history, the UN’s top human rights body considered a proposal to debate the human rights situation in the Xinjiang region of China.
“While the Council’s failure to adopt the proposal is an abdication of responsibility and a betrayal of Uyghur victims, the extremely close vote highlights the growing number of states willing to take a stand on principle and shine a spotlight on China’s sweeping rights violations,” Richardson said.
Richardson noted that “nothing will erase the stain of China’s crimes against humanity, laid bare” by a recent report of former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
According to the report, Richardson further said, “We urge incoming High Commissioner Volker Turk to brief the Council on his office’s report, and we call on states, companies, and the international community to implement the report’s recommendations and hold Chinese authorities accountable for their international crimes.”
Natably, China’s envoy had reportedly warned before the vote that the motion would create a precedent for examining other countries’ human rights records.
“Today China is targeted. Tomorrow any other developing country will be targeted,” said Chen Xu, adding that a debate would lead to “new confrontations”.
Human rights groups have accused Beijing of abuses against Uyghurs, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority that numbers around 10 million in the western region of Xinjiang, including the mass use of forced labour in internment camps.
The United States has accused China of genocide. China, however, vigorously deny the allegations. (With inputs from agency)