© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Chinese police officer takes his position by the road near what is officially called a vocational education center in Yining.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday denounced torture, forced labor and sterilizations that he said were taking place against Uighur Muslims on an “industrial scale” in China’s region of Xinjiang. Activists and UN rights experts have said that at least 1 million Muslims are being held in camps in the remote western region. China denies the abuses and says its camps offer vocational training and are necessary to fight extremism. Raab, in a recorded speech to the UN Human Rights Council, said that the rights of people in Hong Kong, a former British colony, were being “systematically violated.” China’s national security law inhibits freedoms, he said, calling for free and fair legislative elections to be held. “The situation in Xinjiang is incredible,” he said at the Geneva forum where China is among the 47 member states. “Reported abuses, including torture, forced labor and forced sterilization of women, are extreme and extensive. They are occurring on an industrial scale,” he said. Raab called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, or another independent expert, to be given “urgent and unrestricted access” to Xinjiang and said there should be a resolution in the council to that effect. The Biden administration has backed a last-minute determination by the Trump administration that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang and has said the United States must be prepared to impose costs on China. Raab told the rights forum that the situation in Myanmar was getting worse after a military coup on February 1. “The military must stand aside. The civilian leaders must be released. And the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar must be respected,” he said.