Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Why are Israel and Switzerland silent on Uighur human rights in China?

Human rights activists are expressing surprise at the failure of Israel and Switzerland to participate in a joint statement criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighur minority.

France made a statement on behalf of 43 countries at the United Nations last month.

Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, accuses dozens of people missing at the United States-backed Uyghur photo exhibition or allegedly held in Chinese camps in Xinjiang, China, before the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. , September 1

The two countries have “signed past statements, especially Switzerland, which has always joined collective statements condemning atrocities in East Turkestan,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, which led the Xinjiang Uyghur Congress. Uyghur’s preferred name was used for. Autonomous Region of China in an interview with VOA.

Different reactions to China and Uighurs

In a joint statement, France’s UN ambassador Nicolas de Rivire said that the signatory countries are “particularly concerned about the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”. indicate its existence. Where more than one lakh people have been detained arbitrarily.”

French Ambassador to the United Nations Nicolas de Rivire speaks to reporters ahead of the Security Council meeting, January 3, 2020.

French Ambassador to the United Nations Nicolas de Rivire speaks to reporters ahead of the Security Council meeting, January 3, 2020.

The statement called on China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun dismissed the joint criticism as “baseless” and compared the signatory countries to “henchmen” of the United States.

“Xinjiang has stability, development and prosperity, and the life of the Chinese people is getting better day by day,” Zhang said. “The Chinese people are satisfied and proud of such achievements, and those achievements are widely recognized and appreciated by people around the world.”

Switzerland and Israel

At the United Nations in Geneva in June, Israel and Switzerland joined 42 other countries in signing a joint statement concerning Uighur human rights in China.

China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on September 23, 2021.

China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on September 23, 2021.

But Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Pierre-Alain Elschinger told VOA in an email that his country has decided not to engage in the latest statement because of various factors, including upcoming “strategic talks” with China.

“The actual position of China and Switzerland on human rights remains unchanged,” Elschinger wrote. “Switzerland is concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and other parts of China.”

Eltschinger said Switzerland assesses support for any joint statement on a case-by-case basis. “Switzerland will continue to engage in joint statements in the future when it deems it appropriate,” he said.

Israel’s foreign ministry and Israel’s embassy in Washington did not respond to VoA’s questions about its decision not to sign the October statement.

However, a grassroots Jewish rights organization, the Jewish Movement for Uighur Freedom, suggested that the Israeli government was bargaining with China to “preserve” ties.

“It was on the right side of the Uighur issue in June when it signed an earlier statement, and we call [Israel] To re-establish this position,” the group said in an email to VOA.

Isa said it was not unprecedented for a country at the United Nations to change its stance on Uighur human rights despite diplomatic pressure from China.

“During the last statement in June, Ukraine was initially part of a joint statement made by 44 UN member states. However, it withdrew its signature shortly after due to the vaccine diplomacy that China used against Ukraine. took it,” said Jesus.

According to Chinese state media, 62 countries, including Cuba, signed a joint statement opposing interference in China’s internal affairs in the name of human rights.

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