At UN Human Rights Council, Islamic Bloc Is Once Again Expected to Defend China's Muslim Abuses

Patrick Goodenough | June 22, 2021 | 4:04am EDT
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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing in 2019. (Photo by Madoka Ikegami/AFP via Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing in 2019. (Photo by Madoka Ikegami/AFP via Getty Images)

( – The U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday began a new session at which competing statements on the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region are expected to be aired, underlining what critics see as glaring double standards on the part of Islamic countries.

Over the past three years, sessions of both the HRC in Geneva and the U.N. General Assembly in New York have witnessed dozens of countries signing up to joint statements of support for Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang.

Echoing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) talking points, the statements reject documented reports on mass-scale violations of the rights of Uyghur and other minority Muslims – crimes which the U.S. government has determined amount to genocide.

In each case, many of the signatories have been Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile democracies have issued joint statements of their own, condemning the abuses.

Canada will lead the initiative in Geneva this week, with a statement backed by its G7 partners and other democracies, according to a CBC News report.

After learning about the planned move, China’s mission in Geneva preemptively slammed what it called “an attempt to smear China, interfere in China’s internal affairs and retard China’s development.”

Mission spokesperson Liu Yuyin said Canada and other critics were themselves responsible for “grave and shocking human rights violations within their own borders.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian added that the countries concerned seem to be “bent on going down the wrong path and about to stage another political farce.”

It’s not yet known which country will lead the latest pushback in the form of a statement of support for China, but previous ones have been led by autocratic allies of Beijing, including Cuba and Belarus.

It is the stance of Islamic countries, however, that has been most perplexing, given that those suffering under the CCP’s policies in Xinjiang are Muslims.

Of 46 countries that put their names to a Belarus-led letter of support for China on Xinjiang at the HRC a year ago, for example, 22 were members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The OIC is usually first to criticize policies around the world that it views as harming Muslims, especially minority Muslims.

But on Xinjiang, the bloc has not done so, on the contrary expressing understanding for China’s position.

When a meeting of OIC foreign ministers in 2019 issued a 26-page statement dealing with conditions faced by Muslim minorities around the world, a single paragraph devoted to China commended it for “providing care to its Muslim citizens.”

Leading OIC members such as Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are key partners in China’s global Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Pakistan has led OIC efforts at the U.N. for many years highlighting what the bloc views as “Islamophobia” in the West. At the same time, it has signed up to a number of the joint statements praising China over its Xinjiang policies.

In a recent “Axios on HBO” interview, Axios’ Jonathan Swan asked Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan why he was “so outspoken about Islamophobia in Europe and the United States, but totally silent about the genocide of Muslims in western China.”

Khan began by pointing out that China denies those allegations, then said, “Whatever issues we have with the Chinese, we speak to them behind closed doors.”

“China has been the gr– one of the greatest friends to us in our most difficult times. When we were really struggling, our economy was struggling, China came to our rescue. So we respect the way they – they are. And whatever issues we have we speak behind closed doors.”

Khan then accused the West of ignoring the plight of Muslims in Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan territory divided between Pakistan and India, calling it “hypocrisy.”

Swan asked Khan whether it makes him feel “sick” to have to be silent with the Chinese about Xinjiang “because of all this money they’re putting into Pakistan.”

He did not answer the question, but said, “I look around the world, what’s happening in Palestine, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, am I going to start talking about everything?”

“I concentrate on what is happening on my border, in my country,” he added, raising Kashmir again.

“This is on your border,” Swan interjected.

Kashgar, one of the largest cities in Xinjiang, is less than 450 miles from Islamabad.

The office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has been trying to arrange a visit to Xinjiang since the fall of 2018. Bachelet said during the opening of the HRC session on Monday that discussions were continuing over the “modalities for a visit, including meaningful access,” and that she hoped to be able to make the trip this year.


See also:

Muslims Lash Out at Islamic Bloc Over Uyghur Silence, ‘Complicity’ (Dec. 18, 2020)

Islamic, Communist, and Other Autocratic Regimes Back China's Treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang (Oct. 7, 2020)

Up to Two Million Uighurs Incarcerated in Chinese Camps; Islamic Bloc Silent (Dec. 6, 2018)


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