Australia Seeks UN Probe Into New China Uighur Abuse Claims

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Australia has called for a United Nations investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, where Beijing’s treatment of minority Muslim Uighurs has drawn sustained international criticism.

Former detainees and a guard said they experienced or witnessed systematic rape and torture inside China’s so-called re-education camps where the UN says anywhere from tens of thousands to “upwards of 1 million” Uighurs have been detained, according to a BBC report on Wednesday.

“These latest reports of systematic torture and abuse of women are deeply disturbing and raise serious questions regarding the treatment of Uighurs and other religious and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang,” a spokesperson for the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement Thursday.

Australia urged China to allow international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to be given immediate and unfettered access to Xinjiang, the statement read.

The U.S. also said it is “deeply disturbed” by the reports, Reuters reported, citing a State Department spokeswoman. “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences,” the report cited the spokeswoman as saying. The U.S. has previously accused China of committing genocide.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Thursday that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has already been invited to visit Xinjiang “and the two sides have been in contact with each other.” China says it’s fighting separatism and religious extremism among Uighurs, and denies wrongdoing.

“We welcome the foreign nationals with an unbiased view to visit Xinjiang to see with their own eyes a real Xinjiang,” he added. “In the meantime, we oppose the interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights and oppose the presumption of guilt or any investigation based on it.”

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