Chinese government report to UN Human Rights Council “whitewashes abuses”

Amnesty International has said that the Chinese government’s report to the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) whitewashes serious human rights abuses being committed across the country. The organization’s own submission draws attention to a number of issues the Human Rights Council should raise during China’s URP review on Monday.

China has engaged positively with the UPR – including timely submission of its report. China has also made progress in certain human rights areas, including the advances related to its legal system, the human rights education programmes and the passage of the Labour Contract Law, among others.

However, China’s government report omits reference to the on-going crisis in Tibet, the severe crackdown on Uighurs in China’s Western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the on-going persecution of various religious practitioners, including Falun Gong members.

According to the official Lhasa Evening News, a Strike Hard Unified Checking Campaign, launched on 18 January in the region’s capital, includes “investigative raids” to residential areas, rented rooms, hotels, guesthouses, internet cafes and bars. By 24 January, police had detained 81 suspects, including two for having “reactionary opinions and reactionary songs on their mobile phones.”

Six months after the closing of the Beijing Olympic Games, the UPR presents a rare opportunity for the international community to systematically engage with China on the full spectrum of human rights concerns.

“It’s always good to see China engaging with the world on human rights,” said Roseann Rife, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International. “The question now is how that engagement will impact the lives of China’s citizens and particularly those who are suffering persecution for peacefully exercising their rights.

“China’s national report fails to list some of the country’s most pressing issues. Ignoring severe violations of human rights in the country undermines the goals and spirit of the UN UPR process.”   

According to Amnesty International, the official report also fails to mention China’s systems of administrative detention, in which up to several hundred thousand individuals may be incarcerated without trial or access to a lawyer, and the need to reform the household registration system, which institutionalizes second-class citizenship for the hundreds of millions of rural labourers in the cities.