Illustration by Molly Crabapple, showing arbitrary detention at an internment camp in Xinjiang.

China: European states must investigate potential involvement in crimes against humanity by visiting Xinjiang governor

Responding to news that the governor of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), Erkin Tuniyaz, is due to meet officials from the UK government, the European Union (EU) and EU member states on a visit in the coming days, Amnesty International’s China Researcher Alkan Akad said:

“As governor of Xinjiang, Erkin Tuniyaz will have a leading role and be intimately aware of the Chinese government’s massive and systematic abuses targeting Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim communities living in the region. These include torture, persecution and mass imprisonment, which the UN, Amnesty International and others have found may constitute crimes against humanity.

“A visit to Europe, where he will reportedly meet officials from the UK government, the EU and EU member states, will undoubtedly be used for propaganda purposes by the authorities in Beijing who have repeatedly attempted to hide or whitewash the ongoing grave crimes under international law and other human rights violations they have committed in Xinjiang.

“Questions need to be asked about the purpose of his visit. If officials choose to meet him, they cannot allow themselves to be complicit in this blatant piece of Chinese propaganda.

“They must be outspoken and publicly hold the Chinese authorities to account over the crimes against humanity being committed in Xinjiang. Dismantling the cruel system of discrimination and persecution of ethnic minorities must be the main concern of any state invited to receive Erkin Tuniyaz.

“Officials must demand information about the well-being and whereabouts of the many people who have been detained or gone missing without a trace and call for the release of everybody arbitrarily detained.

“As a starting point, judicial authorities in European states should launch their own investigations into whether Erkin Tuniyaz has responsibility for crimes under international law, including torture, or other serious human rights violations that would warrant a prosecution.”


Since 2017, there has been extensive documentation of China’s crackdown against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, carried out under the guise of fighting terrorism. In 2021, a comprehensive report by Amnesty International demonstrated that the systematic state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution perpetrated by Chinese authorities amounted to crimes against humanity. In August 2022 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report finding that crimes against humanity may have occurred in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Amnesty International’s Free Xinjiang Detainees campaign has, to date, profiled 126 individuals who are among the perhaps one million or more people in arbitrary detention in internment camps and prisons in Xinjiang.