China attempted Thursday to block a prominent Uyghur activist from speaking before the UN Human Rights Council (Reuters Photo)
Dolkun Isa, a Uyghur activist based in Germany and president of the World Uyghur Congress, spoke up during a general debate at the top UN rights body about rights concerns around the world
China attempted Thursday to block a prominent Uyghur activist from speaking before the UN Human Rights Council, as he demanded the body urgently address allegations of serious violations by Beijing.
Dolkun Isa, a Uyghur activist based in Germany and president of the World Uyghur Congress, spoke up during a general debate at the top UN rights body about rights concerns around the world.
Pointing to a number of recent reports, including one from former United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet, warning of possible crimes against humanity being committed against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, he said the allegations “require the immediate and urgent attention of the council.”
But as soon as he began speaking, China’s representative in the room Mao Yizong demanded the floor to object.
“We have reason to challenge the qualification of the speaker,” he said, insisting that Isa was “not the representative of an NGO, and still less a human rights defender.”
“Rather he is an anti-China, separatist, violence element,” Mao said, speaking in Chinese through an interpreter, warning that “allowing him to engage in separatist activities in the council would be in serious violation of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, as well as the rules of procedure of the Human Rights Council.”
After Mao’s objection, US representative Sam Birnbaum took the floor to insist on Isa’s right to address the council.
And council president Vaclav Balek of the Czech Republic pointed out that NGOs are free to pick the speakers that represent them during the debate, and ruled he was entitled to finish his intervention.
Isa had been invited by the non-governmental organisation Global Human Rights Defence to take its brief speaking slot during the NGO portion of the debate, which comes after the council’s 47 member states and numerous observer countries have voiced their positions.
“It’s not the first time the Chinese government is trying to stop me,” Isa told AFP later, saying “China is trying to manipulate the UN rights system.”
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)