Rights group urges NZ to speak out on Uyghur oppression
A rights group has urged New Zealand’s prime minister to call on China to respect the human rights of ethnic Uyghur Muslims living in the country’s Xinjiang province.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in an open letter to Jacinda Ardern has asked her to express concern about “mass abuses” of Turkic Muslims in her meetings with Chinese leaders.
Ardern is scheduled to visit China on April 1.
The HRW praised Ardern’s “extraordinary leadership” in the wake of March 15 Christchurch terror attacks which claimed the lives of 50 Muslims and injured as many during congregational Friday prayers.
“Following the horrific attacks on mosques in Christchurch, Prime Minister Ardern spoke forcefully in defense of Muslims’ rights,” said Sophie Richardson, HRW’s China director.
“Ardern should show the same global leadership by publicly calling on China to respect the human rights of Muslims there.”
The HRW said that New Zealand did not join a November 2018 letter with 15 other governments addressed to China seeking access to Xinjiang to assess the human rights situation.
New Zealand, according to the right group, has avoided referring to the grave rights violations in China in their national statements at UN forums, including the Human Rights Council.
“Prime Minister Ardern should use her visit to Beijing to join the ranks of governments outraged by the unprecedented abuses of Turkic Muslims in China,” Richardson said.
“She should publicly call on Chinese leaders to close the ‘political education’ camps in Xinjiang, end the widespread abuses, and allow independent, international observers’ access to the region.”