The performance of the United Nations Human Rights Council in subjecting China to one of its periodic reviews in Geneva this week was everything critics have long pointed out about the UN system generally, and the UN’s human rights function specifically. It was a carnival of technocratic surrealism, polite uselessness and outrageous lies.
If that seems a bit harsh, then let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the best advertisement for the rules-based global order that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and the rest keep telling us we must defend against creepy anti-globalization populists like U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazil’s just-elected Jair Bolsonaro.
It was a farce.
For more than a year now, there has been mounting, detailed evidence that Beijing has been rounding up hundreds of thousands of harmlessly devout Muslim Uighurs — perhaps a million of them — and forcing them into re-education camps where they are subjected to ritualized humiliation, Communist Party indoctrination, beatings and torture. Investigators with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights aren’t even allowed to visit the camps.
After having first denied the camps’ mere existence, a few weeks ago China turned to describing dozens of high-security facilities in the eastern province of Xinjiang, all surrounded by locked gates, razor wire and sentry towers, as “vocational training schools.” Xinjiang, a predominantly Turkic region, has become increasingly overwhelmed by Han Chinese domination and Beijing’s police-state surveillance infrastructure, with military checkpoints everywhere, arbitrary arrests and disappearances — all the dirty habits of state terror.
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