Canada ambassador to China raises human rights concerns during visit to Xinjiang Uyghur region News
Canada ambassador to China raises human rights concerns during visit to Xinjiang Uyghur region

Canada’s Ambassador to China, Jennifer May, visited the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region from June 19 to 22, where she expressed concerns over documented human rights violations, according to a statement released Sunday by Global Affairs Canada.

During the visit, May met with Xinjiang Party Secretary MA Xingrui and other senior officials of the regional government of Xinjiang as part of Canada’s diplomatic engagement with China. The ministry’s department further stated that the Ambassador also used the visit to raise concerns “over credible reports of systematic violations of human rights occurring in Xinjiang affecting Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.” In particular, restrictions on Uyghur-language education as well as the forced placement of Uyghur children in boarding schools were discussed.

In the past, Chinese officials have faced repeated criticism for the suppression of the Uyghur Muslim community in Xinjiang by Chinese authorities, and have even been accused of genocide. A 2022 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery revealed that it was reasonable to conclude that forced labor against Uyghur, Kazakh, and other ethnic minorities was taking place in the region. It also further stated that human rights violations in the area “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”

Last Thursday, campaigning groups, including the World Uyghur Congress, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Service for Human Rights, urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, to provide a public update on the steps taken by both the Chinese government to improve the situation in Xinjiang. More specifically, they also criticized the lack of public reporting and the absence of determined action by UN member states.