Human Rights Council 51st session Netherlands Explanation of Vote during adoption of draft decision on the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region, China
Explanation of Vote delivered by H.E. Ambassador Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative
With your permission I would like to first convey our condolences to the delegation of Thailand for the horrible incident in their country this morning.
In 2016 the first signs appeared that something was looming in the westernmost region of China. Satellite imagery revealed bright-lid compounds in the dark desert. Wall after wall of barbed wire. The hurried construction of huge compounds. Reports of a repression campaign against Uyghur Muslims. A ban on Muslim names, and long beards. The characterization of any expression of Islam as extremist. And then people started to disappear.
Since then evidence piled up about the serious situation in the Autonomous Uyghur Region Xinjiang. UN Special Procedures issued no less than 83 communications and 28 press releases. Other delegations already mentioned the long list of evidence. Last of which was the 46 page assessment report of the High Commissioner, a document that cannot be dismissed as a ‘so-called report’.It’s an independent UN assessment, which confirmed and deepened our concerns. Concerns that crimes were being committed that may amount to crimes against humanity. At the very least, it confirmed that the situation warrants the attention of the Human Rights Council.
The decision aims to create a mandate for such a regular debate. A debate during which China will receive the opportunity to explain its own policies and respond to the allegations. Members of this Council will have seen that L.6 does not pronounce itself on the situation in Xinjiang, nor does it create a mandate for a Special Rapporteur. It only requests a regular debate.
My delegation believes that every grave situation warrants a discussion in the Council, irrespective of one’s position on the situation itself. Such a discussion is the bare minimum of what the international community can do. For us this is a principled position about the credibility of the Council. It is the same principled position on the basis of which we supported the request for a special session on the violent clashes in the OPTs in 2021, despite having reservations on the mandate created at that same session. We call on other members of this Council to make the same distinction. It is a responsibility we took upon us when we stood for a seat in this human rights body.
I will conclude with an important remark.
It has been argued this afternoon that this initiative is a political move. For my country, it remains very clear: this is not about China. It is about respect for human rights. About freedom of religion or belief. About women’s rights. About the credibility of the Council and respect for the important work of the High Commissioner and the Office. About non-discrimination – and human dignity.
It is for the above reasons my delegation feels strongly about the need for a debate and will therefore vote in favor of L.6. We urge all Council members to join us in support for this important initiative .