Ethnic minorities in the Chinese region of Xinjiang are forced into forced labor, which could constitute a crime against humanity, according to a report by an independent UN expert, strongly denounced by Beijing.

Xinjiang (north-west), vast as three times the size of France, has for years been draconianly monitored by the Chinese authorities.

The latter accuse Uyghur separatists and Islamists - the main ethnic group in the region - of regularly committing bloody attacks targeting civilians.

Genocide, re-education camps and forced sterilizations

Western studies accuse Beijing of having, as part of its repression, interned more than a million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups in "re-education camps", even of imposing "labor" on them. forced” or “forced sterilizations”.

The United States and several countries evoke a "genocide", which Beijing vehemently denies.

In a report published on Tuesday, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, however, mentions "two systems" organized by the Chinese state and where forced labor is practiced, particularly in agriculture and industry. manufacturing.

From job opportunity to slavery

The author of the report, Tomoya Obokata, indicates that he is basing himself on the work of think tanks, NGO reports, testimonies of victims but also explanations from the Chinese government.

The report refers to “vocational education and training centers” in Xinjiang, in which minorities are “detained and subjected to work placements”.

It describes a poverty reduction program based on the local "transfer of labour".

“These programs can create job opportunities for minorities and improve their income,” the special rapporteur points out.

But “the extent of the powers exercised over the workers concerned (…) may in some cases amount to slavery,” he points out.

In-depth analysis requested

The document refers to "excessive surveillance" of employees, "restrictions on movement through internment", "threats, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman and degrading treatment".

However, this “deserves further independent analysis,” the report notes.

Asked to react, a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, Wang Wenbin, accused the author of listening to "lies and false information about Xinjiang fabricated by the United States, some Western countries and anti-Chinese forces. ".

Special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, but they do not speak on behalf of the global body.


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