‘World’s worst abusers’ China, Russia and Cuba to join UN human rights council despite torture camps and beheadings
- 13 Oct 2020, 17:06
- Updated: 13 Oct 2020, 17:18
CHINA, Russia and Cuba are set to join the UN's human rights council today – despite a history of human rights abuses.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are also expected to be elected to the council today, outraging human rights campaigners.
The decision to vote the five countries onto the council was described by UN Watch as allowing "a gang of arsonists to join the fire brigade".
The UN's Human Rights Council has 47 seats, and there are currently 15 three-year term vacancies.
A UN Human Rights Council candidate can be defeated if fewer than 97 member nations vote for them in a secret ballot.
Britain has been pressured to oppose the election of China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba and Pakistan to the council.
Due to backroom deals before the vote, Cuba and Russia are running unopposed, while China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are competing with Nepal and Uzbekistan in the Asian bloc.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy wrote to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab demanding that Britain oppose China's election to the UN Human Rights Council.
It's like letting a gang of arsonists join the fire brigade
She wrote that Beijing must agree to allow a UN team to investigate crimes against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
The Foreign Office refused to say how Britain would vote in the ballot, but a spokeswoman told The Times: "As the foreign secretary has said, the international community will not turn a blind eye to egregious human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang."
If China is elected, it would be the fifth time the country served on the Human Rights Council.
China had to wait for the past nine months to be eligible for the council again under re-election rules.
Exiled Chinese dissident Yang Jianli told The Guardian that in the past nine months China had "escalated human rights repression across the board".
Yang said China was "involved in the annihilation of political freedom in Hong Kong".
He said: "By any standards China has grossly abused the UN human rights founding principles.
"If this were an election for a UN human rights abusers council, it would be more than proper to vote for China, since it leads the world in violating human rights."
Drone footage that emerged last year is thought to show scores of Uighur being loaded onto trains
Satellite images show a network of suspected detention camps built by the Chinese government since 2017
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
There has been growing international condemnation over China's internment, indoctrination and abuse of Uighur people across the Xinjiang province.
Up to 1.5 million people are thought to have been detained and tortured in the province since 2017 as part of an attempt by the Chinese government to crack down on long-running separatist movements.
Beijing claims the camps are "re-education" centres intended to tackle extremism.
In Saudi Arabia, there have been more than 800 executions carried out since 2015 – many of them beheadings – and the state was found to have organised the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been poisoned twice, said it was "astonishing that Russia is considered a legitimate candidate let alone that it is likely elected".
Kara-Murza said: "It has… been confirmed… that Alexei Navalny has been poisoned by a highly-controlled, military-grade nerve agent produced by the Russian state that has been used for years by the Russian security services, leaving no doubt who was behind this attack."
Navalny, a vocal opponent of Vladimir Putin, was poisoned in August.
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Cuban human rights activist Rosa Maria Paya claimed that Cuba "uses the [Human Rights Council] seat to protect their impunity, making sure the multiple accusations against them and criminal friends in Venezuela, China, Russia and Belarus do not prosper".
According to Human Rights Watch, Cuba uses "repressive tactics against critics, including beatings, public shaming, travel restrictions, and termination of employment".
Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the UN Human Rights Council in 2018.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says there are 'gross, egregious human rights abuses' going on in China