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Russia has no reason to act on reports about China's oppression of Muslims — Lavrov

There are no reasons for taking steps not included in the UN Human Rights Council’s procedures

MOSCOW, October 9. /TASS/. Moscow has no reason to take steps not included in the UN Human Rights Council’s procedures in relation to China's alleged oppression of Muslims in the Xinjiang region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters following talks with Kazakh top diplomat Mukhtar Tleuberdi on Wednesday.

"China has repeatedly provided clarifications concerning the accusations you have mentioned. I don’t know who voiced them, it must have been our Western colleagues," Lavrov said in response to a question. "We don’t have reasons to take any steps apart from procedures that exist within the UN, which I have mentioned, meaning the Human Rights Council," he added.

The Russian top diplomat pointed out that UN member states used to inform the Human Rights Council of measures to improve the human rights situation under an annual monitoring mechanism. "The monitoring is conducted on an equal basis for each and every country," Lavrov noted.

Xinjiang situation

China’s northwestern Xinjiang autonomous territory is populated by Uighurs, most of whom are Muslims. According to the Chinese authorities, separatist groups affiliated with international terrorist organizations are active in the region.

In August 2018, a co-rapporteur from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights "noted reports of mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities, and estimates that upwards of a million people were being held in so-called counter-extremism centers and another two million had been forced into so-called ‘re-education camps’ for political and cultural indoctrination," the Office said in a statement. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet suggested sending observers to the region.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has recently announced new visa restrictions on Chinese government officials and members of the Chinese Communist Party suspected of being involved in the detention of Uyghur Muslims and human rights violations. The Chinese embassy in the US, in turn, pointed out that the restrictions ran counter to rules regulating international relations and amounted to interference in the country’s domestic affairs.

Beijing kept on dismissing reports about a network of penal facilities in the Xinjiang region but in late 2018, China’s authorities for the first time confirmed that there were educational and training centers in the region where people who had been affected by the ideas of terrorism were taught Chinese, literacy and communication skills, as well as Chinese laws. The authorities did not disclose the number of people residing in those centers.