Chinese Delegate to the United Nations Verbally Attacks Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed

On March 4, 2021 during the United Nations Human Rights Council 46th session, the renowned human rights expert and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, shared noteworthy findings from his report “Countering Islamophobia/Anti-Muslim Hatred to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief.” In this report, among other topics, Dr. Shaheed discusses perhaps the leading human rights topic worldwide – the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity and genocidal campaign against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang:

“At least four States surveyed have encroached upon the freedom of Muslims to nominate their own religious leaders. China has appointed Imams for its Uighur minority since 1990; […] mosques in China being forcibly ‘renovated’ by removing minarets and Arabic script […] Reports also highlight that China has closed hundreds of Arabic language and Islamic schools; nearly half a million – mostly Uighur – children forcibly placed in boarding schools; and Islamic scholars imprisoned.”

“The Special Rapporteur reiterates his serious concerns regarding reports of widespread violence committed against Muslim minorities by State authorities in Myanmar and China, including atrocities along gendered lines. […] In China, allegations have emerged that Uighur women are systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured in so-called ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang Province.”

In response to Dr. Shaheed’s findings with regards to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, a delegate from China’s Mission to the United Nations stated the following [watch here]:

“Madame Vice President, China always stands for exchange and mutual learning among civilizations and religions. We are firmly against any form of discrimination and intolerance. There are close to 200 million believers in China, 35,000 mosques. The Chinese government guarantees citizens freedom of religion and belief. Various religions, including Islam, exist in China in harmony. There is no Islamophobia at all. Such an accusation is simply untenable. The Special Rapporteur, relying only on BBC, the New York Times, and other medias, other unfounded reports, without even checking the facts, nor engaging with the government concerned, slanders and smears China, which we resolutely reject and completely oppose. The Special Rapporteur wantonly spread false information, lacks minimum professional ethics, and serves as a political tool for some western countries and anti-China forces. What he has done is goes seriously against the UN Charter and Special Procedures code of conduct -“

Madame Vice President cut the Chinese delegate’s speech short, announcing that:

“I cannot allow derogatory or inflammatory remarks to be made against the Special Rapporteur; that is not acceptable under the rules. Everyone has a right to express his or her views about the presentation that was made, but no personal attacks should be made. I count on your support in ensuring that a sense of respect would permeate these discussions; with this in mind, I would like to turn to the speaker and ask that he take my comments into account. Thank you, you may proceed.”

The delegate from China concluded,

“…Which, again reviews, serious flaws in current Special Procedures systems and the increasing politicization of some experts’ work instead of being impartial and objective. They have become a tool to stigmatize specific countries. China believes that the HRC should reform the Special Procedures system and hold experts who have misbehaved accountable. Thank you, Vice President.”

Later on during the same interactive dialogue, the delegate from China interrupted to condemn an NGO that raised the issue of Uyghur persecution. The delegate stated the following [watch here]:

“We just raise the point against the NGO’s speaker; he used inflammatory and abusive language. There is no such kind of a genocide; we regret that you do not recognize our point of order in a timely manner.”