By Brooke Anderson - Washington D.C.
April 17, 2022
The State Department's latest human rights report on China, which includes the country's treatment of Uyghurs referred to as genocide, has been welcomed by human rights organisations.
Human rights groups welcomed this week's State Department human rights report on China. (Getty)
The 90-page report, China 2021 Human Rights Report, part of its annual report on human rights across the world, which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet, as well as the Xinjiang historical Uyghur region, provides important information on rights abuses.
"Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang," read the report by the State Department, which last year designated as genocide China's treatment of the Uyghurs, following years of documented abuses and efforts by activists to raise awareness of the situation.
The report went on to point out examples of human rights abuses, noting the prevalence of "arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of the country’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labour; and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement".
Rushan Abbas, executive director of the Campaign for Uyghurs, said in a statement: "Uyghurs are really delighted to see this strong stance to call China out for its crimes of genocide, and standing firmly on the values that ought to be advocated by the United States precisely concerning liberty, respect and freedom for the principles of humanity."
Peter Irwin, senior programme officer for advocacy and communications at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, described the report as comprehensive. But he also wondered if there could be the opportunity to look at broader trends or to use it as a reference tool to inform the government on policy.
"Some have suggested that rather that only reporting on specific issues, they look at broader trends. Is there a theme we can pull out of this?" he told The New Arab.
"How will the report be used by the State Department, practically speaking for diplomacy? How can it be used to leverage the government to bring more attention to the issue?” he said. “I think it helps government agencies to come to one place to they can refer to the report."
Some Chinese activists, meanwhile, are calling for a reboot of the State Department's human rights report on China.