In a United Nations speech on Tuesday supported by 38 other countries, Germany criticized China’s human rights record and called on the world to accept persecuted Uygur Muslims as refugees.
The group of mostly Western countries, represented by Berlin’s ambassador to the United Nations, Christoph Heusgen, also expressed “deep concerns” over the national security law Beijing has imposed in Hong Kong, which allows people to be sent to mainland China for trials.
Beijing and its UN allies fired back, rejecting what they deemed interference in “China’s internal affairs.”
A million Uygurs are in Chinese detention in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to UN findings. President Xi Jinping, however, has defended the “anti-terror” practice of “vocational training” as “totally correct.”
“We are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the recent developments in Hong Kong,” Heusgen said in a UN general debate.
“In view of our concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, we call on all countries to respect the principle of non-refoulment,” he added.
The principle of non-refoulment forms essential protection under international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. It prohibits states from transferring or removing individuals from their jurisdiction when there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be at risk of irreparable harm upon return, including persecution, torture or other serious human rights violations.