Amnesty International, China: Gross violations of human rights in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, ASA 17/018/1999, 1 April 1999, https://www.refworld.org/reference/countryrep/amnesty/1999/en/24005 [accessed 02 March 2024]
Discrimination based on race, nationality, ethnicity
Economic, social and cultural rights
Freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment
Freedom of religion
Gross, systematic and large-scale
Human rights and fundamental freedoms
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Persecution based on political opinion
Racial / Ethnic persecution
Religious persecution (including forced conversion)
Rule of law / Due process / Procedural fairness
The attached report describes a pattern of gross violations of human rights in the Uighur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang (XUAR), one of the five autonomous regions of the People's Republic of China (RPC), which borders several Central Asian countries.These violations include arbitrary detention and imprisonment, unfair political trials, torture, and arbitrary and summary executions. The main victims of these violations are the Uighurs, the majority ethnic group among the predominently Muslim local population in the region.
Over the past few years, thousands of people have been arbitrarily detained in the XUAR and arbitrary arrests continue. Thousands of political prisoners, arrested at various times during the 1990s, are reported to remain imprisoned, some having been sentenced to long prison terms after unfair trials, others still detained without charge or trial after months or years in jail. Many of those detained are reported to have been tortured, some with particularly cruel methods which, to Amnesty International's knowledge, are not being used elsewhere in the PRC. Scores of Uighurs, many of them political prisoners, have been sentenced to death and executed in the past two years. Others are alleged to have been killed by the security forces in circumstances which appear to constitute extra-judicial executions.
These gross violations of human rights are occurring amidst growing ethnic unrest fuelled by unemployment, discrimination and curbs on fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion. Over the past ten years the local ethnic population has witnessed a steady erosion of its social, economic and cultural rights. This trend has exacerbated long-standing ethnic tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the region, and contributed to the escalation of violence. A growing number of violent incidents have been reported in the region. Some of these incidents, including attacks against government officials and bombings, have reportedly been carried out by underground opposition groups seeking independence from China. Over the years, various opposition groups militating for the independence of 'Eastern Turkestan' have been formed and crushed in the region. In recent years, the government's harsh repression and the denial of legitimate channels for expressing grievances and discontent have increasingly led to outburst of violence.
Amnesty International is calling on the Chinese government to take immediate measures to curb the gross violations of human rights occuring in the region, in particular executions and torture. These measures are described in the concluding section of the report. Amnesty International is also calling on the government to institute an impartial commission of enquiry to investigate reports of human rights violations in the region, suggest remedial measures and provide a forum for individuals and groups to voice their grievances. Amnesty International believes this should be accompanied by a comprehensive assessment of the needs in education, health and the economic disparities in the region, particularly given China's signature of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1997.
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