Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (136)

Niall Collins

Question:

136. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Uighur population in north-western China is facing persecution; the steps taken by the international community to prevent same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16139/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My attention has been drawn to the reports regarding the situation in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in particular those relating to the treatment of Uighur Muslims and notably the detention of a significant number of people in re-education camps. Ireland takes these reports very seriously and has raised our concerns with our Chinese counterparts, in bilateral and multilateral contexts, and as an EU Member State.

The subject was raised with China's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Wang Chao, during political consultations held with China last November. Our concerns about the situation in Xinjiang are also raised in our contacts with the Chinese Embassy in Dublin and through our Embassy in Beijing.

Ireland participated in China’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was also held in November.  In addition to expressing concern at reports of the treatment of ethnic Uighurs, in particular their detention in political re-education camps, we urged China to respect freedom of religion and belief and recommended that China grant access to the OHCHR to all regions of the country including Xinjiang.

The EU also continues to raise concerns regarding freedom of religion and belief at bilateral and multilateral levels. The most recent EU-China Human Rights Dialogue was held just last week, on the 1-2 April, where the EU noted that while actions to counter terrorism are essential, such measures must respect the principle of proportionality, fundamental freedoms and international laws. The EU raised the system of political re-education camps and called on China to allow meaningful, unsupervised and unrestricted access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Procedures.

At the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council in March, the EU similarly raised concerns about the existence of political re-education camps and widespread surveillance and restrictions particularly targeted at Uighurs in Xinjiang, and again urged China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ireland fully supports the EU position, and actively contributes to its actions and statements.