The State Department criticized an upcoming visit of the UN’s counter-terrorism Czar to China as, “highly inappropriate,” after it was revealed the official was going to a province that has witnessed persecution of ethnic Muslims for their religious beliefs by the Chinese government.
The U.N. has faced ongoing criticism of cozying up to China – adding fuel to the fire the U.N. has allowed Vladimir Voronkov, the United Nations Under-Secretary for the UN’s counter-terrorism office to visit Xinjiang, which is home to some one million persecuted Uighur and ethnic Muslims.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan called UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Friday, “to convey deep concerns,” regarding Vornonkov’s planned visit to Xinjiang, China.
“The Deputy Secretary expressed that such a visit is highly inappropriate in view of the unprecedented repression campaign underway in Xinjiang against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims.”
Ortagus continued, “The Deputy Secretary noted that Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not, and stressed that the UN’s topmost counterterrorism official is putting at risk the UN’s reputation and credibility on counterterrorism and human rights by lending credence to these false claims.”
Proposing a solution, “The Deputy Secretary advocated for unmonitored and unhindered access to all camps and detainees in Xinjiang by UN human rights officials.”
China has faced growing scrutiny over its internment camps that hold approximately 1 million Muslims in the Xinjiang region of Western China.
A recent State Department country report on human rights practices in China noted: “Members of the minority Uighur ethnic group reported systematic torture and other degrading treatment…survivors stated that authorities subjected individuals in custody to electrocution, waterboarding, stress positions, injection of unknown substances and cold cells.”
In April, Antonio Guterres the UN Secretary-General faced criticism for not raising the issue of the Uighurs directly with President Xi Jinping on a visit there. Instead, his spokesman told reporters that he had discussed the situation in Xinjiang with, “Chinese authorities.”
China’s new ambassador to the UN in Geneva confirmed to reporters this week that China had invited Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the camps in the region. Her spokesperson told the Associated Press that her office is in negotiations for “full access,” for the trip to take place.
Last month during a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Switzerland, the Executive Director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, took to the floor against the continuous objections of China and described the conditions ethnic Muslims were living under.
“Surveillance and repression in Xinjiang has increased dramatically,” he said. “Biometric data is collected from residents, passports confiscated, religious activity restricted. China bans long beards, public prayers and Muslim veils.”
Despite its human rights violations, China is a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The Trump administration withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in June of last year. Nikki Haley, the then United States ambassador to the UN said the council was, “a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.”
Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.