The international human rights organization Amnesty International, in its yearly report released on Wednesday, said that the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) remained grave and there was no accountability for grave human rights violations committed against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. In its yearly report, Amnesty International stated that people who participated in events to commemorate the victims of an apartment block fire in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi and other protests against stringent COVID-19 policies known as the A4 protests or White Paper Revolution due to protesters holding blank sheets of paper continued to face harassment.

According to the report, Amnesty International found no evidence of progress in implementing recommendations mentioned in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 2022 report which mentioned possible crimes against humanity against members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups in Xinjiang. In the meantime, systematic repression of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and those from other predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups continued and impunity remained entrenched. Up to 1 million people had been arbitrarily detained in internment camps and prisons since the crackdown began in 2017 and there were further detentions and unfair trials in 2023.

In June last year, a court in Urumqi sentenced Uyghur student Zulyar Yasin to 15 years imprisonment for “separatism”. In July, his mother, Rahile Jalalidin, was taken away by the police after protesting about her son’s sentence. In February, state security police detained ethnic Kazakh journalist and artist Zhanargul Zhumatai from her mother’s home in Urumqi after she communicated with contacts overseas and spoke out against the appropriation of land from Kazakh herder communities around Urumqi for the construction of roads and hydropower electricity projects.

Previously, Zhanargul was detained for over two years in an internment camp, where she developed heart problems reportedly due to lack of medical care. The use of forced labour by Uyghurs continued to be reported by independent researchers and media sources. In September, an International Labour Organisation (ILO) delegation visited Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to hold “technical discussions” about the implementation of ILO Conventions 29 and 105 relating to forced labour and ratified by China in 2022.

Similarly, the extent of discrimination and restrictions on the rights of Tibetans increasingly undermined their cultural identity and language. In February, five United Nations experts wrote to the Chinese government raising concerns about labour transfer programs under which millions of rural Tibetans were allegedly taken from their homes and traditional livelihoods and placed in low-skilled, low-paid manufacturing jobs.

The experts noted that the practice might negatively impact Tibetan minority languages, cultural practices, and religion, and could amount to the trafficking of persons for forced labour.

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