Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the UN has been in negotiations with Beijing “without restrictions” to Xinjiang to see how the Uighur minority is being treated.  At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslims have been held at concentration camps, according to the US and Australian right groups who have accused Chinese authorities of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing forced labour. 

As a response, Beijing has announced sanctions against two Americans, a Canadian and a rights advocacy body that had criticized their treatment of the Uyghurs which US officials have said constitutes genocide. Guterres raised the concern for the fate of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who are being held prisoner in China on charges of espionage.

Their detention, which Ottawa has denounced as “arbitrary,” is widely viewed in the West as a reprisal for the arrest and continued detention in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, an executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. “Our position has been very clear,” Guterres told CBC: “that in all situations of this kind, there must be due process and full respect for the human rights of the people involved.”

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 Guterres told Canada’s CBC television network that a serious negotiation is at the present moment taking place between the Office of the (UN Human Rights) Commissioner and the Chinese authorities. The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said in February that reports of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, sexual violence and forced labor in Xinjiang necessitated a thorough and independent assessment.

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