‘The Wall of Disappearance’: US-backed Uighur exhibition opens in Geneva

Uyghur photo exhibit in Geneva
Uighur Photo Exhibition in Geneva
Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, set up a United States-backed Uyghur photo exhibition about the disappearance of dozens of people or what is reportedly being held in Chinese-run camps in Xinjiang, China, in front of the United Nations. Geneva, Switzerland, September 16, 2021. Reuters/Dennis Balibus

September 16, 2021

by Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) – A US-backed Uyghur photo exhibition of dozens of people missing or reportedly missing in Chinese-run camps in Xinjiang, China on Thursday amid high tensions over human rights between Beijing and Washington.

The “disappearance of the wall”, which also includes interviews with camp survivors about alleged forced sterilization, stands outside the United Nations in Geneva where a month-long session of the Human Rights Council began this week.

“It was important for us to bring in the faces to represent the figures,” said Zumarte Arkin, whose uncle is featured at the exhibition. “It’s easy to forget about numbers but if people see faces, we hope they understand the urgency of the situation.”

Rights groups estimate that one million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities are housed in camps that China describes as vocational training centers to combat religious extremism.

The World Uyghur Congress told Reuters that the United States made a financial grant for the exhibition which would later travel to Brussels and Berlin. Earlier this week, the US mission in Geneva displayed it at a diplomatic reception attended by sources.

“We are committed to placing human rights at the center of our China policy, and we will continue to highlight the serious human rights abuses committed by the PRC in China in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and elsewhere,” a US mission spokesman said. .

China said the human rights situation in Xinjiang was “very good”. “The attempts of some forces to advance their political agenda by defaming China have failed,” a spokesman for the mission said.

China urged other member states not to attend an event on the repression of Uighurs organized by Germany, the United States and Britain earlier this year, calling it an insult.

Exchanges between China and the United States have been increasingly disrupted at the 47-member council in Geneva this year, with China securing a seat and Washington seeking elections on a platform that former President Donald Trump had left.

This week, Chinese envoy Jiang Duan accused Washington of committing “genocide” and “systemic racism” against Native Americans in a sweeping speech.

US envoy Benjamin Moiling said in response, “There is a difference between countries that have faced immoral acts in the past and seek reform, and those currently committing crimes against humanity.”

Top UN rights official Michelle Bachelet raised Xinjiang in her inaugural speech this week, saying efforts to gain access to investigations into reports of serious violations against Muslim Uighurs had not been successful.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Amelia Sithole-Mataris)

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