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14-08-09, 10:48
Third and Final Part of an Interview with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak
By Florian Godovits
Epoch Times Staff

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, described the events in Xinjiang last month as “a wave of immense suppression” in a recent interview with The Epoch Times.

Nowak, an Austrian, has been the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment since 2004. His job includes transmitting appeals about torture cases, going on fact-finding missions, and submitting annual reports about human rights abuses. The last time he went to China was in 2005; it took ten years to negotiate the visit.

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region lies in northwest China and represents one-sixth of China’s total territory. Xinjiang borders several Central Asian countries and Chinese provinces, including Tibet.

Situation in Xinjiang Region

“This represented a wave of immense suppression. But, one needs to understand that the separatist forces in Xinjiang are much stronger than those in Tibet. The terrorist acts there are unseen in Tibet, and there is also a loud call for separation from China. We have to admit that the allegation of separatism is to a certain degree of greater legitimacy than in Tibet.

“On the other hand, everyone who demonstrates in that area or is close to Uighurs, Muslims, and so on, is very easily accused of separatism. They are generally under suspicion, or rather, suppressed. The fact that the Chinese authorities made it very difficult internationally to glean information, and as there were major difficulties for journalists, is an indication that the Chinese regime is very nervous. By all means, this is definitely comparable to the events in Tibet before the Olympic Games.”
Human Rights in China Since the Olympic Games

“Not really, no [improvements in human rights]. Sorry to say, but what many had hoped for did not materialize, that is that the situation because of the Olympic Games, or at least afterwards would ease up. On the contrary, it escalated immensely in Xinjiang.”

What Can the United Nations Do?

“It is extremely difficult. The Geneva Human Rights Commission is relatively weak and China plays a significant part in this. The EU-China dialogue is, in reality, in a stalemate. Essentially, the Chinese dictate the conditions with the EU.

“The EU-China dialogue was chosen as an alternative to the confrontational politics during the 1990s. It didn’t prove to be of the value we had looked for. We had hoped that within the scope of the EU-China dialogues progress would have been made in a legal sense. There was small progress, but it stagnated during the past few years. I don’t see any improvement at the moment, but in many ways I see a certain escalation.”

Last Updated
Aug 12, 2009