UN chief goes on the defensive

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 20 Sep 2019

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has rejected claims that he hasn't condemned the Chinese government's detention of more than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, saying he has spoken out forcefully.

"I don't think anyone has been more persistent and clear in talking to the Chinese authorities,'' he said.

Five rights groups said in a letter to Guterres that he would make an important contribution to addressing "one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time'' by speaking out against China's internment of the Uygurs and members of other ethnic groups and calling for the immediate closure of the detention camps.

Guterres said he told the Chinese "it is very important to act in a way that each community feels that their identity is respected and that they belong, at the same time, to the society as a whole.''

"There couldn't be a more clear message,'' he added. "If there is an area where I believe I've been doing publicly much more than many others [it] is this.'' Guterres said he will continue acting to guarantee that all human rights are "fully respected in that situation.''

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