India Abstains From Vote On Abuses In China's Xinjiang, Opposition Slams Modi Government

The Ministry of External Affairs clarified that the Indian action was in line with Indian policy of not voting on country-specific resolutions.

The United Nations General Assembly

The Opposition has slammed Narendra Modi's Union government after the Indian government abstained from a vote on abuses in China's Xinjiang region at the United Nations (UN).

India on Thursday abstained from voting on a draft resolution in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on holding a debate on the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region.

Following this, Opposition leaders on Friday criticised the government, saying India should speak for what is right and should not be afraid of its neighbour. However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the vote is in line with Indian policy of not voting on country-specific resolutions.

Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari wondered why there was "so much diffidence on China".

"The Government of India will not agree to a Parliamentary debate on Chinese incursions. India will abstain at UNHRC on a resolution for debate on human rights in Xinjiang," said Tewari in a tweet.

He alleged that the Ministry of External Affairs does not accord political clearance to Parliamentarians to visit Taiwan.

What was the resolution on Xinjiang?

The draft resolution sought to hold "a debate on the situation of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China" was rejected in the 47-member Council after 17 members voted in favour, 19 members voted against, including China, and 11 abstentions, including India, Brazil, Mexico and Ukraine.

The draft resolution was presented by a core group consisting of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States, and co-sponsored by a range of states, including Turkey.

China is accused of grave human rights of violations in China. A UN report recently found that China has committed "serious human rights violations" in Xinjiang against Uighur people which likely amounted to "crimes against humanity". China is accused of of repressive policies in Xinjiang and detention of millions of Uighur people, most of them Muslims, in internment camps which China calls "re-education camps" but are alleged to be like Nazi concentration camps. 

China director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, said in a statement that for the first time in its history, the UN’s top human rights body considered a proposal to debate the human rights situation in the Xinjiang region of China.

"While the Council’s failure to adopt the proposal is an abdication of responsibility and a betrayal of Uyghur victims, the extremely close vote highlights the growing number of states willing to take a stand on principle and shine a spotlight on China’s sweeping rights violations. We urge incoming High Commissioner Volker Turk to brief the Council on his office’s report, and we call on states, companies, and the international community to implement the report’s recommendations and hold Chinese authorities accountable for their international crimes," Richardson added.

What did Opposition say Xinjiang vote?

Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale tweeted, "Giving them our land and abstaining on holding them to account. What exactly is it that makes (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi so afraid of China?"

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi wanted to know from the prime minister the reason for India's decision "to help China out in the UNHRC on the Uighur issue".

"Is he so scared of offending (Chinese President) Xi Jingping (Jinping), whom he met 18 times, that India can’t speak for what is right?," he tweeted.\

"From red eye to closed eye," tweeted Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena leader, in Hindi.

Indian action in line with policy: MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said its decision to abstain from the voting on the rights situation in China's Xinjiang at the UN Human Rights Commission was in line with the practice of not voting on country-specific resolutions.

It is in line with India's practice of not voting on country-specific resolution, said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

(With PTI inputs)