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Group urges UN to probe China for crimes against humanity

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Uyghurs and other members of the faithful walk under an arch with security cameras as they leave after prayers at the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as seen during a government organized trip for foreign journalists, Monday, April 19, 2021. A human rights group is appealing to the United Nations to investigate allegations China's government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region. Human Rights Watch cited reports of the mass detention of Muslims, a crackdown on religious practices and other measures against minorities in the northwestern region. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

KASHGAR – A human rights group appealed to the United Nations on Monday to investigate allegations China's government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region.

Human Rights Watch cited reports of the mass detention of Muslims, a crackdown on religious practices and other measures against minorities in the northwestern region. It said they amount to crimes against humanity as defined by the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

China is not a member of the court and could use its veto power as a permanent U.N. Security Council member to block action against Chinese officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report. However, the New York-based group said the U.N. Human Rights Commission should create a body to investigate the charges, identify those responsible and provide a road map to hold them accountable.

More than 1 million people have been confined to camps in Xinjiang, according to foreign governments and researchers. Authorities there are accused of imposing forced labor and birth controls.

The Chinese government rejects complaints of abuses and says the camps are for job training to support economic development and combat Islamic radicalism. The government is pressing foreign clothing and shoe brands to reverse decisions to stop using cotton from Xinjiang due to reports of possible forced labor there.

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in the final days of the Trump administration that China was committing genocide in Xinjiang. His successor under President Joe Biden, Antony Blinken, has retained that designation.

The parliaments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada have accused Beijing of genocide, though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been reluctant to use the term.

A spokesman for the ruling Communist Party on Monday rejected accusations Beijing has committed genocide or crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.