World Leaders Urged to Recognize Human Rights Violations and Challenge China for Its Abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang

World Leaders Urged to Recognize Human Rights Violations and Challenge China for Its Abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang
The phrase “Stop genocide against Uyghurs” on a banner. Source: © Andrii Koval/iStock, February 12, 2022.

Theresa Erna Jürgenssen

East Asia Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

In recent months, the human rights abuses of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang have increased in the light of the implementation of the Communist Party’s “Strike Hard” campaign, which includes a strict travel ban and an increase in Uyghur detainees (Hoshur, 2022). Simultaneously, world leaders are being urged to fully recognize the violations and take action. In particular, the beginning of the G20 summit in Indonesia has sparked Human Rights Watch to call for G20 Leaders to use the opportunity to “directly and publicly challenge Xi” for China’s continued violations of human rights of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and to “make clear their intent to pursue justice through national and international mechanisms” (Richardson, 2022). 

The G20 summit will be the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 that Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in person with many of the world leaders. The summit is also taking place after fifty United Nations member states, for the first time, issued a joint statement at the UN General Assembly denouncing China for its human rights violations in Xinjiang (Jürgenssen, 2022). The aforementioned statement was made in response to the August report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights according to which the treatment of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity” (OHCHR, para. 148). Consequently, the summit may be a chance for political leaders to confront China with the issue. 

The pressure on world leaders to act against China’s abuses in Xinjiang is increasing. Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Uyghur community leaders in Canada in order to discuss the situation in Xinjiang. Since Canada’s parliament had already recognized the situation as genocide in early 2021, community leaders asked the Prime Minister why his administration had not done the same. Additionally, the parliament had recently voted in favour of a motion to expedite entry for 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims fleeing the “ongoing genocide”; it had four pieces of legislation pending in relation to the situation (Ablet, 2022). Trudeau is considering banning the entry of forced labour products coming from Xinjiang (Ablet, 2022).

Sources and further reading:

Ablet, A. (2022, November 08). Uyghur Canadian leaders urge Trudeau to acknowledge ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang. Radio Free Asia. Retrieved on November 14, 2022, from

Hoshur, S. (2022, October 26). Authorities in Xinjiang increased detentions of Uyghurs before party congress. Retrieved on November 14, 2022, from

Jürgenssen. T.E. (2022, November 02). Fifty States at the UN General Assembly Denounce china For Human Rights Violations in the Xinjiang Region. Retrieved on November 14, 2022, from

OHCHR. (2022, August 31). OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China. Retrieved on November 14, 2022,

Statement by Bob Rae on behalf of Canada at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, 31 October 2022,  

Richardson, S. (2022, November 14). G20 Leaders Should Publicly Challenge China’s Xi on Abuses. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved on November 14, 2022, from