US and its likes should reflect on colonialism and systematic discrimination against indigenous peoples: Chinese envoy

Global Times, September 29, 2022 — The representative of China at the United Nations Human Rights Council called on the US, Canada and Australia to seriously reflect on the systematic discrimination and oppression of indigenous peoples in their countries on Wednesday, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the plight of indigenous people in the US and Canada, and urging these countries to better protect the rights of indigenous people in post-pandemic economic and social recovery period.

On Wednesday, Chinese representatives attended the annual discussion on indigenous rights at the 51st Regular Session of Human Rights Council and the dialogue of experts on indigenous rights.

The Chinese representative said that China is deeply concerned about the neglect, discrimination, unfair treatment and even abuse of indigenous people in those countries.

According to the Native American Rights Fund, Native American voters face 11 common barriers to political participation, including limited government services and a lack of funding for elections.

Canada shocked the world with the discovery of alarming numbers of children’s remains and unmarked aboriginal burials at the site of a boarding school.

The incarceration rate of indigenous Australian people is 15 times higher than that of non-indigenous Australians, and the death rate in detention is on the rise, causing family separation and seriously undermining the development of indigenous communities.

The Chinese representative also called on the above-mentioned countries to seriously reflect on the systematic discrimination and oppression suffered by indigenous peoples and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

What’s more, the systemic discrimination and inequality faced by indigenous people in some countries has not been improved by the implementation of post-pandemic economic and social recovery plans. American Indians and Alaska Natives have long had far higher unemployment rates than other ethnic groups, and the gap has widened during the post-pandemic economic recovery period.

According to the recent review conclusions of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, indigenous people’s food security and women’s rights are not guaranteed, and the willingness and measures of the US to fulfill its commitment to the protection of indigenous people’s rights are seriously insufficient.

He noted that the welfare of indigenous children in Canada is still not effectively protected, and violence and crimes against indigenous women and girls are still rampant, which greatly hinders the recovery of indigenous communities from the harm caused by the pandemic.

The Chinese representative stressed that relevant countries should seriously reflect on the systematic discrimination and oppression suffered by indigenous people in employment, education, medical care, justice and social security, listen to the voices of indigenous people and better protect their rights in the post-pandemic era.

Ambassador Li Song, Deputy Representative of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN Office at Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland, attended the panel discussion on the negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights at the 51st session.

Li pointed out that colonialism was the original sin of the US, Britain and other Western countries. It is the darkest moment in the history of global human rights and a scar on human civilization which is difficult to heal. “Mankind has entered the 21st century, and the legacy of colonialism is still widespread. These countries must reflect on history and correct their mistakes,” Li said.

Li also said that the development path of human rights independently chosen by former colonized countries should be respected. In the era of democracy in international relations, no country can bully, squeeze, or point fingers at other countries. “How can those colonial countries now boast themselves as ‘defenders of human rights?'” Li said.

China urges relevant countries to abandon the practice of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights, refrain from politicizing or instrumentalizing human rights issues, and not force other countries to change government in the name of human rights.

Against the backdrop of the spread of the pandemic, Li said that developed countries should take more concrete measures in areas such as debt relief, development assistance and technology transfer to help realize the right to development in former colonized countries.

“Colonialism seems to have become a historical word, but it still has various manifestations in today’s world,” Li noted. “Hegemonism, racism and xenophobia are typical examples.” China calls on the Human Rights Council to continue to pay attention to this issue and play a bigger role in effectively resolving issues left over from colonialism and promoting the development of the international human rights cause.

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