outlets from Reuters to The Intercept falsely claimed the UN had
condemned China for holding a million Uighurs in camps. The claim is
based on unsourced allegations by two independent commission members,
US-funded outfits and a shadowy opposition group.
major media outlets, from Reuters to The Intercept, have claimed that
the United Nations has reports that the Chinese government is holding
as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in “internment camps.” But a
close examination of these news stories, and of the evidence behind
them — or the lack thereof — demonstrates that the extraordinary
claim is simply not true.
spokesperson from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR) confirmed in a statement to the Grayzone that the
allegation of Chinese “camps” was not made by the United Nations,
but rather by a member of an independent committee that does not
speak for the UN as a whole. That member happened to be the only
American on the committee, and one with no background of scholarship
or research on China.
this accusation is based on the thinly sourced reports of a Chinese
opposition group that receives funding from foreign governments and
is closely tied to exiled pro-US activists. While there have been
many on-the-ground reports highlighting discrimination that Uighur
Muslims have faced at the hands of the Chinese authorities,
information about camps containing one million prisoners has
originated almost exclusively from media outlets and organizations
funded and weaponized by the American government to turn up the heat
blatant falsehood introduced by Reuters and echoed across mainstream
August 10, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination conducted its regular review of China’s compliance
with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination. The review, which is conducted periodically
for all 179 parties to the Convention, has generated a frenzied
response by the Western corporate press — one which is uniformly
the day of the review, Reuters published a report with an explosive
headline: “U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds
million Uighurs in secret camps.”
claim was feverishly reproduced by outlets such as The New York Times
and The Washington Post to denounce China and call for international
action. Even The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan belted out the breathless
headline, “One Million Muslim Uighurs Have Been Detained by China,
the U.N. Says. Where’s the Global Outrage?” The impression
readers were given was that the UN had conducted an investigation and
had formally and collectively made such charges against China. In
fact, the UN had done no such thing.
headline of Reuters’ report attributed its explosive claim to the
UN; yet the body of the article ascribed it simply to the UN
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. And this
committee’s official website makes it clear that it is “a body of
independent experts,” not UN officials.
more, a look at the OHCHR’s official news release on the
committee’s presentation of the report showed that the only mention
of alleged re-education “camps” in China was made by its sole
American member, Gay McDougall. This claim was then echoed by a
Mauritanian member, Yemhelhe Mint Mohamed.
the committee’s regular review of China, McDougall commented that
she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports” alleging
mass detentions of millions of Uighurs Muslim minorities in
“internment camps.” The Associated Press reported that McDougall
“did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at
the hearing.” (Note that the headline of the AP news wire is much
weaker than that of Reuters: “UN panel concerned at reported
Chinese detention of Uighurs.”)
of the session confirms that McDougall provided no sourcing to back
up her remarkable claim.
is to say, one American member of an independent UN body made a
provocative claim that China was interning 1 million Muslims, but
failed to provide a single named source. And Reuters and the Western
corporate media ran with it anyway, attributing the unsubstantiated
allegations of one US individual to the UN as a whole.
form 990 discloses that $819,553 of its $820,023 revenue
that year (99.94 percent) came from government grants. A measly $395
came from investments, with another $75 from other sources. According
to its 2016
form 990, CHRD received $859,091 in government grants in that
government provided these grants is not clear. The Grayzone did not
receive a response to several emailed interview requests sent to the
Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
it appears likely that CHRD could be receiving funding from the US
government-backed National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
search of the NED’s
grants database shows
funding from 2014 and 2015 totaling approximately half a million
dollars to “support the work of Chinese human rights defenders.”
It is not clear if this is a reference to the organization
specifically, but the description accompanying the grants matches
that of CHRD.
an email to the Grayzone Project, OHCHR spokesperson Julia Gronnevet
confirmed that the CERD was not representative of the UN as a whole.
are correct that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination is an independent body,” Gronnevet wrote. “Quoted
comments were made during public sessions of the Committee when
members were reviewing State parties.”
the OHCHR implicitly acknowledged that the comments by McDougall, the
lone American member of an independent committee, were not
representative of any finding by the UN as a whole. The report by
Reuters is simply false.
reports” from a government-funded opposition group with zero
addition to this irresponsible misreporting, Reuters and other
Western outlets have attempted to fill in the gaps left by McDougall,
referring to reports made by so-called “activist group” the
Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). Conveniently left
out of the story is that this organization is headquartered in
which receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from
unnamed governments, advocates full-time against the Chinese
government and has spent years campaigning on behalf of extreme
right-wing opposition figures.
is not at all transparent about its funding or personnel. Its annual
reports contain notes stating, “This report has been produced with
the financial support of generous donors.” But the donors are never
available 990 IRS filing forms reviewed by the Grayzone show that the
organization is substantially funded by government grants. In fact,
in 2015 virtually all of the organization’s revenue came from