Hours after tweeting that Islamabad and Beijing will “work closely on matters of mutual interests including Rights & Freedom of Uyghurs community”, Pakistan backtracked saying that their Twitter handle of Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu had been hacked.
The tweet referred to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs being thankful to China for support to flood victims and then mentioned concerns regarding the Uyghur community. “MoFA Pakistan is thankful for Chinese aid and support for flood reconstruction. We will work closely on matters of mutual interest including the Rights and Freedom of the Uyghurs community,” read the tweet from the official handle of Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu on Friday.
The tweet was seen as the first instance of Pakistan coming out in support of Uyghur community, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group primarily in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang which has faced “serious human rights violations” from Beijing.
UN human rights report had said last year that China is responsible for “serious human rights violations” in Xinjiang province.
In a strongly-worded assessment, OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) had said that the extent of arbitrary detentions against Uyghur and others, in the context of “restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights, enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
However, hours after the tweet, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said that the Twitter account of the Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu, China “has been hacked”.
“As of today, any tweet or message issued from this account is not made by the Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu nor does it reflect the position of the Government of Pakistan,” the spokesperson said in a tweet.
Beijing has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang region. China has vehemently rejected these charges, insisting it is running vocational centres designed to curb extremism.
The UN released a report in September last year on alleged violations of the human rights of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China.
The report found that mass detentions in China’s Xinjiang region from 2017 to 2019 were marked by credible documentation of “torture, sexual violence, and forced labour, as well as forced abortions and sterilization”.
The UN report further stated that the allegations of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, “appear credible and would in themselves amount to acts of torture or other forms of ill-treatment.”
UN human rights experts have raised serious concerns about the alleged detention and forced labour of Muslim Uyghurs in China, calling for unhindered access to the country to conduct fact-finding missions and urging global and domestic companies to closely scrutinize their supply chains.