By Alain Brossat
For the first time since Tiananmen (1989), the European Union (followed later by the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada) has imposed sanctions against local high-ranking officials in Xinjiang, figures that it suspects, among other things, of being at the heart of the device for locking Uighurs in re-education or labor camps.
This measure is only a copy / paste of the policy practiced long ago by the US Administration, consiting in inflicting sanctions on so-called rogue regimes which are deemed hostile or acting against the US and its interests, while demanding that the international community endorse these measures, as if the interests and decrees of Washington coincided with those of the peoples of the world. In the current climate of international relations, these European sanctions are just one more piece in the new Cold War system. They therefore called, as if by automatism, the countermeasures immediately announced by Beijing, striking in particular the ubiquitous activist disguised as researcher Adrian Zenz and the French media MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, son and successor of his father, the professional anti-communist “new philosopher” and former Maoist André Glucksmann, now deceased.
Rather than following the ways of the US Administration, the European Union would have done better to ask, in the required forms but with insistence, the Chinese authorities that a delegation made up of MEPs from all political backgrounds be authorized to visit these famous camps in Xinjiang and take stock of the reality of the types of training provided to the people assigned to them, of the living conditions they endure during their “stay” in these institutions. The reasoning in support of this request is extremely solid: since you tell us that these camps are not at all what the press in our countries says about them and what many people who have stayed there report, so you have nothing to hide – then let us visit these camps, inform ourselves in situ, talk with those who are staying there, so that at last we can form an opinion based on direct and solid information…
However, let us underline in passing a difference, which is not without importance, between the European approach and that of the US administration: the EU speaks of “serious violations of human rights” in Xinjiang, not of genocide, as US officials do lacking any historical or legal common sense.
Of course, to be totally legitimate, this kind of request, addressed to a sovereign State, to a foreign power, must be accompanied by a condition of reciprocity. It would therefore be advisable to anticipate the hypothesis (highly improbable, unfortunately…) according to which, the Chinese officials, suddenly handsome players and converted to the Glasnost in the Beijing version, would retort: OK, but on the condition that concerned as we are, on our side, by the violations of human rights in the European space, this in more than one area, we are in our turn free to send our own delegations to visit the camps where there are stranded asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea, in particular that of Lesbos, of such a bad reputation; that we are allowed to investigate the practices piloted by the European agency Frontex, consisting in pushing migrants out of European territorial waters, in all illegality; that we can also freely visit in different European countries where administrative detention centers lock up “illegal aliens” awaiting deportation, under conditions which it is said that often disregard human dignity; we would also be very keen to be able to see firsthand the state of prisons in a number of EU countries, France, for example, which, it is said, is so alarming that, in a repeated manner, prisoners appeal to European authorities to denounce to them the violations of their elementary rights. No transparency without reciprocity! Because everything leads us to think that in terms of “serious violations of human rights”, you, European officials, could maybe start by sweeping in front of your own door. After all, the definition of the rejection of the migrants who try desperately to cross the Mediterranean sea and land on the coasts of countries that belong to the UE as a crime against humanity is not a «Chinese» allegation – it has been constantly put forward by European humanitarian organizations…
Now, you can easily imagine the outcry: how are we going to allow Chinese deputies getting involved in the way we solve our problems with illegal immigration in Europe, which have, we must admit in low tone, transformed the Mediterranean Sea over the years in a vast marine cemetery?! That is out of the question! Let alone let them examine the overpopulation of our prisons, or, as well, our problems of police violence, the extraordinary freedoms that our rulers take sometimes regarding the constitutional order of our countries, in times of their pandemic. In what way does all this concern them, the Chinese? OK, OK… but then, what are you surprised when to your “concerns” about the well-being and security of the people of Xinjiang, the people of Beijing answer you: mind your own business if you don’t want us to interfere with yours!
The day when Europeans, especially the elites who govern them, understand that the question of human rights is a dangerous boomerang likely to come back to them as many times as they use it to administer moral and political lessons to others (all kinds of others), they will have taken a decisive step in the necessary abandonment of their narcissistic and supremacist presumptions. But you might as well ask them, in the bad historical sequence in which we are currently stuck, to jump over their shadow.