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China Daily Global / 2020-10 / 02 / Page004

Systemic racism in West denounced in UN session

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-02 00:00

Systemic racism in the United States, the United Kingdom and some other Western countries was criticized at the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, or UNHRC, on Wednesday.

At a working-group meeting on people of African descent, representatives from Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Sierra Leone said that the systemic racism in some Western countries has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people of African descent suffering much higher rates of infection and death than is the case with white people.

The representatives speaking in the session came from government and nongovernment organizations.

The Venezuelan government representative denounced police brutality and violations of human rights in the US, noting that the death of African American George Floyd highlighted the prevailing white supremacy in the country.

Floyd died on May 25 after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The death triggered protests across the US and internationally.

The Russian government representative said that it is hard for people of African descent in some Western countries to achieve equal opportunities for access to healthcare, education and employment.

The representative from Iran said that the US' unilateral sanctions targeting specific countries is a reflection of contemporary slavery and systemic racism, and means people in those countries can't enjoy their human rights.

The Chinese government representative said that China shares the concerns regarding the systemic violations and deprivation of human rights of African Americans, as stated in a report by a working group of experts on people of African descent.

The representative also cited the case on Aug 23 of African American Jacob Blake, 29, who was shot in the back seven times by a white police officer in Wisconsin.

Violence condemned

The violent crackdown on protests and the arbitrary arrests of anti-racism protesters, alongside the plight of African Americans, are shocking, the representative said.

The representative urged the UNHRC to consider the deep-rooted racial discrimination, police brutality and social injustice, among other issues, in the US.

The Chinese representative also pointed out the systemic discrimination experienced by people of African descent in education, social security and healthcare in the UK.

The representative urged the UNHRC to continue to monitor violations of human rights of people of African descent in the US and the UK and to take necessary actions.

"The whole world has been hit by two 'viruses'-the COVID-19 virus originated in nature, and the global racist virus originated in the US," said Zhu Ying, a scholar at Chongqing-based Southwest University of Political Science and Law.

The 45th session of the UNHRC runs from Sept 14 to Oct 7.

In the past few days, experts and scholars from the China Society for Human Rights Studies and those from NGOs have attended the meetings via video links. They have covered issues from safe drinking water to poverty reduction.

Chen Weihua in Brussels contributed to this story.

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