The head of UN rights was criticized for announcing a visit to China’s Xinjiang next week on Friday, with the United States saying it was failing to stand up for the region’s Uighur community.
After years of requesting “meaningful and uninterrupted” access to far-western Xinjiang, Michelle Bachelet will finally lead a six-day mission to China starting Monday, her office said.
The visit, at the invitation of Beijing, is the first visit by the UN chief of staff to China since Lewis Arbor visited in 2005.
The United States has strongly criticized the move, saying it was “deeply concerned” that former Chilean President Bachelet was leaving without a guarantee of what he would see.
“We have no expectations that the PRC will provide the necessary access to conduct a complete, uninterrupted assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, using the acronym “People’s Republic of China.”
Price also expressed concern that Bachelet had not released a long-awaited report on Xinjiang, with the United States and several other Western countries saying that Beijing was carrying out “genocide” against Uighurs and most other Muslim, Turkish-speaking people.
“Despite repeated assurances from his office that the report would be released in brief, it remains unavailable to us and we urge the High Commissioner to publish the report without delay and not to wait for the visit,” Price said.
His “continued silence in the face of indisputable evidence of atrocities in Xinjiang and other human rights violations and abuses across the PRC is deeply troubling,” he said, adding that Bachelet should be a leading voice for human rights.
– Meeting Officer, Student –
Since taking office in 2018, Bachelet himself has been demanding access to all parts of China.
He has repeatedly expressed concern over allegations of widespread torture in Xinjiang but has been criticized for not taking a strong enough stance.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
Beijing has vehemently denied the allegations of genocide, calling them “lies of the century” and arguing that its policies have tackled extremism and improved living conditions.
In March, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that an agreement had finally been reached to arrange a visit.
Bachelet will “meet with a number of high-level officials at the national and local levels”, his office said Friday, adding that he would “meet with civil society organizations, business representatives, academics and give a lecture for Guangzhou University students.”
An advance team was sent to China several weeks ago to prepare for the visit, and has completed a long quarantine in the country, which is currently in the grip of a fresh cove epidemic.
Bachelet, who will not need quarantine, is not traveling to Beijing due to the Covid restrictions, but will travel to Kashgar and Urumqi in Xinjiang.
– ‘Inheritance’ at risk –
Despite Bachelet’s demands for uninterrupted access, rights groups have stated that the terms of the visit have not been disclosed.
They expressed concern that the Chinese authorities, who had always insisted that they were only interested in a “friendly visit”, could handle the trip.
“It denies credibility that the Chinese government will allow the High Commissioner to see anything they do not want to see, or allow human rights defenders, victims and their families to speak to him safely, under supervision and without fear of reprisals,” said Sophie Human Rights Watch’s China director. Richardson said in a statement.
The trip is not without risks for Bachelet, who is nearing the end of his four-year term and has not indicated whether he will seek a second mandate.
A spokesman for Bachelet said on Tuesday that the long-delayed report on Xinjiang would not be released before his visit and that there was no clear time to release it.
Richardson said: “Bachelet’s legacy as High Commissioner will be measured by his willingness to hold a powerful state accountable for the crimes against humanity committed in his wake.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)