The Uyghurs have urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to avoid public relations stunts as her visit to China on Tuesday entered a new phase in the remote Xinjiang region.
The ruling Communist Party has been accused of detaining more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Far West, as the United States calls it a “genocide” as part of a year-long security crackdown.
China vehemently denies the allegations and calls them “lies of the century.”
Bachelet is expected to visit Urumqi and Kashgar in Xinjiang on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a six-day visit.
“I hope he can ask the Chinese government to find out my mother’s whereabouts,” said Jলvlan Shirememet, adding that he had not been able to contact her for four years.
The 31-year-old Turkish-based – from the northern part of the province near the border with Kazakhstan – said he hoped Bachelet would go further than his travels.
“I don’t know why he can’t go to these places,” he told AFP.
Nursimangul Abdurshid – another Uyghur living in Turkey – “was not very optimistic that his visit would make a difference”.
“I urge them to look at the victims as if they were my family members, not the scene prepared by the Chinese government,” he told AFP.
“If the UN team does not get unlimited access to Xinjiang, I will not accept their so-called reports.”
– ‘Registered Access’ –
The regional capital, Urumqi – with a population of four million – is believed to have been described by major government agencies as a crackdown on religious extremism in China.
It is home to a large Uighur community and was the site of two terrorist attacks in 2014, as well as deadly ethnic clashes in 2009.
Meanwhile, Kashgar – home to 700,000 people – is located in the center of Uyghur in southern Xinjiang.
An ancient Silk Road city that has been a major target of crackdowns in Beijing, researchers and activists say authorities have accused the cultural center of being blocked by a high-tech security blanket while bulldozing Uighur homes and religious sites.
Both are thought to be concentration camps on the outskirts of the city, part of a wider network of recently built facilities spread across remote provinces.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
The United States has said it is “deeply concerned” that it has not secured a guarantee of what it will see, adding that it is unlikely to get a “perfect” picture of China’s rights situation.
Speaking in Guangzhou, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday, Bachelet said he would “discuss some very important and sensitive issues.”
“I hope this will help us build confidence, and enable us to work together,” he added.
According to diplomatic sources in Beijing, during a virtual meeting on Monday with the heads of dozens of Chinese diplomatic missions, Bachelet assured the detention center and its rights defenders of his access.
Caroline Wilson, the UK’s ambassador to China, was on the call and said she had “emphasized the importance of uninterrupted access to Xinjiang and private conversations with its people.”
“There is no excuse for UN representatives to stop their investigation,” Wilson wrote on Twitter.
Bachelet’s office also said it would meet with civil society organizations, business representatives and academics.
In addition to mass arrests, Chinese authorities have been campaigning for forced labor, forced disinfection and the destruction of Uyghur cultural heritage in Xinjiang, researchers and campaigners say.
Foreign Uyghurs have in recent weeks rallied under pressure from Bachelet to visit relatives detained in Xinjiang.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)