Long-Awaited Uyghur Human Rights Report Due This Month 

August is an important month for international human rights organizations and the Uyghur diaspora, which await a long-promised report on Xinjiang by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. (OHCHR).

“As we said, the high commissioner is committed to releasing the report before the end of her mandate at the end of the month,” OHCHR spokeswoman Liz Throssell told VOA.

Ahead of High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s departure from her office and her planned release of OHCHR’s human rights assessment in Xinjiang, China has in recent weeks stepped up its pressure on Bachelet to bury the human rights report. rights in Xinjiang through letter and e-mail campaigns.

China’s pressure

Last week, the official publication China Daily reported that Uyghurs in Xinjiang had emailed Bachelet, sharing their “personal stories and expressing their anger” at learning how the region was portrayed by “anti-China forces”.

FILE – A security guard watches from a guard tower around a detention center in Yarkent County, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, March 21, 2021.

“Many witnesses and families of victims of terrorism hope that Bachelet can learn more about the impact of the brutal attacks by reading their e-mails,” said the China Daily wrote, referring to a report by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency. “From 1990 to 2016, separatists, extremists and terrorists plotted and carried out thousands of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.”

The China Daily said Beijing’s solution to fighting terrorism is to establish “vocational education and training centers to help those who might be influenced by terrorism and extremism.”

“[O]Our office receives a lot of email, both from individuals and from more organized email campaigns, and we don’t comment on that correspondence,” Throssell told VOA when asked about emails.

Last month, Reuters reported that Beijing had sent a letter to the UN human rights chief asking her not to publish the assessment of the human rights situation in Xinjiang out of “grave concern “that if published, it would further politicize human rights in China.

Human rights organizations

International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as countries such as the United States, accuse China of human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. The charges include the mass arbitrary incarceration of Muslims in internment camps, forced labor, forced sterilization of women, and forced separation of school-aged children from their parents. Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations of “fabrication” by forces hostile to China.

After years of negotiations for “unfettered access” to the Uyghur region of Xinjiang, Bachelet finally traveled to China in May, including Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of the mass incarceration of nearly 2 million. Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslim populations.

During her visit, international rights groups accused Bachelet of being soft on China and urged her to “publicly acknowledge the scale and gravity of the government’s human rights violations.” Chinese,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International. website.

While in China, critics said, Bachelet referred to detention centers in Xinjiang as “vocational and educational training centers”, using China’s own terminology, and called on the Beijing government to review the measures. counter-terrorism. Bachelet also hailed China’s achievements in poverty reduction and health care. She has not publicly spoken out against widely reported accusations of human rights abuses faced by Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang since 2016, causing a social media storm.

The US State Department has also raised concerns that Bachelet and his team’s visit to China has been restricted and manipulated by China.

“We are further troubled by reports that residents of Xinjiang have been warned not to complain or speak openly about conditions in the region, that no information has been provided on the fate of hundreds of missing Uyghurs and the conditions of detention of more than one million people,” according to a State Department press release.

Xinjiang Human Rights Assessment

According to Bachelet’s office, Beijing will have the opportunity to comment on the final UN human rights assessment on Xinjiang before it is released.

“As with all OHCHR reports, once finalized the report will be shared with authorities for factual comments before publication. The report should be updated with our interactions and observations from the visit,” Throssell wrote. to VOA in an email.

She said “access was limited” to VOA Bachelet and stressed that the trip was not intended to be an investigation into alleged rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Last Friday, Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on Bachelet to “immediately release” the report and “reject” pressure from the Chinese government.

“As you approach your departure as high commissioner on August 31, the report remains buried while CCP diplomats have reportedly conducted a wave of confidential lobbying to prevent its publication,” Rubio said in a statement on his site. Internet. “Don’t let the CCP further taint your tenure as commissioner by withholding the report one more minute.”

After her visit to China, Bachelet told reporters in June that she would release the report before stepping down at the end of her four-year term.

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