Xinjiang: Uncertainty and pressure surround the publication of the UN report

Xinjiang: Uncertainty and Pressure Surround Release of UN Report

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says she is under “pressure” to release a long-delayed report on the situation in China's Xinjiang region.

Less than a week before her departure from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said Thursday that she still did not know the publication date of her long-awaited report on Xinjiang, admitting to being under “enormous pressure” from all sides.

The former Chilean president has repeatedly said in recent months that she intends to publish it before the end of her mandate, on August 31. But his uncertainty was palpable at his end-of-term press conference on Thursday.

We are working on the report. I fully intended to publish it before the end of my mandate, and we received substantial contributions from the [Chinese] government which we will have to consider carefully, as we do every time for any country. […] We are doing our best to do what I promised, said the High Commissioner.

Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of eastern China

I was under enormous pressure to publish or not to publish [the report], but it is not these pressures that will make me publish it or refrain from publishing it, he said. she assured.

The Chinese region of Xinjiang has long been the scene of bloody attacks targeting civilians and carried out, according to the authorities, by Uighur separatists and Islamists – the main ethnic group of the region.

This Chinese region has thus been the object for several years of draconian surveillance.

According to several Western countries and independent organizations, Beijing has interned more than a million Uighurs and members of other local Muslim ethnic groups in re-education camps in Xinjiang, or even imposed forced labor or forced sterilizations.

Internment camps where citizens are deprived of their freedom and reprogrammed to eliminate all traces of their ethnicity.

China strongly denies these accusations and portrays the camps as vocational training centers to combat religious extremism and train residents for a trade.

Following allegations of human rights abuses against Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities that have been brought to the attention of Ms. Bachelet's services since late 2017, this last informed the Human Rights Council in 2021 of the need for an independent evaluation.

His report is eagerly awaited by NGOs, but also by some countries, including the United States.

You cannot imagine the number of letters, meetings asking for publication. A huge amount. And this for more than a year, every day. Whenever I'm asked for a meeting, when there's a dinner, I know this topic is going to come up, she said.

Ms Bachelet, whose successor has not yet been announced by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, also said she had received letters from dozens of countries – including none. not named names – asking him not to publish the report.

During a rare visit to China in May, she called on Beijing to avoid arbitrary measures in Xinjiang, while denouncing violent acts of extremism in the region.

NGOs have since been demanding the report even more insistently.

For the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), the credibility of Ms. Bachelet is at stake.

Her report arrives very, very late. She's going to post it when she leaves, it's not ideal, HRW chief executive Kenneth Roth said in an interview this week with AFP in New York.

I hope that the report will be solid and that it will allow us to increase the number of governments ready to condemn China, which is currently 47, to a number important enough to allow us to get a formal resolution from the Human Rights Council, he said.

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