UN Bachelet Says China Trip Not For Investigation, Faces Criticism | New

The UN human rights chief has defended her trip to China as she was accused of failing to hold Beijing accountable for its alleged human rights abuses, saying she had raised concerns with responsible for the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the country.

Michelle Bachelet said on Saturday her controversial six-day visit to China, including Xinjiang province, was ‘not an investigation’, but insisted she spoke with ‘honesty’ in her meetings official. The United States, which has accused China of committing “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in the western province of Xinjiang, had called Bachelet’s trip a “mistake”.

The top UN human rights official said the visit would pave the way for more regular interactions to help China fulfill its obligations under international human rights law.

“This gives me the opportunity to better understand the situation in China, but also for the Chinese authorities to better understand our concerns and potentially rethink policies that we believe may have a negative impact on human rights” , she said during a video press conference. the last day of his trip.

Bachelet said China should not use its legitimate concerns about “terrorism” to justify human rights abuses.
It is uncertain whether the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which has vehemently denied all reports of human rights abuses and genocide in Xinjiang, would change its policy.

The anger of the HR community

Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch said Bachelet’s visit appeared to be aimed at “being nice to the Chinese government” rather than holding it accountable for some of the worst human rights abuses it has committed under international law.

Speaking from Washington DC, Richardson said Bachelet’s suggestion that she was unable to assess the extent of human rights abuses came across as “an ingenious way to ignore a raz “Tide of Evidence” which shows how the Chinese government has targeted Uyghurs and other Muslims. minorities.

She urged Bachelet to urgently publish a report prepared by the UN human rights office on crimes committed by the Chinese government against humanity, the Uyghurs and other Muslim communities.

“She must engage in a genuine investigation with the intention of holding those responsible accountable,” Richardson said. “Otherwise, it will have been a propaganda exercise that the Chinese government will revel in.”

Reporting from Beijing, Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu said Bachelet made a “very measured statement”, where she “started by talking about the achievements of the Chinese government before even mentioning Xinjiang”.

“She went to great lengths to emphasize that this was not an investigation and that she simply had not had time in one trip to investigate the extent of human rights issues. ‘man in China,’ Yu said.

She added that Bachelet’s main achievement was to engage with the Chinese government in the hope that it will help raise concerns about some of their policies.

“It is likely that the human rights organization will be very disappointed. From his remarks, it appears that the visit did nothing but draw the attention of the Chinese government to concerns about human rights abuses,” Yu said.

“Human rights groups were hoping that this would be an opportunity for a high-level person to do some kind of assessment or achieve something when it came to changing the situation,” he said. she added.

Share your concerns

Bachelet, who is making the first visit by a United Nations high commissioner for human rights to China in 17 years, said she raised the lack of independent judicial oversight of the internment camp system, according to expert estimates.

China, which described the camps as centers for vocational training and education to fight “extremism”, said they had been closed. The government has never said publicly how many people went through it.

The UN’s Bachelet also held a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who defended his government’s record. Xi told Bachelet that China’s human rights development “suits its own national conditions”.

A data leak released on Tuesday revealed the extent of Muslim repression in Xinjiang where at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been held in a network of internment camps and prisons.

Bachelet, who visited a prison and former center in the city of Kashgar, Xinjiang, noted that the program relied on police to determine “extremist tendencies” and allegations of use of force in centers and unduly harsh restrictions on religious practice.

“It is essential that counterterrorism responses do not lead to human rights violations,” she said. “The application of relevant laws and policies and of any mandatory measures…should be subject to independent judicial review with greater transparency in judicial proceedings.”

Prior to her trip, she said she had heard of Uyghur families living abroad who had lost contact with their loved ones. During her meetings in China, she said she raised a number of specific cases and called on authorities to take steps to provide information to families as a priority.

“To those who have sent me calls asking me to raise issues or cases with the authorities, I heard you,” she said. “Your advocacy matters.”

Bachelet called the arrest of lawyers, activists, journalists and others under Hong Kong’s national security law “deeply disturbing”, noting the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s reputation as a center for human rights and independent media in Asia.

She also spoke about the importance of protecting the linguistic, religious and cultural identity of Tibetans and enabling them to participate fully and freely in decisions concerning their religious life.

The UN and China have agreed to set up a working group to hold follow-up discussions on a range of issues, including minority rights, counter-terrorism and human rights, and protection legal, Bachelet said.

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