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United Nations: Possible human rights violations in Xinjiang

United Nations: Possible human rights violations in Xinjiang

The UN Human Rights Office sees evidence of crimes against humanity in China’s Xinjiang region. It came from a bombshell report released by outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet just before midnight on Wednesday – ten minutes before the end of her term in office.

It added that “the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups (…) could constitute international crimes, particularly crimes against humanity.” People were denied basic rights from 2017 to 2019 and possibly beyond.

According to human rights organizations and Uyghur refugees, hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and members of other minorities have been sent to reeducation camps. Many are said to have been sent to other provinces for forced labour. China rejects the allegations and talks about lies.

The report was supposed to be published last year. But Bachelet hesitated because she had been negotiating with China for months about her ability to travel to the country. This trip came in June. The sticking points were, among other things, that the UN Human Rights Office wanted to decide for itself where to go, and with whom she could speak without oversight from the authorities.

Your office said that China has acceded to the demands. She also traveled to Xinjiang, but at the end of the visit refrained from criticizing Beijing’s actions in the region. This brought criticism to Bachelet. There was no clarification of the accusation of serious human rights violations there, as was said in Berlin, for example.

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Bachelet has been under tremendous pressure, as I reported last week. While many government officials were awaiting publication with increasing eagerness, she also received a letter from about 40 governments urging her not to publish. It did not mention the names of individual countries.

Bachelet has been in office since 2018. She has not run for a second term. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has yet to appoint a successor.