News and Views on Tibet

China to allow UN human rights chief to visit Xinjiang after the Olympics

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (Photo/UN)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 29: China has reportedly agreed to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet to visit the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) after the Beijing Winter Olympics, according to unnamed sources cited by South China Morning Post on Thursday. Human rights groups have accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, including mass detention and forced labour in internment camps.

The report said that the approval for the visit of the UNHRC representative, granted only after the Winter Games, was on the condition that the trip should be “friendly” and not framed as an investigation. It also reported that the Beijing government has also “pressed for a delay” in the release of an upcoming UNHRC report on East Turkestan until the international competition has successfully wrapped up.

“No one, especially the world’s leading human rights diplomat, should be fooled by the Chinese government’s efforts to distract attention away from its crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities,” Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters. Although the Olympics are only a couple of days away, numerous organizations and governments have voiced their concerns over China hosting the Games despite its deteriorating human rights record. The US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and Denmark have announced that they will not send any official diplomatic delegations to the games in protest, citing China’s human rights record.

The UN human rights chief has reportedly been seeking a diplomatic visit to the sensitive region, which her office has been negotiating the terms of since September 2018. Chief Bachelet is under growing pressure from the Western states to investigate Xinjiang with unfettered access to investigate the growing claims of genocide in the region.

“I continue to discuss with China modalities for a visit, including meaningful access, to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I hope this can be achieved this year, particularly as reports of serious human rights violations continue to emerge,” she was quoted as saying in June last year about her visit in the future. Beijing continues to deny all accusations and has described these camps as vocational training facilities to combat ‘religious extremism’ and boost economic development in the region.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *