This past week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, announced at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council that she wants to iron out access for her visit to China, particularly to the Uyghur Region, this year.
Al Jazeera reports Bachelet telling the council,
“[I] hope this can be achieved this year, particularly as reports of serious human rights violations continue to emerge.”
A day after her address, Canada led more than 40 countries in submitting a statement to the council urging China to allow Bachelet immediate access to the Uyghur Region.
The statement read,
We also share the concerns expressed by UN Special Procedures in their March 29 statement on alleged detention, forced labour and transfers of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities and in a letter published by UN experts describing collective repression of religious and ethnic minorities.
Immediately following this statement, 65 countries led by Belarus made a statement of support for China and for the non-interference in China’s “internal affairs.” The statement reads, “We note with appreciation that China has undertaken a series of measures in responds to threats in accordance with the law to safeguard the human rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.”
The statement also draws attention to the fact that Bachelet has been invited publicly by China to visit.
Indeed, earlier this year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that, “The door to Xinjiang is always open. People from many countries who have visited Xinjiang have learned the facts and the truth on the ground. China also welcomes the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang.”
It was only a few months ago that Bachelet made a public statement that the Uyghur Region warranted investigation. The last visit of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to China was in 2005.
International pressure on China to address the plight of Uyghurs is rising at a rapid rate.
Freedom United supports the call for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the situation on the ground and hopes that this can be done as soon as possible. However, we are also aware that the ongoing human rights violations will not end until the Chinese government takes action.
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