Pressure mounts on UN rights chief over China visit

Pressure mounts on UN rights chief over China visit

Pressure to release a long-awaited Xinjiang report is mounting on the UN's rights head, as activists, western governments and commentators are unsatisfied with her recent six-day visit to China.

The report, which Michelle Bachelet said was being finalised late last year, is believed to contain evidence of China's alleged human rights abuses of its Uyghur ethnic minority group in Xinjiang.

In a press conference on Saturday, Bachelet promised to follow up on cases of China's human rights abuse and called for the authorities in Beijing to review their counter-terrorism policies in the Uyghur minority region. She appealed for information about missing Uyghurs.

Her diplomatic dance with one of the UN system's most important stakeholders drew the ire of western governments. The US said that China had restricted and manipulated Bachelet's visit, while the Foreign Office of the United Kingdom pledged to increase international pressure on China to immediately cease its human rights violations in Xinjiang and release those unjustly detained. Activists accused Bachelet, who is a Uyghur advocate and human rights lawyer whose brother has been jailed in Xinjiang, of diminishing the credibility of her office and calling her visit a betrayal Ray

Bachelet should release the report immediately. I hope this is her second chance to set the record straight. She said that this is the factual basis that would have strengthened her hand going into her China visit, and that is critical to reinstating the urgent priorities of justice and accountability. Richardson has been on the Beijing's sanctions list for advocacy work since last year.

The call to release Bachelet's report on Xinjiang has been echoed by European governments from Britain to the EU.

The Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office FCDO said in a statement on May 30 that they look forward to the high commissioner's long-awaited report on the situation in Xinjiang.

The EU foreign affairs spokesperson said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights encourages the office of the UN to publish a report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang as a matter of priority Immediately after Bachelet's visit, her report has become a political hot potato that has put the former Chilean president under the spotlight.

For example, Beijing accused London of colluding with the US in criticising China's human rights record. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied detaining and torturing its Uyghur population, calling the accusations lies of the century. Bachelet s office has been contacted by the Guardian for comments on her recent China visit as well as the timetable of the report's release.

It is not immediately clear what Bachelet had discussed with the Chinese government during her meetings with the officials.

Senior Chinese officials said her visit was an opportunity to observe and experience the real Xinjiang, a line that led activists to fear Beijing was capitalising on her visit for propaganda purposes.