Rights org. fears China will use Bachelet visit as propaganda

Geneva, May 20 (EFE).- The NGO Human Rights Watch said Friday it feared that the Chinese government would use the imminent visit of the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet as a “publicity stunt,” and warned the former Chilean president’s credibility “is at stake.”

“It is hard to believe that the Chinese government allows the high commissioner to see things they do not want her to see, or that they authorize her to speak with human rights defenders, victims and their families,” Sophie Richardson, the organization’s China director said in a statement.

“Bachelet’s legacy will be judged by her willingness to hold a powerful state to account for its crimes against humanity,” Richardson said.

Bachelet announced in March that she had agreed with the Chinese authorities to visit the country at the end of May, although the exact date of her trip has not yet been specified, in what would be the first visit by a person in charge of human rights of the United Nations since 2005.

On her trip to China Bachelet “should underline the need for justice for the victims of human rights violations, and accountability for those responsible,” the organization said in the statement.

The visit will include a stopover in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have reportedly been detained in so-called re-education centers in recent years.

According to the organization, these practices began with a campaign against “violent extremism” that began in 2014, which has included “systematic policies of mass arrests, torture, cultural persecution and other offenses against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang.”

It also said Friday that in September 2021 Bachelet announced that her office was finalizing a report on allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang, but that it has not yet been published.

“The delay has not been explained, and it is not clear if the report will finally be published or not,” said the organization, adding Chinese authorities are possibly pressuring Bachelet to continue delaying the publication of the document or to mitigate its conclusions. EFE


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