UN rights chief to visit China’s Uyghur Muslim region in May

Geneva, Mar 8 (EFE).- United Nation’s rights chief Michelle Bachelet Tuesday said she was likely to travel to China in May for a trip that will take her to the western Xinjiang region, where the government has allegedly detained 1.8 million minority Uyghurs in mass detention camps.

“I am pleased to announce that we have recently reached an agreement with the government of China for a visit, which is planned in principle in May,” Bachelet said in a video address to the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Rights groups have relentlessly alleged that the Chinese government had arbitrarily detained 1.8 million Uyghurs and others in the volatile region.

The predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnic minority number roughly 12 million in Xinjiang but tens of thousands have gone into exile in the last decade.

China has dismissed the allegations.

According to the Chinese government, Xinjiang, neighboring Central Asia, has seen terrorist activities in the last few decades that prompted President Xi Jinping to implement a strong security plan.

The plan includes the creation of “re-education camps,” which, the government says, are “vocational training centers” to educate people influenced by religious extremism.

But rights organizations say these are concentration camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region.

They allege that the government was committing crimes against humanity, including torture, family separations, and cultural persecution in Xinjiang.

Bachelet had first indicated her intent to report on the alleged rights abuses across Xinjiang, the Uyghur region, in 2018.

Since then, she has offered procedural updates on the status of negotiations to gain meaningful access to the region.

In September 2021, Bachelet confirmed that her office was finalizing its assessment of the available information on allegations of serious human rights violations in Xinjiang to make it public.

Her office had gathered information nearly four years, and her spokesperson promised in December that the findings would be released within weeks.

But Bachelet did not mention the long-awaited report Uyghurs in her speech.

Human rights violations by the Chinese government led to a United States-led diplomatic boycott of the recent Winter Olympics in Beijing by several countries.

Bachelet said she would carry out her visit considering the Covid-19 prevention regulations.

An advance team from her office would leave in April to prepare the visit.

She noted that she remained concerned about the mistreatment of human rights activists in China.

Nearly 200 organizations expressed fears that Bachelet would face restrictions since the Chinese government would not let her look into the rights violations in Xinjiang and other areas.

The organizations demanded an immediate release of the UNHRC report on the alleged Chinese rights abuses. EFE

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