The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said Thursday that the pressure not to publish the report on human rights in China has been very strong, but she has assured that none of this will prevent her body from working. .
The UN denounces racist and discriminatory practices against ethnic minorities in China
The report focuses on the human rights situation of the Uyghurs, a minority settled in the northwestern province of Xinjiang and that the Chinese government has repressed for decades because it considers it to be a breeding ground for extremism, to the point that in 2018 it was discovered that he had created large internment camps to “reeducate” them.
Bachelet has acknowledged having received a letter signed by some 40 countries asking her not to publish the report that her office has been preparing for a couple of years on this situation and whose preparation was delayed when the Chinese government accepted that the high commissioner visit the country last May.
According to Bachelet, this visit was a priority because it was a unique opportunity to see first-hand what was happening in the country and to have direct contact with relatives of Uyghurs who were or are in these internment camps.
In July it came to light that China was asking Bachelet to bury the report, according to a letter from China to which the Reuters agency had access and confirmed by diplomats from three countries that received it.
The Chinese-drafted letter expressed “serious concern” about the Xinjiang report and sought to stop its publication, four anonymous sources told Reuters. They said China started distributing it to diplomatic missions in Geneva from late June and asked countries to sign it to show their support.
“The assessment (on Xinjiang), if published, will intensify politicization and bloc confrontation in the field of human rights, undermine the credibility of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), and harm cooperation between OHCHR and member states,” the letter said, referring to Bachelet’s office. “We strongly urge the High Commissioner not to publish such an assessment.”
end of term
Bachelet said this Thursday that she had had “an enormous number of meetings” with representatives of countries that asked her to publish the aforementioned report as soon as possible, which she promised several months ago that she would do before the end of her term at the head of the largest international structure of human rights and which expires on the 31st.
In a press conference in which she took stock of her management, Bachelet has indicated that the comments made by the Chinese Government to the report are being reviewed, a common procedure for this type of publication and with which it seeks to correct inaccuracies or assess measures that might not have been taken into account.
“The issues (contained in the report) are serious and are thoroughly analyzed,” Bachelet advanced after assuring that she will try to honor her promise to bring it to light before saying goodbye to her position.
“The pressures will not define how things will be,” he assured. “I have received tremendous pressure to publish or not publish, but I will not publish or withhold publication due to such pressures.”
Given this response, the Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, John Fisher, has asked him to make more of an effort to get the report out. “Anything else would be an embarrassment to his position and a betrayal of the victims,” Fisher tweeted.
Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, has described Bachelet’s response as “woefully inadequate” given the magnitude of the abuses, according to Reuters. Michele Taylor, US ambassador for human rights in Geneva, has called for the report to be published, saying “the world deserves an independent and honest account” of the situation.