UN human rights chief to visit Xinjiang, China in May 2022

The UN human rights chief said Tuesday he would make a long overdue visit to China in May, including to Xinjiang where Western lawmakers have accused Beijing of genocide.

“I am pleased to announce that we recently reached an agreement with the Chinese government for a visit,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council.

Bachelet said the UN rights agency, OHCHR and Beijing were “starting concrete preparations for a visit that is expected to take place in May 2022.”

Meanwhile, nearly 200 rights groups on Tuesday demanded that Bachelet’s office release its long-delayed report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

“The release of the report is critical without further delay – to send a message to victims and perpetrators of crimes that no state, no matter how powerful, is above international law or the strong independent oversight of your office.” This is what 192 human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty wrote in an open letter.

It has long been called for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang and publish their findings on the situation in the area.

Rights groups say at least one million people, the mostly Muslim minority, have been imprisoned in “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, the southwest where China is accused of widespread human rights abuses including the forced sterilization of women and the use of forced labour.

The US government and lawmakers in five other Western countries have declared China’s treatment of the ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang as “genocide” – a charge Beijing denies.

China says it runs job training centers in the region designed to fight extremism. [mg/lt]