The head of UN human rights affairs said she is urging for a “meaningful visit” to the region this year.
Michele Bachelet, the head of human rights at the United Nations, said she hopes to reach agreement on visiting China (including Xinjiang) this year to investigate reports of serious violations of Uyghur ethnic minorities.
Bachelet said at the opening ceremony of the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday: “I will continue to discuss with China the way to visit, including meaningful entry into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”
“[I] I hope that this goal can be achieved this year, especially when reports of serious human rights violations continue to appear. “
Bachelet’s remarks marked the first time she has publicly proposed a timetable for any such visit, and her office has been negotiating terms since September 2018.
According to the United Nations, she is facing increasing pressure from Western countries to demand her unrestricted access to Xinjiang, where at least 1 million Uyghurs (mainly Muslims) are held in detention camps in the province.
Collective detention camp
Critics, including the United Kingdom and the United States, say that prisoners in concentration camps have suffered Human rights violation, Including arbitrary detention, forced labor, torture, forced sterilization and family separation.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch release report this year recording They say that anti-Uyghur practices may constitute crimes against humanity.
Beijing denies these allegations and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism and promote economic development in the region.
Dozens of countries, led by Canada, are expected to issue a joint statement to the Security Council on Tuesday, expressing their concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, and asking China to allow Bachelet and other independent observers to enter.
Before the statement on Tuesday, the Chinese delegation in Geneva slammed the organization’s efforts to “spread false information and lies to frame China” and “use human rights as a political tool” last week.
At the same time, regarding the situation in Hong Kong, Bachelet told the Security Council that the national security law that China implemented in Hong Kong a year ago had a “chilling effect” on the democratic space and media in this former British colony.
The legislation criminalizes many objections, gives China jurisdiction over certain cases, and grants the authorities new investigative powers.
Bachelet said that 107 people have been arrested in accordance with the law, and 57 of them have been formally charged.
She said: “This will be an important test for the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary. It is willing to fulfill Hong Kong’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in accordance with the Basic Law.”
Government officials in Beijing and Hong Kong stated that national security laws need to be passed to avoid threats to national security, and the rights and freedoms of ordinary Hong Kong people are being protected.
But critics say it is being used to suppress dissent in this global financial center.