The UN human rights chief said he was under “tremendous pressure” over the Xinjiang report, acknowledging that it was uncertain when the document would be released.
“We’re trying to deliver on my promises,” Michelle Bachelet told reporters today in Geneva, Switzerland, at her final press conference as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
She admitted to “tremendous pressure” to issue or not to issue long-term reports on the situation in China’s Xinjiang autonomous region, where Beijing has been accused of detaining more than 1 million people, Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. Ms Bachelet has repeatedly vowed to release the report before her term ends on August 31.
“But I am not going to release or withhold this report because of any such pressure. We will continue to work hard to release the report, which I plan to do before my mandate is over,” she said.
Bachelet also noted that her office “receives significant input from the Chinese government.” “We need to look carefully, as we always do with any report, with any country,” she noted.
Ms Bachelet’s visit to Xinjiang in early May was criticized by some human rights groups as “lack of stability and cowardice” because the trip was coordinated by Beijing.
The United States and some Western countries have accused China of mass detention, forced labor, sterilization and destruction of Uighur cultural and religious sites, calling Beijing’s actions “genocide.” U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has passed legislation to ban all imports from Xinjiang, citing alleged forced labor.
China has repeatedly criticized the West, saying the accusations are groundless, interfere in internal affairs, distort facts, curb development momentum and violate international law.
Ms Bachelet is under increasing pressure to investigate and open up about the situation in Xinjiang. About a year ago, she told the Human Rights Council that an independent assessment of the situation in Xinjiang was needed, and her office was finalizing a report on the matter.
However, the report has been repeatedly delayed. Ms Bachelet said she had received multiple requests to publish the report over the past year, as well as “request not to publish” letters signed by dozens of countries.
Xuanle (follow AFP)