Uyghurs: The UN believes that China may have committed crimes against humanity by repressing the Uyghur minority | International

Michelle Bachelet after giving her report as the highest commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, this Wednesday.
Michelle Bachelet after giving her report as the highest commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, this Wednesday.FABRICE COFFRINI (AFP)

Michelle Bachelet has put an end to her term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday by dropping a bomb: the report on the Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the Uyghur Muslim minority, the majority in the area, sees their fundamental rights violated by the Beijing regime. The publication of the report has provoked an angry protest from China, which claims that it could damage its cooperation with the United Nations. The report’s conclusions, the result of a lengthy independent investigation, are that China may have committed crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities by pursuing policies that involved mass arbitrary arrests and other serious abuses. The systematic practice of repression by the Beijing regime led to “large-scale deprivation of liberty” of these minorities at least between 2017 and 2019.

The UN accuses China of “serious violations of human rights” in the report, published in Geneva minutes before midnight (local time), a document that for China is “a farce” organized by the US and Western countries. The document assesses allegations of repression against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, of which the researchers said they found “credible evidence” in the case of the Uyghurs. The story indicates that members of that minority face “systematic arbitrary arrests” and some are subject to “patterns of mistreatment.” For years, the region has been the object of Orwellian surveillance and it is estimated that at least one million Uyghurs are interned in labor and re-education camps, not counting the unknown number of those subjected to forced sterilization.

The Chinese government justifies the decades-long repression on the fact that the region is a hotbed for Islamic extremism, which manifests itself in the form of violent attacks against civilians perpetrated, according to the authorities, by radicalized members of that minority. In 2018 it was disclosed that the regime had created gigantic internment and work camps (“vocational training centers”, in the official definition) to separate them from this supposed extremist drift.

Bachelet acknowledged last week that she had received pressure both from those in favor of publishing the report, with the US in the lead, and from detractors, the first of them being China. He also revealed that he had received a letter signed by some 40 countries asking him not to publish the report that his office has been preparing for a couple of years and whose preparation was delayed when the Chinese government accepted that the high commissioner visit the country last May. .

The controversial visit of the former Chilean president made to China is for many at the origin of her resignation not to repeat mandate at the head of the UN office, when she even sounded like a possible replacement for António Guterres at the head of the secretary general of the organization. Too complacent in the opinion of human rights organizations, Bachelet avoided delving into the repression of the Uyghurs so as not to stir up her hosts. She did, he urged Beijing to “review” her anti-terrorism policy in line with international standards, a call as vague as it is insufficient in the opinion of critics of the visit. Since it was announced, they warned that the diplomat’s trip could become a propaganda tool in the hands of Beijing. Bachelet visited Canton, in southern China, and Xinjiang, in the northwest.

The high commissioner defended her visit, claiming that it was a priority because it was a unique opportunity to see first-hand what was happening in the country and have direct contact with relatives of Uyghurs who were or are interned in those camps. True to her word that she would make the report public before the last minute of her term was up, Bachelet’s gesture also seeks to ingratiate herself with all those who expected a short-term report with content that tempers Chinese pressure. . Neither one thing nor the other: the UN recognizes as credible the allegations of violations of the fundamental rights of the Uyghurs.

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