Bachelet’s trip to Xinjiang had been eagerly awaited. The result is all the more disappointing.
At the end of her controversial visit to China, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, largely avoided criticism. Bachelet said at the final conference in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou that her visit was not an “investigation”.
She has urged the Chinese government to review its counter-terrorism measures to ensure they meet international human rights standards, she said. She did not express any direct criticism.
criticism from human rights organizations
International activist groups were disappointed. “The High Commissioner has given the Chinese government a political success,” said the managing director of the NGO “International Campaign for Tibet”, Kai Müller.
Bachelet failed to name the “systematic and appalling human rights violations” by the Chinese government.
During her six-day trip, the 70-year-old Bachelet visited the cities of Kashgar and Ürümqi in the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang, where, according to human rights activists, hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and members of other minorities have been put in re-education camps.
Bachelet also met high-ranking government officials there. According to her own statements, she also received unsupervised access to members of civil society and religious groups.
Expectations were high
With Bachelet, a UN human rights commissioner has traveled to the People’s Republic of China for the first time in 17 years. The visit was preceded by a long tug of war.
Bachelet had had a Chinese invitation since 2019. However, Beijing initially did not want to go into their terms for this. This included unhindered and unsupervised access to interlocutors that Bachelet’s office wanted to choose for itself.
In her first speech to the UN Human Rights Council, she spoke of “deeply disturbing allegations of arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other Muslim communities (…) in so-called re-education camps throughout Xinjiang”.
Waiting for Bachelet’s report on Uyghurs
However, a report by her office on Xinjiang that had been eagerly awaited months ago has not yet been published. Observers suspect behind the delay pressure from China, which wanted to prevent an announcement before the Winter Olympics in Beijing or before their visit, as it was said.
The approach brought her a lot of criticism. With the trip to China, not only is their own credibility at stake from the perspective of activists, but also that of the human rights system of the United Nations, in which China is asserting its influence as a veto power in the Security Council.