05/23/2022, 12.50
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Beijing denies unrestricted Xinjiang access to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

In her visit, Michelle Bachelet is to move within a security "bubble" and without journalists. The mission was to ascertain allegations that Beijing has imprisoned 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. Per U.S. and humanitarian groups, the Chinese will use the trip to cover atrocities.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's six-day visit to China starts today but will be conducted in a Covid-19 security "bubble" and without journalists, says the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Beijing government is effectively denying the UN representative full and unrestricted access to Xinjiang. According to the UN, several humanitarian organizations and international media, Chinese authorities have imprisoned about 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz: Turkic-speaking minorities of the Islamic faith living in the western autonomous region since 2017 in concentration camps.

The allegations are based on a sifting of official documents from Beijing and direct testimony from former detainees and prison guards. They include a range of human rights violations, ranging from torture and other inhumane treatment, to forced sterilizations, rape and forced separation of minors. The extensive surveillance system set up by Chinese authorities to control Uyghurs and other minorities of Turkish origin have also been dennounced.

The Chinese deny all allegations, saying that the camps in Xinjiang are vocational training centers and projects to reduce poverty, fight terrorism and separatism. U.S. and humanitarian groups have expressed doubts about the usefulness of Bachelet's mission. Beijing's restrictions confirm the fears of many observers that Xi Jinping used the former Chilean president's visit to cover up the atrocities the Chinese are accused of.

The last trip to China by a head of the U.N. human rights agency was in 2005. Since 2018, the U.N. and Beijing have often contentiously negotiated the terms of access. Washington and humanitarian organizations have long criticized Bachelet for never taking a stronger stance against China, especially in light of information that has emerged about the plight of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. Also considered serious is the failure to release a U.N. report on the situation in Xinjiang, which has been ready since September.

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