High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 17, 2020.
© Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP, Pool
(Geneva) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should urgently release her office’s report on Chinese government rights violations targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities, almost 200 human rights groups including Human Rights Watch said in an open letter released today.
March 8, 2022
Open letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: OHCHR report on grave human rights violations in Xinjiang can wait no longer
“Human rights groups have become increasingly concerned that the UN human rights office has still not published its long-awaited report on Xinjiang, even as the atrocity crimes pile up,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “It defies credibility to believe that China will allow meaningful unfettered access that will enable human rights defenders, or victims and their families, to speak to the High Commissioner safely, unsupervised and without fear of reprisal. Today’s announcement of a planned visit by the High Commissioner should not provide an excuse for her to avoid publishing her report on Xinjiang abuses without further delay, as she has repeatedly promised.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet first indicated her intent to report on Chinese government abuses across Xinjiang, the Uyghur region, in 2018. Since that time, she has offered procedural updates on the status of negotiations to gain meaningful access to the region. In September 2021, Bachelet confirmed that her office was “finalising its assessment of the available information on allegations of serious human rights violations in [Xinjiang] with a view to making it public.” In December, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the report would be released in a matter of weeks.
Since 2018, Human Rights Watch and other nongovernmental organizations have published information detailing the arbitrary detention of approximately one million Uyghurs and others, the Orwellian criminalization of lawful behavior tracked through surveillance technology, and the commission of apparent crimes against humanity, including torture, family separations, and cultural persecution.
“Uyghurs and other oppressed peoples in China should be able to look to the UN’s top human rights official for genuine leadership.” Roth said. “The high commissioner should – today – release her Xinjiang report, brief Human Rights Council members on its findings, and set out next steps for holding Chinese officials accountable for atrocities.”