China asked the United Nations human rights chief to file a long-awaited report on human rights violations in Xinjiang province, according to a Chinese document consulted by the agency Reuters and confirmed by diplomats from three countries that received it.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has faced harsh accusations of being too soft on China during a visit to the country in May, after which he has said that will refrain from running for a second term for personal reasons.
But before leaving office at the end of August, has promised to publish a report on the Xinjiang region in western China. Human rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against members of Xinjiang’s Uyghur Muslim minority, including the use of large-scale forced labor in internment camps. China has strongly denied the allegations.
China-Drafted Document Expresses “Serious Concern” About Xinjiang Report and Aims to Stop Its Publicationsaid four sources, the three diplomats and a rights expert who spoke on condition of anonymity. They all said that China began distributing the document to various diplomatic missions in Geneva from the end of June, asking countries to sign it to show their support.
“The (Xinjiang) assessment, if published, will intensify politicization and bloc confrontation in the field of human rightswill undermine the credibility of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) and will harm cooperation between the OHCHR and member states,” the document says, referring to Bachelet’s office.
“We strongly urge the High Commissioner not to publish said evaluation”Add.
Liu Yuyin, spokesperson for the China’s diplomatic mission in Geneva did not say whether the document was sent or respond to questions about its content.
Liu said that nearly 100 countries have recently expressed support for China on Xinjiang-related issues “and his objection to interference in China’s internal affairs under the guise of human rights.”
This support manifested through public statements at the last session of the UN Human Rights Councilwhich ended on July 8, and through the “joint letter,” Liu added, using a term that denotes China and the other signatories.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters that Bachelet would have witnessed a “real Xinjiang with a safe and stable society” when he visited the region during his May trip to China.
The Chinese spokesman said that attempts by some countries to “smear China’s image” using the Xinjiang issue will not succeed.
In her turn, the High Commissioner denied pressure from China: “There is no letter from the Chinese authorities, the truth is that there is a letter from countries. Just as there are letters from countries that ask me to publish it, there are letters from countries that ask not to publish it. That’s normal”.
At a press conference in Lima as part of a working visit to Peru, Bachelet assured that the report “It will be published before I leave office” in August, he assured.
“I can say that we continue to work in the (United Nations human rights) office to update the report to share it with the country in question, as is always done before giving a report to make factual comments if there were any errors, as is done in normal practice,” the High Commissioner specified.
The High Commissioner’s spokesman added that the report on Xinjiang is being finalized before publication, and that this includes the usual practice of sharing a copy with China to provide your comments.
The report will address the China’s treatment of the region’s Uyghur minority. A team of human rights experts began gathering evidence for the report more than three years ago, but its release has been delayed for months for unclear reasons.
Reuters could not set how many signatures did the chinese document receive. One of the four sources, a diplomat based in Geneva, responded to the letter positively giving the country’s support for him.
Another version of the letter, also consulted by Reuters, is more critical of Bachelet’s actions, stating that the report on Xinjiang was carried out “without a mandate and in serious breach of the duties of the OHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)”, and that it would undermine his personal credibility.
It was unclear who edited it or why. The diplomat who signed the letter said that the mildest version would be the final one.
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