A UN spokesperson on Friday said its human rights office is finalising its assessment of the situation in China’s Xinjiang region, where Uyghurs were alleged to have been unlawfully detained, tortured and used as forced labour.
The assessment will be published despite the failure of the Chinese government to grant access to UN human rights personnel to visit the troubled region.
Mr. Rupert Colville said the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet hoped to publish its report in the coming weeks and that there had been “no concrete progress” in long-running talks with Chinese officials on a proposed visit.
“The Uyghurs tribunal has brought to light more information that is deeply disturbing in relation to the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang,” the OHCHR spokesperson told a UN briefing in Geneva.
“We have of course similarly identified patterns of arbitrary detention and ill-treatment in institutions, coercive labour practices and erosion of social and cultural rights in general,” he said.
China’s mission to the UN in Geneva, in a statement issued on Saturday, said it had frequently extended an invitation to Ms. Bachelet for a “friendly visit”.
“However, this visit shall in no way become the so-called ‘investigation’ under the presumption of guilt,” it said.
If her office were only interested in “political manipulation of anti-China forces in the US and the West”, then this would cast serious doubt on its impartiality, it added.
Earlier on Friday, an unofficial Britain-based tribunal of lawyers and campaigners said Chinese President Xi Jinping bore primary responsibility for what it said was genocide, crimes against humanity and torture of Uyghurs and members of other minorities in the Xinjiang region. China dismissed the tribunal, which has no powers of sanction or enforcement, as a “farce”.
In June, Ms. Bachelet publicly suggested a timeline for a visit this year. She has been negotiating the terms of such a visit since September 2018, when allegations first emerged that some one million Uighurs had been detained in mass camps.
Her findings need to be shared with the Beijing government before they can be made public, Mr. Colville said. (Source: The Straits Times)