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UN Rights Chief Urged to Release Xinjiang Report and Correct Course Following China Visit

HRW Statement - Item 2 Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner's Annual Report - HRC50

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

China’s authoritarian government systemically represses fundamental rights. The government continues to arbitrarily detain human rights defenders, tighten control over civil society, the media, and the internet, and deploy invasive mass surveillance technology. Human Rights Watch has documented crimes against humanity by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, including mass detention, torture, and cultural persecution, as part of a widespread and systematic attack on ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. In Hong Kong, the government imposed draconian national security legislation in 2020 and has systematically dismantled the city’s freedoms. We have also documented recent grave abuses against Tibetans, including harsh imprisonments for exercising basic rights and restrictions on Tibetan language education.

High Commissioner, we note your recent visit to China. We were deeply disappointed that your end-of-mission statement did not condemn well-documented human rights violations in the country. We were particularly concerned that on Xinjiang, you legitimized the Chinese government’s invidious counter-terrorism narrative and its ludicrous description of detention centers as “vocational education and training centers.” Many Uyghur and Chinese civil society groups have described your failure to condemn these abuses as a betrayal.

High Commissioner, we have three questions:

  1. Will you establish a formal mechanism for regular dialogue with Uyghur and other human rights defenders on China in the same way that you have agreed to a regular dialogue with the Chinese government?
  2. What steps will you take to identify the missing and detained in Xinjinag and reunite them with their loved ones?
  3. Finally, you told this Council last September that your report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang was nearly finalized. In December your office said it would be published “within weeks.” Now that the visit has occurred, when will your report be published and presented to this Council?

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