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Human rights: Michelle Bachelet visits China to investigate the plight of the Uyghurs

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Published on: 05/23/2022 – 12:06 After endless negotiations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, begins Monday an ultra-sensitive investigation into the fate of Muslim minorities in the region from Xinjiang. However, many observers and human rights defenders fear that this visit is “choreographed” by the authorities to serve Beijing’s propaganda. A visit to minefields: the UN high commissioner for human rights began an investigation in China on Monday (May 23) into the crackdown on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, amid fears that Beijing could restrict his freedom of movement. After several years of tough negotiations with the Chinese authorities, Michelle Bachelet, the 70-year-old former Chilean president, is expected to stay six days in the country, until Saturday. She spoke on Monday by videoconference with heads of delegations from around 70 foreign embassies in China, diplomatic sources told AFP. According to these sources, Michelle Bachelet assured diplomats that she had negotiated access to detention centers and could s talk with local human rights activists. UN officials had been wrangling with Beijing since 2018 to gain “free and meaningful access” to Xinjiang. This long-stricken region of northwestern China by expectations The bloody ats, for which authorities blame Uighur separatists and Islamists, has been under drastic scrutiny since the mid-2010s. Western studies accuse China of having interned at least a million Uighurs and members other Muslim minorities in re-education camps and prisons, and even to impose forced labour. Beijing denies these accusations. The risk of a guided visit organized by Beijing Michelle Bachelet’s visit is the first of a high commissioner for human rights in China since 2005. Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, as well as in Kashgar, a city in the south of the region where the Uighur population is particularly large. Michelle Bachelet will also meet “a number of senior officials at national and local levels”, “organizations of civil society, representatives of the business world as well as academics, “said his cabinet. The UN official will also give a conference at the University of Canton (southern China). A stay scrutinized closely, because many Observers fear that China is using the visit to clear itself of the charges against it. The Washington-based human rights organization Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) has also i estimated Monday in an open letter to Michelle Bachelet that her visit would be “carefully managed and choreographed” by Beijing.”We are concerned (…) that you will not have free access to victims, witnesses, independent members of civil society” and that “your points of view are distorted by the Chinese government”, underlines the NGO. The United States, which accuses China of perpetrating “genocide” and criticizes Michelle Bachelet for her “persistent silence” in the face of “atrocities” committed by Beijing, said last week they were “concerned” by the visit.” for human rights in Xinjiang,” said US Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price. For Beijing, the camps are “vocational training centers”. Xinjiang, populated by 26 million inhabitants. Western studies, based on interpretations of official documents, testimonies of alleged victims and statistical extrapolations, accuse Beijing of having interned in “camps” at least a million people, to carry out “forced” sterilizations or even to impose “forced labor”. China presents the camps as “vocational training centers” intended to fight against religious extremism and to train the inhabitants in a trade in order to develop employment and social stability.Beijing also says it does not impose any sterilization, but only applies the policy of limiting births at work in the whole country, and which was little practiced previously in the region .According to academics and overseas-based Uyghurs, however, Xinjiang authorities in recent years appear to have abandoned harsh crackdowns to focus on the d economic development. “Now there is not much visible evidence of repression,” Peter Irwin of the Uyghur Human Rights Project told AFP. Pervasive state surveillance and fear of reprisals could prevent Uyghurs on the ground from speaking freely to the UN team, according to human rights organisations. With AFP

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