UN Official Waits Until Last Day on Job to Drop Report on China's Uyghur Abuses


The United Nations’ human rights body will release a report documenting Chinese human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority group hours before High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet steps down, AFP reported Wednesday.

Bachelet had promised to release the long-awaited report by the end of the month, but said on Aug. 25 that “substantial input” from China given during a customary review period had indefinitely delayed publication, The New York Times reported.

The report will be released within hours of Bachelet’s four-year tenure expiring Wednesday, amid significant pressure from China to block the report, according to AFP.

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“The High Commissioner has said the report will go out by the end of the day. I’m afraid I can’t give you an exact time,” spokesman Jeremy Laurence confirmed to the South China Morning Post.

Bachelet vowed in 2021 to conduct a comprehensive investigation into alleged human rights abuses occurring in China’s western Xinjiang province, including forced labor, involuntary sterilization and indoctrination.

China mounted a covert pressure campaign to suppress the report, receiving support from over 100 other countries.

“They have sent a letter, that has been publicly known but signed by them and 40 or 50 countries asking for the no publication,” Bachelet told Deutsche Welle. “Pressures will not define what will happen with the report,” from either China or Western countries who want to see the report released, she added.

The UN office received “big numbers of facts” from China and had to carefully review them to determine which to include in the report, Bachelet said in an interview with DW.

She promised to incorporate only statements of fact in final edits, adding that she was “trying very hard” to meet the self-imposed deadline, The Times reported.

A spokesperson for the office had initially said in December that the report could be released within weeks, but Bachelet repeatedly postponed publication, in part to keep from jeopardizing her May visit to China, the first by a U.N. human rights chief in 17 years.

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Early on in her term, Bachelet advocated for unrestricted access to the Xinjiang region to allow a thorough independent review of China’s abuses, according to The Times.

Instead, the visit, which human rights and Uyghur advocacy groups hoped would officially confirm the allegations, concluded in a state-run tour of the region.

Bachelet also received criticism for urging Beijing to review potentially arbitrary and discriminatory treatment of the minority population, language activists feared could whitewash China’s wrongdoing.

She announced she would not seek a second term as U.N. high commissioner on June 13 after receiving criticism for failing to investigate China’s human rights abuses.

“We firmly oppose the release of a so-called Xinjiang-related report,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday, calling it a “pure stunt” by the U.S. and other Western countries to politicize China’s human rights record.

“We hope the High Commissioner will make the right decision,” he added.

China claims the internment camps and labor programs in Xinjiang promote ethnic unity, encourage economic development and combat terrorism.

The U.S. and human rights organizations have accused China of genocide.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chinese embassy did not immediately return the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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