The UN and China stands accused of fabricating ‘mutually convenient stalemate’ over Xinjiang human rights report. Documents also showed that Chinese officials asked the UN Human Rights Council to not meet Uyghur activists.
The United Nations has been alleged of working with China to postpone a Human Rights Council report on suspected atrocities targeting minorities in Xinjiang till after Winter Olympics.
China has been accused by human rights organizations of committing grave human rights crimes towards Uyghur Muslims in the province, involving widespread sterilization, torture, and involuntary labor.
China officially rejected all misconduct, even though the allegations have cast a shadow over the Winter Olympics, with western countries using the extensively published accusations from Xinjiang as justifications for a diplomatic boycott of the Games.
As per the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that there was no timetable for issuing its findings, but that it would not “be ready” prior to the scheduled Winter Olympics.
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“I am afraid we don’t have an updated timeline yet for the publication of the report,” OHCHR spokeswoman Liz Throssell said.
“However, I understand that it will not be ready for publication before the start of the Winter Olympics this Friday.”
The research has been in the making for three years at the human rights organization.
Meanwhile, UN human rights director Michelle Bachelet has been in discussions with China for a tour to Xinjiang since 2018, Ms Throssell stated “there are ongoing conversations” regarding the travel “possibly in the first half of 2022.”
“It is important that such a visit be meaningful, with unsupervised access to a wide range of civil society actors and locations as well as high-level engagement with government officials,” she added.
“As the high commissioner has said, meaningful, unfettered access to the Xinjiang region is crucial,” she further said.
SCMP obtained records that raise concerns about the character of conversations between the organization and China since 2019 about a possible visit to the country.
As shown in a letter sent May 31, 2019, Chen Xu, China’s permanent ambassador to the UN office in Geneva, had welcomed Ms Bachelet “to visit China, including Beijing and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, from 15 to 22 June 2019.”
“I trust this visit will provide first-hand information in China’s efforts in the field of human rights, hence will benefit mutual understanding and cooperation between us,” the letter said.
China has previously offered invitations to explore Xinjiang, notably towards the European Union, but it has declined to grant delegations full admission to specific locations or people.
China’s invites in 2019 and 2022, according to Emma Reilly, a former UN human rights agent turned whistleblower, offered “no more than a guided tour.”
She called the evident standoff between the United Nations and China a “mutually convenient stalemate.”
Upon disclosing proof that the UN was exchanging the identities of protesters with the Chinese government, Ms. Reilly was dismissed by the UN in November.
China’s attempts to prevent the UN from denouncing charges of human rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang were also revealed in leaked papers.
After the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) denounced the situation in Tibet in 2012, former Chinese envoy Liu Zhenmin issued a sternly worded email to Navanethem Pillay, the then-UN human rights head.
“Your office’s insistence on making the public statement on 2 November has on one hand demonstrated the misunderstanding, prejudice and even wrong perception of your office on Tibetan areas in China,” the letter had said.
Chinese diplomats also requested that the UN Human Rights Council not engage with Uyghur activists, particularly Dolkun Isa, and also that “no officials of the [United Nations Office at Geneva] meet these persons or accept any material they provide,” according to documents.