A leading scholar from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and other human rights watchdogs have called for the resignation of the former two-time president of Chile Michelle Bachelet her total lack of criticism of China's record on the issue.
United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCHR) Bachelet should resign her post after failing to condemn the Asian nation for alleged crimes against humanity which the South American physician failed to notice or denounce during her recent trip.
Bachelet visited the remote Sinkiang region, where, according to the United States, the Beijing government has been perpetrating a genocide.
Academic Adrian Zenz Monday told Bloomberg TV he considered Bachelet's trip to China's far western region a disaster.
Now there are calls for her to leave the U.N. Human Rights Commission, or resign immediately, said the US-based researcher. I think the Uighurs feel deeply betrayed.
During a news conference last Saturday at the end of her six-day tour, Bachelet urged Beijing to review its anti-terrorism policies to ensure full compliance with international human rights standards.
She had visited Sinkiang, where a 2019 UN assessment found that 1 million mostly Muslim Uighurs had been held in detention camps. Beijing says the facilities are labor training centers set up as part of an anti-terror campaign and strongly denies accusations of genocide.
What China is doing in Sinkiang is not counterterrorism, Zenz said, criticizing Bachelet for adopting Beijing's propaganda language. If you look at the reasons why people are being locked up, it's about religious discrimination and cultural assimilation.
During Bachelet's trip to China, the first by a UN human rights official to China since 2005, thousands of apparently hacked Sinkiang police files provided new evidence of alleged abuses against Uighurs. They documented a shoot-to-kill policy regarding camp escapees. People were reported to have been held for up to a decade for offenses such as minimizing cell phone use to evade state surveillance.
Bachelet did not refer to the hacked files during her Saturday press conference, in which she gave lengthy answers to questions from Chinese state media on seemingly unrelated topics, such as gun violence and racism in the US.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday that Bachelet's trip had cleared up misinformation about Sinkiang. All foreign friends who have visited Sinkiang will come to a fair and objective conclusion, like the high commissioner herself, he added. China attaches great importance to the human rights causes of the United Nations. We are ready to play a greater role.
Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch, told Bloomberg TV Monday that Bachelet's trip had achieved exactly what the Chinese government wanted: an almost total lack of criticism of its human rights record.
Perhaps worst of all, the solutions the high commissioner proposed are precisely those that have been tried in the past and have failed, and effectively allow the Chinese government to commit even worse human rights violations, she added.
William Nee, research and advocacy coordinator for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Bachelet's statements were too weak for the gravity of the situation.
To a large extent, this is the kind of cover-up that the human rights community feared would occur when news of her visit was announced, he wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.