MAY 02 2022
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) led colleagues in sending a letter to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), regarding the release of the UN’s long-delayed report on the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The senators urged Guterres to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to immediately release the report. High Commissioner Bachelet’s office signaled in December 2021 that the report would be released within weeks, but has been delayed for unspecified reasons. Ms. Bachelet is scheduled to visit Xinjiang this month.
“We are now five months into 2022 and are concerned that the report may be delayed because of [Bachelet’s] agreement with the Chinese government to visit the XUAR this month,” the senators wrote. “It is imperative that the report be released quickly and not be dependent on, nor delayed because of, a planned trip to the XUAR. Either of those scenarios would send a terrible message that Beijing is able to delay and evade international scrutiny of its heinous crimes by staging what will likely be a limited trip with access only to areas hand selected by the CCP.”
Joining Rubio and Merkley in sending the letter were Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Thefull text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. Secretary-General:
We write to respectfully urge you to address the human rights crisis in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Specifically, we ask that you work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet to release the report on the human rights situation in the XUAR without delay. The ongoing atrocities and genocide that are occurring against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must continue to be documented, exposed, and provided to the public to ensure justice and accountability.
As you know, in 2018, the High Commissioner committed to release a report on the ongoing human rights violations targeting Uyghurs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, in the XUAR. In December 2021, the office further signaled the report would be released in a matter of weeks. In January 2022, the chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China asked for the report to be released before the Beijing Winter Olympics. In March 2022, almost 200 organizations wrote to the High Commissioner expressing concerns about the relative silence in the face of these grave violations and urged Ms. Bachelet to release the report.
We are now five months into 2022 and are concerned that the report may be delayed because of her agreement with the Chinese government to visit the XUAR this month. It is imperative that the report be released quickly and not be dependent on, nor delayed because of, a planned trip to the XUAR. Either of those scenarios would send a terrible message that Beijing is able to delay and evade international scrutiny of its heinous crimes by staging what will likely be a limited trip with access only to areas hand selected by the CCP.
We remain united in our goal to see the Chinese government and its enablers held accountable for the well-documented human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other groups in the XUAR. U.S. administrations of both parties have determined that the CCP’s system of mass surveillance and internment, denial of the Uyghurs’ right to peacefully practice their religion, and use of forced labor, sexual violence, forced abortion, and forced sterilization of women constitute genocide and crimes against humanity. Elected bodies from other United Nations member states, including Canada, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, have condemned the CCP’s genocide and crimes against humanity. It is time for the United Nations to fully recognize the evil of these crimes and stand with the victims, instead of bowing to any political pressures.
The United Nations was founded, in part, to reaffirm fundamental human rights and prevent the scourge of genocide the world witnessed in World War II. As the United Nations’ principal founding member and largest contributor, the United States expects the United Nations’ senior human rights officials to live up to this mandate and lead the moral charge against ongoing human rights abuses. By releasing the report without delay and ahead of any potential trips to the region, the High Commissioner can unequivocally show that the Chinese government and CCP had no part in influencing the report’s findings and failed to avoid accountability for their crimes. It can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council does not give any country license to commit grave human rights violations with impunity.
We stand ready to work with you and the High Commissioner to take this first step in bringing an end to the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs once and for all. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.