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The Bachelet Visit: A Disappointed Uyghur’s View

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights met Xi Jinping during a trip she says is “not an investigation.” What is it, then?

By Kok Bayraq

May 27, 2022

An image of Michelle Bachelet with Xi Jinping. Credits.

On May 25, the UN news office reported that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet held a “valuable” meeting with China’s president Xi Jinping, but still no valuable words were seen in related tweets of Bachelet’s office.

Two days before, Ms. Bachelet had announced that her visit to China would not be an investigation. It was a remarkable show of sincerity, acknowledging a surrender. But it was too late.

Why didn’t she mention this on March, when she get permission to visit China, or at least 28 days before, when her advance team arrived in China? Why did she give a false signal to the world, including to oppressed people, by repeatedly anticipating an unfettered and meaningful investigation before making a U-turn to a “no investigation” point?

I find it highly irresponsible. Ms. Bachelet acknowledged her own weakness and declared her unwillingness to investigate after the trip was in motion. Many Uyghurs abroad issued statements and attended rallies with the expectation of obtaining information about their missing relatives. She should know what the cost of these actions would be to their relatives in the camps and jails.

According to reports, Ms. Bachelet has been negotiating with Beijing since September 2018 for a visit to “Xinjiang,” requesting the opportunity to conduct an unfettered and meaningful investigation. She was given permission in March of this year to conduct her investigation. After her March statement, Chinese officials emphasized that the visit should be a “friendly” exchange of views, not an investigation. It seems that her office accepted China’s disguised ultimatum.

That is why, to date, the course of Ms. Bachelet’s visit has been kept secret from the international community. This approach does not follow the true mission and working principles of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Ms. Bachelet is not meeting with representatives of the affected parties, including Uyghur activists, camp witnesses, and human rights organizations and experts who are concerned about the situation in the region.

The OHCHR has not released a report despite calls from international organizations. What is the OHCHR waiting for? Are they waiting for China to finish hosting their visitors, just as they allowed China to finish hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, complete the Belt and Road Plan, and even continue the Uyghur genocide?

According to Bloomberg, Ms. Bachelet’s claim that there will be “no investigation” is an attempt to manage expectations of her landmark visit to China.

The documents Ms. Bachelet has been hiding for a year should have already proven that what is going on in the Uyghur region is far beyond a human rights “problem”; it is genocide. The Uyghur situation has been declared a genocide by eight Western countries, and more than 30 countries have condemned China’s Uyghur policy in UN meetings.

The Uyghur Tribunal in the UK has already issued a judgment of genocide after spending more than a year working with more than a dozen independent judges, 30 experts, and 200 witnesses, which included a review of reports issued by international experts and their organizations before and after the tribunal. Ms. Bachelet is supposed to know how many relatives living abroad are eager to obtain information about the victims and how many of their relatives in the Uyghur region have already been interrogated, harassed, and even taken to black cells for the statements they made and the activities in which they participated abroad.

However, if the visit is not to conduct an investigation, why is Ms. Bachelet going? For tourism? A wedding, perhaps? Just few days before, Ms. Liz Throssell, OHCHR’s spokeswoman had said the visit would be focused on Xinjiang. To that, we must ask, if there will be no “investigation,” why? To give advice or get a lesson from Chinese authorities on how to commit genocide?

“She [Ms. Bachelet] will be meeting high-level government officials,” the spokeswoman said. To discuss what, exactly?

To those who were watching, spokeswoman Throssell’s May 17 statement smelled of surrender: “The purpose of [the] visit is really … a dialogue with the Chinese government, with the Chinese authorities on a range of domestic, regional, and global human rights issues,” the statement read.

In any investigation, a dialogue is not a goal; it is a means. The dialogue gains importance with what is being said and what is being asked.

The brief seven-day visit that is planned and the plethora of general topics mentioned in the statement make it clear that this visit is a formality rather than a sincere attempt to solve an issue.

A series of statements issued since March of this year about the visit and the hidden agenda indicate that the original vital objective of the investigation was abandoned. These actions prove that the OHCHR has agreed to close their eyes and will not discuss the genocide during Ms. Bachelet’s visit, forcing her to acknowledge her weakness.

How can Ms. Bachelet ignore the crying and pleading of the victims of this genocide and ignore the calls of more than 200 organizations? Why can’t she conduct an independent investigation? Is there something we are not told?

The world clearly knows that China is strong, stubborn, and evil. It is committing genocide, and an investigation is needed. If an official is not strong enough to insist that dictators who commit genocide must be stopped, perhaps she should not chair the OHCHR. And she should not just “tour” a place where genocide is occurring either.


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