Apr 19, 2022

UNPO Signs Joint Letter with Leading NGOs Demanding UN High Commissioner Tackle China's Human Rights Crisis In Upcoming Visit

UNPO has joined 63 NGOs in urgently requesting Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to uphold a “principled and coherent” response to the current human rights crisis in China. It comes after her announcement of a visit to China PR at some point in May. The Organizations that signed the letter, including UNPO, feel that Ms Bachelet has not made strong enough efforts in the realm of public diplomacy to take China to task over allegations of serious human rights abuses, the most pressing of which remains the Uyghur genocide.

The Chinese Communist Party continues to systematically imprison political dissidents, violate right to land laws and repress cultural heritage in places like Tibet, Southern Mongolia and East Turkestan/Xinjiang. The Uygur minority in the latter has been subject to mass internment, that includes the sterilisation of women and separation of families, which has led an independent court to label the Chinese government’s actions as genocide as they seek to eradicate the Uyghur identity from China.

Faced with this, over 60 CSOs and NGOs have signed a letter demanding Ms Bachelet and the UNHCHR tighten and clarify their position towards China. China is also the country the most cited, with Saudi Arabia, by the UN Sectretary-General’s annual report for engaging in reprisals against individuals seeking to co-operate with the UN. The Chinese government regularly blocks civil society initiatives from engaging with UN observers such as Ms Bachelet and so far no comment on this phenomenon has been published by the interested party.

Within the Joint Letter, a list of minimum conditions for an observation mission to China by the High Comissioner to be seen as credible and fair is set out. The letter highlights the risk of the mission becoming a propaganda stunt by the Chinese government given their precedent of blocking access to certain regions and the threat of reprisals against anyone who speaks foul of the Chinese authorities. Tibet and Xinjiang have been the subject of travel bans for foreign journalists, and concerns are rising that the UN officials will not be allowed to travel freely in the two regions.

The OHCHR have also failed to release a report into the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang. This coupled with a visit to China that appears to only serve the interests of ruling party officials on the ground would serve to completely delegitimise the OHCHR were it to be published. We therefore hope the relevant UN authorities, based on Treaty law, continue a thourough investigation into what is happening in China.

To read the full statement, click here.