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NEW YORK (June 2, 2022) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) expresses deep disappointment in UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s failure to denounce the Chinese government’s grave human rights abuses, including the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people. HRF believes that Ms. Bachelet’s actions and statements during her visit to China go beyond mere reckless disregard for the victims of the regime, and constitute complicit behavior in so far as they have helped the regime whitewash its abuses under the cloak of legitimacy of a UN high level visit.

On her recent 6-day official visit to China from May 23-28, Ms. Bachelet failed to adequately and transparently address the Uyghur genocide and other egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) dictatorial regime. This was the first such trip conducted by a UN Human Rights High Commissioner in 17 years, but it was unfortunately highly tailored and manipulated by the dictatorship. Her stay consisted of chaperoned government-approved tours, as well as a virtual meeting with Xi Jinping. Notably, Ms. Bachelet was not granted unfettered and unhindered access to freely meet with human rights defenders, independent civil society organizations, and ordinary people.

In recent years, reports have confirmed that the CCP is arbitrarily locking up millions of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic and Muslim-majority groups in concentration camps and forced labor facilities, where they are subject to torture, rape, political indoctrination, forced steralizations, and other abuses aimed at destroying their unique cultural heritage and identity. Ms. Bachelet parroted the CCP’s claims that their actions are “de-radicalization measures” to eradicate “terrorism,” severely undermining the widespread repression and ongoing genocide in the region.

Furthermore, Ms. Bachelet’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses was also apparent in her stance regarding Tibet. For decades, the CCP has smothered calls for human rights and freedom in Tibet by tightly controlling all aspects of civilian life – including the sinicization of Tibetan culture and language, family separations, arbitrary detentions, and the disruption of religious protocols and reincarnations. Ms. Bachelet failed to use her visit to China as an opportunity to explicitly address these topics and to hold the Chinese government accountable.

As the leading UN body on human rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is mandated to promote and protect human rights for all. Ms. Bachelet’s gross negligence and complicity is now conveniently being weaponized by Beijing as propaganda to whitewash its repressive policies and crimes against humanity. “Ms. Bachelet’s silence speaks volumes about where her values truly lie. Her actions and behavior in China have lended legitimacy to the CCP’s Orwellian and oppressive narratives,” said HRF Senior Strategy and Research Associate Jenny Wang. “As the pandemic rages on, Ms. Bachelet’s stunning failure to uphold her mandate is yet another sad reminder of how too many organs of the United Nations are deeply influenced by the Chinese dictatorial regime.”

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Read HRF’s report “100 Years of Suppression: The CCP’s Strategies in Tibet, the Uyghur Region, and Hong Kong.

Learn more about the Chinese government’s repressive policies in the Uyghur Region by watching Jewher Ilham’s talk, “Until Every Uyghur is Free,” at the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum.

Watch Chemi Lhamo’s talk, “All for the Land of Snow: A Story of Tibetan Resilience,” at the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum to learn about Tibet’s struggle for freedom.

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