Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed criticism at the pressure she is under over publishing a report into the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region, home to the country’s Uyghur ethnic minority.
Speaking in Geneva less than a week before the end of her term of office, Bachelet on Thursday confirmed receipt of a letter from around 40 governments seeking to restrain her from publishing a report on conditions for the Uyghur and other minorities in the region, reports dpa news agency.
She did not name the countries.
“I have been under tremendous pressure to publish or not to publish. But I will not publish or withhold publication under any such pressure,” Bachelet said.
She added that her office was working to publish by the end of August as planned.
Publication last year was postponed after China issued an invitation to the UNHCR to visit after years of negotiations.
Bachelet visited Xinjiang and other regions in May.
Following the visit, she refrained from criticising Beijing’s policies in the region, drawing criticism from many countries for not clearing up allegations of rights violations.
Human rights organisations and Uyghur who have fled the region have reported that hundreds of thousands of people have been confined to re-education camps.
Tomoya Obokata, UN special rapporteur for slavery, reported last week that in certain cases “enslavement as a crime against humanity” could be involved. China dismissed the allegations as “lies”.
Human Rights Watch spokesman John Fisher (HRW) said it would be a “dereliction of duty” for Bachelet to fail the Uyghurs and other victims.
“At stake is her own reputation and legacy, the credibility of her office, and the trust of victims and their families,” he said in Geneva.