China on Tuesday politely denied UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s request for meaningful access to review serious reports of human rights violations in troubled Xinjiang region, saying it was welcome for a “friendly visit” but not an investigation with presumption of guilt.
The US and the EU, along with many other countries, have accused China of the genocide of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and called for an international investigation by human rights groups.
Speaking to the 47th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Bachelet said I will continue to discuss with China the modalities of visiting the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including meaningful access, and I hope that this will be achieved this year especially since reports of serious human rights violations keep surfacing.
China has vehemently denied allegations of interning millions of Uyghurs in mass detention camps, officially designated as educational camps, in order to wean them off religious extremism.
When asked about his reaction to Bachelet’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a media briefing here that the statements made by the chief of the UN’s highest human rights body on Xinjiang-related issues were “contrary to the facts.”
We welcome the High Commissioner to come to China to visit Xinjiang. We have long invited the High Commissioner to China to visit Xinjiang and we are communicating on this issue.
This visit should be a friendly visit with the aim of promoting bilateral exchanges and cooperation, rather than a so-called presumption of guilt investigation, Zhao said.
We firmly oppose any attempt by anyone to attempt political manipulation and pressure on China on this issue, he said.
Without directly naming the US and EU, which are pushing for an investigation into allegations of the genocide of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Zhao said that some countries are spreading “lies and misinformation” about Xinjiang in order to slander China and contain China’s development.
Your attempts are only doomed to failure, he said.
China blames the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), anchored in the Uighur Muslim province of Xinjiang, for numerous violent attacks inside and outside the province, including one in the Forbidden City in Beijing in 2013, which involved several people were killed.
She had sharply criticized the US for removing the Xinjiang separatist terrorist group from its list of terrorist organizations last year, and said it reflected Washingtonâs âdouble standardsâ in combating global terrorism.
In her remarks to the council, Bachelet had also sharply criticized China’s crackdown in Hong Kong after the national security law had been imposed to take control of the former British colony.
It has been a year since my office raised serious concerns when the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passed the National Security Act, she said.
We have been closely monitoring its application and the chilling effects it has had on civil and democratic spaces, as well as the independent media, said Bachelet in an obvious reference to police crackdown on journalists, particularly the independent media company Apple Daily, its publisher and other employees have been prosecuted.
She pointed out that since July 1 of last year, 107 people have been arrested under the National Security Law and 57 have been formally charged, with the first case due later this week.
This will be an important test of independence for Hong Kong’s judiciary in its readiness to meet Hong Kong’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under the Basic Law, Bachelet said.
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