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Concerns Raised as Long Wait Continues for the UN’s Human Rights Report on Xinjiang

The United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said it remained unclear whether a long-delayed report on China’s Xinjiang region will be published before she steps down at the end of the month.

“I had fully intended for it to be released before the end of my mandate, and we … have received substantial input from the government that we will need to carefully review,” Michelle Bachelet told reporters.

Bachelet said nearly a year ago that her office was finalising a report on the rights situation in the Xinjiang region, where Beijing stands accused of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities — charges it vehemently denies.

But the report has been repeatedly delayed, sparking growing outrage of rights groups.

Beijing has been accused of detaining over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Beijing has also been accused of carrying out forced sterilisation of women and drafting minorities into forced labour.

The United States and lawmakers in other western countries have gone as far as accusing China of committing “genocide” against the minority groups, allegations that Beijing vehemently denies.

China has long claimed it was running vocational training centres in Xinjiang designed to counter extremism.

For us, publication is important. It would be a first step towards holding China to account for what many have called cultural genocide.

As head of human rights for the United Nations, Bachelet had committed to publishing it before the end of her four-year term on August 31. Her response that she would “try” to publish it “on time” came as a frustration to rights groups which have been waiting over a year for her assessment. 

Though the report cannot impose binding measures, it will have a moral impact and can lead the way to further investigations. It could also potentially lead to a resolution at the next session of the Human Rights Council. 

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