The International Campaign for Tibet is deeply disappointed at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s visit to China as she gave a political victory to the Communist regime.
After a six-day visit, the high commissioner today addressed a virtual press conference at which she adopted the Chinese Communist Party’s framing of policies, domestically and internationally. Chinese state media reported on the press conference saying, “The Saturday statement dismissed the rampant disinformation on the Xinjiang region and was also a slap to the US and some Western countries, their media and anti-China forces.”
Bachelet did not visit Tibet and referred only marginally to the situation in the region, which is regularly ranked as one of the least-free in the world.
“The high commissioner’s failure to report truthfully and without fear on the human rights situation in China is a gross dereliction of her duty,” ICT said. “Bachelet has handed the Chinese government a political victory. In failing to acknowledge the evidence showing China’s systematic human rights violations aimed at the destruction of the cultural identity and the very lives of Uyghurs and Tibetans, Mongols, and many others, the high commissioner has emboldened China and further disempowered civil society actors.
“Bachelet’s only two sentences on the situation in Tibet are utterly unacceptable and severely erode human rights standards and institutions.”
At her press conference, Bachelet said: “On the Tibet Autonomous Region, it is important that linguistic, religious and cultural identity of Tibetans be protected and the Tibetan people are allowed to participate fully and freely in decisions about their religious life … I discussed education policies in the Tibet Autonomous Region and stressed the importance of children learning in their own language and culture.” It is important to note that the Tibet Autonomous Region only spans about half of Tibet, with eastern and northeastern Tibetan areas incorporated into Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces.
In the press conference, Bachelet spoke about the attacks on the Uyghur people in the context of “de-radicalization measures” and portrayed China as a proponent of multilateralism even though it grossly breaches its obligations under international law. This is in sharp contrast to the high commissioner’s remarks in response to an unrelated question on racism and gun violence in the United States of America, which were more damning than her conclusions on the persecution of Uyghurs—the very focus of her long-awaited visit to China.