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UN Human Rights Chief to Visit China in May 


FILE - Police officers stand at the entrance of the Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Urumqi No. 3, is China's largest detention center has room for at least 10,000 inmates.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights says she will visit China, including Xinjiang province, in May.

Michelle Bachelet told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday that the long-delayed trip would occur.

“I am pleased to announce that we have recently reached an agreement with the government of China for a visit,” she said.

Many Western countries accuse China of genocide against the approximately 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Human rights groups accuse Beijing of operating re-education camps, using forced labor and committing forced sterilization.

China denies the accusations, saying Uyghur re-education camps are to combat extremism within the Muslim group.

FILE - Residents walk past government propaganda, some of which reads, "Socialist core values," in Hotan in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, March 22, 2021.
FILE - Residents walk past government propaganda, some of which reads, "Socialist core values," in Hotan in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, March 22, 2021.

China has long said it welcomed a visit by Bachelet but appeared to balk at her demands for “meaningful and unfettered access.”

Bachelet told the council Tuesday that an advance team from the OHCHR would leave for China next month.

"We welcome the high commissioner's visit to Xinjiang in this May. And China will work together with [her office] to make good preparation for this visit," said Chen Xu, China's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

Missing from Bachelet’s announcement was an update on an impending report from the U.N. rights office on the situation in Xinjiang.

It reportedly has been ready since last August, and an OHCHR spokesman said in December it would be released within a few weeks.

Amnesty International on Tuesday called for Bachelet to release the report “without further delay.”

“The Chinese government’s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang are well documented, but we are yet to see the situation meaningfully addressed by the U.N. Human Rights Office,” the group said in a statement.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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