No Mention of Uyghur ‘Genocide’ After UN Human Rights Commissioner Visits Xinjiang

By Steve Lalla

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Xinhua.

Saturday, May 28, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, wrapped up her six-day visit to the People’s Republic of China by meeting virtually with the country’s president, Xi Jinping.

Bachelet visited China at a time when the country is being victimized by accusations that it is carrying out a genocide against the Uyghur population of the country’s Xinjiang region. These claims frequently cite research and publications issued by Adrian Zenz, senior fellow at the anti-communist think-tank Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, established by the US government and based in Washington, DC. Disgraced US President Donald Trump made these allegations into an official US position when he declared — on his final day in office, two weeks after the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters — that China was committing genocide against the Uyghur population of Xinjiang province.

The visit to China, Bachelet has emphasized, was not an investigation. However, Bachelet confirmed that her trip did include numerous meetings with people from various sectors of Xinjiang autonomous region. She visited and spoke with prisoners and with former trainees from the vocational education and training centers that detractors claim are giant prison camps. These meetings, she stated, were organized by her delegation independently of the government of China.

All these meetings were “unsupervised and [they were] organized by us,” said the high commissioner at a press conference. The purpose of the trip was to hold a direct discussion with the government of the People’s Republic of China, said Bachelet, in order to share each party’s concerns and explore the path towards “more regular and meaningful interactions in the future.”

In statements issued after the trip’s conclusion, Bachelet did say that she had posed questions about the People’s Republic of China’s use “counterterrorism and de-radicalization measures,” but she did not corroborate any of the outlandish genocide claims made by Zenz and his ilk.

In response to a question posed during the press conference, Bachelet also referred to mass shootings in the US: “We will continue monitoring and reporting every time it is needed because unfortunately, we still see many killings… The killing in Texas was very sad. It shows that the problem is not solved and everybody should continue fighting against racial discrimination.” On May 24, 2022, 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos fatally shot nineteen students and two teachers and wounded seventeen other people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Since that day, less than a week ago, at least 79 other US residents have been killed in 16 additional mass shootings.

Prior to Bachelet’s trip, the US and Western media outlets published numerous articles criticizing the visit of the UN top official, and NGOs pre-emptively attacked Bachelet for deigning to visit the People’s Republic of China and speak with Xi Jinping. Perhaps they were worried that she would not find any evidence to back up their claims. However, prior to her trip, these same voices had clamored for the multilateral organization to travel to China to witness the alleged genocide.

US-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), for example, criticized Bachelet for speaking with President Xi Jinping, claiming through spokesperson Sophie Richardson that the issue “requires a credible investigation in the face of mountains of evidence of atrocity crimes, not another toothless dialogue.”

But in July 2019, HRW had written that 22 nations “called on China to cooperate with the UN high commissioner for human rights and UN experts to allow meaningful access to the region.” Following the UN trip, Human Rights Watch has changed its tone: “Nothing that we’ve seen from the high commissioner’s trip to China dispels our worry that this will be used as a massive propaganda victory for the Chinese government,” says HRW spokesperson Louis Charbonneau.

As condemnation of the US smear campaign becomes widespread, social media accounts and independent media have shared numerous memes and graphs mocking the allegations of genocide. For example, the following graph from Eurasia & Multipolarity was shared by Venezuela’s Misión Verdad outlet:

Following her trip, Bachelet also took the time to praise China’s success fighting poverty. The People’s Republic has lifted 800 million citizens out of poverty in the last 40 years, according to a report issued by the Washington, DC-based World Bank. In addition, Bachelet commended China for its success passing legislation to defend the rights of women, and for the Asian giant’s support of United Nations sustainable development goals.

[originally published May 30, 2022 by Orinoco Tribune]

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