Uyghur activists claim that China's propaganda machine has taken control of the UN's human rights chief's visit in China.
Michelle Bachelet's visit, the result of difficult negotiations between Beijing and the United Nations, took her to Xinjiang (northwest), which is where authorities are accused of repressing Muslim minorities. According to the government, the region has been the site of terrorist attacks for years. The territory has been subject to draconian surveillance over the years in the name of fighting terrorism.
Western studies claim that Beijing has held more than a million Uyghurs, and other Muslim ethnic group members in "reeducation camps", as well as imposing "forced labor" and "forced sterilizations". The United States refers to a "genocide."
China condemns biased reporting and refers to "vocational training centres" that are intended to eliminate extremism. She denied any "forced sterilization" and said nothing other than that she was following the national birth control policy.
Michelle Bachelet was a communicator for the Communist Party (CCP) and Uyghur activists.
China's state media reported extensively that the ex-president of Chile, aged 70 years old, would have praised China for its human rights achievements. Alkan Akad, an Amnesty International activist, stated in a statement to AFP that Beijing uses the visit "to defend its poor human rights record" and "clearly" it is using the visit.
Maya Wang, Human Rights Watch researcher, stated that the goal of the project is to "show [the world] that China can bend a senior UN official to its will."
Michelle Bachelet was almost silent this week. She must attend Saturday's long-awaited online conference before she departs China.
Expect to be asked a lot of questions about her freedom to move, interactions with locals, and access to detention centres in Xinjiang. Rahima Mahmut, a Uyghur activist who is based in London has already condemned "window dressing". She stated, "This is not neutral, independent, and unhindered investigative that we were promised."
She says Beijing wants "a blank check" to continue its repression, surveillance and torture, as well as genocide. Michelle Bachelet is in Xinjiang from Tuesday. According to her, she was going to Urumqi, the regional capital, and Kashgar.
What is she doing exactly? It is difficult to find out because his visit is held in a bubble that excludes foreign media in order to prevent Covid-19. China fills the media vacuum by releasing glowing accounts of its meetings in Beijing with Xi Jinping and Wang Yi.
According to the New China agency, Ms. Bachelet had, before the latter, "congratulated China on its important achievements in protectionof human rights".
The UN services were unable to confirm or deny that Ms. Bachelet made such comments when we contacted them. However, neither China nor the United Nations mentioned Xinjiang in their statements.
Abduweli Ayup, a Norway-based Uyghur activist, says he is "disappointed” that Michelle Bachelet allowed Beijing to "misinterpret his remarks." He says, "They used it to propagandize."
Chinese media broadcast many images of the ex-Chilean president receiving a series of quotes on human rights from Xi Jinping.
Beijing has made clear this fact since the beginning: Ms. Bachelet isn't visiting China to investigate, but rather to "clarify misinformation" of China.
Steve Tsang, the director of the China Institute at SOAS University London, stated that "She must have political courage and integrity" to speak out when her words or her visit are misinterpreted.
"She shouldn't have gone if she isn't prepared and incapable of doing it.