China is reportedly attempting to block the publication of a United Nations Commission on Human Rights report that details the conditions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
The news comes from a letter making rounds among diplomats from three countries who received it, according to Reuters. A rights expert was also reported to have knowledge on the document.
The sources said China expressed “grave concern” over the looming publication of the report, which Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, who has received criticism for being too soft on China during her term, has vowed to publish before she leaves her post on Aug. 31.
“The assessment (on Xinjiang), if published, will intensify politicization and bloc confrontation in the area of human rights, undermine the credibility of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), and harm the cooperation between OHCHR and member states,” China allegedly said in its letter to Bachelet. “We strongly urge Madame High Commissioner not to publish such an assessment.”
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Bachelet had planned to update the report, which has been in the works for months, following her trip to Xinjiang in May and send it to Beijing for review and “factual comments,” according to the South China Morning Post.
However, it’s unclear whether China has actually seen the report. It’s also unclear whether Bachelet received Beijing’s plea to block its publication.
The U.S. under the Trump administration accused China of genocide and other crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. On Wednesday, the State Department urged Bachelet to publish the report once and for all.
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“We call on the High Commissioner to release the report without delay,” a State Department spokesperson said. “And we are highly concerned about any effort by Beijing to suppress the report’s release.”
Bachelet’s office on Wednesday said the report is still being finalized, and “final steps are being undertaken prior to public release.”
The final steps include “sharing with the concerned Member State for its comments before publishing as per standard practice,” the spokesperson told RFA Uyghur. “Reports are shared for comments with the concerned Member State. The Office will reflect comments of a factual nature in the final version.”
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China has vehemently denied human rights abuses in Xinjiang for years. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Wednesday said Xinjiang residents are living “a happy and fulfilling life” and that Beijing “firmly opposes smears and attacks against China using disinformation.”
Last December, an independent tribunal in London also ruled that China committed genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. In April, Chinese social media users themselves criticized authorities for rights issues beyond Xinjiang.
“Look at yourself in the mirror and see how you’re treating the people. (You) keep staring at American news all day,” one Weibo user wrote, as per Mothership. “People in Shanghai are lacking groceries and medicine. (You) simply lock down the city at the drop of a hat.”
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Featured Image via UN Human Rights (left) and Al Jazeera (right)