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230 Rights Groups Demand Resignation of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

    Activists slam Michelle Bachelet’s six-day visit for whitewashing repression against Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians, Hong Kongers and others

    8 June 2022

    We, 230 Uyghur, Tibetan, Southern Mongolian, Hong Kong, and Chinese democracy and international human rights advocacy groups, call for the immediate resignation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights after she whitewashed the Chinese government’s human rights atrocities during her recent visit to China. We further call on the UN Secretary General to not propose the renewal of her mandate [1] and demand the High Commissioner immediately release the report on the human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in East Turkistan [Ch: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region].

    During her six-day visit to China, the first by a High Commissioner since 2005, Michelle Bachelet squandered a rare opportunity to promote accountability by failing to address the litany of systematic human rights violations committed by the Chinese authorities. This includes genocide and crimes against humanity in East Turkistan. Bachelet also neglected to offer a single specific recommendation to address the gravity of the human rights crisis [2]. This abject failure to hold the Chinese government accountable for its crimes comes despite an unprecedented call in June 2020, by over 50 UN experts for “decisive measures” to protect fundamental freedoms in China [3].

    The High Commissioner legitimized Beijing’s attempt to cover up its crimes by using the Chinese government’s false “counter-terrorism” framing [4] and repeatedly referred to the notorious internment camps by the Chinese government’s term: “Vocational Education and Training Centers” (VETCs). Just days prior, the ‘Xinjiang Police Files’ revealed further incriminating evidence of the mass internment of thousands of Uyghurs and Directives from Beijing to treat detainees like dangerous criminals and to open fire to stop escapees [5]. While world leaders responded by calling for an immediate investigation, Bachelet remained silent. Since 2021, the High Commissioner has also stalled on the commitment to release a report on the human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in East Turkistan. The repeated, open-ended, and unexplained delays call into serious question the credibility of her Office to fulfil its mandate.

    During her four year tenure, Bachelet has been entirely silent on the human rights crisis enveloping Tibet and failed to even request access to the occupied country despite no High Commissioner visiting since 1998. She did not visit Tibet on this trip, and when she finally mentioned Tibet during her end-of-visit press conference it was brief and in general terms, failing to take the rare opportunity to critique and address the unprecedented, systematic and escalating attacks taking place on Tibetan language and identity today [6]. She also referred only to the “Tibet Autonomous Region,” – what China refers to as Tibet – ignoring the Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan that make up half of Tibet and are home to more than half of the total Tibetan population [7].

    Moreover, the High Commissioner did not visit Hong Kong and failed to condemn the Chinese government’s unrelenting campaign to destroy human rights and democracy in the city, which had escalated since the most recent mass protests broke out in 2019. In her end-of-visit statement, she grossly underplayed the crackdown, calling the arbitrary detention and incarceration of over 1,000 political prisoners under the National Security Law and other alleged crimes only as “deeply worrying”[8]. This is yet another sign of her inexplicable unwillingness to confront Chinese leaders over well-documented and egregious abuses of human rights.

    The High Commissioner also made no mention of Southern Mongolia (Ch: Inner Mongolia), despite Chinese authorities engaging in a far-reaching assault on Mongolian identity and the unprecedented mass protests across Southern Mongolia in 2020. No reference was made to China’s so-called “bilingual” education program which recently replaced Mongolian with Chinese as the language of instruction in all elementary and middle schools nor to all the Mongolian herders who have been targeted for fighting policies that are destroying their traditional livelihoods, including China’s illegal land confiscations.

    The High Commissioner has wasted a much needed opportunity to meet with top Chinese leaders as she shied away from publicly raising and condemning the widespread torture, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, organ harvesting, and routine persecution of faith communities. Instead, Bachelet lauded the Chinese authorities for making what she called “important legislative and judicial reforms” as well as “improvements for protection of women’s rights.” 

    Bachelet also naively posed for a photo opportunity with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, who presented her with a book of Xi’s quotations on “human rights”. She furthermore gave praise to China’s commitment to multilateralism, despite widespread evidence that Beijing has routinely sought to silence criticism of its human rights record before UN bodies and weaken UN institutions [9]. 

    The High Commissioner’s end-of-visit statement, attempted to claw back some legitimacy by stating that she “met virtually with a number of civil society organisations.” In doing so, she failed to mention that this was the first time in four years that she agreed to meet with any affected communities despite consistent requests. By holding a two hour virtual meeting a matter of days before her visit, she limited the space and scope of any substantive discussions. The meeting invitation only came after 220 Tibetan, Uyghur, Hong Kong, Southern Mongolian, and Chinese democracy groups demanded the High Commissioner reverse her plans to visit China or risk walking into a propaganda minefield laid out by the Chinese Communist Party [10]; a that fear that has now been materialised.

    The failed visit by the High Commissioner has not only worsened the human rights crisis of those living under the Chinese government’s rule, but also severely compromised the integrity of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in promoting and protecting human rights globally. An independent, experienced and honest High Commissioner is crucial to ensure truth, justice, and reparations for crimes committed in violation of international law. Michelle Bachelet has repeatedly fallen short in her ability to uphold this vital mandate and it is under such reprehensible conditions that we are calling for her immediate resignation.

    Signed by:

    Act with HK
    Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
    Alaskans for Tibet
    Alberta Uyghur Association 
    Amigos de Tibet Colombia
    Amigos del Tíbet Chile
    Amigos del Tibet El Salvador
    Anterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog Samiti
    Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana
    Asociación Cultural Tibetano Costarricense
    Association Cognizance Tibet
    Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
    Associazione Italia-Tibet
    Australia Tibet Council
    Australian Uyghur Association
    Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
    Bay Area Friends of Tibet
    Belgium Uyghur Association
    Bharrat Tibbat Samvad Manch, India
    Blue Crescent Humanitarian Aid Association
    Boston Tibet Network
    Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
    Campaign for Uyghurs
    Canada Tibet Committee
    Casa del Tibet
    Casa Tibet México
    Centro De Cultura Tibetana, Brazil
    Chi Milk Tea Alliance
    Chicago Solidarity with Hong Kong 芝援香港
    China Against the Death Penalty
    China Aid Association
    Circle of Friends
    Citizen Power Initiatives for China
    Comite de Apoyo al Tibet
    Committee of 100 for Tibet
    Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India
    Czechs Support Tibet
    Dawn of Hong Kong
    DC4HK (Washingtonians Supporting Hong Kong)
    Dialogue China 
    Dream for Children, Japan
    DUQ Ayallar komtiti 
    Dutch Uyghur human rights foundation
    Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
    East Turkestan Press and Media Association
    East Turkestan Union in Europe
    East Turkestan Union of Muslim Scholars
    East Turkistan Association of Canada
    East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association
    East Turkistan Entrepreneur Tradesmen and Industrialists Businessmen Association
    East Turkistan Human Rights Watch
    East Turkistan New Generation Movement
    East Turkistan New Generation Movement 
    East Turkistan Nuzugum Culture and Family Association
    East Turkistan Sports and Development Association
    East Turkistan Union in Europe
    Eastern Turkistan Foundation
    EcoTibet Ireland
    European East Turkistan Education Association
    Finnish Uyghur Culture Centre
    Foundation for Universal Responsibility of the Dalai Lama
    Free Indo-Pacific Alliance
    Free Tibet
    Free Tibet Fukuoka
    Friends of Tibet Costa Rica
    Friends of Tibet in Finland
    Friends of Tibet New Zealand
    Furkan Education and Cooperation Association
    Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal
    Hira Education Association
    Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Science and lore Foundation
    Hong Kong Collaborative Academic Network (HKCAN)
    Hong Kong Committee in Norway
    Hong Kong Democracy Council
    Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles
    Hong Kong International Alliance Brisbane 
    Hong Kong Liberation Coalition
    Hong Kong Professional Network 
    Hong Kongers in San Francisco Bay Area
    Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan
    Ilham Tohti Initiative
    Ili Meshrep Educational Foundation
    India Tibet Friendship Society
    Inner Mongolia People’s Party
    Institute of China Studies
    International Society of Human Rights, Munich
    International Tibet Network Secretariat
    International Tibet Independence Movement
    International Union of East Turkistan Organisations
    Isa Yusuf Alptekin Foundation
    Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People
    Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)
    Japan Uyghur Association
    Justice For All Canada 
    Justice for Uyghurs
    Knowledge and Service Solidarity and Cooperation Association
    Les Amis du Tibet Belgium
    Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
    Lions Des Neiges Mont Blanc, France
    Lungta Association Belgium
    Maison des Himalayas
    Maison du Tibet – Tibet Info
    McMaster Stands With Hong Kong
    National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
    National Democratic Party of Tibet
    Norwegian Uyghur Committee
    Objectif Tibet
    Omer Uygur Foundation
    Passeport Tibetain
    Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara
    Public Association of Uyghurs “Ittipak” of the Kyrgyz Republic
    RangZen:Movimento Tibete Livre, Brazil
    Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
    Sakya Trinley Ling
    Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
    Satuq Bugrakhan Foundation of Science and Civilization
    Save Tibet Foundation
    Save Tibet, Austria
    Shambhala Sangha
    Sierra Friends of Tibet
    Society for Threatened Peoples International
    Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center
    Stop Uyghur Genocide
    Students for a Free Tibet
    Students for a Free Tibet Canada
    Students for a Free Tibet Denmark
    Students for a Free Tibet France
    Students for a Free Tibet India
    Students for a Free Tibet Japan
    Students for a Free Tibet UK
    Support Hong Kong Independence Movement
    Svenska Uigur Union 
    Sweden Uyghur Education Union
    Sweden Uyghur Union
    Swedish Tibet Committee
    Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association
    Taiwan Friends of Tibet
    Tashi Delek Bordeaux
    The Norwegian Tibet Committee
    The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan
    Tibet Action Group of Western Australia
    Tibet Action Institute
    Tibet cesky
    Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
    Tibet Group, Panama
    Tibet Initiative Deutschland
    Tibet Justice Center
    Tibet Lives, India
    Tibet Mx
    Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
    Tibet Rescue Initiative in Africa
    Tibet Society
    Tibet Society of South Africa
    Tibet Solidarity
    Tibet Support Committee Denmark
    Tibet Support Group Adelaide
    Tibet Support Group Ireland
    Tibet Support Group Kenya
    Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
    Tibet Support Group Netherlands
    Tibetan Association of Germany
    Tibetan Association of Ithaca
    Tibetan Association of Northern California
    Tibetan Association of Philadelphia
    Tibetan Association of Washington DC
    Tibetan Community Austria
    Tibetan Community in Britain
    Tibetan Community in Denmark
    Tibetan Community in Ireland
    Tibetan Community of Italy
    Tibetan Community Queensland
    Tibetan Community Sweden
    Tibetan Community Victoria
    Tibetan Cultural Association Quebec
    Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation
    Tibetan Women’s Association (Central)
    Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
    Tibetan Youth Congress
    Tibetans of Mixed Heritage
    Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg
    TSG – Slovenia
    Turkish Welfare Association
    U.S. Tibet Committee
    Uighur Association Victoria Australia
    UK Uyghur Community
    United Macedonian Diaspora
    University of Toronto Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society
    Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization 
    US HongKongers Club
    Uyghur Academy
    Uyghur Academy Australia
    Uyghur Academy Canada
    Uyghur Academy Europe
    Uyghur Academy Foundation
    Uyghur Academy Japan
    Uyghur Academy USA
    Uyghur American Association
    Uyghur Association France
    Uyghur Association of Victoria, Australia 
    Uyghur Association Switzerland
    Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy
    Uyghur Community in Austria
    Uyghur Cultural and Education Union in Germany
    Uyghur Human Rights Project
    Uyghur Projects Foundation
    Uyghur Research Institute
    Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
    Uyghur Science and Civilization Research Foundation
    Uyghur Science and Ingenuity Foundation
    Uyghur Transitional Justice Database
    Uyghur Youth Union in Kazakhstan
    Uyghurischer Verein Schweiz 
    Uyghuristan Republican Party 
    Uygur ilim – Meripet vakfi
    Uyhur medeniyet we maarip birliki , Germaniye
    Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
    Victoria Uyghur Association
    Voces Tibet
    We The Hongkongers
    Western Australian Association for Pan-Asian Democracy
    Women of the World, teaming for Tibetans
    World League for Freedom and Democracy
    World Mongol Federation USA
    World Uyghur Congress
    World Uyghur Congress Foundation

    Editors Notes:

    [1]  “In accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/141, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and approved by the General Assembly, with due regard to geographical rotation for a fixed term of four years with a possibility of one renewal for another fixed term of four years.” 

    [2] OHCHR, ‘ Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet after official visit to China’ 28 May 2022: 

    [3] OHCHR, ‘UN experts call for decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China’ 26 June 2020: 

    [4] OHCHR, ‘Expert: sustained detention is a “dark stain on our collective conscience”’ 27 April 2022: ; OHCHR, 

    [5] BBC, ‘Xinjiang Police Files: Inside a Chinese internment camp’ 24 May 2022: ; 

    [6] For example, see Tibet Action Institute, “Separated From Their Families, Hidden From the World: China’s Vast System of Colonial Boarding Schools Inside Tibet,” 2021, pg. 24,

    available at: 

    [7]  Tibet’ refers to the three Tibetan provinces of Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang. In the 1960s, the Chinese government split Tibet into new administrative divisions: the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), and Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures within Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. When the Chinese government references Tibet, it is referring to the TAR. 

    [8] Hong Kong Democracy Council, “Hong Kong Reaches a Grim Milestone: 1,000 Political Prisoners,” 22 May 2022:

    [9] Human Rights Watch, ‘The Costs of International Advocacy: China’s Interference in United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms’ September 2017: 
    [10] Tibet Advocacy Coalition, ‘Over 220 groups urgently demand UN High Commissioner immediately postpone her visit to China‘ 5 May 2022: ​​