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Over 220 groups urgently demand UN High Commissioner immediately postpone her visit to China

Activists warn the upcoming visit risks aiding Beijing’s attempts to whitewash repression against Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians and others

5 May 2022

We, a coalition of over 220 Tibetan, Uyghur, Hongkonger, Southern Mongolian and Chinese democracy groups, are demanding the High Commissioner reverse her current plan to visit China or risk walking into a propaganda minefield laid out by the Chinese Communist Party.     

Reports suggest that the UN High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, is due to visit China in less than two weeks, and that her advance team arrived in China on 25 April. 

To date, she has not met with any of the affected communities despite multiple requests and the overwhelming evidence of genocide and rampant human rights abuses (including widespread torture and sexual abuse) nor has she met with wider civil society organisations for specific briefings on Beijing’s crackdown. 

Ms Bachelet has also ignored all offers to meet with survivors from the Uyghur camps, Tibetan former political prisoners or Chinese democracy activists linked to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. She has simultaneously remained silent on the unprecedented statement by over 50 UN experts calling for “urgent” and “decisive measures” to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of those living under Chinese rule. 

During her time in office, the current High Commissioner has failed to raise any concern about the situation in occupied Tibet, which has not been mentioned as a visit location, despite being ranked as the least free place in the world for the second year in a row. Hong Kong and Southern Mongolia are also missing from her list of visit locations though both places have witnessed historic protests and subsequent crackdowns on human rights and freedom in the past two years. 

Securing access to these locations is more imperative than ever given the scale of the crackdown, which has largely taken place behind closed doors. Tibet has been sealed off to her office since 1998, neither East Turkistan, Southern Mongolia nor Hong Kong have ever been visited by a High Commissioner, and China itself has not seen a High Commissioner visit since 2005. As some of the most restricted areas in the world, these locations are desperately in need of independent human rights monitoring and investigation and the Chinese authorities are required to grant the High Commissioner access to them.

Compounding this failure to do her duty, the High Commissioner has also failed on her commitment from 2021 to release a report on the grave human rights violations targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in East Turkistan [CH: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region]. To continue to withhold the release of this urgent report ahead of her visit to China raises further concern about her ability to offer robust independent scrutiny during her visit. 

Tibetan, Uyghur, Hongkonger, Southern Mongolian and Chinese communities are urgently calling for crucial guarantees that they expect to be met ahead of Bachelet’s visit, including: 

  • Release of the OHCHR report on serious human rights violations in East Turkistan;
  • Assurances of secure meetings with independent civil society organisations, human rights defenders and survivors of China’s human rights abuses including groups in the diaspora, in advance of the visit;
  • Transparency about the measures taken to date to ensure unfettered access to all areas including Tibet, East Turkistan, Southern Mongolia and Hong Kong.

Without any assurances that her office has secured meaningful and unfettered access, the undersigned organisations are calling for an immediate postponement of the trip. 

Proceeding with the visit under such ill-negotiated terms and without adequate briefing from those affected by China’s human rights violations, Ms Bachelet risks jeopardising a rare opportunity for independent human rights monitoring and grants Beijing yet another opportunity to further whitewash its repression against Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians, Chinese dissidents and others.

Lead signatories:

Campaign for Uyghurs

China Against the Death Penalty

Free Tibet

Hong Kong Watch

International Campaign for Tibet

International Tibet Network

Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center

Students for a Free Tibet

Tibet Action Institute

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibet Justice Center

Tibetan Youth Association in Europe

Uyghur Human Rights Project

We The Hongkongers

World Uyghur Congress

On behalf of the following 221 global rights groups and communities:

AfricaHongKongFrance(AHKF)Association Drôme Ardèche-TibetAide aux Refugies TibetainsAlaskans for TibetAssociation Cognizance TibetAmigos del Tíbet ChileAmigos del Tibet El SalvadorAlberta Uyghur AssociationAmigos de Tibet ColombiaAsociación Cultural Tibetano CostarricenseAnterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog SamitiAsociación Cultural Peruano TibetanaAssociazione Italia-TibetAustralia Tibet CouncilAustralian East Turkestan AssociationAustralian Uyghur AssociationAustralian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s AssociationAustria Uyghur AssociationBay Area Friends of TibetBefria Hongkong Belgium Uyghur AssociationBharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, IndiaBharrat Tibbat Samvad Manch, IndiaBlue Crescent Humanitarian Aid AssociationBoston Tibet NetworkBriancon05 Urgence TibetCADALCampaign For Uyghurs Canada Tibet CommitteeCasa del TibetCasa Tibet MéxicoCentro De Cultura Tibetana, BrazilChina Human Rights Accountability CenterCircle of FriendsComite de Apoyo al TibetComité pour la Liberté à Hong-KongCommittee of 100 for TibetCore Group for Tibetan Cause, IndiaCzechs Support TibetDC4HK (Washingtonians Supporting Hong Kong)Dream for Children, JapanDutch Uyghur Human Rights FoundationEast Turkestan Press and Media AssociationEast Turkestan Union of Muslim ScholarsEast Turkistan Association in FinlandEast Turkistan Association of CanadaEast Turkistan Education and Solidarity AssociationEast Turkistan Entrepreneur Tradesmen and Industrialists Businessmen AssociatioEast Turkistan Human Rights WatchEast Turkistan New Generation MovementEast Turkistan Nuzugum Culture and Family AssociationEast Turkistan Sports and Development AssociationEast Turkistan Union in EuropeEastern Turkistan FoundationEcoTibet IrelandEuropean East Turkistan Education AssociationFight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.Finnish Uyghur Culture CenterFoundation for Universal Responsibility of the Dalai LamaFrance-TibetFree Indo-Pacific AllianceFree Tibet FukuokaFriends of Tibet Costa RicaFriends of Tibet in FinlandFriends of Tibet New ZealandGrupo de Apoio ao Tibete, PortugalHong Kong Committee in NorwayHong Kong Democracy CouncilHong Kong Forum, Los AngelesHong Kong Professional NetworkHong Kong Social Action Movements in BostonHong Kongers in San DiegoHong Kongers in San Francisco Bay AreaHongkongers at McGillHuman Rights Network for Tibet and TaiwanHumanitarian China Ilham Tohti InitiativeIndia Tibet Friendship SocietyInstitute for China’s Democratic TransitionInternational Pen Uyghur CenterInternational Society of Human Rights, Munich ChapterInternational Support for UyghursInternational Tibet Independence MovementInternational union of East Turkistan OrganizationsInternational Uyghur Human Right and Democracy FoundationIsa Yusup Alptekin FoundationIslamic Community Milli GorusIsraeli Friends of the Tibetan PeopleJapan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)Japan Uyghur AssociationJustice for Uyghurs Le Club Français ParaguayLes Amis du Tibet BelgiumLes Amis du Tibet LuxembourgLion Rock CaféLions Des Neiges Mont Blanc, FranceLungta Association BelgiumMaison des HimalayasMaison du Tibet – Tibet InfoNational Campaign for Tibetan Support, IndiaNational Democratic Party of Tibet Netherlands for Hong KongNorthern California Hong Kong ClubNorwegian Uyghur CommitteeNY4HK Objectif TibetOmer Uygur FoundationPasseport TibetainPerth Anti-CCP AssociationPhagma Drolma-Arya TaraRangZen:Movimento Tibete Livre, BrazilRoof of the World Foundation, IndonesiaSakya Trinley LingSanta Barbara Friends of TibetSatuq Bugrakhan Foundation of Science and CivilizationSave Tibet FoundationSave Tibet, AustriaSierra Friends of TibetSociety for Threatened Peoples InternationalSociety Union of Uyghur National AssociationStop Uyghur Genocide CanadaStudents for a Free Tibet CanadaStudents for a Free Tibet DenmarkStudents for a Free Tibet FranceStudents for a Free Tibet IndiaStudents for a Free Tibet JapanStudents for a Free Tibet UKSweden Uyghur Education UnionSwedish Tibet CommitteeSwiss Tibetan Friendship AssociationSwitzerland East Turkestan AssociationTaiwan Friends of TibetTashi Delek BordeauxThe Norwegian Tibet CommitteeThe Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and TurkestanTibet Action Group of Western AustraliaTibet ceskyTibet Committee of FairbanksTibet Group, PanamaTibet Lives, IndiaTibet MxTíbet Patria Libre, UruguayTibet Rescue Initiative in AfricaTibet SocietyTibet Society of South AfricaTibet SolidarityTibet Support Committee DenmarkTibet Support Group AdelaideTibet Support Group IrelandTibet Support Group KenyaTibet Support Group Kiku, JapanTibet Support Group NetherlandsTibetan Association of GermanyTibetan Association of IthacaTibetan Association of Northern CaliforniaTibetan Association of PhiladelphiaTibetan Association of Washington DCTibetan Community AustriaTibetan Community in BritainTibetan Community in DenmarkTibetan Community in IrelandTibetan Community in ItalyTibetan Community of ItalyTibetan Community QueenslandTibetan Community SwedenTibetan Community VictoriaTibetan Cultural Association QuebecTibetan Programme of The Other Space FoundationTibetan Women’s Association (Central)Tibetans of Mixed HeritageTibetisches Zentrum HamburgTIBETmichiganToronto Association  for Democracy in ChinaTSG – SloveniaU.S. Tibet CommitteeUigur Society of the Kyrgyz RepublicUmer Uyghur TrustUNFFTUS HongKongers ClubUyghur Academy Uyghur Academy AustraliaUyghur Academy CanadaUyghur Academy EuropeUyghur Academy FoundationUyghur Academy JapanUyghur Academy USAUyghur American AssociationUyghur Association of VictoriaUyghur Center for Human Rights and DemocracyUyghur Cultural and Education Union in GermanyUyghur Education UnionUyghur Projects FoundationUyghur Refugee Relief FundUyghur Research InstituteUyghur Rights Advocacy Project Uyghur Science and Civilization Research FoundationUyghur Support Group NetherlandsUyghur Transitional Justice DatabaseUyghur U.K. AssociationUyghur Youth Union in KazakhstanUyghurischer Verein Schweiz Uyghuristan Republican Party Uzbekistan Uyghur Culture CenterVictoria Uyghur AssociationVoces TibetWorld League for Freedom and DemocracyWorld Uyghur Congress Foundation