The OHCHR’s “Xinjiang Assessment” causes Beijing a practical Headache


Probably one of China’s vocational schools (click picture for source)
There have probably been few high-ranking UN officers who know better what human-rights violations are, than Michelle Bachelet, the 7th United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who left office yesterday, after presenting the OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China. And if there were statistics, it could well turn out that many of those who attacked her for being slow  (or worse) in publishing the OHCHR Assessment were close ideological neighbors of those “Chicaco Boys” who had Ms Bachelet – and her mother – tortured in Chile, in 1975.

Every paragraph of the Assessment is worth to be read carefully. It provides information about how China’s “judiciary” and extra-judiciary systems work. China itself has no face to lose anymore, but the report also contains a line that must have been really severely contested between the OHCHR and Beijing, because of the practical effects it may have on Chinese officials:

The information currently available to OHCHR on implementation of the Government’s stated drive against terrorism and “extremism” in XUAR in the period 2017- 2019 and potentially thereafter, also raises concerns from the perspective of international criminal law. The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups, pursuant to law and policy, in context of restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.

It is unlikely that any criminal “tigers”, i. e. high-ranking officials, will ever be arrested because of human-rights violations in their capacity as Beijing’s henchmen in Xinjiang – but lower-ranking “flies” have always been a different story. To maintain its system of terror and intimidation, Beijing must keep its “flies” assured that they will be protected by the mighty Chinese Communist Party.

That’s how the OHCHR report may provide a glimmer of hope for Uyghurs, and how it may cause a headache for Beijing.

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Note

“The Journey never ends”, M. Bachelet, August 31, 2022
“Firmly opposes”, PRC Mission, August 31, 2022

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