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UN Rights Chief Presses China For Access To Xinjiang's Uyghurs

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (file photo)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (file photo)

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says she is seeking access to China to check on reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region.

Some 1 million ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims are believed to be held in facilities in Xinjiang that China says are re-education and training centers but which activists call mass detention camps.

Bachelet, who presented her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 6, said stability and development in Xinjiang can be helped by policies that show authorities' respect for rights.

"This area is at the center of the Belt and Road Initiative, enabling land corridors to Central Asia, South Asia and Europe, and I am convinced that stability and security in this region can be facilitated by policies which demonstrate the authorities' respect of all people's rights," Bachelet said.

Ahmad Shaheed, the UN investigator on religious freedom, said on March 5 he had asked China to let him visit Xinjiang.

China, confronted with growing international condemnation for its actions in Xinjiang, has said recently that it is trying to stave off extremism in the remote western region after "absurd preachings" from Islamist extremists there had turned some people into "murderous devils."

Bachelet also informed the council that, during the current session, her office will present country-specific reports and updates on several countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, and Ukraine.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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