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Uyghurs urge UN rights chief to ask hard questions in Xinjiang


Map of China’s north-western Xinjiang region showing suspected detention centres, according to satellite imagery analysed by the Xinjiang Data Project of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Uyghurs have urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to avoid falling victim to a public relations stunt as her trip to China enters a delicate new phase on Tuesday with a visit to the remote Xinjiang region.

The ruling Communist Party is accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region as part of a years-long security crackdown the United States has labelled a “genocide”.

Bachelet is expected to visit the Xinjiang cities Urumqi and Kashgar on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a six-day tour.

The Turkey-based 31-year-old — from the province’s northern reaches near the border with Kazakhstan — also said he hoped Bachelet would venture further than her itinerary.

Nursimangul Abdureshid — another Uyghur living in Turkey — was “not very hopeful that her trip can bring any change”.

“If the UN team cannot have unlimited access in Xinjiang, I will not accept their so-called reports.”

Regional capital Urumqi — population four million — houses major government bodies believed to have orchestrated the province-wide campaign China described as a crackdown on religious extremism.

Meanwhile, Kashgar — home to 700,000 people — lies in the Uyghur heartland of southern Xinjiang.

The outskirts of both cities are pockmarked with what are believed to be detention camps, part of a sprawling network of recently built facilities stretching across the remote province.

The US has said it is “deeply concerned” that she had not secured guarantees on what she will see, adding that she was unlikely to get an “unmanipulated” picture of China’s rights situation.

“I hope this will help us build confidence, and enable us to work together,” she added.

Caroline Wilson, the UK’s Ambassador to China, was on the call and said she stressed “the importance of unfettered access to Xinjiang and private conversations with its people”.

Bachelet’s office has also said she will meet with civil society organisations, business representatives and academics.

Uyghurs overseas have staged rallies in recent weeks pressing Bachelet to visit relatives believed to be detained in Xinjiang.

Originally published as Uyghurs urge UN rights chief to ask hard questions in Xinjiang



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