World Leaders Respond to Xinjiang Police Files As UN High Commissioner Bachelet Completes Xinjiang Visit
Washington, D.C. (May 27, 2022) — While world leaders respond to the graphic new evidence of Beijing’s mass internment and systematic abuse of Uyghurs in Xinjiang published on Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will soon complete her visit to Xinjiang which she announced this week will not be an investigation.
The Xinjiang Police Files, published Tuesday by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, constitute the most significant hack of internal documents from directly within Xinjiang police networks. The files include thousands of images of detained Uyghurs, including women and children as young as 15 years old, some minded by armed police, some in colored vests sitting behind bars, as well as photos of police guards wielding automatic weapons and handcuffing and shackling detainees during camp security drills.
Responding to the publication of the files on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned China’s persecution of Uyghurs and stated that if full and unfettered access to Xinjiang is not forthcoming, “the visit will only serve to highlight China’s attempts to hide the truth of its actions in Xinjiang.”
In a video conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a transparent investigation citing the files and stated “this is not something that can be ignored, and it is also not something that can be kept quiet.” The German Economy Minister Robert Habeck further announced that Berlin’s Beijing policy is “under development” and indicated that human rights issues will be given higher priority, stating “It has long been clear that while China is a major trading partner, there are very relevant problems, including when it comes to respecting human rights.” German Chancellor Scholz became the first German Chancellor to directly condemn Xinjiang oppression.
In a call with the Chinese Foreign Minister, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs also called for full transparency on the situation in Xinjiang citing the evidence presented in the Xinjiang Police Files and for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be given full access to the region. The Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra also issued a statement expressing concern about the new evidence and calling for Beijing to grant the UN unrestricted access.
In the United States, the U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price stated, “We think it was a mistake to agree to a visit under the circumstances,” Price said, adding that “We have no expectation that the PRC will grant the necessary access required to conduct a complete, unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang.” The US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield cited the new evidence and said it showed that the High Commissioner “must take a hard look at these faces and press Chinese officials for full, unfettered access.”
Meanwhile, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet hasn’t responded to the evidence and has stated that her visit to Xinjiang is not an investigation, again failing to give any assurances that this would be a meaningful visit despite the demands made by VOC and other human rights organizations.
“We call on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to raise the evidence presented in these files with the Chinese government and to demand full access to the detention centers and facilities referenced in the files during her visit to Xinjiang,” said Amb. Andrew Bremberg, President and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. “The High Commissioner should not have agreed to this visit without securing full access to the region and bears responsibility for any manipulation of the visit by the Chinese government.”
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is an educational, research, and human rights nonprofit devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of the more than 1.5 billion people still living under totalitarian regimes.