Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced Monday at a meeting that she will not seek to remain in the position after her term ends in August. This announcement was made shortly after international calls for Bachelet’s resignation following a visit to China where Bachelet had praised the Communist Party’s human rights achievements.
Bachelet allegedly visited East Turkistan last month, an occupied western area China refers as Xinjiang to reportedly investigate the numerous evidence that the Communist Party is engaged in genocide of the region’s native ethnic groups, especially the Uyghur majority.
Eyewitness testimony, academic studies and satellite evidence as well as other data sources have shown that China has imprisoned millions from non-Han ethnic minorities in concentration camps, forcibly sterilized untold numbers of women to stop non-Han populations growing, and enslaved at most hundreds of thousands in cotton farms and factories.
Bachelet made a final statement just before she left China, in which she didn’t use the term “genocide” nor address those concerns. Instead, Bachelet praised the Chinese government for its “tremendous achievements”.
Bachelet was Chile’s far-left socialist president before she became the U.N. Human Rights Office’s chief executive. She invested heavily in China’s economic dependence on Chile. According to the World Bank, China is Chile’s biggest trade partner.
Bachelet announced that she would not continue in her position after her Monday update to the Human Rights Council about her office’s activities.
The chief human rights officer did not provide any further details.
The U.N. secretary general appoints the high commissar for human rights. The General Assembly is given approval power for two four-year terms. Bachelet can request approval for an additional four years, which would give him a maximum of eight years.
Bachelet ended her remarks without clarifying what she meant. She urged the Human Rights Council members to “continue seeking dialogue, be willing to listen to the other, understand respective points of views, and actively work towards finding common ground as prerequisites for achieving durable solutions the challenges that face us all.”
Bachelet also updated the U.N. about her activities since the last Human Rights Council session. This included her visit to China. Bachelet, just like her comments from China, did not address ongoing genocide in China. However, she promised that her office’s assessment of the situation in Xinjiang regarding human rights is being updated.
Bachelet stated that the Chinese government would examine her assessment of Xinjiang for “factual comments” before the public can see it.
In a similar vein to the Chinese government’s assertion that genocide was necessary to defeat terrorism, the head of human rights appeared to also justify the genocide.
Bachelet didn’t spend much of her address on China. Many of her address focused on “sustainable development” as well as climate change provisions. She also listed several countries she was concerned about their human rights situation. Bachelet made particular mention of the United States, calling the growing prolife movement a threat the “essential right to abortion” – Israel and the United Kingdom.
Bachelet faced widespread calls for resignation just before she announced that she would not seek another term. Uyghur advocacy organizations condemned Bachelet and all of the United Nations for failing to condemn genocide that the ethnic population is experiencing.
Rushan Abbas, executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs, stated that the high commissioner had disgraced herself as well as her office by not investigating China’s genocide, and adopted, repeating the narrative of the Chinese regime, further cementing their propaganda at the U.N.” He spoke shortly after Bachelet’s visit.
Bachelet “has shown us that nobody cares for our human rights”, and that restoring East Turkistan to independence is the only way to end the ongoing genocide, ensure our peoples’ existence, and freedoms,” Salih Hudayar (prime minister of East Turkistan government in exile), said to respond to the U.N. official’s assessment of the situation.
During her visit to China, Bachelet caused anger among the human rights community twice. Bachelet met with dictator Xi Jinping on one occasion. She didn’t condemn him for the well-documented human rights abuses he has committed, but Bachelet praised Xi’s record in human rights. Although the Chinese Communist Party was not impartial, it published paraphrased comments from Bachelet. She did not challenge them.
She expressed admiration of China’s achievements in ending poverty, protecting human right, and realizing economic, social, and environmental development.
Bachelet, who had visited East Turkistan and gave a video address in Guangzhou, China, similarly praised China for its alleged human rights achievements.
The ex-Chilean president also stated that she had visited a “vocational training and education center” (concentration camp), and that the communist regime had assured that the camps were gone.
During Bachelet’s trip to East Turkistan in June, Adrian Zenz, a scholar, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation published a huge document dump dubbed “Xinjiang Police Files”. It contained hundreds of photos of victims of concentration camps, photos of police training to repress Uyghurs and speeches from senior officials indicating that Xi personally orchestrated the genocide. Bachelet has not yet responded to the revelation.