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UN rights chief urged not to ignore Tibet in her China visit

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(TibetanReview.net, Mar25’22) – As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet prepares to visit China and East Turkestan (Chinese: Xinjiang) sometime in May this year, Tibetans and human rights groups remain concerned that Tibet may be out of her agenda and have therefore urged her to include it on her itinerary.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said the high commissioner has been “worryingly quiet” regarding Tibet. 

“I think the same problem will apply to Tibetan areas as to the Uyghur regions, meaning that she is incredibly unlikely to be able to travel freely or to be able to talk to people freely without fear of reprisal,” rfa.org Mar 24 quoted Sophie Richardson, the group’s China director, as saying.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. (Photo courtesy: UN)

Xinjiang remains a major focus of Bachelet’s trip, as the UN seeks to complete an overdue report on allegations of genocidal rights violations by Chinese authorities targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities there. However, rights groups feel that the former Chilean president should not overlook Tibet during her enormously rare visit to the People’s Republic of China.

“We welcome the UN high commissioner’s visit to (the People’s Republic of) China, including Xinjiang. However, no assessment of human rights violations by China can be completed without a visit to the Tibetan regions,” Kalden Tsomo, the UN Advocacy Officer in the Tibet Bureau in Geneva, was quoted as saying.

Rights groups have long pointed out that access to Tibet, especially for independent journalists, remain more difficult even than North Korea.

Indeed, in its latest report to Congress on the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, 2018, the US State Department said Mar 16 that China in 2021 “systematically impeded” travel to Tibet and other areas within the PRC for US diplomats and officials, journalists, and tourists in 2021.

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