By Ravi Khandelwal
Geneva [Switzerland], September 14 (ANI): The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in her inaugural statement at the 45th session of the Human Rights Council on Monday, raised concerns over rights violations in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
"I am concerned about the Uyghurs. My office continues to engage with the Chinese Government on the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the impact on human rights of its policies," Bachelet said.
She added, "Following an invitation extended by the Government of China, I have been discussing with the authorities about conditions of a possible visit to Xinjiang when conditions are conducive".
A new report in Foreign Policy revealed that China's suppression of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others chiefly Muslim ethnic minorities in northwest China now meets the United Nations definition of genocide, mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control part of a campaign that has swept up more than 1.5 million people.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also said that her office is keeping a close eye on developments in Hong Kong.
The statement said, "In China, my office continues to follow developments in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, particularly the impact of the National Security Law. Since its implementation in July, at least 24 individuals have been charged under the law. The Hong Kong authorities have consistently stated that the law is not intended to impact negatively on the peaceful exercise of human rights by Hong Kong residents".
She added, "Accordingly, I would encourage the Hong Kong authorities to monitor closely the enforcement of the law by the police and the courts, and to take steps to review the law in response to any negative consequences it might have on the enjoyment of human rights".
In her statement Bachelet also raised concerns over Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The statement said, "On the Pakistan side, people also have limited Internet access, creating difficulties in accessing education and other vital services. I remain concerned about ongoing restrictions to the rights to freedom of expression and association".
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also highlighted the grim situation in Afghanistan.
The statement said, "In Afghanistan, the human cost of conflict remains unacceptably high with some 3,500 civilian casualties this year, and continuing attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel - a situation that is severely exacerbated by COVID-19".
It added, "With the formal start of intra-Afghan peace talks on 12 September, I reinforce the call for an immediate reduction in violence, a humanitarian pause, and the need for victim-centered justice and inclusion of marginalised groups' concerns".
"These are critical to successful talks and any peace agreement. I also condemn attacks on human rights defenders with nine killed since the start of 2020, including members of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. I urge the Government to establish an effective national protection mechanism", said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. (ANI)
By Ravi Khandelwal