UN and China agree on date for visit to probe Uighur abuse allegations

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Activists have claimed China is detaining around 1 million Uighurs, the UN human rights chief said

A deal has been reached between the United Nations and China for a visit by High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to the Xinjiang region, where it’s been alleged Uighurs have been arrested, detained, and abused.

Bachelet announced on Tuesday that she has reached a deal with China to visit the Asian nation in May. Her trip will include a visit to the remote Xinjiang area, where activists have alleged that around 1 million Uighurs are being held in mass detention facilities.

“My office has raised a number of such cases with the government and encourage the authorities to take steps to ensure that freedom of expression and opinion are fully respected and protected,” Bachelet said, referring to allegations that activists speaking up on human rights issues have been mistreated. She did not provide specific details of her conversations with Beijing, however.

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The announcement of the visit comes ahead of an expected report from Bachelet’s office into the UN’s assessment of the situation in Xinjiang and the treatment of Muslim Uighurs.

An advance team from the UN is set to arrive in China in April to prepare for Bachelet’s visit. It will mark the first visit to China by a UN high commissioner for human rights since 2005.

China has fervently rejected allegations that it has mistreated Uighurs, claiming that the facilities are vocational centers that are designed to combat extremism, stating that all of the people held “graduated” from the camps in late 2019.

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