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Letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet

Letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet

Ms Michelle Bachelet
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
52 Rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

13 May 2022

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned Uyghur groups and human rights organisations, write to urgently share the minimum conditions we deem essential in the context of your upcoming visit to the People’s Republic of China, including to East Turkistan (“Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” by the Chinese government).

In the three and a half years since you first publicly requested unfettered access to China, evidence has been mounting of severe human rights violations in East Turkistan. Credible reporting by human rights and legal organisations has determined that the Chinese government is perpetrating crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in the region. Information relating to these abuses has been tightly controlled by the Chinese state, and it has become almost impossible for foreign civil society groups or journalists to gain access to the region.

Whilst you have requested ‘unfettered access,’ we are yet to see what measures have been taken to ensure that this is the case. As a result, we remain deeply concerned that your visit will not reflect the true human rights situation in East Turkistan. We, therefore, urge you to ensure that the Chinese government is not given control over your access to locations, documentation and/or people. There have already been reports of Uyghurs being warned not to speak to UN representatives, and we believe that the implicit threat of arbitrary detention makes it very difficult to have free conversations with those living in the region.  

We express our grave disappointment that, so far, there has been a lack of transparency surrounding both the conditions set for your upcoming trip and the release of your report on the situation in East Turkistan. As a result, we share with you the following conditions we deem essential for a credible visit:

  • Release your report on human rights violations in East Turkistan immediately, and prior to your trip to China;
  • Meet with Uyghur civil society and advocacy groups, elected representatives and camp survivors;
  • Make inquiries about, and secure confidential and unsupervised meetings with, Uyghurs who have been forcibly disappeared, or are arbitrarily detained in so-called ‘vocational training centres,’ detention centres and forced labour facilities;
  • Ensure your team is given full, unhindered access to all areas in East Turkistan, which entails:
  • Freedom of movement throughout the region;
  • Access to all detention facilities across the region, including prisons, detention centres, so-called ‘vocational training centres’ and forced labour facilities;
  • Confidential and unsupervised contact with Uyghur people, including those held in detention;
  • Full access to documentation from governmental sources at all levels;

We reiterate the following conditions proposed by 60 international NGOs on April 19:

  • Ensure transparency with respect to measures taken to date to ensure access to China is effectively unfettered, including but not limited to diplomatic reassurances, and steps to mitigate and respond to any breach of the agreement by the Chinese authorities; 
  • Include among the visit team relevant Special Procedures mandate-holders, including the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism;
  • Guarantees that any official security protection, including on grounds of ‘counterterrorism’, and other forms of accompaniment, including in the name of ‘Covid-19 prevention’, are provided in ways which do not prejudice the security, privacy, confidentiality or freedom of movement and inquiry; 
  • Robust risk assessment and mitigation measures to minimise the possibility that any individual, group or organisation suffers threats, harassment, punishment, or any other form of intimidation or reprisal, as a result of cooperation and communication with the visit team in any way; 
  • No information on any parts of the visit program involving meetings with civil society is shared with state authorities, including guarantees that no state officials, including law enforcement officials, are present during interviews with victims or other actors. Interviews should be exclusively conducted on UN or diplomatic premises, with interpretation if needed, provided solely through UN-recruited or -selected independent interpreters, to ensure the protection of victims or witnesses. For individuals held in detention facilities, interviews should be confidential with UN-recruited or -selected interpreters, and without state officials’ presence. 
  • Ensure meaningful and safe participation by a diverse pool of independent civil society organisations, human rights defenders, individuals and victims, during the preparatory phase of any visit through separate, dedicated meetings for different regions and communities, and undertake broad consultations during and after the visit in a safe and confidential manner; and 
  • Ensure that field investigations use existing UN information, such as Special Procedures communications and Treaty Body reviews, as a foundation for inquiry.


Dolkun Isa

World Uyghur Congress


On behalf of the following Uyghur organizations:


Alberta Uyghur Association

Australian Uyghur Association

Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association

Belgium Uyghur Association

Blue Crescent Humanitarian Aid Association

Campaign for Uyghurs

Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation

​​East Turkistan Association of Canada

East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association

East Turkistan Entrepreneur Tradesmen and Industrialists Businessmen Association

Eastern Turkistan Foundation

East Turkistan Human Rights Watch

East Turkistan New Generation Movement

East Turkistan Nuzugum Culture and Family Association

East Turkistan Sports and Development Association

East Turkistan Union in Europe

East Turkestan Union of Muslim Scholars

East Turkestan Press and Media Association

European East Turkistan Education Association

Finnish Uyghur Culture Centre

Furkan Education and Cooperation Association

Hira Education Association

Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Science and lore Foundation

Ili Meshrep Educational Foundation

Ilham Tohti Initiative

International Union of East Turkistan Organisations

Institute of China Studies

Isa Yusuf Alptekin Foundation

Japan Uyghur Association

Knowledge and Service Solidarity and Cooperation Association

Norwegian Uyghur Committee

Omer Uygur Foundation

Public Association of Uyghurs “Ittipak” of the Kyrgyz Republic

Satuq Bugrakhan Foundation of Science and Civilization

Sweden Uyghur Education Union

Sweden Uyghur Union

UK Uyghur Community

Uyghur American Association

Uyghur Academy Australia

Uyghur Academy Canada

Uyghur Academy Europe

Uyghur Academy Foundation

Uyghur Academy Japan

Uyghur Academy USA

Uyghur Association France

Uyghur Association Switzerland

Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy

Uyghur Community in Austria

Uyghur Cultural and Education Union in Germany

Uyghur Human Rights Project

Uyghur Projects Foundation

Uyghur Research Institute

Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project

Uyghur Science and Ingenuity Foundation

Uyghur Science and Civilization Research Foundation

Uyghur Transitional Justice Database

Uyghur Youth Union in Kazakhstan

Uyghuristan Republican Party

Victoria Uyghur Association

World Uyghur Congress

World Uyghur Congress Foundation