U.N. Human Rights Chief Blasts China for Persecuting Uighur Muslims

New High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends the opening day of the 39th UN Council of Human Rights in Geneva on September 10, 2018. - In her first speech as head of the UN rights called Bachelet for the creation of a new 'mechanism' tasked with preparing criminal …
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet gave her first speech to the Human Rights Council on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland.

Bachelet blasted China for its persecution of the Uighur Muslims, castigated Italy for refusing to accept migrants from Libya, called for an investigation of the Rohingya massacre in Myanmar, and voiced concerns about the treatment of children brought illegally across the southern border of the United States.

Bachelet said a U.N. human rights panel has received credible reports that up to a million Uighurs in Xinjiang province have been detained without legal process by China and held in “re-education camps.” She described these allegations as “deeply disturbing”

Alluding to reports of human rights violations in other regions of China, Bachelet called on Beijing to allow U.N. monitors all across China. The Chinese delegation did not immediately respond to her request.

The new human rights commissioner also said she was concerned about the humanitarian suffering in Yemen’s civil war, asking for greater transparency from the intervening coalition headed by Saudi Arabia and promising to closely follow steps taken to hold the perpetrators of airstrikes on civilians accountable.

Bachelet called for a thorough investigation of the deaths of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and said that a pattern of abuses continues in the border region of Myanmar to this day.

She denounced Italy for closing its seaports to refugees from Libya, a decision she said had “serious consequences on the most vulnerable,” as a large number of migrants continue to drown during risky crossings of the Mediterranean. She said her office would investigate an “alarming escalation of attacks” against asylum seekers in Italy and Austria.

Bachelet expressed concerns about the separation of migrant children in the United States from parents who brought them across the border illegally and criticized the Trump administration for withdrawing from a court agreement that limits the detention of migrant children to 20 days.

Bachelet, formerly the president of Chile, assumed the office of U.N. human rights commissioner on September 1.

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