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Transcripts of Remarks on Xinjiang and Hong Kong by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commission for Human Rights

December 11, 2020

On the December 9, at her year-end press conference at the Human Rights Council, UN High Commission for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet spoke out on the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang and expressed concerns regarding what she called the “rapidly shrinking civic and democratic space in Hong Kong.”

Below are links to her video and text of her opening statement, followed by transcripts of her remarks on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Video of Michelle Bachelet (OHCHR) - Press Conference: Reflections on 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. Geneva, December, 9 2020

Text of opening statement (0:00 – 13:28 on video)

Remarks on Xinjiang (46:35-47:06)

We continue to be troubled by ongoing reports of a range of serious human rights violations in Xinjiang, which have come from a variety of different sources. (49:21-49:31)

Consistent with our usual practice, my team is seeking to verify the material on these issues which we have received. (49:33-49:40

My Office and the Chinese Government have resumed direct exchange on a visit to China, following more limited contact because of COVID. (49:40-49:53)

I hope—and expect—that format and modalities of such a visit, providing for meaningful access to concerned areas, can be agreed soon, in order to advance our assessment of the consistent concerns that have emerged. (49:54-50:10)

Our usual approach is—when we don’t have an office in the country—is that we send a technical preparatory team to go before a visit by myself as High Commissioner, and we would see such an approach in the first half of 2021 being valuable in this context. (50:11-50:29)

I hope we can do that mission as soon as possible. (50:31-50:34)

Remarks on Hong Kong (47:15-47:52)

I am concerned about the rapidly shrinking civic and democratic space in Hong Kong, especially since passage of the National Security Law. A year ago, in the midst of mass protests in Hong Kong, I had called for a broad, open, inclusive dialogue to resolve the situation. Regrettably, the space has been closing rather than opening. (50:35-50:56)

Recent convictions of activists for protests that took place last year risk causing a wider chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental freedoms. More have continued to be arrested and charged with a host of offences under various laws, including for unauthorised assembly. (50:57-51:16)

We believe that peaceful protest should never be criminalized. (51:18-51:20)

The National Security Law—which is overly broad—has had a particularly chilling effect. (51:21-51:25)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has historically had a strong, independent judiciary. I call on judicial authorities to apply laws in conformity with Hong Kong SAR’s human rights obligations and to guarantee due process and fair trial rights. (51:26-51:44)

My office will continue to monitor the situation closely. (51:44-51:47)