Your Monday Briefing: A ‘Toothless’ Trip to Xinjiang

Good morning. We’re covering the U.N. human rights chief’s trip to China, India’s expanded protections for sex workers and Ukraine’s offensive in Kherson.

Police officers patrolling in Xinjiang last year.Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

U.N.’s tempered criticism of China

The United Nations’ top human rights official spent six days in China, offering only limited criticism of China’s crackdown on predominantly Muslim minorities.

Michelle Bachelet said that her visit “was not an investigation,” and that she had raised questions about China’s application of “counterterrorism and de-radicalization measures” when she spoke by video with Xi Jinping, China’s leader.

In so doing, Bachelet couched her references to Xinjiang — where rights groups and scholars say China has held one million or more people in indoctrination camps — in the language preferred by Beijing: It has described its program as vocational training in response to terrorist attacks.

Rights groups and overseas Uyghurs sharply condemned her remarks. Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, called for “a credible investigation in the face of mountains of evidence of atrocity crimes, not another toothless dialogue.”

Analysis: China’s increasing global sway has translated into growing influence within the U.N. Critics described Bachelet’s trip as the latest example of China’s success in co-opting multinational bodies, including the W.H.O., which endorsed parts of Beijing’s narrative over the pandemic’s origins.

Propaganda: Authorities went to great lengths to frame the narrative around her visit, the first from a high commissioner for human rights since 2005. State media misquoted Bachelet as praising Beijing for “protecting human rights,” while officials threatened the families of Uyghurs who live abroad and had called for investigations.

Business: Companies that source cotton from Xinjiang are pushing for visibility into operations to assess widespread accusations of forced labor.

A rally to support the constitutional rights of India’s sex workers.Credit…Bikas Das/Associated Press

Protections for India’s sex workers

Sex work is legal in India, but practitioners often endure marginalization, police harassment and abuse. Sometimes, when police look for victims of sex trafficking, they detain prostitutes who have not committed crimes.

Stepping in after legislative efforts failed, the country’s Supreme Court urged police to employ a more nuanced and humane approach, identifying two categories: voluntarily employed consenting adults; and minors, trafficking victims and those eager to leave the industry.

For consenting adults, the court said, the police must refrain from arrests and other forms of harassment, and should not separate sex workers from their children. “The attitude of the police to sex workers is often brutal and violent,” the court wrote, adding that, “police should treat all sex workers with dignity.”

Background: The perception that prostitutes are criminals makes them vulnerable to violence, researchers say.Human traffickers and crushing poverty have forced most of India’s estimated 900,000 sex workers into the industry.

Elderly and sick people boarded a medical evacuation train in the Donetsk region.Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Ukraine’s offensive in Kherson

Ukraine has declared that it is mounting a counteroffensive to reclaim territory around Kherson, which was the first major city to fall as Russian forces swept north out of Crimea more than three months ago.

Ukraine sees an opening: After months launching operations across southern Ukraine from Kherson, Russia is now concentrating troops and fortifying eastern defensive positions.

In the east, Russia pushed to complete its occupation of the Luhansk region and to capture Sievierodonetsk, the last Ukrainian-controlled city there. Moscow’s ambitions have narrowed to three cities in the Donbas region, and mounting troop losses mean it could be Russia’s last major offensive. Here are live updates.

Details: On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the east to visit frontline positions around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Economy: Russian officials fear a return to Soviet-era scarcity.

Language: Volunteer organizations are helping Russian-speaking Ukrainians abandon “the occupiers’ language.”

Syria: Russia may shut down the last humanitarian convoy route as a bargaining chip, sending another surge of refugees into Europe and the Middle East.


Asia and the Middle East

Relatives of passengers wept outside the Nepal airport.Credit…Yunish Gurung/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • A plane with 22 people on board crashed in Nepal on Sunday.

  • At the risk of deepening political turmoil, Pakistan increased consumer fuel prices in a bid to revive a $6 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund and stabilize its cratering economy.

  • A drone strike last week targeted a highly sensitive military site in Iran, killing a young engineer. The attack fit a pattern of past Israeli strikes.

  • Iraq’s parliament passed legislation that would broaden the crime of normalizing ties with Israel. It is now punishable by death.

World News

Real Madrid celebrating with the trophy.Credit…Lee Smith/Reuters
  • Real Madrid won the Champions League, European soccer’s premier competition.

  • Colombians voted for president on Sunday. Gustavo Petro could become the country’s first leftist leader. Here are live updates.

  • About 20 women accused France’s most trusted anchorman of sexual assault or harassment.

  • Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals in August from places like India, Nigeria, Singapore and South Korea, a deliberate shift away from Europe.

The Uvalde Shooting

Here are live updates.

  • President Biden traveled to Texas on Sunday to mourn with families and attend church services. “Do something!” someone in the crowd outside yelled as he left. “We will,” Biden replied.

  • The Justice Department said it would investigate the law enforcement response, as questions mount. Children in classrooms with the gunman called 911 repeatedly while the police waited in the hall for more than an hour.

  • Legislation: StateDemocratic leaders rushed to impose new gun restrictions, as national lawmakers remain gridlocked.

A Morning Read

Sharon Angeles working her shift.Credit…Hannah Reyes Morales for The New York Times

Silingan Coffee, a café in a trendy neighborhood outside of Manila, is staffed primarily by the relatives of people killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

“We tell customers about our life, and how this place serves as a place of healing for us,” Sharon Angeles, the head barista said. “We also tell them, if they care to listen, why Duterte’s drug war is a war on the poor, and not on drugs.”


Australia’s new DNA tool

In 1942, a lifeless man washed up on the shores of Christmas Island. In the 1990s, the Royal Australian Navy began to suspect that he was a sailor on a warship that sank during World War II. But when researchers exhumed his remains in 2006, his DNA yielded no match with a list of possible descendants.

Now, scientists believe they have finally identified the sailor using DNA phenotyping, a technique that can assess the likelihood that someone had certain physical characteristics, like hair or eye color, instead of requiring a DNA match.

In this case, scientists used it to deduce that the sailor probably had red hair and blue eyes, narrowing the list of 645 men lost when the ship sank. They found a living relative, and the sailor’s identity: Thomas Welsby Clark.

Australian scientists see the tool as potentially unlocking thousands of long-term unsolved missing-persons cases and identifying hundreds of unidentified remains.

But human rights organizations have raised serious concerns that DNA phenotyping, which is primarily used by police departments around the world, could lead to racial profiling. Those concerns extend to Australia, where Indigenous people are arrested and jailed at disproportionately high rates.


What to Cook

Credit…Bryan Gardner for The New York Times

These Iranian saffron salmon kababs are buttery and gently spiced.

What to Read

“Tomb of Sand” is the first Hindi novel to win the International Booker Prize.

What to Watch

The satire “Triangle of Sadness” won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Annoys (Four letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Mira Rojanasakul, a visual journalist, is joining The Times’s Climate desk from Bloomberg.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the baby formula shortage in the U.S.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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