‘Not factual’: At UN, China dismisses reports of mass detention of Uighur Muslims

Government social media post in April 2017 shows detainees in a camp in Hotan Prefecture [Image obtained by HRW]

China dismissed United Nations (UN) credible reports of mass detention of Uighur Muslims in its autonomous Xinjiang province, calling it ‘not factual’ and ‘politically driven’, The New York Times reported.

At the opening of the review by the UN Human Rights Council, Vice Foreign Minister Lee Yucheng stated, “China is here to seek cooperation.”

He underlined some of the country’s largest achievements to be lifting millions from poverty. He did not, however, touch on the subject of the treatment of ethnic minorities.

In the review, North American and European diplomats shared their concerns over the intensive crackdown and human rights violations in the western region of Xinjiang, wherein residents were forced in re-education camps. According to the U.N report, the detainees in camps are told that they are infected with an “ideological virus,” and are indoctrinated in devotion to the state and the Communist Party.

ALSO READ: Detentions done in Xinjiang to prevent it from becoming another Syria, says Chinese media

Representatives of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and other countries called for an end to the detention of Uighurs and members of other minority groups, and urged respect for freedom of religion, expression and association, the report stated.

The ongoing crisis has tensed Chinese-American relations, with the Congress threatening sanctions on those involved in the act.

Le considered China’s re-education camps a preventive measure to deter people from terrorism and enable them to fit into society. He added that courses offered by European schools had even provided some of the inspiration for China’s approach.

“Everybody is equal before the law,” he stated. “Why are these criminals being praised as good people or human rights defenders?”

ALSO READ: Amnesty calls on China to end human rights violation against Muslims in the country

Earlier in August, the UN panel had reported of a massive ‘internment camp’ and stated their concerns over the whereabouts of Uighur students who disappeared after returning from abroad.

Following the report, China released a television documentary which showed images of classroom studies in stark contrast from the harsh conditions in re-education camps.

In an interview published by the official Xinhua news agency, Shohrat Zakir, chairman of Xinjiang’s government and the country’s highest-ranking Uighur, said the camps had “won widespread acceptance and wholehearted support of the public in Xinjiang.”

Testimonies of Uighur Muslims published by news agency Al Jazeera who escaped Xinjiang confirm reports of ‘systematic campaign of human rights violations’.

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