Representatives of a group of 278 scholars in various disciplines from dozens of countries, in a briefing in Washington, DC, on Monday, urged China to end its mass detention policies in western Xinjiang and called for sanctions on key Chinese leaders and security companies linked to abuses, according to media reports.
The scholars warned that a failure to act would signal acceptance of “psychological torture of innocent civilians”.
“This situation must be addressed to prevent setting negative future precedents regarding the acceptability of any state’s complete repression of a segment of its population, especially on the basis of ethnicity or religion,” the group said in a statement.
Countries should expedite asylum requests from Xinjiang’s Muslim minorities, as well as “spearhead a movement for UN action aimed at investigating this mass internment system and closing the camps”, it said.
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’.