Rights groups voice "real concern" about detention of Uighur Muslims in China

A leading Brussels-based human rights group has voiced concern about ethnic minority groups, most Uyghur Muslims, in China.

Leaked documents about Chinese detention camps are said to dramatically contradict government claims they are voluntary job training centres.

The classified documents, which have been broadcast by Sky TV, appear to confirm the testimony of many former detainees that they are centres for forced ideological and behavioural re-education.

More than a million people from ethnic minority groups, most Uighur Muslims, are in the camps in the far western Xinjiang region. Uighurs are a Turkic minority of about 10 million with their own customs and language.

China, though, has dismissed the leak as a "fabrication and fake news".  A Chinese government spokesman said religious freedom and personal freedom of people in the camps is "fully respected".

He said that “since the terror crackdown started in Xinjiang there has not been a single terrorist incident in the past three years".

However,the documents leaked to a consortium of international journalists - including the Associated Press news agency - detail a strategy to lock up minorities in order to change their beliefs and even their language.

To prevent escapes they stipulate double-locked doors, watch towers and a huge video surveillance operation with no blind spots. Artificial intelligence and mass surveillance technology is also being used on a large scale, with computers issuing the names of tens of thousands of people for interrogation or detention in just one week.

Commenting on the findings, Willy Fautre, head of Human Rights Without Frontiers, based in Brussels, told this website, “Xi Jinping is the new Mao and the so-called ‘sinicization’ campaign is nothing else than a new Cultural Revolution implemented with all the technological weapons of the 21st century that Beijing can use to track all those who need to be ‘reeducated politically’.”

“Over one million Uighurs are deprived of their freedom of movement and kept behind barbed wires for an indefinite time until the brainwashing is successful. The objective of the sinicization is not the revival of the ancestral Chinese culture but Communist political correctness, the choking of the people’s opium and the cultural genocide of the Uighur Muslims.”

Further comment came from Marco Respinti, Director-in-Charge of Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China who said, “The leaked videos document what we all know and China, and its allies, pretend to hide. Xinjiang - that Uyghur prefer to call East Turkestan - is filled with detention camps where people are treated horribly. Indeed, Xinjiang itself is becoming a huge open-air detention camp, where people are surveilled in every single movement through highly sophisticated technology.

"These videos seem to date mostly back to 2017. But reality hasn't changed, as we at Bitter Winter documented with the publication of the first and so far the only video from inside one of those camps [here is the video] where up to 3 million Uyghur (as recent researches say), plus thousand and thousand of other Turkic people, are unlawfully detained and severely ill-treated just because they are believers and because of their ethnicity. China has tried first to deny the existence of these camps.

"Secondly, when it couldn't do it any more due to evidence, it changed its communication strategy saying that camps are professional school to "re-educate" terrorists. As a matter of fact, there the Chinese communist regime is for sure re-educating people -with terror, and to Communist ideology. As to the so-called "professional schools", among detained people there are also accomplished professionals, sometimes even retired... So what?... Indeed, those camps are just are prison of the worst kind, and thy should not be in place. In recent weeks, after The New York Times and other published evidence of what is going in Xinjiang no one can pretend not to know any longer.

"This situation must stop, now. The international community has no excuse: it must act."

Read also: 

Rights groups condemn China over "torture" of religious minorities

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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