China rejects United Nations panel’s allegations that 1 million Uygurs are being held in camps
Xinjiang faces serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists, Beijing says
China on Monday rejected allegations raised by a UN panel that 1 million Uygurs maybe being held in internment camps in the restive Xinjiang region, but said that some people had undergone re-education after being deceived by extremists.
Hu Lianhe, deputy director general of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee, said that authorities in the far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region protected the full rights of all citizens equally.
According to Beijing, Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Muslim Uygur minority who call the region home and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
“The argument that 1 million are detained in re-education centres is completely untrue,” Hu told the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the second day of its regular review of China’s record.
“On freedom of religious belief, Xinjiang guarantees citizens freedom of religious belief and protects normal religious activities,” he said.
“Those deceived by religious extremism … shall be assisted by resettlement and re-education,” he added.
Gay McDougall, a panel member, said on Friday it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uygurs in China are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone”.
“To say that they don’t violate rights of minorities does not prove anything. We have to [have] more than a denial of allegations,” she told the Chinese delegation on Monday.
“I notice that you didn’t quite deny that these re-education or indoctrination programmes don’t take place,” she said, seeking clarification on how many people undergo re-education.
Hu said China had clamped down on “extremist and terrorist crimes” in Xinjiang in accordance with the law, saying there had been assassinations, explosions and poisonings there.
But, he said, it did not target any particular ethnic minority or seek “de-Islamisation” of the region.
Earlier on Monday, in the country’s first response to the UN criticism, a state-run newspaper said that massively stepped-up security in Xinjiang has helped prevent “great tragedy”.