Published: Fri, September 14, 2018

China tells UN rights chief to 'respect' sovereignty

China tells UN rights chief to 'respect' sovereignty

The U.S. State Department said it had received a letter from a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers at the end of August asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials accused of overseeing the policies in Xinjiang.

"There are credible reports out there that many, many thousands have been detained in detention centers since April 2017, and the numbers are fairly significant from what we can tell so far", Nauert said.

In the report, HRW documents the increasing government control over the 13 million Muslims living in Xinjiang.

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet this week said the Chinese government's arbitrary detention of Muslims is worrying and China should allow UN monitors into Xinjiang.

Estimates about them "range from tens of thousands to upwards of a million".

In the camps, the report alleged detainees were forced to repeat slogans praising the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping, as well as singing patriotic songs.

A recent United Nations report found a disproportionate "mass surveillance" programme targeting Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. Those who resist or are deemed to have failed to "learn" are punished, it said.


Bachelet called for a thorough investigation of the deaths of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and said that a pattern of abuses continues in the border region of Myanmar to this day.

Discussions have gained momentum within the USA government over possible economic penalties in response to reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China's far western region, which have prompted an worldwide outcry.

Like Tibet, Xinjiang - which has a history of independent rule and largely non-Han Chinese population - has always been viewed with some suspicion by the authorities in Beijing, fearful it could become a hotbed of separatist, or in its case, Islamist organizing.

"My understanding is the issue has been raised very diplomatically to signal the concern ... but not cause the wrath of the Chinese government", Nargis Kassenova, director of the Central Asian Studies Center at KIMEP University in Almaty, said recently.

China has branded reports of such camps "completely untrue", saying that the "education and training centres" to which "minor criminals" are assigned serve merely "to assist in their rehabilitation and reintegration".

Available information suggests that Uyghurs may be subject to the harshest treatment at the hands of Xinjiang authorities, HRW writes, saying that since its report draws heavily on testimony from ethnic Kazakhs who have left the region, it is hard to assess the "full extent of the repressive policies in Xinjiang, particularly those directed at Uyghurs".

Last month, a United Nations human rights panel held a two-day session on China's policies in Xinjiang, and raised alarm over "credible reports" of that China had turned Xinjiang into "something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone".

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