United States ‘weighing’ China sanctions for treatment of Uighur Muslims

14 Septembre, 2018, 12:03 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Abdusalam Muhemet an ethnic Uighur Muslim who ran a restaurant in Hotan before fleeing China this year in Istanbul

China's serial incursions into the civil rights of Muslims living in the country grabbed global headlines again on Monday after a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report unveiled further details of a massive crackdown in the Xinjiang region.

The region's indigenous Uyghurs have grown increasingly restive over Beijing's ever more intrusive monitoring of religious life and the growing migration of Han Chinese into the region, where they now make up around 40 percent of the 22- million population. "We have a lot of tools at our disposal", she said.

China foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to give a detailed response to the report and said that Human Rights Watch was a group "full of prejudice" against China that distorts facts.

After months of discussions, the Trump administration is considering sanctions against China over detaining thousands of minority Muslims in internment camps.

The group said in a report that Xinjiang's Muslim population of about 13 million has been subjected to "forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of worldwide human rights law".

"The detainees in political education camps are held without any due process rights - neither charged nor put on trial - and have no access to lawyers and family", the report said.

It is estimated that in the area, one million are now detained in re-education camps where they are forced to learn Mandarin and sing the praises of the Chinese Communist Party.

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Punishments for refusing to follow instructions in the camp could mean being denied food, being forced to stand for 24 hours or even solitary confinement, it said.

China, via its foreign ministry, responded dismissively to the Human Rights Watch report on Monday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English), and rebuked the United Nations human rights chief's requests on Tuesday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English).

Michelle Bachelet decried China's ongoing crackdown on the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in her first remarks as head of the United Nations rights watchdog in Geneva on Monday.

"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.

Astana, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Xinjiang, is trying to position itself as a key link in China's One Belt, One Road economic development initiative.

According to a 117-page report published over the weekend, the Chinese government conducted "mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment" of Uighur Turks in the region.

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