USA envoy calls China's Muslim camps 'horrific,' wants probe

13 Mars, 2019, 15:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • USA envoy calls China's Muslim camps 'horrific,' wants probe

A Chinese official today rejected worldwide criticism of internment camps in the restive Xinjiang region, calling them job training centres that will "gradually disappear" if "one day society no longer needs it".

Almost one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic minorities are being held in detention centres in Xinjiang, according to estimates cited by a United Nations panel.

According to Reuters, the U.S. government has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including on the Communist Party of China (CPC) boss, Chen Quanguo, who as a member of the powerful politburo is in the upper echelons of China's leadership.

He said they were not "concentration camps" but vocational training centres aimed at providing language and skill training to help eradicate radical thoughts. Xinjiang Gov. Shohrat Zakir declined at a news conference on Tuesday to disclose the number of what he called 'trainees.' However, he said the figure is far less than 1 million.

"As a whole, the number of people in the education centres should be less and less, and if one day society no longer needs it, these education centres can gradually disappear", he said, without providing the number of people at the facilities.

Former inmates have said they found themselves incarcerated for transgressions such as wearing long beards and face veils or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media.

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China is facing global backlash over the camps, which officials maintain are actually vocational training centers.

Journalists are harassed and surveilled by local authorities when reporting in the western Chinese region.

Describing China's internment of an estimated one million Muslims as a "horrific situation", a USA envoy on religion called Tuesday for an independent investigation into the detentions and for the release of those being held.

The XUAR is China's largest province and shares a border with several countries including India; it contains the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, administered by China but claimed by India.

Governor Zakir, the region's most senior Uighur official who ranks below Chen, said that there had not been any violent attacks in more than two years and three months since the government adopted "a series of measures" to combat terror and extremism.

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