China rejects criticism over detaining Muslims
GENEVA — China on Tuesday once again rejected criticism of its treatment of ethnic Muslims, telling the UN that accusations of rights abuses from some countries were “politically driven.”
At a regular UN review of the country’s human rights record, China characterized the far west region of Xinjiang as a former hotbed of extremism that has been stabilized through “training centres” which help people gain employable skills.
Former detainees of such centres, on the other hand, have described the facilities as political indoctrination camps where ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities are forced to renounce their faith and swear loyalty to the ruling Communist Party.
The UN has previously said there are credible reports that as many as 1 million people are being held in this form of extrajudicial detention.
At Tuesday’s review — part of the Human Rights Council’s periodic review process for every member state — the U.S., Canada, Japan and several other countries called on Beijing to address growing concerns over its treatment of Xinjiang Muslims.
U.S. charge d’affaires Mark Cassayre urged China to “immediately release the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of individuals” arbitrarily detained in the region. Representatives from both Canada and the U.K. said the country’s human rights situation has “deteriorated.”
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng dismissed the censures.
“We will not accept the politically-driven accusations from a few countries that are fraught with biases,” Le said.
Yasim Sadiq, the Uighur mayor of Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi, told the session in Geneva that current policies are in line with the people’s wishes. He repeated China’s frequently cited claim that no terrorist attacks have occurred in the region for 21 months, and that “trainees” who were previously “controlled by extremist ideology” have since immersed themselves in cultural and athletic activities at the centres.
In recent years, Xinjiang has been outfitted with a high-tech security network, making police checkpoints and surveillance cameras ubiquitous throughout the region.
A child from the Uighur community living in Turkey participates in a protest of oppression by the Chinese government in the far-western Xinjiang province in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday.