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China will be grilled over its mass detainment of Uighur minorities during a UN human rights review on Tuesday, with Washington leading demands for Beijing to come clean on how many people are held in a sprawling network of camps.

As many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are being kept in extra-judicial detention in China's fractious far western Xinjiang region, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.

The centres where they are thought to be detained have come under increasing scrutiny this year, with rights activists describing them as political re-education camps. They say members of China's Muslim minorities are held involuntarily for transgressions such as wearing long beards and face veils.

“The Human Rights Council must send an unequivocal message to the Chinese government that their campaign of systematic repression in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, including the arbitrary detention of up to one million people, must end,” said Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International.

All 193 United Nations member states must undergo a periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. China will present a report on its domestic human rights situation and on changes made since its last report in 2013, while diplomats from around the world will have the opportunity to ask questions — some of which have already been submitted.

One question by the US — which is leading demands for Beijing to come clean on the crackdown — says: “Can China clarify the basis for its apparent criminalisation of peaceful religious practices as justification to detain people in these political 're-education' camps in Xinjiang, as well as which officials are responsible for this policy?”

Washington also wants Beijing to provide “the number of people involuntarily held in all detention facilities in Xinjiang during the past five years".

Britain has asked when China will implement a UN racial discrimination panel's recommendation that it “halt the practice of detaining individuals who have not been lawfully charged, tried, and convicted for a criminal offence in any extra-legal detention facilities”.

The US and Germany have requested UN access to Xinjiang and Tibet to investigate allegations of mass detention and restrictions on religious freedoms.

'Like a prison'

Beijing previously denied the existence of such camps, but now defends them as “vocational education and training centres” where happy students study Mandarin, brush up on job skills, and pursue hobbies such as sports and folk dance.

Chinese officials say the facilities are part of efforts to combat terrorism, religious extremism and separatism in Xinjiang following unrest that left hundreds dead in recent years.

But an AFP investigation published in October showed that local authorities had bought gear for the centres including police batons, electric cattle prods, handcuffs, pepper spray, stun guns and razor wire.

The centres should “teach like a school, be managed like the military, and be defended like a prison”, said one official document, quoting Xinjiang's party secretary Chen Quanguo.

“The Chinese government owes some answers to international questions about Xinjiang,” Maya Wang, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

The UN human rights review is a chance for countries to “focus their firepower on Xinjiang”, though its effectiveness will depend on “whether or not there is commitment from the states to push for accountability,” she added.

China will send a vice minister of foreign affairs, Le Yucheng, to head the delegation to the UN. Officials from Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau will also attend the review.

“China is willing to carry out constructive dialogue with all sides in an open and honest spirit,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Friday.

'Double standards'

Beyond Xinjiang, China will also come under scrutiny for other aspects of its human rights record.

Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, the Chinese government has cracked down on civil liberties and religious freedoms while ramping up digital surveillance.

In July 2017, dissident activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer while under police custody. In 2015, more than 200 Chinese human rights lawyers and activists were detained or questioned in a sweep known as the “709” crackdown.

That year also saw five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders disappear, before they resurfaced in mainland China.

“China opposes human rights politicization and 'double standards,' and upholds international fairness and justice,” China said in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council for the review.

“No country's human rights situation is perfect. China still faces many difficulties and challenges in promoting and protecting human rights,” it said.

Beyond Xinjiang, China will also come under scrutiny for other aspects of its human rights record.— AFP/File
Beyond Xinjiang, China will also come under scrutiny for other aspects of its human rights record.— AFP/File


Comments (29) Closed

Big Bird Nov 04, 2018 03:45pm

China is a Security Council Member. They can get Putin and Russia on their side.

Hedonist Nov 04, 2018 04:05pm

Where is Ummah now?

King Nov 04, 2018 04:27pm

Where are champion of Islam

Lohpurush Nov 04, 2018 04:29pm

Pakistan should take tough stand like it took against India , Israel and Myanmar.

Swiss Neutral Nov 04, 2018 04:30pm

China fails to become super power like Japan and other tiger countries. It has no transparency, softpower, democracy and gets no respect from other countries.

Chinpaksaddique Nov 04, 2018 04:35pm

There is no abuse in China. This is all blame game.

Dr. Bulgaria, Zakir Zakmad Nov 04, 2018 04:49pm

Terrible state of affairs.

Rahul Nov 04, 2018 04:56pm

Look at the picture of the Chinese soldiers chuckling while arresting the poor man. That's what they really think about them.

M. Emad Nov 04, 2018 05:14pm

Over 1 million minority Uighur Muslims being kept in extra-judicial detention at internment camps for Muslims in far western Xinjiang region, China.

Osman Nov 04, 2018 05:46pm

China will face the consequences.

Ravi Nov 04, 2018 05:46pm

Why Pakistan never speaks against it?? Not even Mullahs never say anything.

Shash Nov 04, 2018 06:21pm

Any comments from protector of human rights..

My mind Nov 04, 2018 06:23pm

Hope citizens of Pakistan take note of this situation rather than Kashmir alone.

Najum Nov 04, 2018 06:31pm

UN is powerless.

Kamlakar Marrakech Nov 04, 2018 06:41pm

No comment from any body

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Nov 04, 2018 07:00pm

Great move by the U.N. to grill the Chinese administration on Tuesday, November 06, 2018, over the establishment of "Nazi army" style camps in its western Xinjiang province and over it's continuous draconian policy of unnecessarily harassing, intimidating and putting behind bars at least one million people stemming from its Muslim minority population just for practicing their religious rites, rules and obligations. Are we still living in the dark ages?

FaZ Nov 04, 2018 07:04pm

Sad that grilling is coming from U.S while muslims contries are quiet about the abuse. Except for Turkey and Malaysia which have protested with China

Maria enteparia onnuchoriu Nov 04, 2018 07:11pm

This is a tragedy for the humanity, we shall condemn any oppression of people based on religious believes. China is going in the wrong direction, every action have the same and opposite reaction.

A. Mangal Nov 04, 2018 07:15pm

Freedom of religion is basic human right and must be upheld in China as well. Karl Marx’s theory over religion failed miserably along with his socio-exonomic thought! Wonder when China is going to learn and give up religious persecution?

Samar Nov 04, 2018 07:42pm

This is the harsh reality of china.they are doing so much acrocities against uingar Muslims in China.

Ajit Nov 04, 2018 07:58pm

China is biggest oppressors of Muslims. Bigger than Israel, US, USSR or India!

haris Nov 04, 2018 09:25pm

propaganda, heard about hui?

Kalia Nov 04, 2018 09:41pm

@Chinpaksaddique really

Zak Nov 04, 2018 09:41pm

IK should address this issue and explain how China can incorporate the Uighurs into the mainstream yet benefit from their rich culture and history. Brutality will not resolve matters but worsen it.

Zak Nov 05, 2018 01:23am

@Rahul Thats because they are 3 of them to arrest 1.

Zak Nov 05, 2018 01:25am

@My mind Kashmir is UN issue. China is an internal matter to be addressed.

Rashid Arshan Qureshi Nov 05, 2018 06:31am

@Osman .... What consequences? There will be no consequences.

Raj patel Nov 05, 2018 06:33am

I think China is doing right thing as Muslims never ever learnt how to behave in civilized manner whether they are in majority or minority, ruller or public. They need to first learn to put civic sense before their religion. And that is what China is doing. UN has no role to poke their nose in internal matter of any country. US is also doing same thing with illegal immigrantions.

Rana Nov 05, 2018 06:49am

China don't give a ounce !!!!