A UN committee on Thursday released a report accusing China of detaining up to 1 million Muslims in thousands of camps in the far-western province Xinjiang.
China denies the existence of the camps and claims it faces a terrorism problem in the Xinjiang region.
The UN report dismissed these claims and expressed concerns regarding “numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.”
Abdusalam Muhemet, 41, was detained at a camp for two months after he recited a verse from the Quran at a funeral. The solitary goal of the camp was to convince the inmates to abandon their devotion to Islam, says Muhemet.
“That was not a place for getting rid of extremism,” said Muhemet. “That was a place that will breed vengeful feelings and erase Uighur identity.
Inmates held at other camps told reporters of physical and verbal abuse by guards and described grueling routines of singing, lectures, Chinese language class, and meetings on self-criticism. Some were forced to consume pork and alcohol.
At a UN hearing in August, Communist Party official Hu Lianhe described “vocational education" facilities, where individuals convicted of minor crimes are sent “to acquire employment skills and legal knowledge with a view to assisting in their rehabilitation and reintegration.” Hu claimed “there is no arbitrary detention” and there “is no such thing as re-education centers.”
The suggestion that 1 million Uighurs have been detained is “completely untrue," added Hu.
Another Chinese official claimed the United States’ human rights record was worse than China’s and urged lawmakers to “focus on doing their job…instead of poking their noses in other countries’ domestic affairs.”
In reality, China for years has sought to restrict the practice of Islam in Xinjiang - a Muslim majority region of 24 million. Most Muslims living in Xinjiang belong to the Uighur minority group, whose culture, religion, and history have long clashed with Beijing.
President Xi Jinping’s government blames the Uighur for dozens of attacks on government targets and insists the group has links to ISIS. Beijing has ramped up restrictions on the Uighurs in recent years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils. The government has also set up a mass surveillance system in Xinjiang - including cameras inside people’s homes.
“Penetration of everyday life is almost really total now,” says Australia-based Xinjiang expert Michael Clarke. “You have ethnic identity, Uighur identity in particular, being singled out as this kind of pathology.”
The UN committee called on the Chinese government to provide further details on the number of people detained during the past five years. It also sought information on why people were detained, what kind of training they received, and whether they were held against their will. The committee also urged China to overturn travel restrictions currently affecting Muslims and hold government officials accountable for racial profiling.
Lawmakers responded to the UN report by urging President Trump to sanction any officials and companies involved in the detention centers.
“Muslim ethnic minorities are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored,” reads a letter signed by 17 lawmakers including Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ).
Editor's note: The message here is the China is NOT America, they don't have basic freedoms, and discarding a million people is nothing to them. China wants to be a world leader. Think about it.