1.5 million Muslims 'could be detained in China's Xinjiang'

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 17, 2019

Referring to abuses in China's Xinjiang, head of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Michael Kozak said the situation was the worst since the 1930s.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday denounced China and Iran as Washington offered its annual human rights report, while going easier on other countries like North Korea in the name of "U.S. interests".

"Rounding up, in some estimations.in the millions of people, putting them into camps, and torturing them, abusing them, and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion and so on from their DNA", he said. "It's just remarkably terrible".

"But at least we're starting to make them realize there is a lot of worldwide scrutiny on this", he said.

In its summary, the State Department said China over the past year "significantly intensified" its campaign of mass detentions, with between 800,000 and 2 million members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region interned in camps "designed to erase religious and ethnic identities".

China's report cited reports by foreign news organisations, including Reuters, the BBC, Newsweek and the Washington Post, for evidence of rights abuses in the United States. The governor of Xinjiang, Shohrat Zakir, said on Tuesday that China is running boarding schools not concentration camps or re-education camps in the remote region.

It has warned of retaliation if Washington were to target Chen and the USA administration has yet to act despite complaints about its lack of action from US lawmakers.

Pompeo called out Iran's Islamic regime for killing more than 20 people past year and arresting thousands of protesters, adding that it "continues the pattern of cruelty that the regime has inflicted upon the Iranian people for the last four decades". "Critics of the government have faced a policy of exile, jail, or death", Pompeo said.

"Today, more than 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims are interned in reeducation camps created to erase their religious and ethnic identities", he said.

However, HRW has also strongly criticized the US, with its 2019 report arguing that the country "continued to move backward on human rights at home and overseas in the second year [2018] of President Donald Trump's administration".

The 2017 report changed its designation for the former "Israel and the Occupied Territories" to "Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza", and stuck with that again this year.

The exchange marks the latest dust-up between the world's two largest economies, already locked in a trade war and disputes over Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, Taiwan and Chinese foreign policy manoeuvring seen as aimed at reducing America's global influence.

While she applauded Turkey for its recent strong criticism of China's treatment of its Muslim minorities, she said Washington had hoped the International Olympic Committee would have collectively condemned the situation in Xinjiang as it has done regarding rights abuses against Muslims in Myanmar and Syria. They've declined to say publicly whether they think Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about or ordered the killing, a possibility USA intelligence agencies consider likely.

The State Department report highlighted Saudi Arabia's killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said it had not provided a detailed explanation of the direction or progress of the investigation. It said it did not know how many children were affected.

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