Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

USA 'deeply troubled' by China crackdown on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province

USA 'deeply troubled' by China crackdown on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet this week said the Chinese government's arbitrary detention of Muslims is worrying and China should allow UN monitors into Xinjiang.

China on Wednesday told the U.S. to stop interfering in its domestic affairs on the pretext of Uighurs in Xinjiang and warned that bilateral ties will be hurt if it slapped sanctions against senior Chinese officials. "We have a lot of tools at our disposal", she said.

"The detention of as many as a million or more Uyghurs and other predominately Muslim ethnic minorities in "political reeducation" centers or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response", they said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

She acknowledged the State Department had received a letter from a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers last month asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials accused of involvement in the internment of the Muslim minority.

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"China consistently resolutely opposes the United States using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs", Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media here.

One of his most visible initiatives has been to build thousands of grid-style police checkpoints across Xinjiang, and human rights advocates have decried martial law conditions and mass DNA collection.

"The Chinese government protects people's freedom of religion and people of all ethnic groups are fully entitled to freedom of religion".

The country is accused of running re-education camps, where Uighurs are forced to renounce aspects of their religious beliefs and ostensibly learn about Chinese culture. Although Beijing has denied the allegations, Xinjiang authorities have acknowledged the existence of "political education camps" and "characterize them as correctional or rehabilitation facilities for "incorrect" or "sick" thoughts", HRW writes.

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China, via its foreign ministry, responded dismissively to the Human Rights Watch report on Monday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English), and rebuked the United Nations human rights chief's requests on Tuesday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English).

China has defended their crackdown in the region, saying that Islamist militants are plotting attacks in Xinjiang and are considered a serious threat.

The region has become one of themost intrusive police states in the world, and government surveillance of Muslim Uighurs permeates nearly every aspect of their lives, from an expansive network of facial-recognition cameras which monitor their daily activity, to policecollecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types to keep a database of all its residents.

New York-based HRW, in a report released on September 10, presented evidence of what it labeled the "arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life" by the Chinese government in its Xinjiang region.

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