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China Defends Mass Internment of Muslim Ethnic Minorities

Voice of America
17 Oct 2018, 01:05 GMT+10

China is defending its mass internment of Muslim ethnic minorities, saying it is preventing terrorism by helping them improve job skills, by teaching them the Mandarin language and encouraging them to accept modern science.

A senior Chinese official made that argument in a report released Tuesday, the latest action in a broad campaign to defend its internment of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities in the face of growing criticism.

The report, published by China's official Xinhua News Agency, said the ruling Communist Party's vision for the far western Xinjiang region is the assimilation of the indigenous Central Asian ethnic groups into Chinese culture and introducing them to a 'modern' way of life.

Governor Shohrat Zakir said in the report the extrajudicial internment of the Muslims was an effort to provide 'free vocational training' in centers. He said they are paid a 'basic income' during the training and that free food and accommodations are provided.

China's Communist Party has resisted Western pressure related to the internment camps. The resistance is seen as an indication of China's growing faith in President Xi Jinping, the country's most powerful leader in decades.

China has insisted that its vast police pursuit and surveillance program is needed to counter latent extremism and to maintain stability.

Former detainees have described the facilities as political indoctrination camps where they were forced to condemn Islam and declare loyalty to the Communist Party.

Turkik-speaking Uighurs have resented restrictions on their religious practices and have complained about widespread discrimination in the job market and obtaining access to passports.

Residents watch a convoy of security personnel and armored vehicles in a show of force through central Kashgar in western China's Xinjiang region, Nov. 5, 2017.

The United Nations estimates about 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities have been arbitrarily detained in China. The U.N. said in August that the detentions were 'deeply disturbing.'

The U.N. report preceded a U.S. congressional study released last week that concluded the protection of human rights in China has been on a 'downward trajectory by virtually every measure' since President Xi assumed power in 2012.

The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China accused Beijing of initiating an 'unprecedented' campaign to repress ethnic minorities and said such abuses 'may constitute crimes against humanity.'

The commission report proposed legislation urging U.S. President Donald Trump to condemn 'gross violations' of human rights in the Xinjiang region and for Trump to press Xi to immediately close the 'political re-education camps.'

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