Monday, 19 November, 2018

U.S. voices concern over China's crackdown on Muslims

Riders compete for a goat carcass during a Buzkashi game in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China earlier this month Riders compete for a goat carcass during a Buzkashi game in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China earlier this month
Pablo Mccormick | 14 September, 2018, 12:07

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. "We have a lot of tools at our disposal", she said.

Xinjiang is home to over half of China's 24 million Muslims.

Alluding to reports of human rights violations in other regions of China, Bachelet called on Beijing to allow United Nations monitors all across China.

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.

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Utility officials have warned that widespread power outages are likely and that it could take weeks to restore electricity. The first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) were forecast to hit the coast on Thursday.

Bachelet's appeal for access came as New York-based Human Rights Watch said the Turkic Uighur minority faced arbitrary detentions, daily curbs on religious practice and "forced political indoctrination" in a mass security crackdown.

They are also forced to learn Mandarin and sing praises of the Chinese Communist Party, according to the report. 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.

Asked for his comment, Geng said Tuesday that "I want to add that the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and her office should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect China's sovereignty, fairly and objectively fulfil its duties, and not listen to and believe one-sided information".

Bachelet called for a thorough investigation of the deaths of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and said that a pattern of abuses continues in the border region of Myanmar to this day.

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Geng was referring to a report from the group on Monday that said rights violations in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are of a scope and scale not seen in the country since the Cultural Revolution.

Like Tibet, Xinjiang - which has a history of independent rule and largely non-Han Chinese population - has always been viewed with some suspicion by the authorities in Beijing, fearful it could become a hotbed of separatist, or in its case, Islamist organizing.

Amid the allegations of systematic abuse by numerous organisations in Xinjiang, the Chinese government insisted that people in China have complete freedom to choose their religion.

The new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report comes after a United Nations committee last month raised alarm at the "numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism", CNN reported.

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