Human Rights Watch Warns of 'Massive Crackdown' on China's Muslims
14 September, 2018, 12:04
Instead of addressing any specific allegations of abuse in the Human Rights Watch report, spokesperson Geng Shuang 耿爽 attacked the NGO's credibility: "This organization has formed a habit of treating China with prejudice, distorting facts and stirring up troubles".
Asked whether or not the USA was considering economic sanctions against Chinese officials accused of overseeing the policies, Nauert acknowledged the State Department had received a letter from members of Congress on the issue, but declined to discuss details of any potential government action.
More importantly, the rights watchdog said that China is unmindful of any repercussions from its treatment of Muslims.
Discussions have gained momentum within the USA government over possible economic penalties in response to reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in the far western region, which have prompted a growing worldwide outcry.
One month later, in a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Germany-based Uyghur Congress (WUC) said an estimated one million Uyghurs were in political indoctrination camps as of July.
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"Throughout the region, the Turkic Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions and mass surveillance in violation of worldwide human rights law", it added. Some detainees who were later released said security officers tortured them on camps.
"The scale of it - it's massive", Sen. Marco Rubio told the Times.
His comments came after US State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that "there are credible reports out there that many, many thousands have been detained in detention centres since April 2017, and the numbers are fairly significant from what we can tell so far".
Members of Congress recently asked the administration to take action against seven Chinese officials, including the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang, but USA government circles are also considering restrictions on sales of surveillance technology which might be used in the wide-ranging Chinese government monitoring campaign, in particular against Uighurs.
The abuses began in 2012, when President Xi, who recently became the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, began his anti-religion campaign, with particular focus on Muslims in China, to cement his and the party's power. The officials described the program as "transformation through education" or "counter-extremism education", according to the Times.