Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Follow our model for 'happy' Xinjiang, China tells West

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Deanna Wagner | 13 July, 2019, 12:29

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is describing as "tragic" and "abhorrent" China's mass detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang.

China claims that Uighurs are being educated in "vocational training centres" created to combat extremism.

The joint letter was sent by ambassadors from 22 countries across Asia Pacific, Western and Eastern Europe and North America.

The text included concern about "credible reports of arbitrary well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang".

The Chinese side has invited a number of diplomats, media outlets, experts and scholars from various countries to visit Xinjiang and also sent invitations to the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he said.

The signatories issued the statement as a "letter" at the council and stopped short of seeking a council resolution - a testament to the challenges of building support against increasingly influential China. This was due to governments' fears of a potential political and economic backlash from China, diplomats said.

China on Thursday refuted a letter, jointly signed by 22 nations, criticizing China's policy in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The joint statement comes as the Xinjiang region marks the tenth year since the eruption of ethnic clashes that killed about 200 people.

Many appear to have been rounded up as punishment for expressing their faith - praying or wearing a veil - or for having overseas connections to places like Turkey.

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"We call on China to uphold its national laws and worldwide obligations and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief in Xinjiang and across China", the letter says.

It pointedly cites China's obligations as a member of the 47-member state forum to maintain the highest standards.

It also called on China to stop arbitrary detention and allow "freedom of movement of Uighurs and other Muslim and minority communities in Xinjiang".

No Western delegation was willing to take the lead and expose itself as a "ringleader" through a joint statement or resolution, diplomats said.

Top UN officials including Michelle Bachelet have called for the global body to be given access to the camps to investigate allegations of human rights abuses.

China denies abuse in the detention centers and calls them training schools aimed at combating extremism and providing employable skills.

Beijing has said the centers are necessary to steer people away from religious extremism, terrorism, and separatism.

China has yet to issue an official response.

Following Tuniyaz's statements, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations issued a statement, saying, "The Xinjiang vice-governor's use of the Human Rights Council as a platform to defend Beijing's repressive policies is inexcusable".