Geneva : A United Nations human rights panel expressed grave concerns that there were credible reports that China is holding a million Uighur Muslims in mass detention camps in Xinjiang province.
Gay McDougall, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination raised the claims at the opening session of a two-day review of China’s policies in Geneva saying Beijing had turned the autonomous region into “something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone,” in a bid to tackle religious extremism, The New York Times reported.
McDougall expressed concerns the Uighurs were being treated “as enemies of the state solely on the basis of their ethnoreligious identity.” She cited this as per the reports from scholars and activists that most of them had disappeared and undertaking common religious practices were being considered as a crime.
She said over a hundred Uighur students, who returned to Xinjiang province from abroad, had disappeared, while others were either detained or died in detention. The 50-member Chinese delegation did not respond to McDougall’s allegations so far, as per the New York Times report.
Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yu Jianhua hailed China’s policies towards the minorities and said they were focussed on promoting harmony and unity. He added that 20 million people were pulled out from poverty due to economic development in the region.
The Uighurs are a majority in the Xinjiang province, situated in western part of the country and is officially designated as an autonomous region.
Many international human rights organisations have accused China of cracking down on the Uighurs by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending the minority community to undergo some form of forceful re-education or indoctrination.