‘Like vocational training’: China explains its re-education camps for Xinjiang Muslims

by WorldTribune Staff, September 14, 2018

The re-education camps that China is allegedly using to detain some one million Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province are nothing more than “vocational” centers that are providing jobs training for the detainees, according to a Chinese official.

Police patrol the streets of Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. / AFP

“What China is doing is to establish professional training centers, educational centers. To put it straight, it’s like vocational training … like your children go to vocational-training schools to get better skills and better jobs after graduation,” Li Xiaojun, director for publicity at China’s Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office, told reporters at the United Nations on Sept. 13.

Human Rights Watch reported on Sept. 10 that the Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on Muslims includes the detention of entire families in re-education camps, placing free citizens of Xinjiang under complete surveillance, and forcing those at home to pressure relatives abroad to come home or promote the interests of the Communist Party.

The Human Rights Watch report details the Chinese government’s “mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and details the systemic and increasingly pervasive controls on daily life there. These rampant abuses violate fundamental rights to freedom of expression, religion, and privacy, and protections from torture and unfair trials. More broadly, governmental controls over day-to-day life in Xinjiang primarily affect ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities, in violation of international law’s prohibitions against discrimination.”

Related: China denies transforming Xinjiang province into ‘no rights zone’, August 15, 2018

China does not permit independent monitoring of the camps by the UN, human rights organizations, or the media.

Speaking to reporters at the UN, Li insisted that no “mistreatment” of Muslims occurs in China, but later said that what measures the Communist Party does take is necessary to stop terrorist threats.

Human Rights Watch, which interviewed five former detainees and the relatives of 38 detainees, said “Those detained have been denied due process rights and suffered torture and other ill-treatment.”

The detainees are also forced to undergo political indoctrination for days, months, and even over a year, the report said.

Meanwhile, “Those outside the camps are required to attend weekly, or even daily, Chinese flag-raising ceremonies, political indoctrination meetings, and at times Mandarin classes,” Human Rights Watch noted.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sept. 11 accused Human Rights Watch of “prejudice against China” and fabricating the report.

“The current situation in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region is stable, economic growth has maintained good momentum and all ethnic groups are living in harmony,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, adding that any measures taken against Uighurs were intended to “promote stability, development, unity and ensure better livelihoods.”

Reports by the U.S. State Department and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) found that Chinese communist officials forced Muslims to eat pork, listen to and watch hours of pro-Xi Jinping propaganda each day, and replace their language with Mandarin.

View the full report by Human Rights Watch here

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