Muslim ‘centres’ in China will go

A woman takes part in a protest march of Ethnic Uighurs asking for the European Union to call upon China to respect human rights in the Chinese Xinjiang region and asking for the closure of 're-education center' where some Uighurs are detained

China Calls Concentration Camps for Uighur Muslims ‘Boarding Schools’ EMMANUEL DUNAND AFP Getty 12 Mar 2019

Human rights groups, researchers and the USA government estimate that around 1 million people from the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic groups are held in the vast network of compounds. Sam Brownback, US ambassador-at-large for global religious freedom, on Tuesday called for an independent investigation into the detentions and the release of those being held.

A U.S. official described the situation in Xinjiang as "horrific". "It is just a very tragic and I think a horrific situation there", he said.

Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese pro-Democracy activist, disappeared mysteriously in March 2017 while he was travelling in mainland China, Efe news reported.

Sam Brownback on Friday said in a speech in Hong Kong that China was waging "war with faith" and that it needed to respect the "sacred right" of people to worship, especially Muslims locked up in internment camps in Xinjiang.

The Post was also cynical about invitations from Xinjiang officials to visit the province, noting that journalists who attempt to file reports from Xinjiang are routinely kept under surveillance, intimidated, and forced to delete the pictures and video they shoot.

He said they were not "concentration camps" but vocational training centres aimed at providing language and skill training to help eradicate radical thoughts. China says Xinjiang has always been its territory and claims it is bringing prosperity and development to the vast, resource-rich region. Human rights groups, researchers, and the United States government estimate around 1 million people from the predominantly Muslim Uyghur and Kazakh ethnic groups are held in a network of compounds spread throughout the vast region. The camps sprang up over the past two years at extraordinary speed and on a massive scale, as monitored by satellite imagery. Brownback appeared undeterred by Beijing's complaints over his earlier comments, describing China's explanation of the reasons behind the camps as "completely unsatisfactory answers".

USA has listed China among the worst violators of religious freedom. Brownback suggested the US may respond with sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

That act is a federal law that allows the US government to target human rights violators around the world with freezes on any USA assets, bans and prohibitions on Americans doing business with them.

"We fully ensure freedom of religion", including accommodating Muslim "trainees'" desire for halal food, Mr. Zakir said, adding that they can request time off and go home on weekends, "like many boarding schools".

Dismissing worldwide criticism about the camps and targeting of the Muslim Uyghur community, Zakir said the camps would gradually disappear when they are no longer needed.

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