China’s Muslim detention camps under spotlight at UN rights session

According to numerous international media reports, between one million and three million Muslims are in detention camps in China, where the camps are labeled ‘re-education’ camps.

This issue came under scrutiny at the recent four-week 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. At the session, Turkey and Britain advocated against these internment camps that are located in Xinjiang, a remote western region of China.

“We encourage Chinese authorities and expect that universal human rights, including freedom of religion, are respected and full protection of the cultural identities of the Uighurs and other Muslims is ensured,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. He also called for China to distinguish between terrorists and innocent people.

Diplomats and activists have reported that China has lobbied intensively towards avoiding interference over its policies and rights issues in the country, with China denying such accusations of mistreatment. Instead, it views the camps as ‘re-education and training facilities’ designed to stamp out extremist tendencies among the Uyghur population.

The camps first began operating in 2014 and have since been labeled ‘cultural genocide’ by international academic journals. It is believed that the camps hold between one million and three million people, including Uyghur Muslims who speak a Turkic language, and other Muslims.

Lord Ahmad, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK),  said, “We are deeply concerned about the persecution of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.”

China, however, did not respond to the allegations but is expected to reply before the end of the four-week session.

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