BEIJING – Amnesty International urged the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday to urge China to tell the truth over the mass internment of up to one million, predominantly Muslim people, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
AI denounced that independent UN human rights experts have not been able to visit Xinjiang in recent years, and urged the UNHRC to intervene to clarify the situation.
“The Human Rights Council must send an unequivocal message to the Chinese government that their campaign of systematic repression in the XUAR (Xinjiang), including the arbitrary detention of up to one million people, must end,” AI’s China researcher Patrick Poon said in a statement.
“This would contribute to addressing the plea of hundreds of thousands of families who have been left devastated by this crackdown against ethnic minorities,” he added.
AI’s statement comes ahead of an UNHRC meet on Tuesday in Geneva, where China’s human rights record is expected to be reviewed.
Beijing is expected to send a high level delegation led by former Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng to the meeting.
“China is willing to adopt an open and candid attitude to conduct constructive dialogue with all parties,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang when asked to comment on the issue at a press conference.
Last year, the Chinese government had intensified a campaign against the Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
AI said that the government has set up camps, where people are detained and tortured, leading sometimes to death.
China had denied the existence of these camps until October, when Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir described them as “vocational training” centers to help wean off people from terrorism and religious extremism.
Muslims in the Xinjiang region face a multitude of restrictions, including on praying openly, wearing a veil, or growing a beard.
The possession of books or articles on Islam or Uyghur culture can also be considered extremist behavior by the Chinese government.