China committing unprecedented human rights abuses in Xinjiang - HRW report

The Chinese government is conducting a mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations on a scale unseen in the country in decades against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang in northwestern China, according a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published on Sunday.

“The campaign of repression in Xinjiang is key test of whether the United Nations and concerned governments will sanction an increasingly powerful China to end this abuse,” HRW quoted Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, as saying.

The Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Chinese ethnic minority of mostly Sunni Muslims, comprise some 10 million of the 22 million people who populate Xinjian.

Based on interviews with 58 former residents of Xinjiang, including 5 former detainees and 38 relatives of detainees, the report highlights that 1 million people are being held in the camps, where Turkic Muslims are being forced to learn Mandarin Chinese, sing praises of the Chinese Communist Party, and memorise rules applicable primarily to Turkic Muslims. Those who resist or are deemed to have failed to “learn” are punished.

The detainees in political education camps are held without any due process rights – neither charged nor put on trial – and have no access to lawyers and family.

The grip of the Chinese government extends beyond the camps as authorities in Xinjiang ‘’subject Turkic Muslims to such extraordinary restrictions on personal life that, in many ways, their experiences resemble those of the people detained,'' the report said.

Administrative measures, checkpoints, and passport controls arbitrarily restrict the movement of the population.

The Turkic Muslims are also subjected to persistent political indoctrination, including compulsory flag-raising ceremonies, political or denunciation meetings, and Mandarin “night schools,” the  117-page report noted.

As China has placed unprecedented levels of control over religious practices, Islam has effectively been outlawed in the region, according to HRW.

“The pain and anguish of families torn apart, with no knowledge of what’s happened to their loved ones stands in stark contrast to Beijing’s claims that Turkic Muslims are ‘happy’ and ‘grateful,’’ Richardson stressed.