Friday, 16 November, 2018

Chinese region ‘legalises’ Muslim internment camps

China’s Urumqi Takes Aim at ‘Extremist’ Religious Practices China legalises Uighur ‘re-education’ camps in first acknowledgement of detention centres
Ellis Copeland | 13 October, 2018, 08:38

"Governments above the county level can set up education and transformation organisations and supervising departments such as vocational training centres, to educate and transform people who have been influenced by extremism", said a new clause in the law issued by the regional legislature on Tuesday.

Members of Uighur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities who live overseas say they have not been able to contact relatives in China, while authorities are placing children separated from their detained or exiled parents into dozens of state-run orphanages across Xinjiang.

China has largely dismissed or rebuffed foreign criticism of its crackdown, first denying the network of internment camps existed and now arguing they are a necessary and just response to what Beijing calls Islamist extremism.

The revisions come amid rising worldwide concern over a harsh crackdown in Xinjiang that has led to as many as 1 million of China´s Uighurs and other Muslim minorities being held in internment camps.

Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Xinjiang's regional government did not have the authority under China's constitution to legalize the detentions.

Last month a spokesman for China's state council information office, Li Xiaojun, said that detaining Uighurs in such centers was "not mistreatment", but "to establish professional training centers, educational centers".

Many Chinese Catholics and religious-freedom experts have expressed doubts about whether the deal will actually bring unity, or whether it will further encourage the party's control over the Church in China and further divide Chinese Catholics.

China is also launching a wider campaign against Islamic practices across Xinjiang.

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Everyday halal products, like food and toothpaste, must be produced according to Islamic law.

In a meeting earlier this week, the authorities in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi vowed to launch a campaign against the pan-halal tendency, the Global Times said in a report.

The Urumqi Communist Party leaders also said they would require government officials and party members to firmly believe in Marxism-Leninism, not religion, and to speak standard Mandarin Chinese in public.

In July 2018, a former teacher at one of the camps who fled to Kazakhstan told a court there that "in China they call it a political camp but really it was a prison in the mountains".

China is undertaking unprecedented repression of its ethnic minorities including Muslim Uighurs, with authoritarian tactics potentially constituting "crimes against humanity" as human rights conditions deteriorate, a damning USA congressional report released Wednesday concluded.

Beijing has spent decades trying to suppress pro-independence sentiment in Xinjiang.

The legislation, proposed by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, would also support an existing push for sanctions against Xinjiang Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo and other officials under the Magnitsky Act, which would prevent Chen from entering the US and freeze any assets he has in USA banks.

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