One million ethnic Uigurs are being held in a "massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy" by the Chinese government, says a United Nations Human Rights panel that has received multiple credible reports to back up their claim (this story has been percolating all summer long). According to Gay McDougall of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, you can tack an additional million people on to that initial figure: it’s estimated that another one million Muslims living in China’s western Xinjiang autonomous region have also been sent to similar camps for political indoctrination. The reasoning for this, according to Reuters, is that China’s sovereignty in the western Xinjiang autonomous region is being threatened by separatists and Islamic militants. The Uigurs mostly identify as Muslim, so there you go.
At the meeting in Geneva, McDougall was quoted as saying:
“We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone.”
The Chinese, for their part, have responded, "nuh-uh."
From The Globe & Mail:
The Chinese government has flatly denied rounding up large numbers of Muslims into internment centres for political indoctrination, telling a United Nations committee that such places do not exist.
The idea that “Xinjiang is a ‘no-rights zone’ is completely against the facts,” Hu Lianhe, deputy director-general of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, told members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva Monday. He acknowledged that some criminals were given what he called “vocational education and employment training.”
But, he said, “there are no such things as re-education centres.” He added: “the argument that one million Uyghurs are detained in re-education centres is completely untrue.”
Well, that’d be great, were it not for the fact that as the Globe & Mail points out, an instructor who formerly worked at one of these imaginary re-education centers, along with a number of former detainees have stated that, yep, the camps are totally a thing. Satellite imagery of the camps? There’s some of that out there, too.
Those sent for re-education are said to be forced to take classes on Chinese communist ideology and Mandarin language classes.
Whether anything will become of the allegations put forth at the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or if additional evidence of re-education camps will be uncovered, remains to be seen.