China to be grilled over detention camps

UN human rights review seeks answers over internment of Uighur minorities by Beijing

Police patrolling a night food market near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, on June 25, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China will be grilled over its mass detainment of Uighur minorities during a UN human rights review tomorrow, with Washington leading calls for Beijing to come clean on how many people are being held in a sprawling network of camps.

As many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are being kept in extra-judicial detention in China's fractious far-western Xinjiang region, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.

The centres where they are thought to be detained have come under increasing scrutiny, with rights activists calling them political re-education camps.

The activists say members of China's Muslim minorities are held involuntarily for transgressions such as wearing long beards and face veils.

All 193 United Nations member states must undergo a periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

China will present a report on its domestic human rights situation and on changes made since its last report in 2013, while diplomats from around the world will have the opportunity to ask questions - some of which have already been submitted.

China will send Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng as head of the delegation to the UN. Officials from Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau will also attend the review.

"China is willing to carry out constructive dialogue with all sides in an open and honest spirit," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters last Friday.

Beyond Xinjiang, China will come under scrutiny for other aspects of its human rights record.

Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, the Chinese government has cracked down on civil liberties and religious freedoms while ramping up digital surveillance.

"China opposes human rights politicisation and 'double standards', and upholds international fairness and justice," Beijing said in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council for the review.

"No country's human rights situation is perfect. China still faces many difficulties and challenges in promoting and protecting human rights," it said.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2018, with the headline China to be grilled over detention camps. Subscribe