Mike Pompeo meets Uighurs, demands China end mass incarceration

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “certainly” at least hundreds of thousands of Uighurs were detained.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “certainly” at least hundreds of thousands of Uighurs were detained.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed demands on Wednesday (March 27) that China end its widespread detention of Uighur Muslims as he met a survivor and relatives of prisoners.

"We call on the Chinese government to release immediately these individuals' family members and all others arbitrarily detained in the camps," the State Department said in a statement on Mr Pompeo's meeting.

On Tuesday, the top United States diplomat met Ms Mihrigul Tursun, a Uighur who has spoken publicly in the US about what she said was widespread torture in China's prisons for the minority group.

She has said she was separated from her children and detained in a cramped cell with 60 other women, suffering electrocution and beatings during round-the-clock interrogations.

The State Department said that Mr Pompeo also met three other Uighurs whose relatives are detained by China, which according to a United Nations report has detained a massive one million Uighurs as it seeks to forcibly integrate the minority group.

Mr Pompeo, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said that "certainly" at least hundreds of thousands of Uighurs had been detained.

"We're working to convince the Chinese that this practice is abhorrent and ought to be stopped," he said.


According to the State Department as well as international human rights groups, China has confiscated Qurans from Uighurs and forced them to drink alcohol and eat pork, which are forbidden by Islam.

"It's one of the most serious human rights problems in the world today," State Department official Michael Kozak said of the Uighurs' detention as he presented the latest annual human rights report.

China denies the accounts of mass detention, saying it is running educational training centres as part of a fight against Islamic extremism in the north-western region of Xinjiang.