China tells United Nations rights chief to 'respect' sovereignty

Riders compete for a goat carcass during a Buzkashi game in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China earlier this month

Riders compete for a goat carcass during a Buzkashi game in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China earlier this month

Discussions to rebuke China's treatment of its minority Muslims have been underway for months among officials at the White House and the Treasury and State Departments. For those who can read, they read out from a paper but for those who cannot, they said, "You can sing a song or tell a story and we will record you".

Xinjiang is home to at least eight million Muslim Uighurs.

BEIJING - China called for United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to respect its sovereignty on Tuesday, after she urged it to allow monitors into the restive far western region of Xinjiang and expressed concern about the situation there.

Chinese officials claim the camps are for "vocational education and employment training centers", or are for "criminals involved in minor offenses", according to Human Rights Watch.

Rights groups have accused Beijing of the systematic mass detention of tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in political re-education camps without being charged or tried.

As Alexander Lukin, director of the East Asian and the SCO Studies Center of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, said in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza, the USA doesn't care about minorities - they use Muslim theme as an excuse to put more pressure on China.

It is estimated that in the area, one million are now detained in re-education camps where they are forced to learn Mandarin and sing the praises of the Chinese Communist Party. Those who resist or are deemed to have failed to "learn" are punished, it said.


Punishments for refusing to follow instructions in the camp could mean being denied food, being forced to stand for 24 hours or even solitary confinement, it said.

Asked for his comment, Geng said Tuesday that "I want to add that the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and her office should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect China's sovereignty, fairly and objectively fulfil its duties, and not listen to and believe one-sided information".

Calling the allegations against China "deeply disturbing", Bachelet said Beijing had to allow access to the region for impartial observers.

She called on Beijing to permit the United Nations rights office access to "all regions" of China and embark on a discussion of the issues.

Like Tibet, Xinjiang - which has a history of independent rule and largely non-Han Chinese population - has always been viewed with some suspicion by the authorities in Beijing, fearful it could become a hotbed of separatist, or in its case, Islamist organizing.

Astana, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Xinjiang, is trying to position itself as a key link in China's One Belt, One Road economic development initiative.

Human Rights Watch released the most detailed and comprehensive report yet of witness testimony from the re-education camps in Xinjiang, and the families and lives torn apart by arbitrary detentions and the police state: "Eradicating ideological viruses": China's campaign of repression against Xinjiang's Muslims.

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