China is refuting a United Nations report about Chinese officials holding Uyghurs in detention for long periods of time without being charged for a crime or tried in court.
A report released Thursday by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said large numbers of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained for lengthy periods “under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.”
In a rebuttal on Friday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the claims are false.
“Maintaining lasting peace and security in Xinjiang is the common wish of all ethnicities,” Hua said. “The policies and measures in Xinjiang are aimed at preserving stability, promoting development and unity, and improving livelihood.”
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Information cited from Xinjiang in the UN report said tens of thousands of Uyghurs and other minorities are being held in “long-term detention or who have been forced to spend varying periods in political ‘re-education camps’ for even non-threatening expressions of Muslim ethno-religious culture like daily greetings.”
The UN Committee is calling for the immediate release of the individuals and an investigation into the allegations.
Earlier this week, members of Congress pressured the Trump administration to confront Beijing over detainment of Muslims in internment camps and suggested slapping Chinese officials involved with travel and financial sanctions.
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Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and 16 other members of Congress from both parties sent a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling for the sanctions.
“The detention of as many as a million or more Uyghurs and other predominately Muslim ethnic minorities in ‘political reeducation’ centers or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response,” the letter said.
The letter urges the Trump administration to apply the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows U.S. officials to freeze assets and ban the entry of foreigners involved in gross violations of human rights or sizable acts of corruption.
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In response to the letter, Hua said the United States “is really not in a position to judge China on this issue in this regard.”
“China is committed to ensuring the religious freedom of the Chinese citizens,” Hua said, and that she hoped U.S. lawmakers “can stop this kind of bias and stop hurting the mutual trust and cooperation between the China and the U.S.”