SHAFAQNA– China invited representatives from 12 countries with large Muslim populations to visit some of the internment camps built in Xinjiang province in order to torture minority Muslim Uighurs.
A report in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, claimed on Friday that the envoys were extremely impressed by the success of the “vocational centers,” as Beijing calls them, in helping incorporate members of the Uighur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz ethnic minorities into the Chinese economy.
Reports from a variety of news outlets and human rights NGOs suggest that China has built as many as 1,200 internment camps for Muslim Uighurs, housing between 1 and 2 million people. Those who have survived the camps say they have experienced extreme torture, indoctrination, and been forced to work for free. One woman said in her testimony that Chinese police killed one of her triplet infants and repeatedly subjected her to electroshock torture. Others have said they are forced to learn Mandarin, pledge allegiance to Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, and memorize communist songs or go without food.
Human rights groups and former detainees have said that conditions in the camps are poor, with inmates subject to abuse. They said detainees did not receive vocational training.
Seeking to counter that narrative, the government took reporters to three centres, in Kashgar, Hotan and Karakax, all in the heavily Uighur-populated southern part of Xinjiang, where much of the violence has taken place in recent years.
In one class reporters were allowed to briefly visit, a teacher explained in Mandarin that not allowing singing or dancing at a wedding or crying at a funeral are signs of extremist thought.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Munich-based exile group the World Uyghur Congress, said the Chinese government was using extremism as an excuse to lock people up.
“What they are trying to do is destroy Uighur identity,” he said.
The students took notes, pausing to look up as reporters and officials entered the room. Some smiled awkwardly. Others just looked down at their books. All were Uighur Muslims, Irish Times reported.
The People’s Daily recap of the Xinjiang tour surfaced little more than a week after the Epoch Times, a U.S.-based newspaper affiliated with the persecuted Falun Gong spiritual movement, revealed that Chinese authorities had begun preparing the camps for international “inspections,” hiding evidence of torture and indoctrination and making them look more like the education centers Beijing alleges they are.
According to Chinese state media, which did not quote any of the envoys directly, the representatives were surprised to find that the internment camps were “opposite to some Western media reports” and actually a successful way to combat radical Islamic terrorism and poverty.
The diplomats there represented the nations of “Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait,” the People’s Daily claimed.
Beijing appears to have chosen to invite representatives from countries that rely heavily on China’s economic support to survive but, given their large Muslim populations, have begun to feel pressure to condemn China’s abuse of its Muslim citizens.
Pakistani Muslims, particularly men married to Uighur women who have disappeared into China, have increasingly demanded Islamabad take a stand and support freedom for Muslims in China.
Yet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was willing to illegally accept an appeal over a Supreme Court decision to placate Islamist radicals, has refused to stand up for Muslims in China.
Similarly, Indonesia has seen protests attracting thousands of Muslims calling for their government to challenge China on its abuse of Muslims. In December, Jakarta saw about 1,000 people, organized by local Islamic groups, congregate outside of the Chinese embassy in the capital demanding freedom for Uighurs and other Chinese Muslims, chanting slogans like “stop violence and oppression against Uyghurs” and “get rid of communists from Indonesia,” according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).
In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Muslim countries whose ethnic relatives in China have been swept into camps along with Uighurs, groups have also demanded action, particularly those who have experienced the disappearances of loved ones into Xinjiang. To placate the concern, China has let about 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs move to Kazakhstan, Hindustan Times reported.