USA envoy calls China's Muslim camps 'horrific,' wants probe

Elias Hubbard
March 15, 2019

Former detainees have described harsh conditions, including psychological torture and political indoctrination.

Human rights groups say hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been sent to the locked-down...

The US envoy, who was attending a forum on religious freedom in the Indo-Pacific region in Taipei, had met Lee Ming-che's wife, Lee Ching-yu, when she visited the US to mobilize global support for her husband's release.

Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador for International Religious Freedom, speaks at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong, China, March 8, 2019.

Heavily guarded internment camps for Muslims, which China calls vocational training centers, will gradually disappear if there comes a time that "society does not need" them, regional authorities said Tuesday. Lee Ming-che's physical condition has reportedly deteriorated markedly since his 2017 detention and Brownback said the meeting aimed to "try to highlight that and to call on the government of China to release him". He said Washington would continue to push for dialogue among all faiths to promote religious freedom worldwide.

China opposes the United States using the issue of religion to interfere in its internal affairs and urged it to stop, he said.

The Chinese Communist Party chief in Tibet also claimed Wednesday that Tibetan people are now more loyal to Beijing than to the Dalai Lama.

According to Reuters, the USA government has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including on the Communist Party of China (CPC) boss, Chen Quanguo, who as a member of the powerful politburo is in the upper echelons of China's leadership.

"Others have no right to meddle", said the spokesperson, adding that China was opposed to any official contact between the USA and Taiwan. Observers say Mr. Chen has now brought an even greater degree of heavy security and surveillance to Xinjiang, where police checkpoints and facial recognition-equipped CCTV cameras have become ubiquitous in recent years.

Brownback, in a telephone news conference with journalists, described China's explanations as "completely unsatisfactory answers".

People of all ethnicities and in all regions of China, including the Uyghur people and the Tibetan people, are fully entitled to freedom of religious belief as provided for by law, according to the statement. He added, however, that there remains a "long fight" ahead for efforts to defeat extremism.

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir, the region's most senior Uighur official who ranks below Chen, said that there had not been any violent attacks in more than two years and three months since the government adopted "a series of measures" to combat terror and extremism.

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This story was reported by The Associated Press.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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