Thousands of terror-linked Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are being held in Chinese re-education camps without contact with their families under a policy designed to counter extremism and terrorism in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The Uyghur Muslims are a Turkish ethnic minority that practice Islam and reside primarily in China and parts of Central Asia, are responsible for several terrorist attacks and support a Muslim separatist insurgency. For decades, around 11 million Uyghur have been subjected to surveillance, arrest and alleged human rights violations, rights groups say.
China regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang, including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.
Newsweek More than 120,000 Uyghur Muslims are estimated to be detained in so-called “re-education” centers in China’s Western Xinjiang region, according to human rights groups. Tens of thousands of people are allegedly detained in the city of Kashgar alone. The facilities are reportedly squalid and overcrowded, and inmates are forced to sing songs praising the Chinese Communist Party and renounce their religious beliefs.
The camps are now formally referred to as “Professional Education Schools,” after being called “Socialism Training Schools” and other names since their early 2017 inception as “Counter-extremism Training Schools,” the official said.
CNN Tensions have remained high in Xinjiang — a resource-rich area long inhabited by the Turkic-speaking ethnic Uyghurs — following a spate of violent Islamic attacks in recent years. The Chinese authorities have blamed the incidents on Muslim Uyghur separatists seeking to establish an independent state.
While activists CNN spoke to couldn’t confirm the figure reported by RFA, they say it fits with the increasingly bleak picture for the 10 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, where the government has been waging unrelenting campaigns against what it calls the forces of “terrorism, separatism and religious extremism.”