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Saudi crown prince ignores Uyghurs during China visit

February 23, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (R) in New Delhi, India on 20 February 2019 [Indian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman turned a blind eye to the plight of China’s Uyghur Muslims when he met Friday with President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The Uyghur community both inside and outside China had expected bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, to raise the issue of China’s human rights violations against ethnic Uyghurs.

Instead, he chose to side with China.

“We respect and support China’s right to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security. We stand ready to strengthen cooperation with China,” bin Salman said, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

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Plight of Uyghurs

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.

In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

According to the 117-page report, the Chinese government conducted “mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment” of Uyghur Turks in the region.

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