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US ‘deeply troubled’ by China’s treatment of Uyghurs

Protest against the treatment of Uyghurs in China, 21 May 2019
Protest against the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China, 21 May 2019 [Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation/Facebook]

The US Secretary of State has said that Washington is “deeply troubled” by Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the northwest region of Xinjiang.

Mike Pompeo said the Chinese government has “harassed, imprisoned, or arbitrarily detained” the family members of Uyghur Muslims who have gone public with their stories.

“In some cases, these abuses occurred shortly after meetings with senior state department officials,” he added.

“We once again call on Beijing to cease all harassment of Uyghurs living outside of China… and allow families to communicate freely without repercussions.”

China has rounded up some two million Uyghur Muslims and incarcerated them in internment camps they say are vocational schools designed to stamp out extremism. Detainees describe being forced to drink alcohol and eat pork.

China has destroyed a number of mosques in Xinjiang and banned headscarves and long beards.

READ: Egypt praises China’s ‘remarkable rights achievements’ despite Uyghur crackdown

In August a letter signed by 37 Muslim majority countries in support of China’s crackdown sparked outrage.

Last month 23 countries backed a British statement condemning Beijing’s human rights record, but 54 other countries opposed it.

The Chinese government is putting pressure on countries seeking a closer relationship with it to hand over Uyghurs who face forcible disappearance, forcible extradition and incarceration. Uyghurs in Morocco, the UAE and Pakistan have faced deportation.

The US, however, is embroiled in a trade war with China and has blacklisted 28 tech companies and a video surveillance firm over their involvement in Xinjiang.

At the beginning of October, the US said it would put in place visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials it holds responsible for the detention and abuse of Uyghurs.

“China has forcibly detained over one million Muslims in a brutal, systematic campaign to erase religion and culture in Xinjiang,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

“China must end its draconian surveillance and repression, release all those arbitrarily detained and cease its coercion of Chinese Muslims abroad.”

China has denied committing any human rights abuses and has said that countries should take an “objective” view of Chinese policy in Xinjiang.

READ: Uyghur activists welcome Qatar withdrawal from support for China crackdown

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