All is well with Muslims in Xinjiang, Beijing tells Islamic countries
It was also Chinese foreign ministry’s latest attempt to counter demands from international governments and rights groups for a clear and transparent picture of minorities in the large and remote province, which Beijing says is at the forefront of its fight against terrorism.Updated: Dec 25, 2019, 19:29 IST
Faced with international pressure over alleged persecution of Uyghur Muslims, China told a gathering of selected journalists from Islamic countries to not believe in the “fabricated” western narrative of detention camps and religious repression in troubled Xinjiang, saying the anti-terrorism policies in the province “do not target Muslims” and their “normal” religious rights are fully protected.
“Our anti-extremism and anti-terrorism efforts are not against any particular religion or ethnic group,” Xu Guixiang, the deputy director of the publicity department of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) said.
Xi’s press interaction with journalists from Islamic countries including Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia apart from India-- which has more Muslim population than several Muslim-majority countries-- was more of an appeal to discard what Xu and his colleagues called “false and fabricated western propaganda”.
It was also Chinese foreign ministry’s latest attempt to counter demands from international governments and rights groups for a clear and transparent picture of minorities in the large and remote province, which Beijing says is at the forefront of its fight against terrorism.
China is particularly miffed with the US House of Representatives passing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act 2019, which seeks to sanction Chinese government officials including the Xinjiang Communist Party of China’s (CPC) secretary, Chen Quanguo.
According to estimates, also quoted by the UN, more than a million Muslim Uyghurs are – or have been – held in restricted political camps for indoctrination in the province.
Xu said there are no detention centres or camps in the province but only vocational “training institutes” that teach the “national language”, law and livelihood skills, aimed at deradicalisation of citizens influenced by religious extremism.
However, neither Xu nor his colleagues gave a clear answer to the questions put up by HT about the number of the camps or training institutes in the province or about the number of people who spent time at these “institutes” including a break-up of men, women and children and their religious identities and the number of those who have “graduated” from there.
Rexiati Musajiang, mayor of Hotan in southwest Xinjiang said the first centre was started in early 2017 but didn’t give specific numbers.
“The number of people is changing all the time; people coming and leaving,” Musajiang said, adding, however, that figure of one million or two million is not true.
Musajiang claimed children have never been sent to any of the centres and that the facilities aren’t linked to sex, ethnic group or religion.