China’s detention of Muslims in re-education camps ‘country’s worst human rights abuse since Mao era’, MPs told

‘Grave human rights violations’ being committed on ‘vast scale’ in Xinjiang province, experts say

The Independent
Date: Jan 9, 2019
By: Chris Baynes

China’s detention of millions of Uighur Muslims in re-education camps amounts to human rights abuse on a scale not seen since in the country since Chairman Mao’s era, British MPs have been told.

The UK must not remain silent over “grave” violations committed during Beijing’s crackdown on the minority in western Xinjiang province, the foreign affairs committee heard.

Up to three million Uighurs have been arbitrarily detained in centres which Amnesty International has compared to “wartime concentration camps”. Released internees have alleged they were tortured into denouncing Islam and swearing loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.

Steve Tsang, director of the London School of Oriental Studies said: “When you have an identifiable group of citizens in a country where something like one tenth of that identifiable group live in camps, you have an enormous human rights problem.

“Ever since the end of Chairman Mao’s era in 1976, and probably including the period of hard military crackdown in 1989, we have not seen the scale of human rights abuse that we are seeing today in Xinjiang.”

An estimated 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death under rule of Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic of China.

He said: “I think if we believe in our values, in our system – even though there’s probably not much we can actually do to change the situation in China – it would be wrong for us to remain silent on the subject.”

China denied the existence of the camps until October last year, and since claimed it is detaining people guilty of minor crimes in what it describes as “vocational education centres”.