China blasts 22-nation letter criticizing Xinjiang policies

Arslan Hidayat and his father-in-law Adil Mijit

22 countries, including Japan, are urging China to close mass detention centers holding members of its Muslim minority.

China claims that Uighurs are being educated in "vocational training centres" created to combat extremism.

The document was signed on 8 July and released yesterday.

The letter conveys concern "about credible reports of arbitrary detention... as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang".

United Nations ambassadors from 22 states - including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan - co-signed the text sent to the Human Rights Council president, Coly Seck, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The signatories issued the statement as a "letter" at the council and stopped short of seeking a council resolution - a testament to the challenges of building support against increasingly influential China.

"Governments are increasingly recognizing the suffering of millions of people in Xinjiang, with families torn apart and living in fear, and a Chinese state that believes it can commit mass violations uncontested", Fisher said.

China said on Thursday its treatment of ethnic Muslims in "happy" and "secure" Xinjiang region was a model for other nations to follow despite a bombardment of Western criticism.

Many appear to have been rounded up as punishment for expressing their faith - praying or wearing a veil - or for having overseas connections to places like Turkey.

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A group of 22 countries have urged China to allow independent observers to access and investigate suspected grave human rights violations in Xinjiang.

China is estimated to have arbitrarily detained up to 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang.

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has requested a fact-finding mission to Xinjiang and China has extended an open invitation for her to visit the region.

No Western delegation was willing to take the lead and expose itself as a "ringleader" through a joint statement or resolution, diplomats said. But Reuters, citing an anonymous diplomat, has reported that China is preparing a letter.

China says facilities there are "vocational training centres" and they are necessary to fight terrorism and eradicate extremism.

At the internment camps, prisoners face a plethora of human rights abuses, including torture, extrajudicial incarceration, and unlawful killing by the government.

"Those allegations by a small group of Western countries and NGOs can not do away with the tremendous achievements that were made against terrorism and radicalisation and can not change the fact that Xinjiang people are leading a happy life", he said.

Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based rights group World Uyghur Congress, expressed appreciation to the 22 nations and said that the joint letter showed that "China has failed to deceive the global community with its lies by bringing Erkin Tuniyaz to whitewash its repressive policies", according to Radio Free Asia. This is the Chinese regime's stated rationale for rounding up Uyghurs in the camps.

The provision requires that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats submit to congressional intelligence committees a report on activities by Beijing to repress ethnic Muslim minorities in Xinjing, no later than 150 days after the Act's passage.

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