U.S. accuses China of turning Xinjiang region into “open-air prison”
Written by tokyoclub on May 12, 2021
A senior official of the U.S. State Department on Wednesday criticized the Chinese government for turning its entire Xinjiang region, home to the Muslim Uyghur minority, into an “open-air prison.”
The remarks came as the department released an annual report on international religious freedom which highlighted the U.S. government’s concerns over China’s repression of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim groups in Xinjiang through mass arbitrary detention, forced labor, forced sterilization and other abuses.
China has consistently said its detention camps are vocational training centers established to pre-emptively combat terrorism and religious extremism.
Calling the situation “dire,” Daniel Nadel of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom said he sees a shift from a “dramatic reliance” on camps for “re-education,” or for forced labor and other purposes.
“What the (Chinese) government has created, it’s quite an ambitious effort to essentially turn the entire region into an open-air prison,” he said at a press conference.
People’s movements in the far-western region are closely tracked and minders are assigned to live among the Uyghurs to keep tabs on them, Nadel added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China “broadly criminalizes religious expression and continues to commit crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”
He also criticized countries such as Iran and Russia for their treatment of minority religious groups, while noting that military coup leaders in Myanmar are among those responsible for “ethnic cleansing and other atrocities against Rohingya,” most of whom are Muslim.