Commentary on Political Economy

Monday 26 November 2018


Scholars slam China over internment camps

More than 200 academics from around the world are condemning China for its mass internment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in its far-western region of Xinjiang.
In an open letter posted online on Monday, the scholars, hailing from 26 countries and regions, are demanding international sanctions against Chinese officials and companies who are benefiting from the mass internment and surveillance in Xinjiang.
An estimated 1 million Uighurs are being held in internment camps in the restive region, according to human rights groups. Former detainees and family members speak of torture, malnutrition and beatings inside the camps.
China says it needs the camps - which it calls "vocational training" centres - to fight against terrorism, but people are often held there for seemingly innocuous acts such as praying, talking to relatives abroad or having encrypted messaging apps on their phones.
"There are concerns that such extreme measures could be replicated to address other segments of the Chinese population who are perceived as threatening the Party's monolithic vision of [China]," the scholars said.
Countries and institutions need to pressure President Xi Jinping and Xinjiang's Communist Party secretary Chen Quanguo to abolish the camps, they said.
States should also grant expedited asylum to Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other minorities from Xinjiang, while foreign companies should demand that China close the camps as a condition for doing business, they said.

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