China 'legalises' internment camps for million Uighurs

Beijing denies it is systematically violating rights of Xinjiang’s Muslims

Beijing denies it is systematically violating rights of Xinjiang’s Muslims

China's far-western Xinjiang region has inserted into its anti-extremism regulations new clauses that prescribe the use of "vocational training centres" to "educate and transform" people influenced by extremist ideology.

China denies that it is detaining Uighurs in internment camps and says such facilities do not exist - however it does admit to sending criminals to training centres.

The revisions to the legal basis say government agencies at the county level and above "may establish occupational skills education and training centres, education transformation organisations and management departments to transform people influenced by extremism through education". Former detainees have told rights groups that they were forced to denounce Islam and made to profess their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.

But James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, said: 'It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

China launched its "Strike Hard" campaign targeting separatism in Xinjiang in 2014 following deadly violence in the region.

During a meeting on Monday, local Communist leaders said they would also require government officials and party members to firmly believe in Marxism-Leninism and speak standard Mandarin Chinese in public, according to a notice posted on the official Wechat account of the Urumqi procuratorate.

Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are subject to strict regulations banning beards and burqas, and many have been detained in re-education camps for offences as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media, a United Nations report said in August.

The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper says that the "demand that things be halal which can not really be halal" is fuelling hostility toward religion.

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