UN panel concerned at reported Chinese detention of Uighurs

BERLIN (AP) — A U.N. anti-discrimination committee raised concerns on Friday over China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority, citing reports of mass detentions as it considered Beijing’s record over recent years.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination started reviewing China’s report in Geneva on Friday. Chinese delegation leader Yu Jianhua highlighted economic progress and rising living standards among other things.

Committee vice-chairwoman Gay McDougall said members are “deeply concerned” by “numerous and credible reports that we have received that, in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability, (China) has turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”

Monitoring groups say the Uighurs have been targeted in a surveillance and security campaign that has sent thousands into detention and indoctrination centers. McDougall suggested the number might be considerably higher.

“There are reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities,” she said. “There are estimates that upwards of a million people are being held in so-called counter-extremism centers and another 2 million have been forced into so-called re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination.”

She did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing.

The Geneva-based committee continues its hearing Monday, with conclusions expected later. Yu, China’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said China will respond to the main questions raised in Friday’s session on Monday.