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China tells United Nations to respect its sovereignty over crackdown on Muslims
14 September 2018, 12:03 | Glen Norman
Abdusalam Muhemet an ethnic Uighur Muslim who ran a restaurant in Hotan before fleeing China this year in Istanbul Sept. 2
She acknowledged the State Department had received a letter from a bipartisan group of USA lawmakers last month asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials accused of involvement in the internment of the Muslim minority.
"There are credible reports out there that many, many thousands have been detained in detention centers since April 2017, and the numbers are fairly significant from what we can tell so far", Nauert said.
China has defended their crackdown in the region, saying that Islamist militants are plotting attacks in Xinjiang and are considered a serious threat.
China's Foreign Ministry urged United Nationshuman rights chief Michelle Bachelet to respect the country's sovereignty after she urged it to allow monitors into the restive far western region of Xinjiang and expressed concern about the situation there.
Chinese officials claim the camps are for "vocational education and employment training centers", or are for "criminals involved in minor offenses", according to Human Rights Watch.
The group said in a report that Xinjiang's Muslim population of about 13 million has been subjected to "forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of worldwide human rights law".
It is estimated that in the area, one million are now detained in re-education camps where they are forced to learn Mandarin and sing the praises of the Chinese Communist Party.
"If they resist, or officials deem they have failed their lessons, they are punished".
A law student at the University of British Columbia named Shawn Zhang has been posting satellite photos online that he says show a network of re-education camps across Xinjiang, along with information about their location.
Punishments for refusing to follow instructions in the camp could mean being denied food, being forced to stand for 24 hours or even solitary confinement, it said.
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