Chinese officials on Tuesday referred to the massive detention camps holding roughly a million Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province as “vocational education centers,” and even “boarding schools,” and suggested the camps might “gradually disappear” once society “no longer needs them.” The remarks were China’s latest effort to deflect international criticism of the camps, which have been denounced as a major violation of human rights and religious freedom. Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, spoke out against the “very tragic” and “horrific” situation in Xinjiang in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. The Chinese strongly objected to Brownback’s assertion from Hong Kong last week that Beijing is “at war with faith.” Brownback suggested the U.S. may respond with sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The Chinese government insists it is taking reasonable steps to address security problems in the restless province and dismisses international criticism as an offense against China’s national sovereignty. Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir, himself a member of the Uighur minority, said on Tuesday that the number of “trainees” attending these “boarding schools” is far less than the one million commonly reported, although he did not provide a more accurate number. “Some international… Read full this story
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