UN 'alarmed' by reports of China's mass detention of Uighurs
31 August 2018
The UN commission says China discriminates against its Uighur population
The UN says it is alarmed by reports of the mass detention of Uighurs in China and called for the release of those held on a counter terrorism "pretext".
It comes after a UN committee heard reports that up to one million Muslim Uighurs in western Xinjiang region, were held in re-education camps.
Beijing has denied the allegations but admitted that some religious extremists were being held for re-education.
China blames Islamist militants and separatists for unrest in the region.
In depth: Tensions between Beijing and the Uighurs
Uighurs dig their way out of Thai jail
During a review earlier this month, members of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said credible reports suggested Beijing had "turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment
China responded that Uighurs enjoyed full rights but Beijing made a rare admission that "those deceived by religious extremism... shall be assisted by resettlement and re-education".
BBC Newsnight: Is China brainwashing Uighurs?
Xinjiang has seen intermittent violence - followed by crackdowns - for years.
What does the UN say?
The UN body on Thursday released its concluding observation, criticising the "broad definition of terrorism and vague references to extremism and unclear definition of separatism in Chinese legislation".
The committee called on Beijing to:
End the practice of detention without lawful charge, trial and conviction; Immediately release individuals currently detained under these circumstances; Provide the number of people held as well as the grounds for their detention; Conduct "impartial investigations into all allegations of racial, ethnic and ethno-religious profiling".
What is China accused of?
Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have submitted reports to the UN committee documenting claims of mass imprisonment, in camps where inmates are forced to swear loyalty to China's President Xi Jinping.
The World Uyghur Congress said in its report that detainees are held indefinitely without charge, and forced to shout Communist Party slogans.
Media captionJohn Sudworth reports from Xinjiang, where all filming and reporting by foreign media is tightly controlled
It said they are poorly fed, and reports of torture are widespread.
Most inmates have never been charged with a crime, it is claimed, and do not receive legal representation.
The latest UN statement comes amid worsening religious tensions elsewhere in China.
In the north-western Ningxia region, hundreds of Muslims have been engaged in a standoff with authorities to prevent their mosque from being demolished.
Who are the Uighurs?
The Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority mostly based in China's far-western region of Xinjiang. They make up around 45% of the population there.
China bans beards and veils in Xinjiang
Profile: What is Xinjiang like?
Xinjiang is officially designated as an autonomous region within China, like Tibet to its south.
Reports that more and more Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained in Xinjiang have been circulating for some months.
China is said to carry out the detentions under the guise of combating religious extremism.
More on this story
Video 'Mass murder' fear for China's Muslim Uighurs
22 August 2018
China Uighurs: Beijing denies detaining one million
13 August 2018
China Uighurs: One million held in political camps, UN told
10 August 2018
Video China Xinjiang police state: Fear and resentment
1 February 2018
China mosque demolition sparks standoff in Ningxia
10 August 2018
Uighur inmates dig their way out of Thai jail
20 November 2017
China Uighurs: Xinjiang ban on long beards and veils
1 April 2017
Video 'No beards, no veils': Uighur life in China's Xinjiang
18 March 2017
'All-out offensive' in Xinjiang risks worsening grievances
2 March 2017
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