59979

World  

Mass internment of Muslims

China on Tuesday characterized its mass internment of Muslims as a push to bring into the "modern, civilized" world a destitute people who are easily led astray — a depiction that analysts said bore troubling colonial overtones.

The report is the ruling Communist Party's latest effort to defend its extrajudicial detention of Central Asian Muslim minorities against mounting criticism.

China's resistance to Western pressure over the camps highlights its growing confidence under President Xi Jinping, who has offered Beijing's authoritarian system as a model for other countries.

About 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities have been arbitrarily detained in mass internment camps in China's far west Xinjiang region, according to estimates by a U.N. panel. Former detainees say they were forced to disavow their Islamic beliefs in the camps, while children of detainees are being placed in dozens of orphanages across the region.

The report by the official Xinhua News Agency indicated that key to the party's vision in Xinjiang is the assimilation of the indigenous Central Asian ethnic minorities into Han Chinese society — and in turn, a "modern" lifestyle.

Xinjiang Gov. Shohrat Zakir said the authorities were providing people with lessons on Mandarin, Chinese history and laws. Such training would steer them away from extremism and onto the path toward a "modern life" in which they would feel "confident about the future," he said.

"It's become a general trend for them to expect and pursue a modern, civilized life," Zakir said, referring to the trainees. He said the measures are part of a broader policy to build a "foundation for completely solving the deeply-rooted problems" in the region.

China has long viewed the country's ethnic minorities as backward, said James Leibold an expert on Chinese ethnic polices at Melbourne's La Trobe University.

Leibold described Beijing's perspective on minorities as: "They're superstitious, they're deviant, they're potentially dangerous. The role of the party-state is to bring them into the light of civilization, to transform them."

Despite growing alarm from the U.S. and the United Nations, China has maintained that Xinjiang's vast dragnet of police surveillance is necessary for countering latent extremism and preserving stability.

The Turkic-speaking Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs) have long resented restrictions placed on their religious practices. They say they experience widespread discrimination in jobs and access to passports.

In the Xinhua report, Zakir said authorities provide free vocational training in skills geared toward manufacturing, food and service industries. Zakir said "trainees" are paid a basic income during the training, in which free food and accommodations are provided.

The report appeared aimed at disputing accounts provided by former detainees, who have said they were held in political indoctrination camps where they were forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the party.

Ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs have told The Associated Press that ostensibly innocuous acts such as praying regularly, viewing a foreign website or taking phone calls from relatives abroad could land one in a camp.

Zakir said the training centres were for people "who are influenced by terrorism and extremism, and those suspected of minor criminal offences" who could be exempted from criminal punishment.



More World News

World
134781
London Webcam
Webcam provided by webcams.travel
56309
Recent Trending
58147
Okanagan Oldies
134354
Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada
134170



59916
134233