Hong Kong: Amnesty International on Monday asked China to come clean about the fate of an estimated one million Muslims detained in a "massive crackdown" in far western region of Xinjiang.
In a new report, which included testimony from people held in the camps, Amnesty International said Beijing had rolled out "an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation".
Beijing has ramped up restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in the far western province. But critics say the drive risks fuelling resentment towards Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment, according to AFP.
"Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are punished for violating regulations banning beards and burqas, and for the possession of "unauthorised" Quran", Amnesty said. Quran is the holy book revealed on Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).
About a million Muslims are detained in interment camps, a United Nations panel on racial discrimination reported last month, with many interned for offences as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media.
"Hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by this massive crackdown. They are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones and it is time the Chinese authorities give them answers", said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's East Asia director in a statement.
Beijing has denied reports of the camps but evidence is mounting in the form of government documents and escapee testimony. It suggests Chinese authorities are detaining large groups of people in a network of extrajudicial camps for political and cultural indoctrination on a scale unseen since the Maoist era.
Amnesty's report interviewed several former detainees who said they were put in shackles, tortured, and made to sing political songs and learn about the Communist Party. The testimony tallies with similar evidence gathered by foreign reporters and rights groups in the last year.
Amnesty also called on governments around the world to hold Beijing account for "the nightmare" unfolding in Xinjiang.
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