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China: Government must prove Xinjiang detainees have been released

Many families have not heard from their relatives for years.

Responding to a claim by a Chinese government official that all people held at so-called “vocational education centres” in Xinjiang have “graduated” and achieved “stable employment” and “happy lives”, Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director at Amnesty International, said:

“While this may sound like progress, it’s more likely just the Chinese propaganda machine’s latest attempt to shift the narrative on its horrendous human rights violations in Xinjiang in the face of growing international condemnation.

“If Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities are really being released from these repressive detention camps, then the onus is on the Chinese government to prove it.

“The Government should, at the very least, allow independent UN experts to assess the situation, and allow Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities to freely communicate with their relatives overseas. Until now, this is something the authorities have repeatedly refused to do.

“As ever, it's almost impossible to independently verify the Chinese Government’s claims given the extreme constraints on reporting in the region and the authorities’ attempts to cut it off from the outside world.”

Government claims

Chinese state media reported today that “trainees” participating in education and training programmes in Xinjiang had “all graduated”. A government official was quoted as saying that detainees had “achieved stable employment, improved their quality of life and been living a happy life, with the help of the government”.

Amnesty has documented an intensifying Chinese government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups living in the Xinjiang region. The authorities have justified such extreme measures as necessary to counter what they claim to be “terrorism” and to ensure national security.

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