China's crimes against its minority Muslim populations have reached "unprecedented levels" in recent years, a US-based rights group said on Monday.
China has "arbitrarily detained" up to one million people in a network of what it calls "political re-education camps," detention centers and prisons that span 300 to 400 facilities in which forced labor and torture are commonplace, Human Rights Watch said in a report detailing the crackdown.
"The oppression continues outside the detention facilities: the Chinese authorities impose on Turkic Muslims a pervasive system of mass surveillance, controls on movement, arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance, cultural and religious erasure, and family separation," the group said in a blistering 53-page report.
Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in China, all of whom are ethnically Turkic, comprise the majority of the population in China's Xinjiang Province. It is the only Chinese province with a Muslim majority.
Arrests in Xinjiang have accounted for 21% of all arrests in China even though the province constitutes just 1.5% of the population, the rights group said, citing official statistics.
Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch's China director, said Chinese officials have "systematically persecuted Turkic Muslims – their lives, their religion, their culture."
"Beijing has said it’s providing ‘vocational training’ and ‘deradicalization,’ but that rhetoric can’t obscure a grim reality of crimes against humanity," she added in a statement
It also said Beijing has embarked on a campaign to destroy Muslim places of worship with roughly two-thirds of all mosques in Xinjiang damaged or destroyed since 2017, and about half of those building being completely destroyed. Islamic holy sites have also been demolished "across the region."
The US and the West generally have imposed waves of sanctions on Chinese officials, companies and institutions over the clampdown, which the US has officially labeled genocide.
"Given the gravity of the abuses against Turkic Muslims, there is a pressing need for concerned governments to take strong, coordinated action to advance accountability," the group said, further suggesting the creation of a UN commission to probe the crimes against humanity.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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