09/12/2020, 10.03
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Beijing is lying: At least three internment camps still operative in Xinjiang

They are located in Uchturpan county, and are home to more than 20,000 Uyghur inmates, about 10% of the local population. A few days ago, on a visit to Europe, Wang Yi declared that all "education centers" had been closed. US website: 268 fortified structures built in the region since 2017. The international community protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least three internment camps, with more than 20,000 Uyghur prisoners, are still in operation in Xinjiang. Their existence was confirmed to Radio Free Asia by two police officers from Uchturpan county, home of the offending structures.

The news repudiates recent statements by the Chinese authorities that the detention centers - educational institutions for Beijing - have all been closed. On August 30, during a visit to France, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that all the people housed in these institutions have finished their studies and have found employment.

According to expert data, confirmed by the United Nations, over one million Uyghurs (out of a population of nearly 10 million) and other Turkish-speaking Islamic minorities are arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang, which the local population calls "East Turkestan".

Human rights activists and many governments, including the United States and the European Union, describe the detention facilities as real concentration camps used to indoctrinate the Uyghur population. The Chinese authorities admitted the centers existed in October 2018, arguing, however, that they are vocational training centers to educate Uyghur citizens, especially young people, against terrorism, separatism and Islamic extremism.

The three internment camps indicated by Uchturpan police officers are home to about 10% of the county's Uyghur population (235,000 people). In the largest facility, the Kongtai center, more than 10 thousand local Muslims are reportedly interned.

These latest revelations about Chinese concentration camps come just days after Buzzfeed, a US website, reported that Xinjiang authorities have built 268 fortified structures since 2017: at least one for each county. The calculation was made through the use of satellite data.

Beijing is increasingly under pressure from the international community for its policies in Xinjiang. Yesterday, at the end of a ministerial meeting in Brussels, the European Union and Canada condemned the treatment reserved by the Chinese authorities for the Uyghur minority. On September 1, during Wang Yi's visit to Berlin, the German government demanded China allow international observers to enter Xinjiang.

The US has also intensified its attacks on Beijing's leadership. On September 8, the Trump administration said the United States intend to ban imports of cotton and tomatoes - two of China's top export goods - from Xinjiang. Washington claims that they are produced thanks to the exploitation of Uyghur internees.

Due to the abuses against the Uighur people, the US government has already called on US companies to cut ties with their suppliers in Xinjiang. Nike and Apple, which have strong interests in the autonomous region, have opened an investigation into the employment of Uyghur workers and other local minorities.

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