WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed demands on Wednesday (March 27) that China end its widespread detention of Uighur Muslims as he met with a survivor and relatives of prisoners.
“We call on the Chinese government to release immediately these individuals’ family members and all others arbitrarily detained in the camps,” the State Department said in a statement on Pompeo’s meeting.
The top US diplomat met on Tuesday with Mihrigul Tursun, a Uighur who has spoken publicly in the United States about what she said was widespread torture in China’s prisons for the minority group.
She has said she was separated from her children and detained in a cramped cell with 60 other women, suffering electrocution and beatings during round-the-clock interrogations.
The State Department said that Pompeo also met with three other Uighurs whose relatives are detained by China, which according to a UN report has detained a massive one million Uighurs as it seeks forcibly to integrate the minority group.
Pompeo, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said that “certainly” at least hundreds of thousands of Uighurs had been detained.
“We’re working to convince the Chinese that this practice is abhorrent and ought to be stopped,” Pompeo said.
According to the State Department as well as international human rights groups, China has confiscated Korans from Uighurs and forced them to drink alcohol and eat pork, which are forbidden by Islam.
“It’s one of the most serious human rights problems in the world today,” State Department official Michael Kozak said of the Uighurs’ detention as he presented the latest annual human rights report.
China denies the accounts of mass detention, saying it is running educational training centers as part of a fight against Islamic extremism in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
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