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China’s Xinjiang province an ‘open-air prison’, US official says

China has turned its far western region of Xinjiang into an “open-air prison” for Uighur Muslims a United States official has said as the US released an annual report on the state of religious freedoms worldwide.

“People’s movements are closely tracked. You have minders who have been assigned to live with Uighurs to keep tabs on them,” Nadel said.

The annual State Department religious freedom report is required by the US Congress under a 1998 law and covers religious freedom conditions in dozens of countries around the world. In this year’s report, which runs to 2,300 pages, the US criticised not only China but countries including Iran, Myanmar, Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia for religious persecution.

The Chinese government has turned “the entire region into an open-air prison”, said Daniel Nadel the director of the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom on Wednesday.

China had relied on putting large numbers of Uighurs in camps for “re-education” and “forced labour” but has broadened its repression to encompass the entire region, Nadel said at a media conference in Washington, DC.

The US “cannot look away from the ongoing crimes against humanity and genocide the Chinese government is perpetrating against Muslim Uighurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Nadel said.

The US State Department had already concluded in an annual human rights survey that China was committing “genocide” against the Uighurs.

President Joe Biden raised the issue with other members of the Group of Seven allied nations at a meeting in April.

The United Nations has said that about one million Uighurs have been held in camps in the region that China has said are necessary to teach vocational skills and tackle hardline groups.

 

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