Diplomats from France and Germany addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday and demanded that China close its so-called Muslim “re-education camps” in Xinjiang province.
According to Reuters, as many as 1 million Muslims, including many Uighurs, are currently being held in the camps for “political indoctrination.”
“We can say this appears to be the most intensive social re-engineering effort of the Chinese state since the Cultural Revolution,” said Adrian Zenz, a German “expert on Chinese minority policy,” who has researched the camps. “In Xinjiang we are looking at a minimum of several hundred thousand, possibly over one million in possibly over 1,000 to 1,200 facilities.”
The allegations against the Chinese started about a month ago after the camps were discovered and news of their existence hit international media. China, according to Reuters, claims the compounds are for “vocational” education and deny any wrongdoing.
A Chinese official told reporters last week that the vocational training is aimed a preventing the spread of radical Islam through China, according to Reuters.
Beijing officials also noted that Xinjiang province is in danger of being infiltrated by radical Islamists from neighboring countries, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The officials also claim that the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” has launched attacks in Xinjiang province in the past. However, some experts are skeptical that the group could take any cohesive action.