Alwaght- China claimed on Monday it has arrested tens of thousands of “terrorists” since four years ago in its volatile western Xinjiang region, which is home to millions of Muslim minorities, including Uighurs.
The Beijing government issued a white paper on Monday on what it calls “the fight against terrorism” and “human rights protection” in Xinjiang, where Beijing stands accused of being engaged in a crackdown campaign against the Muslim communities.
Since 2014, authorities have “destroyed 1,588 violent and terrorist gangs, arrested 12,995 terrorists, seized 2,052 explosive devices, punished 30,645 people for 4,858 illegal religious activities, and confiscated 345,229 copies of illegal religious materials” in the region, the paper said.
It said Xinjiang has been the scene of frequent incidents of terror attacks under the influence of separatists, extremists and terrorists, which have been harmful to the life and property of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and have trampled on people’s dignity.
The paper also claimed legal authorities have adopted a policy that “strikes the right balance between compassion and severity.” China’s fight against “terrorism and extremism” was an important part of the same battle being waged by the international community, it added.
The exiled World Uyghur Congress was quick to slam the 15,000-character policy paper, with its spokesman Dilxat Raxit saying, “China is deliberately distorting the truth.”
“Counter-terrorism is a political excuse to suppress the Uighurs. The real aim of the so-called de-radicalisation is to eliminate faith and thoroughly carry out Sinification,” he added.
Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of Central Asia, Xinjiang is key to China’s growing energy needs.
The autonomous region is home to around 10 million Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims, accounting for 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population. The Muslim minorities in China’s west have long accused Beijing of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Beijing has been under fire since last August, when a UN human rights panel reported that numerous camps had been set up in China’s vast Xinjiang region, holding as many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.
Chinese officials have dismissed the allegations and instead characterized the camps as “vocational education and employment training centers” for “criminals involved in minor offenses.”
They have long linked their measures in Xinjiang with counter-terrorism efforts, arguing that separatists there are bent on joining Takfiri terrorists like al-Qaeda.
Last month, Turkey accused China of exposing the Turkic-speaking minority to “torture and political brainwashing,” calling on Beijing to “respect fundamental human rights of the Uighur Turks and shut down concentration camps.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Hami Aksoy said those who were not detained in Xinjiang were “under great pressure” in the country.
China, however, categorically dismissed as “unacceptable” Turkey’s allegations, urging Ankara to retract the “vile” remarks.
The United States has also previously accused China of human rights violations regarding its treatment of the Uighur community.
Beijing hit back at Washington as well, calling on the US to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs with human rights as a pretext.”