China rejects allegations of detaining million Uighurs in camps

United Nations panel says it has credible evidence that China detains Uighur Muslims in political camps

Gay McDougall, a member of the committee, also cited estimates that two million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into "political camps for indoctrination" in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.

She expressed her concerns over reports that Beijing had "turned the Uygur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp".

A Chinese official told a United Nations human rights committee in Geneva that tough security measures in China's far-west Xinjiang region were necessary to combat extremism and terrorism, but that they did not target any specific ethnic group or restrict religious freedoms.

The latest alleged crackdown follows a spate of largely small scale incidents of violence, including protests and attacks on police officers, which the Chinese authorities have blamed on Muslim Uyghur separatists seeking to establish an independent state.

Hu Lianhe, deputy director general of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said that authorities in the far western Xinjiang region protected the full rights of all citizens equally.

Ma, who was among around 50 high-level Chinese officials answering questions from the committee on Monday, insisted that "the argument that one million Uighurs are detained in reeducation centres is completely untrue".

In an editorial with the headline "Safeguarding Xinjiang's peace and stability is the most important human right", the Global Times said: "There is no doubt that intense control contributes to Xinjiang's peace today".

This is not a couple of hundred people - it is more than 1 million to 3 million in detention. "Please tell me. And what were the laws on which they were detained?"

She told Reuters after the review: "We have quite a long way to go in terms of our dialogue with China".

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Information in Xinjiang is tightly controlled - the province was cut off entirely from the internet for 10 months in 2009 and is still subject to greater censorship and surveillance than other parts of China.

"The turnaround in Xinjiang's security situation has avoided a great tragedy and saved countless lives", it said in an editorial.

The Uygurs are known to be a Muslim ethnic minority making up 45% of the population in China's Xinjiang province.

But McDougall stressed that numerous detainees have never been properly charged with a crime or tried in court.

In May, pictures were spread on social media of Uyghur Muslims being forced to welcome Communist Party officials into their homes, to "maintain social stability and achieve lasting security".

Most inmates have never been charged with a crime, it is claimed, and do not receive legal representation.

China Human Rights Defenders, a Hong Kong-based NGO, said the "body of evidence of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment is overwhelming".

The session on Friday coincided with a day of worsening religious tensions elsewhere in China.

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