CHINA UN: China close detention centers in Xinjiang

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China has attacked a statement by 22 Western countries at the United Nations urging it to cease holding member of its Muslim population in detention centers.

China claims that Uighurs are being educated in "vocational training centres" created to combat extremism.

In the letter, posted on the Human Rights Watch website, the countries say there are "credible reports" of arbitrary detention and widespread surveillance.

In a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the group of 22 nations urged China to end its "mass arbitrary detentions and related violations" and called on Beijing to allow UN experts to access the region.

Activists had sought a formal resolution at the Council, but some analysts say the move was the only available option to spotlight the Uighur plight at the forum.

"Governments are increasingly recognizing the suffering of millions of people in Xinjiang, with families torn apart and living in fear, and a Chinese state that believes it can commit mass violations uncontested", Fisher said.

Many appear to have been rounded up as punishment for expressing their faith - praying or wearing a veil - or for having overseas connections to places like Turkey.

It pointedly cites China's obligations as a member of the 47-member state forum to maintain the highest standards.

"We call on China to uphold its national laws and worldwide obligations and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief in Xinjiang and across China", read the letter.

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China is estimated to have arbitrarily detained up to 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang.

Previously, China's ambassador to the United Nations said it welcomed Bachelet to visit, but her office responded that she would not accept the invitation unless given access to the internment camps on her own terms.

No Western delegation was willing to take the lead and expose itself as a "ringleader" through a joint statement or resolution, diplomats said.

At the start of the three-week session, which ends on Friday, the Xinjiang vice governor responded to the worldwide condemnation of the state-run detention camps by saying that they were vocational centres which had helped "save" people from "extremist" influences. China's delegation is "hopping mad" at the move and is preparing its own letter, a diplomat said.

Top UN officials including Michelle Bachelet have called for the global body to be given access to the camps to investigate allegations of human rights abuses.

China's foreign ministry said the letter "neglected the facts" and was a slander against China, an interference in its affairs and the politicisation of human rights. This is the Chinese regime's stated rationale for rounding up Uyghurs in the camps.

Beijing was also forced on Thursday to defend its human rights record from criticism by Slovakia and Britain.

In March, the U.S. Department of State reported that China "significantly intensified" its crackdown on Muslims previous year.

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