Uighurs: China dismisses Pope’s criticism as ‘groundless’

Beijing has rejected Pope Francis’s criticism of its treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

“I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church said in his new book “Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future.”

It was the first time he had called the Muslim minority a “persecuted” people. However, the Chinese foreign ministry dismissed the Pope’s remarks as “groundless.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “The Chinese government has always protected the legal rights of ethnic minorities equally.”

However, it is believed that the Chinese government has detained up to a million Uighurs in what the state defines as “re-education camps”.

Also, it has been alleged Beijing is forcing Uighur women to be sterilized or fitted with contraceptive devices, “apparently to control the population growth.”

China initially denied the existence of the camps, before saying the internment sites provide job training and education, reports BBC.

The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic ethnicity. The majority of them live in China’s Xinjiang province where they number about 11 million people or around 45% of the population.

These people consider themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

Over the years, central government policies have gradually curtailed the Uighurs’ religious, commercial, and cultural activities, as large numbers of majority Han Chinese have been encouraged to move to the region, observers say.

Source: United News of Bangladesh