China 'legalises' internment camps for million Uighurs

China launches anti-halal campaign in Xinjiang

Beijing has in recent years launched a security crackdown in Xinjiang against what it calls separatist elements, and a United Nations report has cited estimates that up to one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are held in extra-judicial, political re-education camps.

One of the new clauses added to Xinjiang's anti-extremism laws said the so-called training centres were meant to "educate and transform" detainees.

The amended legislation states that Chinese regional governments "can set up vocational education and training centers.to educate and transform those who have been influenced by extremism".

The region's anti-extremism laws have been in force since April past year, and also ban Muslim men and women from growing "abnormal" beards or wearing veils in public.

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Chinese officials have denied enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education across a network of secret camps, instead saying that some citizens guilty of minor offences were sent to vocational centres to provide future employment opportunities. Former detainees have told rights groups that they were forced to denounce Islam and made to profess their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.

"Regardless of these revisions I still believe the practice of coercively detaining Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang in "education through transformation centres" not only violates Chinese law but also worldwide legal norms against the extrajudicial deprivation of liberty", Leibold said. "It's a new form of re-education that's unprecedented and doesn't really have a legal basis, and I see them scrambling to try to create a legal basis for this policy". Communist party officials in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, are calling on government officers to strengthen the "ideological struggle" and fight "halalification", or the "pan-halal tendency", according to a notice posted on the city's official account on messaging app WeChat.

The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper says that the "demand that things be halal which can not really be halal" is fuelling hostility toward religion.

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