The US report on International Religious Freedom also criticises India, Iran, Myanmar, Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia over their treatment of religious minorities.
WASHINGTON — After the US released an annual report on the state of religious freedoms worldwide, a United States official has said that China has turned its far western region of Xinjiang into an “open-air prison” for Uighur Muslims.
The Chinese government has turned “the entire region into an open-air prison”, said Daniel Nadel, the director of the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom on Wednesday, report Aljazeera.
China had relied on putting large numbers of Uighurs in camps for “re-education” and “forced labour” but has broadened its repression to encompass the entire region, Nadel said at a media conference in Washington, DC.
“People’s movements are closely tracked. You have minders who have been assigned to live with Uighurs to keep tabs on them,” Nadel said.
The US report which runs to 2,300 pages, the US criticised not only China but countries including Iran, India, Myanmar, Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia for religious persecution.
The US “cannot look away from the ongoing crimes against humanity and genocide the Chinese government is perpetrating against Muslim Uighurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Nadel said.
The US State Department had already concluded in an annual human rights survey that China was committing “genocide” against the Uighurs.
President Joe Biden raised the issue with other members of the Group of Seven allied nations at a meeting in April.
The United Nations has said that about one million Uighurs have been held in camps in the region that China has said are necessary to teach vocational skills and tackle hardline groups.
At the UN Human Rights Council in February, Foreign Minister Wang Yi rejected allegations of abuses as “slanderous attacks”.
He said there were 24,000 mosques in the western region, adding that “basic facts show that there has never been so-called genocide, forced labour or religious oppression in Xinjiang”.
The repression of Muslims in China is an extension of earlier drives against Buddhists in Tibet and others, Nadel said.
“This can be seen as the culmination of decades of repression of religious adherence from Tibetan Buddhists to Christians to Falun Gong practitioners,” he said.
In connection with the release of the report, the State Department accused Yu Hui, a leading China Communist Party official, of being responsible for “gross human rights violations” for the arbitrary detention of Falun Gong followers.