Source: The Washington Post
BEIJING — Under mounting international criticism, China has given its most extensive defense yet of its sweeping campaign to detain and indoctrinate Muslims, with a senior official on Tuesday describing its network of camps in the far west as humane job-training centers.
Rights groups, American lawmakers and a United Nations panel have assailed the “transformation through education” camps holding Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region. Hundreds of thousands have been held in the camps — one estimate says a million — and former inmates who have fled abroad have described them as virtual prisons that engage in harsh brainwashing.
But the chairman of Xinjiang’s government, Shohrat Zakir, himself an ethnic Uighur, called the camps a “humane” and lawful shield against terrorism in an interview published by China’s official Xinhua news agency. He said the facilities gave Uighurs and other Muslims courses in the Chinese language and taught them to be law-abiding citizens. They also receive training in job skills such as making clothes, e-commerce, hairdressing and cosmetology, Mr. Zakir said.