Source: The New York Times
BEIJING — Chinese officials said Tuesday that most of the inmates in re-education camps for Muslim minorities — a vast network of detention centers estimated to have held one million people or more — have been released. But the United States, experts on Chinese policies, and ethnic Uighur Muslims abroad quickly contested the claim.
They said that there was no evidence of mass releases from the camps across the Xinjiang region in China’s northwest, and that people who had nominally been freed often effectively remained in captivity, including being forced into labor programs instead.
The State Department and the Pentagon, which have criticized China’s policies on Muslims for months, released the same long, forceful statement that said they were “unable to verify the vague claims” and that the Communist Party continued to show “extreme hostility to all religious faiths.”
The unexpected announcement in Beijing appeared intended to blunt growing international condemnation of the camps. It was made by two top officials in the regional government of Xinjiang, the northwest region where the Chinese Communist Party has set up the centers to hold Muslims, most of whom are Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and systems of electronic surveillance in towns and cities. The officials indicated that most inmates had “returned to society.”