Coronavirus: Are China's Uighurs being put at risk?

18 May 2020 11:20 GMT 

On Tuesday, 19 May at 19:30 GMT:
China is trying to walk a line between quelling scattered outbreaks of coronavirus and restoring a semblance of day-to-day normality. But concerns are mounting over the possible effects of the virus on hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims, many of whom are being held in so-called "re-education" camps that United Nations experts say are in flagrant disregard of international human rights law.

Uighur rights activists, as well as the relatives of those interned in the western province of Xinjiang, say cramped, unhygienic conditions in the camps allow for the untrammelled spread of coronavirus. As COVID-19 cases in China increased earlier this year they urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to seek a fact-finding mission to the region. Chinese government officials responded by downplaying the risks of coronavirus in the Muslim-majority region, saying the vast majority of those in the camps had since "graduated" and been released. The UN estimates about one million people are being held within the facilities, and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged China to grant her and a team of monitors "unfettered" access to Xinjiang during a trip that is being planned for later this year.