Rights groups slam China over detentions

Human rights groups are alleging that a large number of ethnic Uighur Muslims are being held involuntarily in detention camps in China.

The groups held a news conference in Washington on Thursday to mark the UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Friday, August 31

A US expert on human rights issues in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China said it's possible more than a million Uighurs are being held in so-called re-education camps. The expert said some people have been detained for over a year.

The expert said that the Uighurs in the camps are forced to denounce their religious beliefs and praise the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping.

A man from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said that many parents are being detained in the re-education camps and separated from their children.

He called on the international community to apply pressure on China to release the detainees.

Last month, the US government criticized China for allegedly holding hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in re-education camps since April of last year.

China responded that the criticism defames the country.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on the administration of President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party.

17 lawmakers including Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez made the call in a letter on Wednesday.

The letter said Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are under threat of detention and torture, and that their lives are closely monitored by the Chinese government.

The letter calls for imposing sanctions on senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party, including Chen Quanguo, who is the party head in Xinjiang.