The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Friday raised concerns over China’s internment of over one million ethnic Uighurs in secret camps and that an additional 2 million were admitted into “re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination”.
The Uighurs, China’s Turkic speaking Muslim minority, number approximately 10 million and are primarily based in the Xinjiang where they make up around 45% of the population.
Over a hundred Uighur students who returned to China from countries including Egypt and Turkey had been detained, with some dying in custody.
Expressing concern over the development of mass surveillance within the region, a member of the UN committee, Gay McDougall said that officials have engaged in the broad collection of DNA samples and introduced iris scanners to Xinjiang, and that Chinese authorities were deliberately targeting Muslim communities.
Chinese authorities have further began “persecuting people for using Muslim greetings, possessing halal food, or for having long beards or headscarves,” he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has stated however that "everyone can see that people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang live and work in peace and contentment and enjoy peaceful and progressing lives”.
The UN committee is expected to continue its discussion on Monday, when it is expected that China will respond to the questions raised in Friday’s session. Thus far the 50 member Chinese delegation has not commented on this.
Meanwhile the BBC reported that a protest took place in the north-west Ningxia region on Friday, where Uighur residents demonstrated in an attempt to preserve their mosque. Chinese authorities had claimed that the newly build mosque did not provided the proper permits, however human rights groups have raised suspicion over these claims, pointed to increasing anti-Muslim sentiment.