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State Dept. official: China holding 800k Muslim minorities in internment camps

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State Department official Scott Busby told senators this week that China has detained at least 800,000 Muslim minorities in internment camps. 

“The U.S. government assesses that since April 2017, Chinese authorities have indefinitely detained at least 800,000 and possibly more than 2 million Uighurs, ethnic Khazakhs, and other members of Muslim minorities in internment camps,” Busby, the deputy assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Tuesday.

“Reports suggest that most of those detained are not being charged with crimes and their families have little to no information about their whereabouts,” he said.

“Former detainees who have reached safety have spoken of relentless indoctrination and harsh conditions,” Busby told the committee. “For example, praying and other religious practices are forbidden.

“The apparent goal is to force detainees to renounce Islam and embrace the Chinese communist party.”

Busby referenced the testimony of Mihrigul Tursun, a Uighur mother who survived one of the Chinese re-education camps and spoke before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China last week.

Tursun told the committee how she was tortured and interrogated during her internment, as well as how one of her young children died while in government custody. 

“Life outside the internment camps is not much better,” Busby said Tuesday. “Neighborhoods have entry and exit points manned by armed police. Families have been forced to accept Chinese officials into their homes for extended home stays.

“Thousands of mosques have been shuttered or destroyed. Some have even been converted into communist propaganda centers.”

Busby reported how China continues to harass and intimidate ethnic Muslim minorities who flee to other countries.

He said that the mass internment of the ethnic Muslim minorities in China is only one part of a larger crackdown on religious and philosophical disagreement with the ruling party.

“Protestant house churches are being shutdown and even officially registered churches are under increased government scrutiny,” Busby said. 

“Falun Gong members and members of the Church of Almighty God also reportedly continue to face detention, forced labor, and torture,” he said.



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