BEIJING (AP) — Heavily guarded internment camps for Muslims which China calls vocational training centers will gradually disappear if there comes a time that “society does not need” them, regional authorities said Tuesday.
The camps in the far-west Xinjiang region have elicited an international outcry, with former inmates describing harsh conditions in which Muslim minorities are subject to political indoctrination and psychological torture. Human rights groups, researchers and the U.S. government estimate around 1 million people from the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic groups are held in a network of compounds spread throughout the vast region.
At a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature, Xinjiang Gov. Shohrat Zakir declined to disclose the number of what he called “trainees.” But he said the figure is “far less” than 1 million and described extensive reports on conditions in the camps as “pure fabrications.”