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In a League of its Own: US Hits Out at China for Human Rights Violation of Minorities

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted abuses in Iran, South Sudan, Nicaragua and China.

Reuters

Updated:March 14, 2019, 11:42 AM IST
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In a League of its Own: US Hits Out at China for Human Rights Violation of Minorities
File photo of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Reuters)
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Washington: The US State Department on Wednesday slammed human rights violations in China, saying the sort of abuses it had inflicted on its Muslim minorities had not been seen "since the 1930s."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted abuses in Iran, South Sudan, Nicaragua and China in the department's annual "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices," but told reporters that China was "in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations."

"For me, you haven’t seen things like this since the 1930s," Michael Kozak, the head of the State Department's human rights and democracy bureau told the same briefing, referring to abuses of China's Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.

"Rounding up, in some estimations ... in the millions of people, putting them into camps, and torturing them, abusing them, and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion and so on from their DNA. It’s just remarkably awful."

"It is one of the most serious human rights violations in the world today," he said.

While Kozak did not elaborate on his comment about the 1930s, he was apparently referring to the policies of persecution of Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union.

China had initially denied there even were camps, Kozak said, adding its explanation now that they were for voluntary labour training "does not match the facts."

"But at least we're starting to make them realize there is a lot of international scrutiny on this," he said.

China's Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment on the report, which comes at a time of closely-watched trade negotiations between the United States and China aimed at resolving a tit-for-tat tariffs dispute.

Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir said on Tuesday that China was running boarding schools, not concentration camps, in the country's far western region as the US ambassador for religious freedom called the situation there "completely unacceptable," and said sanctions against Chinese officials under the Global Magnitsky Act remained a "possibility."

The administration of President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including the Communist Party boss there, Chen Quanguo, who as a member of the powerful politburo is in the upper echelons of China's leadership. Beijing has warned of retaliation if Washington were to target Chen and the administration has yet to act despite complaints from US lawmakers.

The State Department report said Chen had replicated in Xinjiang policies similar to those credited with reducing opposition to Communist Party rule in Tibet, where he was previously stationed.
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