U.S. voices concern on China's Muslim crackdown, sanctions weighed

Pedestrians walk past a mosque in Kashgar China

Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin requesting that sanctions be applied and for additional measures to be taken against government officials.

A police patrol walk in front of the Id Kah Mosque in the old city of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 22, 2017.

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet this week said the Chinese government's arbitrary detention of Muslims is worrying and China should allow UN monitors into Xinjiang.

-Chinese relations have experienced ups and downs throughout the Trump presidency so far, as President Donald Trump threatens to impose billions in tariffs on Chinese goods, but the administration has stayed fairly quiet on human rights issues.

Rights groups have accused Beijing of the systematic mass detention of tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in political re-education camps without being charged or tried.

"Throughout the region, the Turkic Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions and mass surveillance in violation of worldwide human rights law", it added.

It is estimated that in the area, one million are now detained in re-education camps where they are forced to learn Mandarin and sing the praises of the Chinese Communist Party.

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A law student at the University of British Columbia named Shawn Zhang has been posting satellite photos online that he says show a network of re-education camps across Xinjiang, along with information about their location.

"If they resist, or officials deem they have failed their lessons, they are punished".

Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights decried the treatment dished out to the Uighur community in China during her first remarks as head of the United Nations rights watchdog in Geneva, Switzerland.

Like Tibet, Xinjiang - which has a history of independent rule and largely non-Han Chinese population - has always been viewed with some suspicion by the authorities in Beijing, fearful it could become a hotbed of separatist, or in its case, Islamist organizing.

But diplomats and activists are raising concerns about the treatment of Chinese Muslims following reports of indoctrination camps in the communist country.

As many as 13 million Muslims living in the region are increasingly subjected to mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment by the Chinese government, the report noted.

Last month, a United Nations rights panel said it had received credible reports that up to one million ethnic Uighurs may be held in extra-legal detention camps in Xinjiang and called for them to be freed.

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