China rebuffs Pope’s Uighur criticism as ‘groundless’

China rebuffs Pope's Uighurs criticism as 'groundless'
Pope Francis criticised the treatment of 'the poor Uighurs'. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: China has dismissed Pope’s criticisms of its treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

It came after the Pope joined a growing group of international voices, describing the Uighurs as “persecuted” in a new book.

It is believed that the government in China has detained up to a million Uighurs in what the country defines as “re-education camps”.

Chinese foreign ministry described the Pope’s remarks as “groundless”.

Pope Francis writes in his book Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future, that “I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi”.

It is the first time the head of the Roman Catholic Church mentions the Uighurs in that context.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, responded saying Beijing “has always protected the legal rights of ethnic minorities equally”.

Chinese authorities is believed to have detained more than one million people from Xinjiang in recent years, citing security risks and terrorism.

It has also been alleged they are forcing Uighur women to be fitted with contraceptive devices or sterilised, apparently to control the population growth.

Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, before saying the internment sites provide education and job training.

The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic ethnicity who regard themselves as ethnically and culturally close to Central Asian nations.

The majority live in China’s Xinjiang province, where they number about eleven million people, or around 45% of the population.

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