Beijing’s Uighur ‘nightmare’ blasted by rights group

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New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday blasted "nightmarish" conditions for Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in northwestern China in its annual report on abuses committed around the world.

The group's executive director, Kenneth Roth, described a range of atrocities being perpetrated by Beijing against members of the Turkic Muslim group in China's far western Xinjiang region as well as the serious encroachment by authorities on Hong Kong's limited freedoms.

"Beijing has long suppressed domestic critics," said Roth.

"Now the Chinese government is trying to extend that censorship to the rest of the world. To protect everyone's future, governments need to act together to resist Beijing's assault on the international human rights system."

Roth spoke with journalists in New York on Tuesday after being denied entry to Hong Kong on Sunday, where he was set to launch a report that covers abuses around the world but focuses on those by Chinese authorities.

UN experts and campaigners say that some 1 million Uighurs and other minorities, mostly Muslims, have been caged in Xinjiang in a crackdown that has been blasted by the U.S., European nations and others.

China's government has repeatedly said its camps offer voluntary education and training to help stamp out extremism.

According to Roth, Beijing's crackdowns on Uighurs and protesters in Hong Kong are enabled by its construction of a "vast surveillance state." He urged foreign leaders and international organizations to put more pressure on China's government.

"Unless we want to return to an era in which people are pawns to be manipulated or discarded according to the whims of their overlords, we must resist Beijing's assault on our rights," said Roth. "Decades of progress on rights, and our future, are at stake."

The 652-page World Report 2020 reviews human rights practices in some 100 countries. Researchers also took aim at the actions of Syrian and Russian forces fighting in Syria and Saudi-led coalition attacks on civilians in Yemen.

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