China May Have Legalized Muslim 'Re-education Camps'

China May Have Legalized Muslim 'Re-education Camps'

China has legalised internment camps believed to be holding hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in the first official recognition of the centres.

"Governments above the county level can set up education and transformation organisations and supervising departments such as vocational training centres, to educate and transform people who have been influenced by extremism", said a new clause in the law issued by the regional legislature on Tuesday.

But former detainees say they were forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the Communist Party at the camps, allegations China denies.

"It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang", said James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University.

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According to the document, along with skill training, the centers are charged with transforming the thoughts of "trainees" through law study, ideological education, psychological counseling, behavioral correction, and classes on China's national language.

Those regulations prohibit "abnormal" beards, the wearing of veils in public places, and the refusal to watch state television, among other behaviors, while also banning the use of some Islamic names when naming children and setting punishments for the teaching of religion to children. Authorities say extremists there have ties to foreign terror groups but have given little evidence to support the claim.

Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are subject to strict regulations banning beards and burqas, and many have been detained in re-education camps for offences as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media, a United Nations report said in August.

Leibold said the revisionswere an attempt to deflect global criticism. China is up for review by the UN's human rights council in November. Uighurs are native to Xinjiang.

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