China challenged by Uighurs to prove missing relatives are free

China’s claim that most of the inmates kept in mass detention centers in Xinjiang region have been released is met with skepticism by Uighur diaspora. They have launched a social media campaign challenging Beijing to prove that their claim is right. The north-west region is home to China’s ethnic Uighur population.

Right groups and experts have said that more than 1 million Muslim ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps in the tightly controlled north-west region. A senior Xinjiang official had told reporters on Tuesday that “most” people held in the camps had been “returned to society”. However, the official shared not figures to back the claim. One of the people rejecting China’s claim is Guly Mahsut.

She is a 37-years old Uighur based in Canada. She told AFP that, “One of my cousins and one of my tour guide friends, and my friend’s husband, they are still in the camps.” Mahsut along with other overseas Uighurs have rejected China’s claim through hashtag #Provethe90%. They have featured stories and photos of missing friends and family they have been unable to contact in Xinjiang. The viral hashtag is a reference to remarks made by the Xinjiang chairman, Shohrat Zakir.

Zakir said “more than 90%” of those who “return to society … have work that they like and find suitable”. Arfat Erkin, an Uighur student in the US who used the #“Provethe90% hashtag in a tweet about his missing father said, “China does not need to say they released most if they really did so.”

Erkin said that China can prove their claim by giving access to journalists of the camps, “All it needs is to give journalists normal access to those camps – not staged camps – and give official permission for Uighurs to contact their relatives abroad.”

Staff writer for the Chicago Morning Star

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