The European Union has condemned China’s incarceration of close to 2 million Uyghur Muslims in its Xinjiang region in a resolution passed by its parliament on Dec. 19.
The bloc’s MEP’s also repeated previous calls for international observers to be granted access to the region, RFA reported.
Chinese authorities are thought to have rounded up approximately 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, detaining them in camps across the region in a bid to reshape their religious and political worldview.
Authorities in China have characterized the camps as vocational centers intended to provide skills training, helping people find better work and prevent terrorism.
However, official documents leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists detailed how inmates are locked up, indoctrinated, and punished in the high-security, “brainwashing” camps.
The European Parliament “strongly” condemned “the sending of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs to political ‘re-education camps’ on the basis of a system of predictive policing.”
The resolution further demanded the Chinese government “put an immediate end to the practice of arbitrary detention without charge, trial or conviction for a criminal offense of members of the Uyghur and Kazakh minorities, to close all camps and detention centers, and to immediately and unconditionally release those detained.”
The parliament also called for journalists and international observers, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to be given access to the region, and for the European Union to lead efforts to establish a fact-finding team to go to Xinjiang.
The resolution stated that appropriate sanctions should also be adopted against those responsible “for devising and implementing the policy of mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and for orchestrating a severe repression.”
The resolution comes a day after the European Parliament presented its top human rights award — the Sakharov Prize — to the daughter of Ilham Tohti, a jailed Uyghur scholar sentenced to life imprisonment for espousing “separatism,” despite having encouraged dialogue between the Muslim minority and the Han Chinese.
After Tohti’s prize was announced in October, China said he was “a criminal who was sentenced in accordance with the law by a Chinese court.”
The World Uyghur Congress, a Munich-based exile group welcomed the resolution, saying it illustrated “the EU’s resolve to take meaningful action to stop China’s crimes against humanity against Uyghurs.”