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China dismiss Pope’s criticism of Muslim Uighurs’ treatment in Beijing

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Chinese Government has dismissed Pope Francis criticism of China’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Beijing, adding that the Government of China always protected the legal rights of ethnic minorities equally.

The Chinese Foreign Minister’s spokesman, Zhao Lijian disclosed this on Tuesday, as he rejected the Pope characterisation of the Uighurs, while described it as groundless.

In a new book “Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future,” Pope Francis said: “I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi.”

This was the first time Pope Francis had called China’s Uighurs a persecuted people, something which some human rights activists have been urging him to do for years.

Zhao said people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang enjoy full protection of their subsistence rights, developmental rights and religious freedom as the remark of Pope Francis are groundless.

While the pope has spoken out before about the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar and the killing of Yazidi by Islamic State in Iraq, it was the first time he mentioned the Uighurs.

Faith leaders, activist groups and governments have said crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million people are held in camps.

Beijing has rejected the allegations as a attempt to discredit China, saying the camps are vocational education and training centres as part of counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures.

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