China's state-run media claimed on August 13 that the country has prevented a "great tragedy" in the far-western Xinjiang region, the country’s first response to remarks by a United Nations panel saying it was "deeply concerned" about the flight of 1 million ethnic Uyghurs there.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on August 10 said ethnic Uyghurs in China were being held in "counterextremism centers," with millions more forced into re-education camps, turning China's Uyghur region into "something that resembles a massive internment camp."
The panel said most of the detained Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have never been properly charged with a crime or tried in court.
China has said that Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority who call the region home and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
In joint editorials in Chinese and English, the Global Times newspaper on August 13 said criticism of the rights record in Xinjiang was an attempt to stir trouble in the region and endanger its stability.
It added that China's security presence there has prevented the region from becoming another Syria or Libya.
China's mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghurs are the indigenous population in the northwestern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region. Many have left China for communities across Central Asia and Turkey.
Members of the Uyghur diaspora say relatives have been arrested for seemingly harmless acts, such as sending Ramadan greetings to friends or downloading popular music.