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UN Panel Says Millions Of Chinese Uyghurs Living In 'Massive Internment Camp'

Police wearing sashes hold placards during a ceremony to award those who the authorities say participated in "the crackdown of violence and terrorists activities" in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

A United Nations human rights panel says that an estimated 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in China are being held in "counterextremism centers," with millions more forced into reeducation camps, turning China's far-western Uyghur region into "something that resembles a massive internment camp."

Gay McDougall, vice chairwoman of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on August 10 said that most of the detained Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in the western Xinjiang autonomous region have never been properly charged with a crime or tried in court.

"We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability [in China] has changed the [Uyghur] autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of 'no rights zone,'" she said.

The numbers McDougall gave appeared to come from the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Other rights groups have given lower figures.

China has said that Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

Chinese delegation leader Yu Jianhua highlighted the economic progress he said Beijing has brought to the region.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters