The spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that the outrage over Uyghur Muslims being detained in Chinese concentration camps has been “sensationalised” by foreign media.
More than 100 “re-education” camps have been set up in China’s Xinjiang region, which the United Nations (UN) said is detaining up to one million Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim minorities.
Among the detainees are scores of women who are married to men from neighbouring Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan, where people regularly cross the border into China for trade.
Dr Mohammed Faisal, spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday 20 December: “Some section of foreign media are trying to sensationalise the matter by spreading false information.
“As per Chinese authorities, out of 44 women, six are already in Pakistan. Four have been convicted on various charges, three are under investigations, and eight are undergoing voluntary training.
“Twenty-three women are free and living in Xinjiang of their own free will.”
Over the last five years, Pakistan has pushed its diplomatic and economic relationship with China, championing the tens of billions of dollars invested by Beijing into the country as a “game changer.”
China has also developed the mountainous road connecting Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang.
China’s communist regime has justified its religious persecution of Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang to “Islamist terrorism”, claiming that separatists want to establish an Islamic state based on Shariah law.
Beijing has described the concentration camps as “vocational re-education centres” for Muslims who appear to be drawn towards “Islamist extremism”.
However, numerous rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have said China’s Turkic Muslim minorities are being held involuntarily for religious reasons like having a beard, wearing the hijab, being in possession of the Quran and fasting during in Ramadan.
Dr Faisal said: “The Chinese authorities have also offered to arrange visits to Xinjiang of the families of the convicted women.”