On Tuesday, May 19, at 19:30 GMT:
China is trying to walk a line between suppress scattered outbreaks coronavirus and restore an appearance of normal day-to-day. But concerns over the virus's possible effects on hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims are growing, many of whom are held in so-called "re-education" camps that, according to UN experts, are blatant disregard for international human rights law.
Human rights activists, as well as relatives of inmates in the western province of Xinjiang, say that restricted and unhygienic conditions in the camps allow the unrestricted spread of the coronavirus. As COVID-19 cases in China increased earlier this year, they urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to seek a fact-finding mission in the region. Chinese government officials responded by minimizing the risk of coronavirus in the Muslim-majority region, saying that the vast majority of those in the camps had "formed" and been released. The UN estimates that about one million people are being held on the premises, and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet asked China to grant her and a team of monitors "unrestricted" access to Xinjiang during a trip that is planned later this year.
As China tries to repair an economy affected by the coronavirus outbreak, Uighur advocates are now concerned that the authorities are resuming internships for Uighurs, taking them away from their families and homes. A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute alleges that authorities have transferred thousands of Uighur Muslims to work in factories that produce products for some of the world's biggest brands, keeping them under surveillance. Xinjiang officials, as well as companies accused of benefiting from forced labor, say the report is a smear campaign – highlighting the strong divisions over the treatment of Uighurs and the rights they hold in China.
On Monday's episode of The Stream, we will be united by Uighur voices to hear what is at stake for the community at large, while China focuses on its fight against the pandemic. Join the conversation.
In this episode of The Stream, we join:
Jewher Ilham, @JewherIlham
Uighur rights activist
Rayhan Asat, @RayhanAsat
Source: Al Jazeera