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AKIPRESS.COM - China’s top official in Xinjiang on Tuesday said the “vocational training centres” in the far western border region could eventually be phased out, as Beijing comes under growing international pressure over the mass detention camps, South China Morning Postreports.
“Generally speaking, we will have fewer and fewer people at these centres and if one day the society no longer needs them, then these training centres will gradually disappear,” Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang government, said during a panel session at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.
Zakir was the first Chinese government official to suggest that the centres – which Beijing denies are the concentration camps described by foreign media – were a temporary arrangement.
They have drawn international condemnation from foreign governments and human rights groups, who say Chinese officials are holding more than 1 million Uygurs and other Muslims for political re-education. According to Beijing, the centres are “pre-emptive measures against extremism” that offer “trainees” job and other life skills.
But former detainees have told foreign media they were subjected to abuse and torture at the centres, and some have testified about their experiences before the US Congress – claims that Beijing has denied.