Saudi Arabia defends its position on human rights in China | News -

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Saudi Arabia and another 36 countries have defended their policies in the Xinjiang region, where the United Nations says at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims are being held.

China has been widely criticized for holding detention compounds in its remote western Xinjiang region. Beijing describes these complexes as "educational training centers" to help eliminate extremism and give people new skills.

Some 24 countries issued a letter last week calling on China to stop mass detention. In response, Saudi Arabia, Russia and 35 other countries signed a speech praising what it described as China's remarkable achievements in the field of human rights. Ambassadors from many African countries, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar, the Philippines, Syria, Pakistan, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are also among the signatories.

Saudi Arabia: No one is more concerned about us than Muslims

When journalists in New York asked Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah al-Maalami about his country's support for the speech, he said: "The speech speaks about China's development work. "On the one hand, you can be more concerned about the situation of Muslims anywhere in the world than in Saudi Arabia," he said. "What we said in the speech is that we support the development policies of China that have pulled people out of poverty."

China - Dabancheng - Umerziehungslager (Reuters / T. Peter)

China is accused of infringing upon the rights of Uighur Muslims and placing them in detention compounds that China says are educational training centers

A copy of the letter said that security had returned to Xinjiang and that the basic rights of people there of all ethnicities were safeguarded. "In the face of the serious challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has taken a series of measures to counter terrorism and eliminate extremism in Xinjiang, including the establishment of training and vocational training centers," the letter said.

China made the announcement last Friday on the last day of the forty-first session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The letter was addressed to the President of the Council, Kole Sik, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michel Bachelet.

For his part, Louis Charbonneau, director of UN affairs at Human Rights Watch, said that the description of the speech "a slap in the face of persecuted Muslims in China and inaccurate to the point of tampering."

The United States and Germany criticized China at a closed UN Security Council meeting this month on Xinjiang detention centers. In response, China told diplomats that it was not their right to raise the issue within the Security Council as an internal matter.

(Reuters, AFP)

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