PETALING JAYA: An activist has taken Mujahid Yusof Rawa to task over the minister’s apparent acceptance of a euphemism used by Beijing to describe a detention camp to house thousands of Muslim critics of China’s policies in Xinjiang.
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front questioned Mujahid’s use of the phrase “vocational and training institution” in his Facebook post about his recent visit to Xinjiang, where China has been accused of cracking down on dissent under the guise of fighting extremism.
“Surely Mujahid must have been a victim of the Communist China propaganda,” Farouk told FMT.
He said the situation in Xinjiang could be compared to the Russian gulag, forced-labour camps set up under Soviet Russia to house thousands of political prisoners.
Beijing has denied Western reports on the existence of such camps.
However, rights activists say at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang’s ruling communist party-appointed vice-governor Erkin Tuniyaz recently said that the camps were “vocational centres” to help “save” people from extremist influences.
“This will prevent them from becoming victims of terrorism and extremism and protect the basic human rights of the citizens from infringement,” he told a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.
Farouk said Mujahid should realise that the so-called “re-education camps” are effectively concentration camps, and that they are not something made up by Western intelligence.
“These were recently verified by satellite images by BBC investigative journalists and by survivors of these internment camps,” he said.
Mujahid, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, recently led a government delegation to Xinjiang, following which he shared pictures of his visit on his Facebook page.
“This centre carries out industrial training activities and teaches a variety of skills such as sewing, legal class, arts and flower arrangement,” he wrote.
Farouk said Mujahid appeared to be ignorant of the tactics employed by Beijing to weed out any form of political dissent.
“This is surely the most imbecilic statement by our minister in this new government,” he added.
He said survivors of the Chinese camps had told of how they were forced to listen to ideological lectures and made to sing hymns in praise of the Communist regime.
“More gruelling confessions such as beatings, solitary confinement, torture, and being forced to swallow pork with wine, were recorded.
“And yet our religious minister came back with heaps of praises about how our Muslim brothers are being treated in Xinjiang with their vocational training,” he said.