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End ‘brainwashing’ Muslims in Xinjiang : Amnesty to China

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Beijing, Sep 24 : Amnesty International has asked China to end the “brainwashing” and the mass incarceration of Uighur and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

Amnesty International in a report stated that China has held nearly one million Muslims  in “re-education” camps in the Xinjiang Uighur region.

In the past year, the government has intensified its campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against the region’s Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, according to the report.

The campaign prohibits any display of religious and cultural affiliation, including growing an “abnormal” beard, wearing a veil or head scarf, regular prayer, fasting or avoidance of alcohol, or possessing books or articles about Islam or Uighur culture as Chinese authorities consider them “extremist” behaviour, reports Efe news.

It is estimated that currently nearly one million Muslims are being held by the authorities in re-education camps, without the right to trial, access to lawyers or contact with family members, the report said.

“The mass detention camps are places of brainwashing, torture and punishment. A simple act of messaging your family abroad can get you detained highlights how ludicrous, unjustified and completely arbitrary the Chinese authorities’ actions are,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia Director.

The Chinese government justifies these measures as part of its counter-extremism and counter-terrorism efforts and only releases an individual who “has been transformed”.

Those who resist or fail to show sufficient progress could face punishments ranging from verbal abuse to food deprivation, solitary confinement or beatings.

“There have been reports of deaths inside the facilities, including suicides of those unable to bear the mistreatment,” the human rights organisation said, based on its interviews with former detainees.

Among them was Kairat Samarkan, who was sent to a detention camp in October 2017 after travelling to Kazakhstan and later released in February 2018. The Chinese authority accused him of “betraying his country”.

According to AI, Samarkan was hooded, made to wear shackles on his arms and legs and forced to stand in a fixed position for 12 hours.

There were almost 6,000 people held in the same camp as Samarkan, where they were forced to sing political songs such as “Long live Xi Jinping” and study speeches of the Chinese Communist Party, Samarkan recounted.

Travel abroad for work or education, particularly to majority Muslim countries, or contact with people outside China are also major reasons for suspicion, according to AI.

“Families have suffered enough. Hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by this massive crackdown. They are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones and it is time the Chinese authorities give them answers,” said Bequelin.

AI called on the government of President Xi Jinping to put an end to this campaign of “systematic repression” against Muslims, a call raised on numerous occasions by many international organisations.

It is estimated that in China there are some 23 million Muslims or approximately 1.7 per cent of the population, among which are ethnic minorities such as Hui or others whose origins are linked to Uighur, Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz or Tajik people in Central Asia.

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Putin warns US over deploying missiles in European nations

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Moscow, Feb 20 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he would deploy missiles capable of striking the US if Washington decides to station missiles in European nations within striking distance of Russia.

Giving his annual address to the Parliament, Putin said he was not looking for a confrontation with the US and nor would his country be the first to deploy missiles once Donald Trump’s administration completes the process of withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

But he warned of tit-for-tat measures in the case of an escalation by Washington, Efe news reported.

“Russia would be obliged to manufacture and station weaponry that could not only be used against territories where the direct threat comes from but also decision-making centres,” Putin told lawmakers. “We know how to do it and we would put these plans into effect as soon as such a threat became a reality,” he added.

Russia announced it would withdraw from the INF at the beginning of February following Washington’s unilateral decision to break away from the pact, a process that is set to be completed in six months’ time. Either country can backtrack during that period.

Washington and Moscow both accuse each other of breaching the agreement.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the then Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

Putin previously said that Russia’s response to the US withdrawal would be “symmetrical” but that nevertheless, Moscow would still refrain from deploying weapons with a range between 500 km and 5,500 km in European Russia and other global regions, so long Washington also agreed not to.

The Russian President questioned Washington’s justifications for pulling out of the treaty. “Our US partners should have been honest about it instead of using thought-up accusations to justify their unilateral exit from the treaty,” he said.

“They should have done it the same way they quit the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2004 when they simply pulled out, openly and honestly.”

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Pakistan government spokesperson’s personal Twitter account suspended

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Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal (Photo Credit- AP)

Islamabad, Feb 20: Twitter has suspended the personal account of Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal.

According to the Pakistan media, the account was blocked late on Tuesday after Indian authorities complained to the microblogging website.

Geo News reported that Faisal’s account was suspended as he was giving his followers updates about “Indian atrocities” in Jammu and Kashmir and the Kulbhushan Jadhav case which is being heard at the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account, which bears Mohammad Faisal’s name, remains active.

IANS

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Trump urges India, Pakistan to ‘get along’

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Washington, Feb 20 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has urged India and Pakistan to “get along” in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir suicide bombing and said that his country will respond on the issue at an “appropriate time”.

“I have watched. I have got a lot of reports on it. We will have comment (on it) at an appropriate time. It would be wonderful if they (India and Pakistan) get along,” he said in response to a question during an Oval Office signing ceremony on Tuesday.

The US President called the attack that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers last week “a horrible situation”.

“That (the terrorist attack) was a horrible situation. We are getting reports. We will have a statement to put out,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino, during a press briefing, said that Washington was in touch with both New Delhi and Islamabad regarding the bombing claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

“We have been in close communication with the government of India to express not only our condolences but our strong support for India as it confronts this terrorism,” said Palladino.

“We have a close, cooperative relationship with India, a security relationship, and that includes counter-terrorism operations.

“As far as Pakistan goes, we’ve been in contact with the country on this issue… We urge Pakistan to fully cooperate with the investigation into the attack and to punish anyone responsible,” he added.

However, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied his country’s involvement in the bombing and sought “actionable intelligence” from India.

US National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton has already extended support to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval for India’s bid to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Washington also voiced support towards India’s right to self-defence against cross-border terrorism.

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