China on Friday dismissed as “totally untrue” reports of having Xinjiang-like mass detention centres in Tibet. Head of the Tibetan government-in-exile Lobsang Sangay, in an interview to the BBC earlier this month, said that such detention camps existed in Tibet. When asked about the reports that such camps were being held by China in Tibet too, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, during a media briefing on Friday, said, “What has been motioned in the report is totally untrue.”
Sangey, in the BBC’s ‘Hard Talk’ programme on July 1, had said that the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary of Xinjiang Chen Quanguo was previously the party secretary of Tibet before he was shifted to Xinjiang.
“He is the same architect. He implemented the same repressive policies in Tibet for five years which he is implementing in one year time in Xinjiang,” Sangey had claimed.
“We do have these camps, but not as large as the Uighur camps. So, lot of people have been sent for education through labour, imprisonment, tension,” he said.
Asked whether he has any figure about the number of people detained in such camps in Tibet, he said “that we didn’t know. Even for Xinjiang it is being estimated that more than million or more (have been detained).”
“As far as we know the political prisoners who were arrested and imprisoned (in Tibet) we are talking of few thousands,” he said.
Meanwhile, facing strong criticism over the detention camps in restive Xinjiang, where over 11 million Uighur Muslims of Turkik origin live, China on Thursday lodged a diplomatic protest with 22 countries, labelling as “slander” a letter sent by these countries to top United Nations officials condemning Beijing’s mass detention of ethnic Uighur Muslims and other minorities.
Reports from the UN and other international human rights group spoke of mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to tackle violent attacks by the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
In a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, a group of 22 nations urged China to end its “mass arbitrary detentions and related violations” and called on Beijing to allow UN experts to access the region.