Pope recognizes China’s Uighurs as “prosecuted” for first time
Pope Francis has for the first time called China’s Muslim Uighurs a “persecuted” people, something human rights activists have been urging him to do for years.
In a section of his wide-ranging book, “Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future”, Pope Francis referred to his concerns for “persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Izadis”.
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The pope has spoken out before about the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar and the killing of Izadi people by Islamic State in Iraq, but it is the first time he has mentioned Uighurs.
Faith leaders, activist groups and governments have said crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against the Uighur Muslim minority in China’s remote Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million people are held in camps.
Beijing has rejected the allegations as an attempt to discredit China, saying the camps are vocational education and training centers as part of counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures.
Many commentators have said the Vatican was reluctant to speak out on the Uighurs earlier because it was in the process of renewing a controvesial accord with beijing on the appointment of bishops.
This is the first time the top religious leader has recognized and explicitly reacted on the critical condition of the minority group in China.