China Rejects Pope Francis’ Remarks on ‘Persecuted’ Uighurs

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian has dismissed the comments Pope Francis wrote in his new book where he called the ethnic Muslim minority group Uighurs “persecuted.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson  Zhao Lijian has dismissed the comments Pope Francis wrote in his new book where he called the ethnic Muslim minority group Uighurs “persecuted.”

“The Chinese government has always protected the legal rights of ethnic minorities equally,” Zhao said at a daily press conference in Beijing.

Zhao added that the pope’s remarks had “no factual basis at all” despite reports claiming over one million Uighurs are held in internment camps in the remote Xinjiang region, which Zhao did not mention.

“People of all ethnic groups enjoy the full rights of survival, development, and freedom of religious belief,” Zhao also said.

The Chinese government has initially denied the existence of the camps, but now claims that the camps are centers for vocational education and training to prevent “terrorism” and religious “extremism.”

Pope Francis wrote that the Uighurs were “persecuted” in a section of his new book, “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” to be published in December.

“I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi — what ISIS did to them was truly cruel — or Christians in Egypt and Pakistan killed by bombs that went off while they prayed in church,” the pope wrote.

Governments and human rights organizations around the world said that the crimes against the Uighurs, including genocide, are perpetuated in the prison-like camps where they are said to be forced to declare loyalty to China and President Xi Jinping.


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