Tens of Thousands of Xinjiang’s Kuchar County Residents Held in Political ‘Re-Education Camps’

More than 45,000 residents of a mostly Uyghur-populated county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being held in three main political “re-education camps,” according to a local official, who said the facilities are guarded by armed personnel.

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in political re-education camps throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

A staffer at the Kuchar (in Chinese, Kuche) county police department in the XUAR’s Aksu (Akesu) prefecture recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that three camps housing most of the county’s detainees are located in the Yengisher district of the county seat—about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Kuchar city center.

“I believe it is more than 45,000 … [or] slightly less than 10 percent [of the population],” the staffer said, speaking on condition of anonymity, when asked how many residents of Kuchar county are currently held in the camps.

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