China says Muslim 'training' centres will slowly disappear

Human rights groups, researchers and the US government estimate that around 1 million people from the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic groups are held in the vast network of compounds.
Tuesday 12/03/2019
A Xinjiang delegate chats with a military delegate before a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP)
A Xinjiang delegate chats with a military delegate before a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP)

China says heavily guarded internment camps for Muslims which it calls vocational training centres will "gradually disappear" if there comes a day that "society does not need" them.

The camps in the far-west Xinjiang region have elicited an international outcry, with former inmates describing harsh conditions where Muslim minorities are subject to political indoctrination and psychological torture.

Human rights groups, researchers and the US government estimate that around 1 million people from the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic groups are held in the vast network of compounds.

Xinjiang Gov. Shohrat Zakir declined at a news conference March 12 to disclose the number of what he called "trainees." However, he said the figure is far less than 1 million.

Zakir said religious activities are banned in the camps.