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United Nations human rights officials have sharply condemned regulations issued by China that seek to provide a legal basis for the mass internment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Six United Nations officials and rights experts said in a letter sent on Monday to the Chinese government that the regulations were a violation of international law, and they urged that those responsible be held accountable.

The regulations were issued by the authorities in Xinjiang in western China, who said they were intended “to contain and eradicate” extremism.

The United Nations experts contended that the new rules to justify mass internments in “re-education centers’’ were based on overly broad definitions of extremist behavior and amounted to criminalizing the legitimate exercise of basic rights.

The experts said the regulations were “incompatible with China’s obligations under international human rights law.”

Western reporting and academic research in recent months have exposed a crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uighur population and other minorities in which as many as one million people, about one-tenth of the region’s population, have disappeared into re-education camps. In addition, nearly all aspects of daily life and religious practice have become minutely regulated.

Among those who participated in preparing the letter were Elina Steinerte and Bernard Duhaime, who are members of United Nations panels monitoring enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions; David Kaye, the special rapporteur on freedom of expression; and Fernand Varennes, an expert on minority rights.

An example of what they viewed as overreach by the Chinese officials was references in the regulations that identified extremism as the “spreading of religious fanaticism through irregular beards” or the selection of names.

The regulations stated the authorities’ intention to make religion “more Chinese and under law and actively guide religions to become compatible with socialist society.’’ Read more

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