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Chinese police patrol a night market near Id Kah Mosque in Xinjiang, a day before the Eid al-Fitr holiday, June 25, 2017. © 2017 AFP/Getty Images

(Brussels) – European Union member countries should not forcibly return Turkic Muslims to China without providing a full and fair individualized examination of their risk of being ill-treated there, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to EU foreign and interior ministers.

EU governments should also expedite asylum claims of Turkic Muslims from China and investigate and address the Chinese government’s intimidation of Turkic Muslim diaspora communities.

“Some EU member countries have saved Turkic Muslims from harm by suspending their return to China,” said Lotte Leicht, EU director. “But this should be an EU-wide position until China ends its widespread repression in Xinjiang.”

Over the past year, Human Rights Watch has documented a spiraling human rights crisis in Xinjiang. It includes the establishment of “political education” camps in which credible reports suggest that up to 1 million people are arbitrarily detained. Human Rights Watch also documented torture and ill-treatment in these and other detention facilities, and severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and religion.

The Chinese government’s latest “Strike Hard” campaign does not stop at China’s borders. Authorities harass Turkic Muslim communities around the world, often in an attempt to compel people to return.

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