JAKARTA—Hundreds of Muslims held a rally outside the Chinese embassy in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Dec. 21 to protest against the treatment of members of the mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghur minority in China’s far western Xinjiang region.
A United Nations panel of human rights experts said in August it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in China were being held in what resembled a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”
The United Nations called for the immediate release of those detained on the “pretext of countering terrorism.”
Opposition groups in Indonesia, has the world’s largest Muslim population, have criticized President Joko Widodo for not providing enough support for China’s Uyghur community.
“The United Nations must speak out, the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) must speak out, Muslims must take a stand against the Chinese government,” said protester Ridwan Abdul Ridho said on Friday.
The Chinese regime has used the excuse that Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions with the ethnic Han Chinese majority to crack down on the local population in Xinjiang.
China worries that Uyghurs, who speak a Turkic language, have gone to places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq to fight for militants.
Uyghurs and other Muslims held in concentration camp-like facilities, known as “re-education” centers, are forbidden from using Islamic greetings, must learn Mandarin Chinese, and sing propaganda songs, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
China says it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education, but rather some citizens guilty of minor offenses were being sent to vocational centers to provide employment opportunities.
However, a report published on Nov. 5 by U.S. think-tank the Jamestown Foundation found that despite the purported large “vocational training” campaign, employment outcomes had not markedly improved, according to Xinjiang’s own official employment figures.
Indonesian foreign ministry said it had summoned the Chinese envoy in Jakarta to “convey concern from various parties in Indonesia on the condition of people of Uyghur in China” and called on China to respect freedom of religion.
Western countries including Canada, France, Germany, and the United States have urged China to shut down camps in Xinjiang.
By Johan Purnomo. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.