Germany’s top human rights official says barred from Xinjiang

Germany’s top human rights official said she has been denied entry to China’s Xinjiang region, where the UN estimates that up to one million Muslims are being held in detention camps.

Reports have leaked out this year of gross human rights violations targeting the Uighur ethnic minority in the restive region in China’s northwest.

Barbel Kofler, who is visiting China for a human rights dialogue between the two countries, said Tuesday she was “shocked by reports of the treatment” of the Uighurs.

“I am deeply concerned about the human rights situation in China. It has become even more serious in recent years,” Kofler said in a statement.

Kofler’s visit to China began Tuesday, and comes after Beijing cancelled last year’s bilateral dialogue, the German Foreign Office said in the statement.

“Unfortunately, my request to travel to Xinjiang in the context of the Dialogue was refused,” said Kofler.

China’s foreign ministry regularly claims it welcomes visits to the region from foreign journalists and officials.

But foreign journalists travelling to the region are frequently detained and followed by police to prevent and obstruct reporting on the internment camps and treatment of Uighurs.

China’s Uighurs have faced unprecedented surveillance in recent years.

Last month a Chinese award-winning photojournalist vanished in the region after he was reportedly detained by security agents, according to his wife.

The Germany-China human rights dialogue will instead be held in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

“In view of the critical human rights situation in Tibet, this, too, is an appropriate place for our Dialogue,” Kofler said.

“There are numerous reports of excessive controls, punishment of relatives for the crimes of family members, prohibition of normal religious freedom and ‘patriotic education’ which give me great cause for concern.”

( Source )