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Despite govt. claim that most detainees were released, more ‘re-education’ camps for Muslims crop up

Retraining facilities: A Han farmer, originally from Sichuan, tending to his crop of beans with two Uighur women in a farming settlement, in Hotan, Xinjiang.NYTGILLES SABRIE

The muscular young Uighur man sat uncomfortably, glancing occasionally at three Chinese officials in the room, as he described his state-mandated salvation in a re-education camp.

The man, Abduweili Kebayir, 25, explained how watching Islamic videos on his phone landed him in one of China’s notorious indoctrination camps for Muslims for eight months — and how he emerged in January as a reformed man.

“Now I know the error of my ways,” he said, as his wife and daughter shuffled nervously around the living room.

In late July, the government said most detainees had been released from the indoctrination camps built to eliminate what it described as the threat of Islamic radicalism and anti-government sentiment among the overwhelmingly Muslim population of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Vast network

But reporters from The New York Times found, over seven days of travelling through the region, that the vast network of detention camps erected by the government continues to operate and even expand.

These camps, large and small, remain swaddled in heavy security and secrecy, despite the Chinese government’s new pledge of transparency.

There are five major ones around Hotan, a city in southern Xinjiang, including the one where Mr. Kebayir said he was detained. Recent satellite images showed that a new detention facility has risen in the desert across the road from his former camp, surrounded by high walls and telltale watchtowers.

Efforts by Times reporters to approach the camps, factories and other religious sites were repeatedly blocked by plain-clothes security officials.

Men claiming to be construction workers pulled power cables across the road near the camp where Mr. Kebayir was held and said the scene was too dangerous for anyone to pass.

Since last year, evidence has also pointed to a system of forced labour linked to the camps. Factories being built nearby provide a place to transfer detainees whom officials consider sufficiently “reformed”, like Mr. Kebayir now, while keeping them under government supervision.

The government’s narrative of redemption through state-enforced “re-education,” despite its dystopian echoes, remains the justification for the camps. The camps have already swallowed up one million Muslims or more, by most estimates. Detainees, say relatives and activists, are forced to denounce their religious beliefs and embrace the ideology of the Communist Party.

Rights record

The establishment of the detention and re-education system has generated the harshest criticism of China’s record on human rights since the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989.

The government seems more eager to quell international outrage over the camps than to begin to wind down the system it has built over the past two years. It remains unapologetically proud of the centres, which were established in a region that experienced a string of deadly attacks up until 2016, especially targeting ethnic Chinese and government buildings. NY Times

He was awaiting trial on charges of trafficking minor girls

Jeffrey Epstein.REUTERSHandout .

The United States government launched an investigation on Saturday into the apparent suicide in his prison cell of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Attorney General Bill Barr said he was “appalled” to hear of the death and had instructed the Department of Justice’s Inspector General to probe its circumstances. The FBI is also investigating Epstein’s death. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.

“We need answers. Lots of them,” tweeted New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Epstein, 66, had been charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. Epstein, who denied the charges and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted, was denied bail last month in a New York court because he was deemed a flight risk.

He was discovered unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York around 6.30 a.m. on Saturday, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Epstein was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The New York Times and other media quoted officials as saying Epstein hanged himself.

His death comes just over two weeks after the 66-year-old was found unconscious in his cell with marks on his neck after an apparent suicide attempt. It is not clear whether Epstein was on suicide watch following the first attempt.

Michael Bromwich, a former Inspector General at the Justice Department, called for an “immediate and comprehensive” investigation to “determine who is responsible.”

On Friday, two thousand pages of documents focusing on testimony by a victim who claimed she was a “sex slave” of Epstein were released by a New York court.

President says N. Korean leader apologised for missile tests

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a screengrab.APAhn Young-joon

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wants to resume denuclearisation talks after U.S.-South Korean war games end.

Mr. Trump tweeted that in a letter to him, Mr. Kim apologised for a recent spate of missile tests, the latest of which came at daybreak on Saturday Korean time, and said they were to protest these joint military drills.

Mr. Trump said he looks “forward to seeing Kim Jong-un in the not too distant future!” “In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong-un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over,” Mr. Trump wrote. The exercises began on Monday and are due to last another week.

North Korea has said the recent short-range missile tests are designed to protest the war games.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump again seemed to side with Mr. Kim by criticising the exercises. “It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises. It was also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end,” Mr. Trump said. Mr. Trump has appeared determined to secure a denuclearisation agreement with North Korea ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential elections, despite faltering talks since he first met Mr. Kim in a historic ice-breaking summit in Singapore in June 2018.

On Friday, he described the message he got from Mr. Kim as “a very beautiful letter.” “I’ll say it again. There have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-range. No ballistic missile tests, no long-range missiles.”

Split in groups, they blocked city traffic

A child in Hong Kong at a rally titled ‘Guard Our Children’s Future’.REUTERSISSEI KATO

Police in fired tear gas on Saturday at pro-democracy protesters who defied orders to cancel a rally and blocked intersections across the city in “hit-and-run” demonstrations.

The new protests came after the city’s leader warned she would grant no concessions to the demonstrators, whose movement is now in its third month.

Activists who have embraced the mantra “Be Water” took their commitment to flexible protest action to new heights, splitting up into groups to spread quickly across the city and block roads. They gathered first in the Tai Po district, despite police denying their request for a march permit there, and quickly faced off against officers dressed in riot gear.

But before any clashes erupted, the demonstrators retreated and split into smaller groups, heading to different locations across the city to block roads and chanting “reclaim Hong Kong, revolution of our times”.

The fresh protests mark the 10th weekend that demonstrators have taken to the streets in a movement that began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China but has become a call for greater democratic freedoms.

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