China and CNN in row over Uygur campaigner’s account of deaths of nine people in Xinjiang jail

23-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A row between CNN and the Chinese foreign ministry escalated after Beijing claimed that the broadcaster lied in its reporting of alleged deaths in detention in China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

CNN said it stood by its work after the ministry on Monday called the reporting of Mihrigul Tursun a Uygur who claimed to have witnessed deaths of nine of detainees in a camp and her son at Urumqi Children’s Hospital as a result of Beijing’s crackdown on the ethnic minority “a deliberate lie”.

In the report, Tursun said she had been taken into the Xinjiang camp where police placed her in an overcrowded cell with more than 50 other women.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that the story was “totally fake”, adding that “authenticity is vital to the reporting of news”.

Hua said Tursun’s family had a record of leaving China several times and some members of her family used other passports including Russian and Egyptian documents. Hua dismissed Tursun’s claim that she was forced to remain inside China because her passport was confiscated.

Tursun has “never [been] detained by the Urumqi police… She has never been in prison and has never been trained in any skills education and training centre”, Hua said.

“CNN obviously was not willing to wait for our verification and has just published the story on the weekend.”

CNN dismissed the ministry’s accusation. It said Tursun’s story was in line with the testimony she delivered before the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China in November 2008.

“We have updated the story on both TV and digital platforms with the ministry’s comment. CNN stands by its reporting,” it said.

“CNN had submitted several requests for comment ahead of our report airing on TV and digital.”

China’s Xinjiang region revised its legislation last year to allow local governments to “educate and transform” people influenced by extremism at “vocational training centres” a term used by the government to describe a network of internment facilities known as “re-education camps”, taking heavy criticism from the West.

The change to the law, which took effect in October, came amid an international outcry about the secretive camps in the region.

Beijing has invited foreign diplomats and media to the education camps, claiming no violations of human rights have been made there.


Category: China

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