China on Monday refuted concerns expressed by a United Nations panel about the arbitrary detention of the Uyghur people in its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Yu Jianhua, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the claims were “against the fact”.

Last week, Gay McDougall, the vice chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said that China has turned its Xinjiang into a “no-rights zone” and a “massive internment camp” for “a million Uyghurs”. She added that the Muslim Uyghurs were being sent to “re-education camps” in the name of combating religious extremism.

“There are no such things as ‘re-education centers’ or ‘counter-extremism training centers’ in Xinjiang,” Hu Lianhe, a member of the Chinese delegation to the UN, told the committee Xinhua reported. Hu claimed that Xinjiang, which is a target of terrorism, is attempting to “protect the life and property of all ethnic groups” in the region.

“With respect to persons involved only in minor offences, the authority provides them with assistance and education by assigning them to vocational education and employment training centers, to acquire employment skills and legal knowledge, with a view to assisting their rehabilitation and reintegration,” Hu added. The Chinese delegation claimed that the legal rights of individuals assigned to vocational training centres, are fully protected.

Hu also defended a ban on wearing masked robes in Xinjiang, claiming that they do not constitute ethnic wear, and pointing out that such attire is banned in many other countries.