US steps up heat on China over Uighur political prisoners  

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 10: The US ambassador in Beijing Nicholas Burns on Tuesday sought release of Ekpar Asat, who had disappeared seven years ago and later found to have been taken prisoner at the notorious concentration camp in Xinjiang by the Communist Chinese authorities, who for decades have been allegedly seeking to change the way the Uighur minorities live.

Burns in a tweet called for release of all the political prisoners arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang. The tweet of the US ambassador has come at a time when Beijing is making visible attempts to mend her ties with Washington after the two-hour bilateral between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Joe Biden during which there were heated arguments on several issues.

The US is stepping up pressure on China to come clean on the issue of the human rights abuse of the Uighur minorities in the Xinjiang province. Asat was allegedly detained by the Chinese authorities within weeks of attending an educational programme of the US State Department. Burns said that Asat turned 36 years old now, with his last seven years spent in the Chinese prisons.

The US-based activists have been raising the issue of the detention of several Uighur origin Chinese nationals who had visited the US for education or business related activities. They have been urging upon the Biden administration to exert pressure on China to free the political prisoners in Xinjiang, who are US citizens. Asat had attended the international leadership programme.

Senator Jim Risch recently stated that the Chinese authorities should immediately free Asat and at least allow his family members to meet him. Incidentally, friends and family members of Asat have not seen him in the last seven years. Senator Risch demanded that Asat be allowed to talk to his family members.

It may be recalled that a US-backed resolution in the United Nations was narrowly defeated which called for probe in the human rights violations. China had secured the support of the Islamic nations, including Pakistan to defeat the resolution.

The US Senator Marco Rubio recently stated: “Worst of all, however, is the Chinese Communist Party. Beijing captures and re-educates everyone who poses a threat to its unlimited claim to authority. This amounts to genocide in Xinjiang.” He stated that “Ilham Tohti, Gulshan Abbas, and Ekpar Asat are among the many Uyghurs whom the Party has detained to intimidate family members in America speaking out against the genocide”.

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