CHINA has cancelled a screening of an Arsenal football match after the team’s star midfielder criticised the treatment of Uighur Muslims, amid reports Beijing is increasing secrecy around its controversial internment camps.
Mesut Ozil had posted messages on Twitter and Instagram which described Uighurs as “warriors who resist persecution” and urged Muslims not to “stay quiet” about China’s crackdown on the minority group.
Instead, CCTV broadcast a prerecorded game between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It comes amid reports that China’s regional government in Xinjiang is destroying its computers after a high-profile leak to the New York Times exposing the indoctrination and harsh treatment of Uighurs in Chinese internment camps.
A trove of Chinese government papers published by the New York Times last month appeared to confirm fears that the Chinese Community Party was brainwashing Uighurs and committing severe human rights abuses.
According to one document, Xi Jingping, the Chinese president, told officials to “show no mercy” to Uighurs.
The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that around 1-2 million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions in Xinjiang as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs and has dismissed the New York Times report as a “media conspiracy to slander China’s terrorist effort.”