China newspaper defends Xinjiang Muslim crackdown

An ethnic Hui Muslim man standing in front of Laohuasi Mosque after Friday prayers in Linxia, China's Gansu province. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 13 August 2018
0

China newspaper defends Xinjiang Muslim crackdown

  • Following attacks by radical Muslim separatists, hundreds of thousands of members of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been arbitrarily detained in indoctrination camps
  • The roughly 10 million Uighurs make up a tiny proportion of China’s almost 1.4 billion people

BEIJING: China’s campaign of pressure against the country’s Uighur Muslim minority has prevented the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang from “becoming ‘China’s Syria’ or ‘China’s Libya,’” an official Communist Party newspaper said Monday.
The Global Times editorial came after a UN anti-discrimination committee raised concerns Friday over China’s treatment of Uighurs, citing reports of mass detentions that is said “resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”
Following attacks by radical Muslim separatists, hundreds of thousands of members of the Uighur and Kazakh Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been arbitrarily detained in indoctrination camps where they are forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the party.
Global Times said the intense regulations in the region were merely “a phase that Xinjiang has to go through in rebuilding peace and prosperity.”
The editorial did not directly mention the existence of the internment camps.
Denouncing what it called “destructive Western public opinions,” the paper said, “peace and stability must come above all else.”
“Through the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the national strength of the country and the contribution of local officials, Xinjiang has been salvaged from the verge of massive turmoil,” the paper said. “It has avoided the fate of becoming ‘China’s Syria’ or ‘China’s Libya.’“
Xinjiang has been enveloped in a suffocating blanket of security for years, especially since a deadly anti-government riot broke out in the regional capital of Urumqi in 2009. Over recent months, monitoring groups and eyewitnesses say Uighurs have been summoned from abroad and across China and sent into detention and indoctrination centers.
The roughly 10 million Uighurs make up a tiny proportion of China’s almost 1.4 billion people and there has never been an insurgency that could challenge the central government’s overwhelming might.
When the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination started reviewing China’s report in Geneva on Friday, Chinese delegation leader Yu Jianhua highlighted economic progress and rising living standards among other things.
Committee vice-chairwoman Gay McDougall said members are “deeply concerned” by “numerous and credible reports that we have received that, in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability, (China) has turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”
McDougall said there were estimates that more than a million people “are being held in so-called counter-extremism centers and another 2 million have been forced into so-called re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination.”
She did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing.
The Geneva-based committee continues its hearing Monday, with conclusions expected later. Yu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said China will respond to the main questions raised in Friday’s session on Monday.


US special counsel disputes report Trump told lawyer to lie

Robert Mueller’s office disputed a report in BuzzFeed News. (AP)
Updated 19 January 2019
0

US special counsel disputes report Trump told lawyer to lie

  • While Mueller’s spokesman stopped short of declaring the article false in its entirety, he disputed portions of the story that appear to go to the heart of the allegations made against Trump

WASHINGTON: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday disputed a report in BuzzFeed News that President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said Trump directed him to lie to Congress.
BuzzFeed, citing two unnamed law enforcement sources, said Cohen, who is going to prison for lying to Congress, told investigators working for Mueller that Trump had directed him to lie about efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow while he was running for president.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, said in a rare statement from the special counsel.
While Mueller’s spokesman stopped short of declaring the article false in its entirety, he disputed portions of the story that appear to go to the heart of the allegations made against Trump.
It was the first time Mueller has commented about a news article concerning his probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said in a statement: “We stand by the reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
After the BuzzFeed report was published on Thursday night, investigators in the US Senate and House of Representatives said they plan to examine the allegations in the report.
Leading Democrats in the House said they would seek to verify the story, saying that if true it would be evidence of criminal activity by the president.
Earlier on Friday, the White House said the story was false. “Look, that’s absolutely ridiculous,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, said it was “exceedingly rare” for Mueller to comment on a news report, highlighting the significance of the allegations made in the BuzzFeed article and the attention it was getting in the media and among lawmakers.
“They are making a public comment to tell everyone to calm down,” Weinstein said. “He doesn’t want people to think his silence is confirming the truthfulness of the report.”
BuzzFeed said Mueller’s office learned of Trump’s instructions to Cohen through internal Trump Organization emails, witness interviews, text messages and other documents, and that Cohen told prosecutors about the directive in an interview.
Trump said on Twitter that Cohen was lying in order to get less prison time. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement that any suggestion that Trump told Cohen to lie is “categorically false.”
Representatives for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment on the BuzzFeed report.
Cohen, who once said he was so loyal to Trump that he would “take a bullet” for him, is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to charges including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
If Trump did tell Cohen to lie, that would constitute criminal activity, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, who said he would look into the matter.
“Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime,” Nadler said on Twitter.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the allegation that Trump may have directed Cohen to lie under oath “is among the most serious to date.”
“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” Schiff, also a Democrat, said on Twitter.
Some Senate Intelligence Committee investigators hope to ask Cohen about the BuzzFeed report when he testifies behind closed doors in February, a committee source told Reuters.
He also will face questions about it in testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7.

“SEISMIC EVENT“
Legal experts say the allegation exposed Trump to a new level of risk in an investigation that has already resulted in convictions of or guilty pleas from four former campaign aides, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“It’s a seismic event,” Andy Wright, an associate White House counsel under former Democratic President Barack Obama, told Reuters.
Cohen, his left arm in a sling, did not comment as he entered his apartment building in New York on Friday. His adviser, Lanny Davis, also declined to comment to Reuters, and his lawyer, Guy Petrillo, did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump denounced Cohen as a “rat” after he began cooperating with investigators while Cohen, whose duties included making payoffs to two women who said they had affairs with Trump, said on Thursday he regretted giving “my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
Directing or encouraging someone to lie under oath is a crime known as subornation of perjury. The report also raises questions about obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
William Barr, Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, said at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that a president would be committing obstruction if he directed a subordinate to lie under oath. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
While the Justice Department has previously concluded that a sitting president cannot be charged while in office, such an allegation, if found true, could fuel impeachment proceedings in Congress.
Trump repeatedly has denied collusion with Russia and slammed Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” Russia also has rejected US intelligence findings that Moscow interfered in US politics in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump.
Trump said during the presidential campaign that he had no ties or business dealings with Russia.
Democrats, who took over the US House of Representatives this month, have generally been cautious regarding any talk of impeachment to remove Trump from office although some rank-and-file members have pushed for such a resolution.
Impeachment proceedings would face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans have a majority.
BuzzFeed also reported that Cohen regularly updated Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who is now a top White House adviser, about the Moscow project.
A spokesman for Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Ivanka Trump, said she was minimally involved in the development. Trump Jr., who has also testified previously before Congress, in a Twitter post called the BuzzFeed report “fake news.”