Merkel accuses China of ‘cruel treatment’ of minorities

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany. (File/Reuters)
Updated 30 September 2020

Merkel accuses China of ‘cruel treatment’ of minorities

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused China of “poor and cruel treatment” of minorities and underlined deep concerns over the crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
In a speech at the Bundestag a day before an EU summit, Merkel vowed to bring up rights issues and Germany’s worries over the situation in the former British colony in any future dialogue with Beijing.
“Of course we have to bring up our different opinions in talks,” said Merkel, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
“That’s why we have flagged up our deep concern about the development in Hong Kong. The principle of one country, two systems stands but again and again it’s being undermined.
“We will bring that up, as well as the poor and cruel treatment in part of the rights of the minorities in China.”
She did not name the minorities bearing the brunt of poor treatment but activists have accused China over the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
More than one million ethnic Uighurs and other minorities have been herded into internment camps to undergo political indoctrination, according to rights groups and experts.
China insists the camps are training centers aimed at providing education to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism.
Beijing is also under fire over a security law it imposed on Hong Kong in June that radically increased its control over the financial hub and led to a brutal crackdown on dissent.


Children killed in Afghan air strike that hit mosque: officials

Updated 20 min 10 sec ago

Children killed in Afghan air strike that hit mosque: officials

  • Provincial police spokesman Khalil Aseer: The air strike was carried out when the victims were busy studying the Holy Qur’an
  • The ministry of defense — who confirmed the strike was carried out by the Afghan air force — denied civilians had died

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan: An air strike by the Afghan military killed 11 children and a prayer leader at a mosque, local authorities said Thursday, in an account disputed by the national government.
The strike on a village in northeastern Takhar province on Wednesday came as Afghan security forces clashed with suspected Taliban fighters, according to provincial police spokesman Khalil Aseer.
“The air strike was carried out when the victims were busy studying the Holy Qur’an,” Aseer said, adding a prayer leader was killed and 11 students.
He said 14 others were wounded.
Mohammad Jawad Hejri, the spokesman for the provincial governor, also said the strike had killed children.
But the ministry of defense — who confirmed the strike was carried out by the Afghan air force — denied civilians had died.
“Twelve Taliban including several of their commanders were killed,” it said.
Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh said news that children had died in a mosque “was baseless.”
“Those who spread rumors will be dealt with,” he wrote on Facebook.
The ministry of defense said it had appointed a team to investigate.
“The enemy bombarded the mosque at a time when tens of children were busy in religious studies,” the Taliban said in a statement, adding the air strike had destroyed the mosque.
The Afghan military has a fledgeling air force and small attack planes capable of conducting limited close-air support for troops on the ground.
Heavy fighting in Takhar since Tuesday has left at least 25 Afghan security personnel dead, officials have said.
Despite joining peace talks with the government in Qatar last month, the Taliban have only increased violence in a bid to wield leverage in the negotiations.
The top US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said earlier this week that fighting is threatening the peace process.