China is carrying out a "mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations" against its mostly Muslim Uyghur minority population, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.
New York-based HRW, in a report released on September 10, presented evidence of what it labeled the "arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life" by the Chinese government in its Xinjiang region.
The report echoes remarks by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which on August 10 said ethnic Uyghurs in China were being held in "counterextremism centers," with millions more forced into reeducation camps, turning China's Uyghur region into "something that resembles a massive internment camp."
China has denied the allegations, claiming the country had prevented a "great tragedy" in the far-western Xinjiang region.
It said Xinjiang faced a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the Uyghur minority the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
Sophie Richardson, HRW's China director, said in the latest report that the Chinese government was committing human rights abuses in Xinjiang on a "scale unseen in the country in decades."
"The campaign of repression in Xinjiang is key test of whether the United Nations and concerned governments will sanction an increasingly powerful China to end this abuse."
The report urged foreign governments to pursue a range of multilateral and unilateral actions against China for its actions, including "targeted sanctions" against those responsible.