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2021-05-25 HKT 17:10
A mainland official said on Tuesday that Beijing chose to build "education and training centres" instead of new prisons in Xinjiang, and efforts to remove extremist thoughts from people's minds have turned "ghosts into humans".
At a press conference, Xinjiang government spokesman Xu Guixiang rejected claims that Beijing is carrying out genocide in the region, saying the authorities have simply been helping "brainwashed" people avoid jail.
"[They] did not really understand what religion meant and could not tell what was legal or not," he said.
Removing ideas of terrorism and extremism from the brains of those in the "education centres" converted them "from ghosts to humans," Xu explained.
"If we did things the Western way, we would simply have had to give them a prison sentence. But we think these people are also victims themselves, so we chose to educate and transform them."
A woman presented as a former teacher told the press conference that claims men in the centres have been abused and women sexually assaulted are nothing but lies, and everyone's rights were well protected.
A man described as a former student said his life has improved greatly since he "graduated" from one of the centres.