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Germany urges ‘transparent probe’ into Uyghur abuse claims

Germany on Tuesday called for a transparent investigation into “shocking” allegations of rights abuses targeting the Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang, after a media consortium published leaked documents it said catalogued the violations.

In a phone call with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pointed to “the shocking reports and new evidence of very serious human rights violations in Xinjiang”, said a German foreign ministry statement.

Baerbock “called for a transparent investigation” into the allegations, the statement added.

Several media outlets earlier Tuesday published leaked documents called the Xinjiang Police Files which appear to show thousands of photographs from inside Xinjiang’s system of mass incarceration, including many detained Uyghurs.

The youngest was only 15 at the time of her detention, say the reports.

Germany’s deputy chancellor Robert Habeck in a statement said the preservation of human rights “carried the most weight” and that the government had “changed its approach” in matters relating to China.

The Green politician, who is also economy minister, added that Germany was reducing its economic dependence on China.

The allegations came as UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet begins her visit to the western region to try to shed light on the Uyghurs’ plight.

Campaigners accuse China’s ruling Communist Party of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region, part of a years-long crackdown the United States and lawmakers in other Western countries have labelled a “genocide”.

China vehemently denies the allegations, calling them the “lie of the century”.

A police database obtained by AFP earlier this month listed the names and details of thousands of detained Uyghurs.