The Chinese delegation has acknowledged the existence of education and vocational camps. The squalor is as putrid as in the refugee camps on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Ethnic violence and attacks have prompted a crackdown and an intense militarisation of the western territory, home to 12 million Muslims, predominantly ethnic Uighurs. Last year, 21 per cent of all arrests in China were in Xinjiang, a territory that accounts for about 1.5 per cent of the country’s population. Human rights advocates claim they are routinely detained in internment camps, prevented from travelling freely and arrested. The anti-religion drive becomes pretty obvious with reports that the authorities have banned long beards, veils and Islamic robes. China’s response signifies a shift from blanket denial of the existence of the horrific camps, indeed a shift that has been prompted by the UN report and within 72 hours. This is the first time that the issue of camps in Xinjiang has been raised at the world body. The UN report can be contextualised with the assessment of Western observers, notably that Xinjiang has been turned into an Orwellian police state and hundreds of thousands of Uighurs have been locked away in concentration camps for what the state calls “transformation through education”. The plot thickens with reports that the authorities in Beijing are planning to demolish the Grand Mosque in north-western Weizhou. It is overall the tragedy of a repressed religion.