The number of people arrested and imprisoned in China's Xinjiang skyrocketed in 2017, according to official data, as Beijing tightens its grip on the troubled region with surveillance and mass detentions.
One in five arrests made in China in 2017 took place in Xinjiang, although the region is home to just two per cent of the country's population, data from the local prosecutor's office showed.
This is a sharp increase from a decade earlier when the area accounted for only two per cent of all arrests in the country.
Beijing has come under international criticism over its policies in Xinjiang, whereas many as one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are being held in internment camps, according to human rights groups.
China defends mass detentions as necessary to counter religious extremism and terrorism.
But a sharp increase in the number incarcerated for disrupting public security signalled that the justice system was also being used to target Uighurs and other Muslims in the region and put them behind bars for longer periods, said Patrick Poon, China researcher for Amnesty International.
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