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Swedish Migration Agency to grant China's Uighurs refugee status

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Swedish Migration Agency to grant China's Uighurs refugee status
Protesters against the internment of Uighurs march to the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations in New York in 2018. Photo: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
08:42 CET+01:00
Uighurs and other Muslim minorities who flee from China to Sweden will more easily be able to get a residence permit following a new decision from the Swedish Migration Agency.

In a new official standpoint, the agency states that it is sufficient for someone to be an Uighur for them to face a risk of persecution, Sveriges Radio was first to report. This means that members of these minorities do not need to prove that they as individuals face a specific risk of persecution in order for their applications to be granted.

"What we've seen is that there is quite far-reaching repression by the state. Where they can arrest and intern people without any criminal charges. People are put in what are described as 're-education camps'. This is happening arbitrarily," Carl Bexelius, deputy head of the Migration Agency's justice department, told the radio.

Deportations of Uighurs were temporarily halted in Sweden in September, and according to the agency, the situation in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang has worsened.

Bexelius said however that he didn't think the new stance would lead to more Uighurs seeking asylum in Sweden.

"We have relatively few asylum seekers from China, and we made the decision not to deport these groups back in September, and didn't see an increase after that," he explained.

Beijing has rejected UN estimates that more than a million members of Muslim minorities are being held in internment camps.

China says its restrictions on Muslim minorities, including ubiquitous police checkpoints and video surveillance, are intended to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in the far western province.

READ ALSO: Deportations to Afghanistan go ahead after mass protest

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