Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )
It also accused the Chinese administration to put pressure on police, courts and prosecutors to "deliver swift and harsh punishment" on grounds of terrorism, causing several people sent to jail without committing any genuine offence
A rights group on Wednesday highlighted how China has dramatically increased the systemic prosecution of Muslim minorities through formal courts systems on dubious charges such as "picking quarrels".
"Despite the veneer of legality, many of those in Xinjiang's prisons are ordinary people who were convicted for going about their lives and practising their religion," Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Maya Wang was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
The organisation also said that over 250,000 people in Xinjiang have been sentenced and imprisoned since 2016.
These criminal convictions had increased between 2017 and 2019 during a crackdown on Uighurs and other and other majorly Muslim minorities.
About 100,000 people were sentenced by courts in Xinjiang in 2017, up from less than 40,000 in 2016, the HRW said, mentioning government figures.
It also accused the Chinese administration to put pressure on police, courts and prosecutors to "deliver swift and harsh punishment" on grounds of terrorism, causing several people sent to jail without committing any genuine offence.
Convictions are given on activities such as "telling others 'what is haram and halal'" and bringing gifts to relatives in Turkey, HRW said.
It also said that the prison term has grown longer.
The HRW's comments came a day after the European Union asked China to allow UN human rights boss Michelle Bachelet visit the region and investigate the alleged human rights violations against Uighurs.
"Once again, we urge China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including High Commissioner Bachelet. This is key to enable an independent, impartial and transparent assessment of the grave concerns that the international community has," European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said while addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.