BEIJING — The governor of China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang is defending controversial re-education centers in the area as an effective deterrent against terrorism and religious extremism.

Shohrat Zakir told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday that accounts of mistreatment of what he called “students” at the camps were concocted by foreign media outlets. He said most of those taken to the centers had returned home, but he provided no numbers.

China is estimated to have detained up to 1 million Muslims in prison-like detention centers in Xinjiang where living conditions are reportedly poor. China denies committing abuses in the centers and calls them schools aimed at providing employable skills and combating extremism.

The detentions come on top of harsh travel restrictions and a massive surveillance

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