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Xinjiang Police Files reveal Chinese govt’s involvement in unlawful activities against Muslim Uyghurs in prison-like ‘re-education centers’

At these centers, Muslim Uyghurs are brainwashed to be 'trustworthy persons' for the Communist government.

The ‘Xinjiang police files’ that were leaked recently revealed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Xi Jinping is involved in brazen human rights abuse against Muslims in Xinjiang. The communist leaders are involved in practicing human rights atrocities against thousands of Uyghurs through a network of detention centers and prisons in the Xinjiang region.

According to the reports, the Chinese government has detained Muslim Uyghurs in the concentration camps which China terms ‘vocational skills education and training centers’. At these centers, Uyghurs are brainwashed to be ‘trustworthy persons’ for the Communist government.

The matter came to light when the ‘Xinjiang police files’ were published last week by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation with cooperation from 14 media outlets from 11 countries. The files gave the world an inside view of China’s ‘re-education camps’ and the ‘prison-like’ conditions that Uyghurs are made to face.

Training is given to detainees in the ‘vocational skills education and training centres’ to make them more ‘trustworthy'(Image Source- BBC)

The files include leaked internal police documents and over 2,884 photographs of detained Uyghurs, including some as young as 17 released first as part of a research article authored by Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow, China Studies, at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, DC. The Files also include material such as police training presentations as well as sensitive files and speech transcripts. According to Dr. Zens, the entire material found was ‘unprecedented’ as the speech included in the files implicated China’s top leadership like Chen Quanguo, Minister Zhao Kezhi, and President Xi Jinping and contained blunt language.

Internal speech by Chen Quanguo, a former Communist Party secretary in Xinjiang, in 2017, had allegedly ordered the guards to shoot to kill anyone who tried to escape and had called for officials in the region to exercise firm control over religious believers. Also, a 2018 internal speech by public security minister Zhao Kezhi mentioned direct orders from Xi Jinping to increase the capacity of detention facilities. After initially denying their existence, the country claimed on May 25 that the facilities are vocational training schools, attended voluntarily, and aimed at stamping out religious extremism.

The Chinese government also said that the issue is about countering violent terrorism, radicalization, and separatism, not about human rights or religion. “The Chinese authorities are taking a host of decisive, robust, and effective deradicalization measures. The region of Xinjiang now enjoys social stability and harmony as well as economic development”, the statement from the Chinese government read in an attempt to counter ‘lies and disinformation on Xinjiang’.

Earlier last week, the consortium of 14 media outlets including the BBC and USA Today published the report as the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet visited the region in Xinjiang. The data was hacked from the Public Security Bureau computers from Konasheher and Tekes in Xinjiang and then was provided to Dr. Zens who later researched and submitted it to the consortium of 14 media outlets. The consortium verified the data and found that the files containing more than 5,000 police photographs and the internment details for more than 20,000 Uyghurs are of real, existing people.

Uyghurs and other minorities in China

The Xinjiang region which is located in the northwest region of China is home to the Uyghur population which is ethnically different from the mainstream Han Chinese people. According to the reports, many Uyghurs consider their own culture distinct from that of the Han Chinese majority. The relationship between the community and the government has been under severe stress as the Chinese government has designated many Uyghurs groups and individuals as terrorists and extremists. The Chinese government has also made several attempts to resettle more Han Chinese people in the Xinjiang region for top jobs, leading to some resentment among Uyghurs.

Chinese Media reported several incidents of ethnic clashes between Uyghur Muslims and Hans dating from the year 2000 to 2016. In the year 2013, the BBC reported that nearly 21 people were killed in the ethnic clash incident between the Uyghur Muslims and Hans Chinese community including 15 police officers. Later 35 people were killed in clashes which Chinese official media reported as a result of the attack on a police station and government building by a group of 17 knife-wielding Uyghur men. The Chinese authorities pronounced the event a terrorist attack and prevented the foreign media outlets to investigate the matter. Meanwhile, the World Uyghur Congress blamed the event on ‘continued suppression and provocation’ by Chinese authorities in the region.

The incidents continued till the year 2016 resulting in over a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries in the Xijiang region. The Chinese government then began seeing the Uyghur Muslims as a problem and threat to the country. Since the year 2018, international organizations reported the detention of Uyghurs in large numbers in China. The country however kept on denying such reports. It said that the Uyghurs were being given vocational training. It maintained that some of the camps that have been constructed, as confirmed by satellite images, were ‘de-radicalization’ and ‘counter-terrorism’ centers. However, the Xinjiang police files leaked recently revealed that around 2 million Uyghurs are in these camps.

What more do the Xinjiang police files reveal?

According to the report, some of the photographs of the 2884 detainees of the ‘re-education camp’ show guards standing by, armed with batons. It refutes Chinese claims that there is no coercion at these camps. The report also mentions that many of them have been detained for no reason or for unsound reasons. The Xinjiang Police Files further contain another set of documents that shows detainees photographed in the prison-like surroundings of these ‘re-education camps’ that China insists are ‘vocational schools’.

Image Source- BBC

Blindfolds, handcuffs, and shackles mandatory for ‘students’ being transferred between facilities or even to hospitals, backed with an extreme level of physical control are a common sight. The documents further show Chinese authorities treating the ‘students’ as they usually treat the detainees in the detention centers. They also run the indoctrination centers at these camps, again making no differentiation between the camps and the prison.

Global response to the report

As the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet visited the region last week. The US and the UK have both expressed skepticism over what could be realistically achieved on Bachelet’s trip. Caroline Wilson, the British Ambassador to China said on May 23 that she had stressed the importance of unfettered access to Xinjiang to ensure private conversations with the people. “There is no excuse for preventing UN representatives from completing their investigations”, she tweeted.

Also, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the latest reports add to the already extensive body of evidence against China’s human rights violations. “We reiterate our longstanding expectation that China grants the UN high commissioner for human rights full and unfettered access to the region so that she can conduct a thorough assessment of the facts on the ground, and we are following her visit this week closely. If such access is not forthcoming, the visit will only serve to highlight China’s attempts to hide the truth of its actions in Xinjiang”, Truss was quoted as saying.

Further, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a transparent investigation into what he claimed was a ‘very serious human rights violation’. The US said that it was appalled by the findings and that the ‘ongoing genocide’ by China unfortunately continues. Expressing the concerns, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield tweeted, “Horrified by the Xinjiang Police Files, which spotlight China’s mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities.” She asked her office to take a hard look at the faces and press Chinese officials for full, unfettered access and answers.

The ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang

As per the satellite images accessed by the consortium of 14 media outlets, the camps are located in southern Xinjiang, Konasheher, or ‘Shufu’ as termed in Chinese. Also, there’s another such camp in the northern part of Xinjiang named ‘Tekes Detention Centre’. Dr. Zenz in his research report has revealed that a total of 22,762 residents of southern Xinjiang ie more than 12 percent of the adult population have been housed either in a camp or a prison in the years 2017 and 2018. If the data for the entire Xinjiang is considered, more than 1.2 million Uyghur and other Muslim minority adults have been in the camps, claims which China has always dismissed.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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