More secrets of China’s Xinjiang camps leaked to foreign media

Image: Website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Classified Chinese government documents made public by an international group of journalists describe the repressive inner workings of detention camps in Xinjiang, in a second rare leak in days of secret files concerning the troubled western region.

The publication on Sunday (24 November) of the documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) follows a New York Times report on 16 November based on a cache of secret papers revealing details of China’s clamp-down on ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in the region.

United Nations experts and activists say at least 1 million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.

The ICIJ here says it obtained a 2017 list of guidelines “that effectively serves as a manual for operating the camps”, with instructions on how to prevent escapes, maintain secrecy about the camps’ existence, indoctrinate internees and “when to let detainees see relatives or even use the toilet”.

Other documents it obtained include “intelligence briefings” showing how police have been “guided by a massive data collection and analysis system that uses artificial intelligence to select entire categories of Xinjiang residents for detention”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news conference on Monday that Xinjiang affairs were an internal matter of China’s, and that a stable and prosperous Xinjiang was the best response to what he said amounted to slander.

The Guardian newspaper, an ICIJ affiliate, reported the Chinese embassy in London as saying “the so called leaked documents are pure fabrication and fake news”.

Asked by EURACTIV to comment, the Commission only repeated its long-standing position that it firmly opposes the restrictions to fundamental rights in Xinjiang. This position, she added, was constantly raised by EU representatives both bilaterally and in multilateral fora.

“We’ve continuously spoken out against the existence of re-education camps, widespread  surveillance and restriction on religion and belief against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang”, she said.

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