According to media sources, a leak of thousands of images and official documents from China’s Xinjiang province has given new light on the scale of crimes against the Uighur and other Muslim minorities, including widespread detention.
The materials were secured by professor Adrian Zenz and published as UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet prepares to travel to Xinjiang for a long-awaited and contentious visit. For its treatment of the majority-Muslim Uighurs, rights groups have accused Beijing of crimes against humanity.
Activists claim that Chinese authorities have incarcerated over a million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in a network of detention centers and prisons across the region, which Beijing defends as vocational education and training centers.
However, the trove of police photographs and internal documents sent to Zenz by an anonymous source who hacked into official Xinjiang databases adds to evidence that the mass detentions were not voluntary, with leaked documents showing top leaders in Beijing, including President Xi Jinping, calling for a harsh crackdown.
In a 2017 internal speech, Chen Quanguo, a former Communist Party secretary in Xinjiang, allegedly instructed guards to shoot anyone who tries to flee and urged officials in the province to “take tight control over religious believers,” according to the files.
Public security minister Zhao Kezhi mentioned direct orders from Xi to expand the capacity of detention centers in a 2018 internal speech.
After originally denying their existence, Beijing now claims the facilities voluntarily attended vocational training courses geared at combating “religious extremism.”
However, the released documents revealed how leaders viewed minorities as a security concern, with Zhao warning that over two million people in southern Xinjiang alone had been “severely influenced by the infiltration of radical religious ideology.”