Playing into the state’s propaganda that Uyghur Muslims are inherently violent, dirty, and uncivilized, part of the ideological indoctrination is to educate those detained in ‘manners’. The documents reveal that those detained are forced into education classes that teach them how to have “timely haircuts and shaves”, have a “regular change of clothes”, and to ensure that they are “bathing once or twice a week”.
Secret documents expose details of China’s concentration camps for ethnic Muslims
New classified and secret documents have been obtained and verified by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, that highlight in detail the inner workings of China’s mass concentration camps for mainly ethnic Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. Thought to be currently detaining more than one million ethnic Muslims in what is being called the largest mass incarceration of peoples since the Holocaust, China continues to move with impunity despite the ongoing genocide.
These documents, most of which were issued by the Chinese state in 2017, came from an anonymous source and were verified by consulting experts on the region, cross-checking the content and various testimonies, and comparing the numerous signatures throughout the official documents. Issued by the Xinjiang Communist Party Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the documents have added to the already growing number of testimonies, smuggled documents, and satellite imagery that all point towards China’s genocide of the ethnic Muslim population of the region.
Adrian Zenze, a leading security expert on the growing catastrophe in Xinjiang, told Al Jazeera:
We [now] have an unprecedented insight into what the Chinese government is really doing: a cultural genocide, and… coercive social re-engineering. The end game is to change an entire minority population.”
These new documents have been hailed as the most significant in terms of information that exposes the current situation in Xinjiang, and lays out in detail how these mass detention camps are really operating. It worryingly highlighted the Chinese government’s systematic attempt to rewire the thoughts of Ugyhur Muslims, change the language they speak, and ensure a complete loyalty towards the Chinese Communist Party.
These papers also detailed the physical aspect of the concentration camps, describing watch towers, double-locked doors, and massive video surveillance systems to ensure none could escape. Artificial intelligence is also being used to control the mass numbers of detainees, with facial recognition software and massive databases that holds the names of at least one million of the mostly Uyghur Muslims held in these concentration camps.
In addition to this, the documents revealed that the Chinese government has established an intricate scoring system, in which the ethnic Muslims detained are given a scoring system, where they or their families are punished for not scoring high enough on aspects such as how well they speak Mandarin Chinese, memorize Communist Party ideology, and adhere to the strict camp rules such as how quickly they use the toilet or washroom. Human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar told Al Jazeera:
It’s a completely Orwellian system of ethnic cleansing, where China is acting as big brother.”
The Integrated Joint Operations Platform system was also mentioned in the secret papers; a system built by a Chinese state-owned military contractor and one of the main ways in which the state controls the Uyghur population through artificial intelligence and massive surveillance systems. The IJOP flags the names of Uyghur Muslims who acted in what the state deems as ‘suspicious behaviour’ – which can include praying, using unregistered phone apps, or sending messages that are not deemed appropriate with government thinking.
Those deemed ‘suspicious’ by the IJOP system were then either called in for questioning, given house arrest, or immediately sent to one of the numerous concentration camps across Xinjiang. In whatever case, they are then forced into some form of indoctrination by the Chinese state to ensure they do not continue down a road of ‘extremism’.
The ideological indoctrination that the Chinese state enforces of its detained Muslim population is a blatant example of cultural genocide – and the documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists only highlight some of the most brutal tactics of ideological and psychological indoctrination that lies as a part of the state’s wider act of ethnic cleansing.
Playing into the state’s propaganda that Uyghur Muslims are inherently violent, dirty, and uncivilized, part of the ideological indoctrination is to educate those detained in ‘manners’. The documents reveal that those detained are forced into education classes that teach them how to have “timely haircuts and shaves”, have a “regular change of clothes”, and to ensure that they are “bathing once or twice a week”. This, paired with inhumane camp rules, all adds up to an almost unarguable case of human rights abuse and systematic attempt by the Chinese government at orchestrating a complete ethnic cleansing of the minority Uyghur population.
Gulbakhar Jalilova, a former detainee of one of the numerous concentration camps across Xinjiang, recounted:
We had to talk to a speaker to get permission to go to the toilet. Some of us were able to go in this time, and some weren’t.”
Despite the horrendous abuse that has been highlighted in these documents, China continues to deny all allegations of human rights abuses that are currently happening in Xinjiang. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, called the documents “pure fabrications” and “fake news” at a press conference on Monday. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang also stated: “It is precisely because of a series of preventive counter-terrorism and de-extremism measure taken in a timely manner that Xinjiang has not seen a single terrorist incident for three years”.
What the Chinese state deems as terrorism is obviously not in correlation with basic human rights law, however, as the state continues to operate a system of state-terror and genocide onto the ethnic Muslims of the region, who for all intents and purposes remain at fault simply because they happen to be Muslim. It remains to be seen whether China will ever be held to account for one of modern history’s most horrendous human rights abuses.