A few days after a report in the New York Times, secret documents of the Chinese Communist Party have once again come to the public’s attention. They reveal the systematic persecution of Uighurs and Uyghur instruction and instructions on the mass internment of the Muslim minority in northwest China. The papers called China-Cables were published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
They show that the camps designated by Beijing as „continuing education institutions“ in the Xinjiang region are in fact closed-door, strictly guarded re-education camps.
Re-education by no means voluntary
The documents disprove statements by the government that staying in the camps was voluntary. As a rule, inmates are detained there for at least one year. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Uighurs have been put into such reeducation camps.
The secret documents also show how Uighurs are purposefully monitored and recorded in a database. Abroad, China uses its embassies and consulates to spy on Uyghurs.
Picture of a surveillance state
The documents from the years 2017 and 2018 were leaked to the Consortium of exiled Jews. More than 75 journalists from 17 media partners worldwide evaluated the papers, including NDR, WDR and „Süddeutsche Zeitung“. Several have been signed by then vice party chief in Xinjiang, Zhu Hailun. With government documents previously published by The New York Times, China Cables paint the image of a surveillance state in Xinjiang.
An estimated 10 million Uighurs live in China, most of them in Xinjiang. They are ethnically related to the Turks and feel economically, politically and culturally oppressed by the ruling Han Chinese. After their takeover in 1949, the Communists had incorporated the former East Turkestan China. The Beijing government accuses Uighur groups of separatism and terrorism.
Instructions for operation of warehouses
The China Cables include a guide to operating camps, four notices of a surveillance database, and the verdict against a Uighur. At the request of the „Süddeutsche Zeitung“, China’s embassy in Berlin referred to statements stating that the camps were measures to „combat terrorism and de-radicalization as well as vocational education and training“.
The papers include an „Opinion on Further Strengthening and Standardization of Vocational Education and Training Centers“ by the Xinjiang Legal Commission of 2018, as the „South Germans“ report. More than two dozen rules for the operation of the camps are listed. Among other things, it says: „There must be no outbreaks.“
All rooms and corridors had to be closed off strictly. It will be explained how the internees are to monitor the toilet, sleep and lessons, the NDR reported. Also of chastisement is the speech. With a points system the detainees would be evaluated.
Surveillance of Uighurs abroad too
The papers show that China oversees Uighurs overseas. Consulates and embassies collected information for this purpose. If suspects enter China, they would be interned.
To fill the database, NDR not only records IDs and travel, but also sends employees to villages and to families to find out how people think about the party.