Thousands of photos and official documents from Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have been leaked. It reveals the extent of alleged abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other Muslim minorities in China’s western region.
While activists accuse Chinese authorities of arresting at least 1 million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the region’s network of detention camps and prisons, Beijing, which initially denied the existence of the camps, later in 2018 argued that the facilities were vocational skills training centres, and Uyghurs and other minorities attended them voluntarily.
However, surely this collection of leaked photos and documents proves that the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims is far from voluntary. The files were obtained from Adrian Zenz, a US-based anti-communist academic from an anonymous source who hacked official databases in Xinjiang.
Leaked documents show top leaders in Beijing, including President Xi Jinping, are calling for a forceful crackdown. There was also an internal 2017 speech by Chen Quanguo, the former secretary of the Communist Party in Xinjiang. He allegedly ordered guards to shoot dead anyone who tried to escape and recruit officials in the area to exercise strict control over religious adherents.
Some of the most disturbing files are the 5,000 photos taken in the internment camps including 2,884 Uyghur detainees photographed by police officers. The photo provides an overview of life in a detention facility where officers can be seen holding inmates hooded and shackled with batons, while other guards wearing camouflage stand with firearms.
The leaked documents show very clearly how the region’s leaders view minority populations as a security threat. Minister of Public Security Zhao Kenzhi even mentioned that more than 2 million people in Southern Xinjiang have been severely influenced by the infiltration of extremist religious thought.
The leak of this document coincided with the visit of UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet to Xinjiang this week. But the visit is expected to be very well organised, despite Bachelet’s repeated requests for unrestricted access to the region.
On the other hand, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the leaked documents and called them material created by “anti-China forces” created to smear Xinjiang. Spokesman Wang Webin also accused the media of spreading lies and rumours.