A series of leaked documents threatens to shine a spotlight on the Chinese government’s Xinjiang detention centers, indicating what Beijing claims are voluntary training schools for Muslim-majority Uyghurs are in fact heavily policed re-education camps.
Published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Sunday, the six documents include one lengthy “telegram” from the government commission in charge of security in Xinjiang, as well as a court ruling and four security bulletins.
The documents, mostly from 2017, reveal plans to construct a large number of heavily secured facilities in which detainees are forcibly taught in the Chinese language, proper “manners”, and “ideological education.”
Release would only come after a year, and only when the student had achieved the total point score that merited their freedom. “Take the student’s score as the basic basis for measuring the effectiveness of education and training and link it directly to rewards, punishments and family visits,” the document said.
CNN has not been able to independently verify the six documents. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the reporting on the cables was a “despicable ploy.” He didn’t say whether the documents themselves were real or fake.
Beijing has repeatedly insisted that the massive camps are voluntary vocational training centers, and throughout the documents the centers are referred to as “training facilities” and the inmates as “students.”
But the documents also refer extensively to high security, locked doors and an insistence that inmates must not be allowed to escape. Surveillance cameras and 24-hour guard rosters are mandated.
According to the US State Department, up to 2 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups have been detained in the camps, a system that former detainees said was created to eradicate their language and cultural heritage.
This is the second trove of leaked documents to be published in just over a week. On November 16 the New York Times revealed what it said were more than 400 pages of sensitive Communist Party documents, which for the first time linked Chinese President Xi Jinping directly to the mass detention centers.
In a previously unpublished speech from 2014, Xi called for local officials to show “absolutely no mercy” in a crackdown on “terrorism … and separatism.” The Xinjiang government said in a statement that the documents cited by the New York Times were fake.
CNN has reached out to the regional government for comment after the publication of the new batch of documents.