A report made by a consortium of 14 media organizations from 11 countries and released this Tuesday (24) proves the policy of mass incarceration of members of the Uighur Muslim minority in the Chinese region of Xinjiang and refutes Beijing’s claim that members of this population would only be subjected to “re-education” with the aim of combat “religious extremism” and terrorism.
The Xinjiang Police Archives, as the investigation was called, emerged from a hacking of local police computer servers, data that was passed on to Adrian Zenz, a researcher at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, located in the United States. The information goes up to the year of 2018.
For months, the authenticity of the files was investigated by the press and now the result of the work proves the violation of the rights of the Uighurs (classified as genocide by the US government) as a state policy in China.
According to the BBC, one of the members of the consortium, the hacked files contain more than 5,000 photographs of Uighurs taken by police between January and July of 2018. More than half of the people photographed would have been detained by the Chinese dictatorship.
The investigation also revealed a set of 452 spreadsheets with names, addresses and identification numbers of more 452 1,000 Uighurs, detailing who were detained, in what type of facility and why.
The documents show the arbitrariness of the arrests: in addition to retroactive punishments for accusations from years or even decades ago, it is noteworthy how trivial acts are considered crimes by the Chinese authorities.
A man was imprisoned for ten years for having “studied Islamic scriptures with his grandmother”. Another was detained for preaching and studying Islamic scriptures in the 1990s 1980 and for more recently “growing a beard under the influence of religious extremism.”
According to the BBC, there are also records of people punished with up to ten years in prison for not using their cell phones enough or because “their cell phone has run out of credit”, which would be signs that they were trying to circumvent the government’s digital surveillance.
In addition, internal police protocols contained in the archives belie the Chinese argument that the structures where the Uighurs were taken were re-education camps, as they describe the presence of armed police in all areas of the camps. , the placement of machine guns and rifles in the watchtowers and a shoot-to-kill policy on those who tried to flee.
The Xinjiang Police Archives are released just in the week that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachel et, visit to China – the region in the Chinese Northwest will be one of the places visited. Entities representing the Uighurs reported fears that the Chinese dictatorship could manipulate the visit so that it could be used as a “propaganda tool”.