More lurid evidence of Chinese repression is emerging in the Muslim region of Xinjiang. Coinciding with the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, an international media consortium, including the BBC, publishes thousands of police photos of detainees in re-education camps and secret documents that have apparently been stolen by computer hackers from the regime's computers.
Bearing an ominous resemblance to the files of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, these photos show nearly 3,000 Uyghurs arrested in 2017 and 2018. With glazed eyes trying to hold back tears, a one of them is Hawagul Tewekkul, a 50-year-old woman detained for re-education in October 2017.
In addition to the expressions of fear or despair on their faces, some images reveal the coercion by showing guards armed with batons behind the detainees.
As reflected in the thousands of leaked files, Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang are interned in re-education camps for crimes such as "having traveled to sensitive countries", that is to say Islamic, "having strong religious leanings" such as not drinking alcohol or smoke, grow a beard or read the Koran even years ago. As accomplices, even their relatives can be declared "guilty by association" and sentenced to sentences ranging from seven to 25 years in prison. According to the documents obtained by the BBC, there are 452 spreadsheets with data on a quarter of a million Uyghurs that collect who has been detained and why and the institution where they have been confined.
Among them, the youngest detainee is Rahile Omer, a girl of only 15 years, and the oldest Anihan Hamit, 73. Also noteworthy are the photos of children with shaved hair, which suggests that they have been interned in state reform schools after be separated from their parents after their conviction. That appears to be the case for Ruzigul and Ayshem Turghun, aged ten and six respectively when their parents, Tursun Memetimin and Ahisgul Turghun, were sent to a re-education camp in 2018 for having "listened to prohibited recordings" on someone else's mobile phone. years ago.
Dating back to the 1980s, when he studied the Koran, this retroactive offense also applies to Tursun Kadir, a 58-year-old man sentenced to 16 years and 11 months, among other things, for "growing a beard under the influence of religious extremism." In the police file he appears before and after the authorities shaved off his dangerous beard.
According to the BBC, all this evidence has been extracted from the Xinjiang Police servers by "hackers", who have delivered it to the investigator Adrian Zenz, of the Foundation in Remembrance of the Victims of Communism. From this organization, Zenz has denounced with a profusion of documents the repression of the authoritarian Chinese regime in the remote region of Xinjiang, where it is estimated that one million Uyghurs have passed through its re-education camps just because they are Muslims.
Although Beijing initially denied its existence, it eventually came to terms with the emergence of numerous photos and satellite images of internment camps with high walls, barbed wire and watchtowers. But the Chinese regime continues to insist that they are vocational training schools to prevent Islamist terrorism, which has shaken the region and other Chinese cities in the past in the form of riots and attacks. According to a 'White Paper' published in 2020, 1.3 million people have received this "vocational training" in Xinjiang between 2014 and 2019.
The leaked documents also include photos of indoctrination classes and of the police and army leading handcuffed detainees to cells, in what appear to be mock riots. In addition, they collect the orders and secret speeches of high officials such as the Minister of Public Security, Zhao Kezhi, who in 2018 aimed at "re-educating" two million Uyghurs "infected with extremist thoughts." Since there are no documents after 2018, everything indicates that the regime has reinforced the regime's encryption systems to prevent leaks like this one. From the dead expression in their eyes, these faces of repression add more questions for Beijing and for the UN on Bachelet's trip to Xinjiang.