Official documents hacked from the Chinese authorities' servers have been published: 3,000 photographs of detainees, several videos, 20,000 arrest reports and over 300,000 personal details. They confirm that those in the Chinese region are concentration camps for Turkish-speaking minorities of the Islamic faith.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The US Foundation for the Remembrance of Victims of Communism has published secret materials on "re-education camps" in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang. The documents were obtained thanks to the hacking of local police servers. Adrian Zenz, a German anthropologist who became known for his research on the cultural genocide of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, received the documents from a source who preferred to remain anonymous, creating a special site called 'The police fake news in Xinjiang'.
The site contains dozens of operational directives for Chinese police officers, more than 3,000 photos of detainees, several videos, 20,000 arrest reports, and more than 300,000 personal data of Xinjiang inhabitants. Foundation staff worked for over six months on the systematisation of all these materials. Zenz himself gave an interview to the BBC, in which he explains that the documents confirm that the re-education camps are by no means 'voluntary training institutions', as the authorities in China repeat.
As Zenz recounts, 'we have everything, the confidential documents, the stenograms of the leaders' speeches, in which they speak freely about what they think, the electronic tables and the pictures. This is unprecedented documentation that belies the entire Chinese propaganda narrative'. The police files contain minutes indicating the mandatory presence of armed guards in the camps, the disposition of weapons and ammunition in the depots, and precise directives regarding the need to open fire on those attempting to escape. It is also ordered to blindfold, apply handcuffs and shackles to the feet of any 'student' who has to be transported from one camp to another, or even to hospital.
The published materials confirm the claims of humanitarian activists that the Muslim population of Xinjiang is being repressed for the mere public expression of their religious faith. As an example, BBC journalists extracted from the files the story of Tadžigul Tahir: a woman is shown in the photograph, and in the background people with truncheons. Tadžigul ended up in the concentration camp because of her son, also interned on terrorism charges, who is described in the records as a 'person with stubborn religious convictions' only because he does not drink or smoke.
There are many other examples of people being retroactively punished for actions performed many years earlier, even decades, such as studying Islamic texts at school age. The authorities have sentenced some of them to 10 years in prison for insufficient use of their computer devices, and in many cases people are punished for zero credit on their telephone lines, actions considered to be attempts to evade continuous digital surveillance.
Experts believe that the police files reveal not only many details of the Chinese prison system, but also its overall extent. Zenz points out that most of the material relates to the province of Konašekher, the analysis of which shows that in the years 2017-2018 there were around 23,000 inmates there alone, i.e. more than 12 per cent of the entire local population. The authenticity of the photographs found was confirmed by experts from the Californian University of Berkeley, while the Chinese embassy in Washington commented on the published files that they were only 'materials related to the fight against terrorism, radicalism and separatism', and that there were no elements touching on human rights or religious freedom.