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Data leak reveals extent of repression in Xinjiang: Reports

Data leak reveals extent of repression in Xinjiang: Reports

dpa
Berlin
New revelations from a data leak demonstrate the extent of persecution and mass internment in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang, according to media reports.
The “Xinjiang Police Files” were reported on Tuesday by an international media network including Britain’s BBC, USA Today, German news magazine Der Spiegel, southern German public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk and French newspaper Le Monde.
The publication coincides with the ongoing visit to China of UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, who also plans to visit Xinjiang.
According to the media reports, the documents, thousands of photos and official speeches offer a rare glimpse into the re-education camps and treatment of Muslim minority Uighurs and other minorities, and the hard line of Chinese rule.
According to these accounts, the information contradicts official Chinese claims that the camps were “training facilities” that were voluntarily attended.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addressed the “shocking” reports in a videoconference with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, the Foreign Ministry said in Berlin on Tuesday.
The reports showed “new evidence of very serious human rights violations in Xinjiang and called for a transparent investigation,” according to a ministry statement.
The data was leaked to researcher Adrian Zenz, who works at the Washington Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and has previously documented persecution in Xinjiang in other publications.
One photograph showed a prisoner restrained in a so-called “tiger chair” often used for interrogation under torture, Der Spiegel reported, while another showed a man with visible signs of violence to his chest and back. Yet another showed a man with his legs and arms tied and a hood over his head.
The images taken in 2018 are from a re-education camp in Tekes to the west of Ürümqi and are among files totalling 10 gigabytes, the magazine reported. Other photographs showed almost 2,900 detained people, with the youngest 15 and the oldest 73.
One 18-year-old man is reported to have been arrested on account of a two-week fitness course in a gym and sentenced to 12 years in prison for “planning a terrorist act.” The Chinese government charged that “anti-Chinese forces” were behind the publication.
“Spreading lies and rumours is unable to deceive the world or conceal the fact that Xinjiang has a peaceful and prosperous society and a flourishing economy, and the people live and work in peace and happiness,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told journalists in Beijing.
Yi highlighted China’s work to safeguard human rights at a meeting with Bachelet in Guangzhou in southern China on Monday. China had made protecting minorities “a major part of its work,” Wang said, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Human rights organizations allege that hundreds of thousands of people have been interned in re-education camps.
The Chinese government accuses Uighurs in the region of promoting separatism, extremism and terrorism. Members of the Muslim minority say they are subject to political, religious and cultural oppression.
The communist government incorporated the former the former East Turkestan into the People’s Republic of China after taking power in 1949.