By Lawrence A. Franklin
Previous leaks of official documents, unauthorized films, commercial satellite images and testimony from escaped former inmates have scripted a profile of the hell that the Chinese Communist state has crafted for the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.
Documents and photos of thousands of ethnic Uighurs arrested by Chinese authorities, made public in late May, lend additional indisputable evidence to the Communist regime’s massive human rights violations in Xinjiang. Many of the leaked documents are official Chinese Ministry of Interior dossiers of incarcerated individuals just from Shufu, one among 61 counties in Xinjiang Province. The Shufu County in the Kashgar Prefecture is the site of several large internment camps.
One of the leaked documents, which contains “a shoot to kill order” for guards in the camp’s watchtowers, confirms that these camps are indeed prisons. Another leaked report stipulates how detainees are to be transported from one site to an alternate location: ankle shackles, handcuffs and hoods.
The documents also contain policy papers and speeches by high-level officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concerning the “Uyghur Question.” One speech was delivered on June 18, 2018 by Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo , the principal architect of the Uyghur Re-education Infrastructure. Chen developed his minority-suppression model while regional Party leader in Tibet from 2011 to 2016. Chen was then transferred by China’s President Xi Jinping to apply his skills to Xinjiang, where he was Party leader from August 2016 to December 2021. Chen’s replacement should not be viewed as a demotion for Chen. He remains a full (voting) member of the CCP Politburoand may be promoted even further in the upcoming 20th CCP Congress this autumn.
In another report, authored a few days before Chen’s address, China’s Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi draws a solid line connecting Xi and the campaign supposedly to eradicate “separatism, terrorism, and religious extremism” among Xinjiang’s Turkic minorities. The imprisonment and “reprogramming” of the daily lives of millions of Xinjiang’s inhabitants is fully in concert with CCP policy. In fact, the replacement of the brutal Chen as Xinjiang’s Party boss by the hi-tech savvy former Guangdong ProvinceGovernor of Ma Xingrui probably does not signal a decision by China “to clean-up its act” in Xinjiang because of international pressure. It is more likely a sign of the regime’s confidence that the repressive infrastructure it has visited upon Xinjiang’s Muslim minorities has successfully suppressed any separatist sentiment for an independent state in China’s Far West.
The CCP’s propaganda machine has attempted to blunt international criticism but not at price of sacrificing its abusive policies in Xinjiang. The Party has produced several propaganda documentaries on Xinjiang, some of which have been aired on the Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN). These videos of life in Xinjiang display a pluralistic society while modernizing, but that still celebrates ethnic minority traditions. Visiting dignitaries are given orchestrated and “sanitized” tours of allegedly authentic daily life in the province. China’s power, wealth and commercial prowess also tend to dampen or even mute criticism of the CCP’s anti-Islamic regulations from the world’s many Muslimnations. Any citizen of Xinjiang sporting a beard, wearing a veil, attending a religious service or downloading verses from the Koran is subject to arrest and confinement in an internment camp.
Previous leaks of official documents, unauthorized films, commercial satellite images and testimony from escaped former inmates have scripted a profile of the hell that the Chinese Communist state has crafted for the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. This massive province-size gulag regime includes forced abortions, sterilization and rape of female detainees, separation of husbands and wives, removal of children from the custody of parents, obligatory retraining of workers in skills supportive of CCP economic goals, and daily ideological indoctrination of inmates. The comprehensive and intense nature of the persecution of non-Han Chinese minorities in Xinjiang amounts to a conscious plan by China’s leaders to erase the culture and values of the native populations of northwest China. Democratic countries should distribute these leaks globally as cautionary warning to all societies that the CCP’s projected panda bear image of China obscures the reality of a quite different animal with an insatiable appetite.