5 Takeaways From the Leaked Files on China’s Mass Detention of Muslims

Hundreds of pages of internal papers offer new insight into how the program began, how it was justified even as the damage it caused was clear, and how some officials resisted it.

The New York Times
Date: Nov. 16, 2019
By: Austin Ramzy

The entrance to a re-education camp at Harmony New Village, in Hotan, Xinjiang, China.Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Internal Chinese government documents obtained by The New York Times have revealed new details on the origins and execution of China’s mass detention of as many as one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The 403 pages reveal how the demands of top officials, including President Xi Jinping, led to the creation of the indoctrination camps, which have long been shrouded in secrecy. The documents also show that the government acknowledged internally that the campaign had torn families apart — even as it explained it as a modest job-training effort — and that the program faced unexpected resistance from officials who feared a backlash and economic damage.

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‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims

A member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity brought the documents to light in hopes that their disclosure would prevent Communist Party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping responsibility for the program. It is one of the most significant leaks of papers from inside the ruling Communist Party in decades.

Here are five takeaways from the documents.

Privately, officials were blunt about the consequences.

The Chinese government has described its efforts in Xinjiang as a benevolent campaign to curb extremism by training people to find better jobs. But the documents reveal the party’s efforts to organize a ruthless campaign of mass detention in the name of curbing terrorism, a program whose consequences they discussed with cool detachment.

The papers describe how parents were taken away from children, how students wondered who would pay their tuition, and how crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of workers. Yet officials were directed to tell people that they should be grateful for the Communist Party’s help, and that if they complained, they might make things worse for their family.    [FULL  STORY]