China police 'shoot to kill' disobedient Uyghurs in internment camps

China police 'shoot to kill' disobedient Uyghurs in internment camps
3 min read
24 May, 2022
A cache of documents accessed by various organisations, including the BBC, sheds light on the harrowing conditions inside Xinjiang's internment camps used by the police force to detain Uyghur Muslims.
China has been accused of committing a genocide against its Uyghur Muslim minority by several countries [Getty]

Leaked documents and photographs highlighting police protocols at internment camps in Xinjiang, western China, reveal the inhuman tactics used by Beijing to imprison thousands of China's oppressed Uyghur Muslims

An investigation by the BBC reconstructed the Shufu County New Vocational Skills Education and Training Centre, as the detention centre is called by the authorities, just south of the city of Kashgar in the country's western Xinjiang province. 

It reveals that the 3,722 Uyghur detainees are guarded by more than 366 police officers who stand guard at different points of the premises. 

Policemen inside the buildings armed with batons, shields, and handcuffed oversaw the prisoners, while those stationed in watchtowers and the perimeter - armed with sniper rifles and machine guns - have orders to "shoot to kill" prisoners who try to escape. 

The documents also state that detainees being transferred should be blindfold, handcuffed, and shackled. Those needing medical treatment should be similarly restrained and escorted by four guards, reminiscent of the way other states treat only their most dangerous prisoners. 

A widely shared video from 2018 bears a striking similarity to these instructions, in which groups of prisoners are seen sitting handcuffed, shackled, and blindfolded seated on the ground.

China denied the video was related to the camps, but these leaked documents add credibility to the footage. 

"We are all collectively horrified, particularly in response to the leaked photos," Peter Irwin, Senior Program Officer for Advocacy & Communications for the Uyghur Human Rights Project told The New Arab. "The photos remind us of those on display at Holocaust museums or of the victims of the Khmer Rouge."

"Written documents and evidence of these atrocities have existed for some time now, including lists of detainees, but such a large cache of photos is pretty stunning. They remove any remaining barrier between the public and the Uyghurs directly targeted by the government." he added. 

China has repeatedly been accused of committing gross human rights abuses against the country's Uyghur Muslim minority.

Last week, new data revealed that the Uyghur heartland in western China had the highest detention rate in the world. 

China claims prisoners at these detention camps are being provided with education. Rights groups, however, have accused the Chinese government of committing horrific abuses against the detainees, including torture, rape, and forced sterilisation.

The US has formally accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghurs, as have the parliaments of Canada and the UK and numerous human rights groups.