Students returning home from college to China’s Xinjiang region earlier this year were shocked to discover their families had been detained in one of the country’s internment camps.
Worse yet, authorities in Xinjiang had prepared scripts to handle the student’s questions and threaten them from acting out for fear their families could be detained longer. The New York Times obtained 403 pages of Chinese documents detailing how the communist country has been interning Muslim-minorities in the country and how they managed to keep the detentions secret for so long. Until this year, China denied the existence of the camps, but then changed their tune and claimed they were educational facilities to better the lives of Muslims.
One document obtained by the Times showed a script for Xinjiang authorities to use to answer student questions.
“They’re in a training school set up by the government,” was to be the answer to students asking what had happened to their families. If the student continued to ask questions, authorities were to tell them that while their relatives were not criminals, they couldn’t leave the “schools.”
Authorities would then threaten the students by saying their relatives could be detained longer or shorter depending on the student’s actions.
“I’m sure that you will support them, because this is for their own good and also for your own good,” authorities would say.
The Times also reported the documents suggested Chinese authorities “were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet” even as students questioned how their tuition would be paid and who would plant crops. The Times included a list of key disclosures from the documents:
President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”
Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment in August 2016 of Chen Quanguo, a zealous new party boss for the region. He distributed Mr. Xi’s speeches to justify the campaign and exhorted officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”
The crackdown encountered doubts and resistance from local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth. Mr. Chen responded by purging officials suspected of standing in his way, including one county leader who was jailed after quietly releasing thousands of inmates from the camps.
As The Daily Wire has previously reported, news of the camps is beginning to trickle out of China. Last month, a former prisoner described how inmates were routinely tortured, sexually abused, and even experimented on.
As the documents obtained by the Times show, anyone who speaks out against the camps get punished. In late October, a police chief who criticized the camps was detained, and the documents said that in the midst of the crackdown, politicians who expressed concern were removed.