'No Mercy': Leaked Documents Detail China's Mass Detention Policy

Hundreds of pages of leaked documents have provided an insight into China's mass detention of ethnic minorities under the guise of combating extremism in the Xianjiang region.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered officials to "show no mercy" in its mass detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, according to a leaked document obtained by the New York Times.

Revelations from the 400-page report showed Xi ordered a crackdown on "terrorism" and "separatism" in the predominately Muslim region after Uyghur militants fatally stabbed 31 people at a train station in 2014.

Xi did not order the construction of mass detention camps specifically in the document but called for the party to use "organs of dictatorship" against extremism.

The United Nations claims up to one million Uyghurs have been detained. Image: Getty

According to the United Nations, one million Uyghurs have been detained in the secret facilities which Beijing calls "re-education camps".

Beijing claims these facilities provide students with job skills and help combat religious extremism.

Detainees have reported undergoing political indoctrination with Chinese Communist Party ideals, flag-raising ceremonies and being forced to learn Mandarin Chinese.

The internal document was distributed by an anonymous source to the New York Times who hoped the report "would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions".



Xinjiang Explained: What Is Happening In China's Uighur Internment Camps?

It's being called "cultural genocide", with detention camps in China's Xinjiang province holding an estimated 1.5 million members of a Muslim minority group.

The document was divided into four sections; internal speeches by Xi, speeches by other officials, reports on surveillance tactics of Uyghurs and investigations into local officials.

It detailed a script showing how officials were instructed to silence families who were questioning the whereabouts of their relatives.

Officials were told to console families before telling them that their relatives were "infected" by the "virus" of Islamic radicalism.

A demonstrator attends a protest denouncing the treatment of Uyghurs. Image: Getty

“If they don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism,” one answer said.

"If you want to see them, we can arrange for you to have a video meeting.”

Families were warned their behaviour could lengthen or shorten their relatives internment.

“Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules, and not believe or spread rumors," the document said.

“Only then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Image: Getty

If family members asked if their relatives had committed a crime, they were instructed to answer that "It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts."

Another major revelation from the document was the refusal of some local officials to comply with Beijing's mass detention policy.

More than 12,000 investigations were undertaken for violations related to the “fight against separatism" in 2017.

Internal documents showed one Han Chinese official was jailed for trying to slow down the detentions and protect Uighur officials.

Beijing has not responded to the released documents and the New York Times is censored in mainland China.

Contact the author