WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Recently leaked documents confirm China is committing “very significant” human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other minority groups in mass detention, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
An international group of journalists released classified Chinese government documents on Sunday that described repressive inner workings of detention camps in China’s troubled western region of Xinjiang.
“These reports are consistent with an overwhelming and growing body of evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is committing human rights violations and abuses against individuals in mass detention,” Pompeo told a news conference, calling on Beijing to release all those arbitrarily detained.
He said the information in the documents confirmed that “very significant” human rights abuses were taking place.
“It shows that it’s not random, that it is intentional and that it’s ongoing,” he said.
The publication of the documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) followed a Nov. 16 New York Times report based on a cache of secret papers revealing details of China’s clampdown on ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in the region.
United Nations experts and activists say at least 1 million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.
The ICIJ said it obtained a 2017 list of guidelines “that effectively serves as a manual for operating the camps,” with instructions on how to prevent escapes, maintain secrecy about the camps’ existence, indoctrinate internees and “when to let detainees see relatives or even use the toilet.”
Other documents it obtained include “intelligence briefings” showing how police have been “guided by a massive data collection and analysis system that uses artificial intelligence to select entire categories of Xinjiang residents for detention.”
Beijing denies any mistreatment of Uighurs or others in Xinjiang, saying it is providing vocational training to help stamp out Islamist extremism and separatism and to teach new skills. It dismissed the latest reports as slander.
The leaks have come amid a rising international outcry over China’s broader human rights record in Xinjiang. The United States has led more than 30 countries in condemning what it called a “horrific campaign of repression.”
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk and Daphne Psaledakis; Writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Jonathan Oatis)