Leaked Chinese government documents have revealed the extent of Beijing's crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslims in the western Xinjiang region under President Xi Jinping’s orders to act with "absolutely no mercy" against separatism and extremism, The New York Times reported on Saturday November 16th.
UN experts and activists say at least one million Uighurs and members of other minority groups, mostly Muslim, have been rounded up in a network of internment camps in Xinjiang in a campaign condemned by the United States and other countries.
The 403 pages of internal papers obtained by the New York Times provide an unprecedented look into the highly secretive Communist Party's controversial crackdown, which has come under increasing international criticism, according to AFP.
The documents include previously unpublished speeches by Xi as well as directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population, the newspaper said over the weekend.
The newspaper said a "member of the Chinese political establishment" leaked the documents showing how Xi delivered a series of internal speeches to officials during and after a 2014 visit to Xinjiang after Uighur gunmen stabbed 31 people at a railway station. The report said Xi called for an all-out "struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism" using the "organs of dictatorship," and showing "absolutely no mercy", according to the newspaper.
The leak also suggests that there has been some discontent within the party about the crackdown and the person supplying the documents expressed the hope that the disclosure would prevent the leadership, including Xi, from "escaping culpability for the mass detentions", the Times said.
The internment camps expanded rapidly following the appointment in 2016 of a new party chief in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo. He is reputed to have led iron-fisted policies aimed at crushing dissent in Tibet.
Officials were instructed to say that people had been infected with the "virus" of extremist thinking and needed to be treated before "a small illness becomes a serious one".
Beijing denies the abuse of Uighurs or others in Xinjiang and says it provides vocational training to help stop Islamic extremism and separatism through education and job training to teach new skills.
According to AFP, the fact that the documents were leaked is a significant indicator that there are many inside the party who think this is an unwise policy and wish to hold Xi Jinping and Chen Quanguo accountable.
China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request faxed from Reuters for comment on Sunday.