Shortly before UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Xinjiang, an international media consortium published further evidence of the mass detention of Uyghurs in China. Photos, speeches and instructions from the authorities proved that the camps are not, as the Chinese government claims, “professional training institutions”, said the Bayerische Rundfunk (BR) and “Spiegel” involved in the research on Tuesday.

The dataset includes a previously unknown 2017 speech by the former party leader of the Xinjiang region, which stated that any prisoner who tried to escape even a few steps was to be “shooted”. Security forces with assault rifles can be seen in the pictures. A photo also shows a prisoner in a so-called tiger chair – a torture device in which the legs are overstretched.

The Chinese embassy in the US said the measures in Xinjiang were aimed at countering terrorist efforts and that it was not about “human rights or a religion”.

According to the announcement, the data set was leaked to the German anthropologist Adrian Zenz. This is a well-known China researcher in the USA who pointed out the alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang early on and was sanctioned by Beijing in 2021. He shared the data with a total of 14 Western media outlets.

The chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens), called for new sanctions against China to BR and “Spiegel”. The “images of horror” should lead to the European Union taking a clear position.

Bachelet is expected to visit the Xinjiang cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on Tuesday and Wednesday. The government in Beijing is accused of detaining more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far western region of the country in “re-education camps”. Beijing is accused, among other things, of forced sterilization and forced labour.

In addition, the authorities should raze cultural sites to the ground. The entire region is under strict surveillance. The US speaks of a genocide. They had also expressed doubts that Bachelet would get an “unmanipulated” picture of the situation. China vehemently denies the allegations.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Bachelet is currently visiting the region in north-west China. The Chilean is accompanied by demands to finally publish a long-suppressed report on the situation of the Uyghurs.

According to research, China’s authorities have detained more than a million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in detention camps. Beijing claims that these are vocational training centers that are attended voluntarily.

However, former detainees report rape, torture and political indoctrination. Guards control the camps with tear gas, stun guns and spiked batons, according to government documents seen by AFP in 2018. Accordingly, barbed wire and infrared cameras are also used, including drones.

A series of leaked government data has provided insights into Beijing’s detention strategy in recent years. For example, a 2016 handbook for government officials in the region, obtained by David Tobin of Sheffield University, details interrogation methods.