Leaked papers on China's Muslim mass detention policies show President Xi Jinping urging the ruling party to use the 'organs of dictatorship' to round up the ethnic minority

Xi JinpingChinese President Xi JinpingReuters/Pool

  • In one of the biggest leaks from the inside of China's secretive ruling party, The New York Times revealed more than 400 documents that detail China's policies on its Muslim detention camps, where it's estimated that more than 3 million people are being held.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping urges the party to use the "organs of dictatorship" to carry out the policies, and referenced the United States' war on terror following 9/11 as an example of how to crack down on civil liberties.
  • China began rounding up members of the Uighur ethnic group in 2017 and forcing them to attend indoctrination camps.
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With more than 3 million people now being held in forced indoctrination camps in western China, ruling party is beginning to experience some cracks in its once impenetrable facade.

One of the biggest leaks in the history of the country published Saturday by The New York Times detailed the ways the country forced a Muslim minority group into camps, how Chinese officials should communicate with children of parents that were taken, and the extent to which Chinese President Xi Jinping was involved in the formation of the policy.

Xi pushed the party to use the "organs of dictatorship" to move millions of the minority group, Uighur Muslims, into the camps in western China and cited the United States' war on terror following 9/11 for an example of how to limit civil liberties.

Speeches from Xi in the documents show a man obsessed with terrorism following a 2014 attack at a train station by Uighur militants that left 31 people dead.

Xi pushed for showing the group "absolutely no mercy" in his quest to shut down "terrorism, infiltration, and separatism."

The Uighur group and other minority ethnic groups make up millions of people in rural western China, which has borders with countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Muslims are the majority of the population. The Uighur group is the largest of these groups, speaks a different language, and has been at odds with the Chinese government for a long time.

There were ethnic riots in the region's largest city, Urumqi, in 2009, and an anti-government group killed dozens in 2014 at an outdoor market.

The New York Times story notes the script Chinese officials were instructed to go through with students who returned home from college to find their families missing. They should be told that their families are not criminals but that they cannot leave the camps - and that any trouble caused by the students could extend their families' stays in the camps.

"I'm sure that you will support them, because this is for your own good, and also for your own good," officials were instructed to say.

Officials were also supposed to play the camps as being nicer than some of the detainees' homes, and tell family members and students that "tuition for their period of study is free and so are food and living costs."

It's unclear how many people are being detained by the government currently. An activist group recently released maps that show roughly 465 camps, more than anyone has pinpointed before.

The camps differ between labor camps, prisons, and concentration camps. Former detainees have said officials have performed medical experiments on them and forced them to sing propaganda songs to get food, while women have been raped.

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