Amid international condemnation, China is falsifying information about the real situation in re-education camps and spreads lies through propaganda.
by Chang Xin
Last month, the CCP issued yet another falsified “truth” about transformation through education camps in Xinjiang, where about three million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are detained. Having denied previously that such camps existed at all, later calling them vocational centers, on July 30, two of Xinjiang’s top CCP leaders announced that Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities were detained in camps, but now “maybe 90 percent or more — have found suitable work to their liking,” after the majority of detainees have returned to society and their families.
Attempts by the Chinese authorities to cover up the truth about the camps in Xinjiang comes amid increasing international condemnation and demands by the media and human rights organizations to get unmonitored access to these facilities.
No matter what means the CCP adopts to deceive the public, the ever-growing number of victims share with the world their horrifying experiences about the time spent in transformation through education camps, disclosing the real situation in Xinjiang and “creative” ways the CCP is employing to cover it up.
CCP falsifies detainees’ files
Among the people who agreed to tell Bitter Winter their stories is an Uyghur woman who was recently released from one of the camps. For obvious reasons, we cannot disclose her real name; we will call her Gülna.
The woman spent a year in an internment camp with nearly 5,000 other “students.” Not long ago after her release, some officials came to her home to tell her that her detention file had been destroyed and they needed to take photos of her to create a new record, which shows that she had never been detained in a “study class” but was at home under CCP supervision.
The blatant attempt by the authorities to conceal the truth about her detention shocked the woman who lost a year of her life kept locked up as a prisoner. In the camp, all detainees were divided into four groups, depending on the level of supervision: lenient, ordinary, strict, and enforced, Gülna said. Every day, they spent long hours studying the Chinese language, laws, and regulations; were forced to learn and sing patriotic songs.
“I almost had a breakdown there. The studies were nonstop, and we were treated like prisoners. We had to sit on stools for more than ten hours each day. We all developed severe constipation,” Gülna recalled the year she spent in one of the camps, unable to hide the pain she still feels.
Detainees were under constant surveillance at all times, deprived of any freedom or privacy, accompanied by personnel even when going to the washroom. If a “student” fell ill and needed to go to the hospital for treatment, he or she would be guarded by three heavily-armed officers.
“Some ‘students’ went insane, unable to stand the psychological stress. Some tried to commit suicide by smashing themselves into walls, swallowing nail clippers, or eating metal nails,” the woman said.
Despite having left the depressing, suffocating “study class,” Gülna has not regained her freedom. She is still designated as a “supervised person,” her movement is severely restricted. She must ask for permission from community authorities even when she wants to go shopping and has to return home within a stipulated timeframe. Whenever she leaves her home, and her ID card is scanned, the police is automatically notified, and security guards register her details and question her. “People around stare at me as if I am a criminal. I never want to go shopping again in my life!” she said with anger and sadness.
An illusion of freedom
Gülna’s situation is by no means an isolated case of the CCP’s attempts to cover up the extent of Uyghurs’ persecution in Xinjiang. A government source told Bitter Winter that, to cope with international pressure, the CCP is “beautifying study classes” to conceal the fact that large numbers of innocent people continue to be detained. In one case reported by the source, 4,500 camp detainees were divided into two groups: “less severe cases” were moved from camps to subsidized housing facilities supervised by the state; while those deemed as “hardened criminals” are awaiting trials and will be eventually sentenced to serve time in prison. The sad reality is that the authorities merely moved detainees from transformation through education camps somewhere else, and none of them regained freedom.
As Bitter Winter has previously reported, to hide mass detentions in Xinjiang, large numbers of detainees are being relocated from the region to other localities: the neighboring province of Gansu and more distant places, like Henan Province in central China.
To demonstrate that Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are treated well in China, the authorities are coming up with other means to deceive China’s population and the international community. In July, 500 youths from Xinjiang were taken to Henan for a government-organized sightseeing trip. According to an informed source, these “tourists” were divided into five groups of 100 people to travel to one of five cities in the province, Shangqiu, Luoyang, and Anyang among them.
On July 30, one of the groups, accompanied by local government officials, regular and anti-riot police, and journalists came to Shangqiu. A guide took the young people, who all wore red T-shirts, around the city to see its main attractions. The source said that it was hard for these children to understand whatever the guide was saying. “The main reason for arranging this segment was for the media to take photos and videos,” said the source. “The CCP wants to use these young people for propaganda because the mistreatment of Xinjiang residents has elicited international community’s condemnation. It’s a publicity stunt to promote the notion that human rights in Xinjiang are protected.”
The footage from the travels of the 500 Xinjiang youth has not been released yet to the public. Photos and videos will be used for propaganda purposes online and elsewhere after they are altered, the source explained.