Workers who were hired to build transformation through education camps in Xinjiang reveal details about the jails that the CCP likes to call “vocational schools.”
by Chang Xin
In November 2018, Bitter Winter published exclusive videos and photos from inside a newly built transformation through education camp in Xinjiang, proving that the “vocational schools,” as the CCP calls them, are jails where innocent people are detained. We continuously disclosed the regime’s lies by providing new footage and testimonies by people who have been held or worked in the dreaded camps. Bitter Winter recently talked to three men working in construction who have been hired to build some of these internment facilities. To protect their identity, we don’t use their real names.
Impenetrable strongholds with total video surveillance
“The camp is surrounded by four-meter-high walls, topped with iron bars and two layers of electric barbed wire that comes up to further three or four meters,” started Mr. Yang, one of the interviewed men. “Four watchtowers are on each corner. Windows are fitted with metal bars and guardrails. There are also rooms without windows, three- to four-square-meters each.”
“Each room has been installed with two surveillance cameras and an alarm system,” Mr. Yang continued. “A 360-degree surveillance camera is above each door, recording every single word it detects. Staff members are stationed in the security room on each floor to monitor every movement the inmates make. They can’t do anything without being noticed. There are cameras also in bathrooms; people who use them are totally deprived of privacy. Metal rods used to be installed for showerheads, but they have been removed to prevent detainees from committing suicide or using it to fight with guards.”
According to Mr. Yang, 42 million RMB (about $ 6 million) has been spent on surveillance systems in just one county in Xinjiang. “The government insisted that these were vocational training schools, even though they had been built on a prison model,” he added.
“At the beginning of the construction, we were allowed to bring cellphones with us. They were later banned, and a staff member would collect them before work,” Mr. Yang continued.
The government ordered to complete the construction of camps in a very short time. “Some camps were completed in only four months,” Mr. Yang said. “In some cases, detainees were brought in before the building was finished.”
Factories inside for forced labor
A resident of northern Xinjiang sent to Bitter Winter the photos he took more than a year ago of a factory under construction in a transformation through education camp. The man risked his life to take these valuable images before the camp construction was completed.
“Each factory is about 60 meters long, 20 or 30 meters wide, with 15 workshops in it, where Uyghurs are forced to work every day,” the man explained. He added that a bridge was built high above the workshops. The construction workers told him that it was specially assembled for the guards to inspect and supervise the working process. Some camps have several factories.
Similar factories have been built in most transformation through education camps. “It’s like killing two birds with one stone,” another interviewed worker told Bitter Winter. “By sending people to the concentration camps, the Communist Party can detain and transform all those who are deemed disobedient. On the other hand, it uses them as free labor in the factories to make considerable profits. It’s a good deal for the Communist Party.”
“Who do you think funded the camp projects with such big sums of money?” the third interviewed worker intervened. “Who do you think gives money to the government to pay guards and personnel? Nothing comes for free. The CCP will never pull off a deal that harms its interest, much less tolerate detainees who just sit there doing nothing.”
“Xi Jinping wants to ‘transform’ ethnic minorities,” Mr. Yang added. “It indoctrinates Uyghurs and other Muslims against their faith and traditions by forcing them to eat pork. The government is so evil. Those detainees who don’t meet the CCP’s ‘transformation standards’ and fail assessments can have their detention prolonged. Then the Communist Party will keep them in custody as long as it wishes. That’s worse than serving a jail term, which is at least limited.”