Hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China have been victims of state-sponsored oppression over years. But for the first time, leaked documents have exposed China's systematic brainwashing of Muslims in prison camps across the country, something the government has previously denied.
The Xinjiang population, to which the country's Uyghur Muslims belong to, is monitored, abused, and locked up in camps under strict rules.
The Chinese government has refuted such claims, saying the prison camps are in fact voluntary "vocational education and training centers" in the Xinjiang province. But official documents, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), prove otherwise. Titled "China Cables," the documents reveal how inmates are locked up, brainwashed, and punished.
About one million people - mostly Uyghur Muslims - are believed to have been detained without trial. This is the first time classified government papers have been made public, offering "the first official glimpse into the structure, daily life and ideological framework" of these prison camps, according to The Guardian.
The China Cables includes a 2017 order - signed by Zhu Hailun, the top security official in Xinjiang - detailing how the prison camps should be built and run. According to the BBC, authorities were told to run the camps as "high-security prisons with strict discipline, punishments and no escapes."
One of the points mentioned in the document makes it explicitly clear that indoctrinating individuals in the camp is one of the main goals.
"Camps must adhere to a strict system of total physical and mental control, with multiple layers of locks on dormitories, corridors, floors and buildings. Fences should be put around each building, and walls around the compound. A dedicated police station must be at the front gate, all monitored by security guards in watchtowers," it states.
Another point mentioned urges authorities to restrict individuals' communication with the outside world. "Weekly phone calls and a monthly video call with relatives are their only contact with the outside world, and they can be suspended as punishment," it adds.
There have been multiple reports in recent months confirming the state of abuse in the prison camps. People who escaped the so-called "re-education camps" in China have reported torture, rape, and abuse. Last month, a Muslim woman who escaped - after being detained in November 2017 - said inmates were "gang raped, subjected to torture and medical experiments and forced to eat pork."
Muslims in China have faced persecution for years. The government has banned parents from giving their kids certain Islamic names and also prohibited burqas and so-called "abnormal beards."
China's Uyghur, a predominantly Muslim minority in the country, constitute about 45 percent of the Xinjiang province's population, according to the BBC.
Other documents in the recently leaked report confirm that 15,000 people from southern Xinjiang were sent to the camps over the course of just one week in 2017. A report released earlier this year also revealed that a mobile "tracking" application was being used by police officers and authorities to monitor Uyghur citizens.
Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, told the BBC that the leaked documents should be used by prosecutors.
"This is an actionable piece of evidence, documenting a gross human rights violation," she said. "I think it's fair to describe everyone being detained as being subject at least to psychological torture because they literally don't know how long they're going to be there."