“Like we were enemies in a war”

China’s Mass Internment, Torture and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang

“Like we were enemies in a war” China’s Mass Internment, Torture and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang

Illustrations by Molly Crabapple


To the Government of China

  • Immediately release all persons held in internment camps or other detention facilities – including prisons – in Xinjiang, unless there is sufficient credible and admissible evidence that they have committed an internationally recognized offence, are transferred to recognized detention facilities, and are granted a fair trial in line with international standards.

  • Allow all those held to legally challenge their continued detention.

  • Provide the family members of people who are detained in camps, prisons, or other detention facilities – including those living abroad – with written reasons for their detention and other official documentation related to their family member’s case.

  • Close the “vocational training”, “transformation-through-education”, and “de-extremification” centres (that is, the internment camps) in Xinjiang.

  • Ensure that no person is subjected to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, or torture or other ill-treatment.

  • Pending their release, ensure that all persons brought into or detained in these camps have prompt and regular access to a lawyer of their choice, to independent medical personnel, and to their families.

  • Ensure that everyone in Xinjiang is able to freely communicate with family members and others, including those living in other countries, unless specific restrictions on such communication can be justified under international human rights law.

  • Repeal or amend all laws and regulations, and end all related policies and practical measures, that impermissibly restrict the human rights of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, including the right to freely leave and return to China.

  • Allow everyone, including Muslims and members of all other religious or belief-based communities, to choose and keep their religion or beliefs, and to manifest these peacefully through worship, observance, practice, and teaching, both publicly and privately.

  • Ensure that any legal provisions aimed at protecting national security or created in the name of counter-terrorism are clearly and narrowly defined and conform to international human rights law and standards.

  • Conduct impartial, independent, prompt, effective, and transparent investigations of any person reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, or other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Ensure that alleged perpetrators are brought to justice through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.

  • Immediately allow United Nations human rights experts, independent human rights investigators, and journalists unfettered access to all of Xinjiang, including to internment camps and prisons.

  • Fully and effectively cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures and any other UN-led investigation or other independent international human rights monitoring and investigative mechanisms.

  • Provide former detainees and the families of victims of crimes under international law and of other human rights violations full, effective, gender-sensitive, and transformative reparations in accordance with international law and standards.

  • Stop requesting that other countries return individuals to China, in violation of the non-refoulement principle.

  • Stop all types of harassment and intimidation against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups with ties to China living overseas.