Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, Nov. 26, warned of a serious human rights breach by Chinese authorities, citing leaked classified documents that have revealed an unparalleled level of relentless suppression of Muslims and minority ethnic groups in western China—with the scale of the campaign triggering attention from numerous foreign governments.

“These reports are consistent with an overwhelming and growing body of evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is committing human rights violations and abuses against individuals in mass detention,” Pompeo told a news conference, calling on Beijing to release all those arbitrarily detained.

Pompeo called on Chinese authorities for an immediate release of detainees and halt its inhumane policies.

“They detail the Chinese Party’s brutal detention and systematic repression of Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang,” the secretary of state told reporters at a State Department news conference. “We call on the Chinese government to immediately release all those who are arbitrarily detained and to end its draconian policies that have terrorized its own citizens in Xinjiang.”

“There are very significant human rights abuses,” Pompeo said. “It shows that it’s not random. It is intentional and it is ongoing.”

Uighurs and other minorities are reportedly held inside watch towers, double-locked doors under video surveillance in Chinese camps created “to prevent escapes” and are detained and scored based on their fluency of the dominant Mandarin Chinese language and forced to adhere to stringent rules down to basic personal hygiene, according to a Nov. 25 column by The Associated Press.

The secret documents were obtained and verified by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with a number of international media including The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera reports.

“It’s a completely Orwellian system of ethnic cleansing, where China is acting as big brother,” human rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar told Al-Jazeera. 

“Manner education” is mandatory, but detainees just remain for at least a year before they are offered “vocational skills improvement” lessons.

The leaked classified documents describe a number of tactics the Chinese government has used to jail ethnic minorities—even before they were convicted of wrongdoing—to completely alter the way they think and their native language.

Pompeo pointed out that other countries, after seeing the leaked documents, should be encouraged to raise their concerns on the issue.

“We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the Chinese government’s escalating crackdown, in particular the extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities,” an unnamed British Foreign Office representative told The Associated Press. “We want to see an end to the indiscriminate and disproportionate restrictions on the cultural and religious freedoms of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas weighed in, saying, “If indeed hundreds of thousands of Uighurs are being detained in camps, then the international community cannot close their eyes.”

“They confirm that this is a form of cultural genocide,” leading security expert of Xinjiang, Adrian Zenz, said. “It really shows that from the onset, the Chinese government had a plan.”

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