A data leak in China has provided an unprecedented glimpse into the country’s apparatus of repression. The data also provides new evidence of the detention of over a million Uyghurs and refutes China’s claim that they are “professional training institutions”.

Shortly before UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Xinjiang, an international media consortium published further evidence of the mass detention of Uyghurs in China.

Photos, speeches and instructions from the authorities proved that the camps are not, as the Chinese government claims, “professional training institutions”, said the Bavarian radio station involved in the research and “Spiegel” on Tuesday.

The dataset includes a previously unknown 2017 speech by the former party leader of the Xinjiang region, which stated that any prisoner who tried to escape even a few steps was to be “shooted”. Security forces with assault rifles can be seen in the pictures. A photo also shows a prisoner in a so-called tiger chair – a torture device in which the legs are overstretched.

The Chinese embassy in the US said the measures in Xinjiang were aimed at countering terrorist efforts and that it was not about “human rights or a religion”.

According to the announcement, the data set was leaked to the German anthropologist Adrian Zenz. This is a well-known China researcher in the USA who pointed out the alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang early on and was sanctioned by Beijing in 2021. He shared the data with a total of 14 Western media outlets.

The chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens), called for new sanctions against China to BR and “Spiegel”. The “images of horror” should lead to the European Union taking a clear position.

Bachelet is expected to visit the Xinjiang cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on Tuesday and Wednesday. The government in Beijing is accused of detaining more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far western region of the country in “re-education camps”. Beijing is accused, among other things, of forced sterilization and forced labour.

In addition, the authorities should raze cultural sites to the ground. The entire region is under strict surveillance. The US speaks of a genocide. They had also expressed doubts that Bachelet would get an “unmanipulated” picture of the situation. China vehemently denies the allegations.