A recently leaked database from China reportedly shows religion and family ties as playing a key role behind the internment of the country’s minority Uighur Muslims.
The database, obtained by The Associated Press, profiles the internment of more than 300 individuals with relatives abroad and lists information on more than 2,000 of their relatives, neighbors and friends.
The entries include the detainee’s name, address, national identity number, detention date, and location, along with a detailed dossier on their family, religious and neighborhood background, and the reason for detention.
The information offers the fullest and most personal view yet into how Chinese officials decided who to put into and let out of detention camps, as part of a massive crackdown that has locked away more than a million ethnic minorities.
The database emphasizes that the Chinese government focused on religion as a reason for detention — not just political extremism, as authorities claim.
Beijing has denied discriminating against Uighurs based on their religion, insisting that the detention centers are for voluntary job training.
China has struggled for decades to control Xinjiang, where the native Uighurs have long resented Beijing’s heavy-handed rule. After 9/11, officials began using the specter of terrorism to justify harsher religious restrictions, saying young Uighurs were susceptible to Islamic extremism.
The leaked database follows the release in November of a classified blueprint on how the mass detention system works. It showed that the centers are in fact forced ideological and behavioral re-education camps.
CHINESE OFFICIAL REVEALED AS PLAYING KEY ROLE IN MASS DETENTIONS OF UIGHUR MUSLIMS
Detainees and their families are tracked and classified by rigid categories. Households are designated as “trustworthy” or “not trustworthy.” Their attitudes are graded as “ordinary” or “good.” Families have “light” or “heavy” religious atmospheres, and the database keeps count of how many relatives of each detainee are locked in prison or sent to a “training center.”
Officials used these categories to determine how suspicious a person was — even if they hadn’t committed any crimes.
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The database indicates much of this information is collected by officials stationed at mosques, sent to visit homes and posted in communities. This information is then compiled in a dossier encompassing each subject’s relatives, community and religious background.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.