Chinese Muslims threatened, chained in 'education camps'

Inside a Xinjian camp.
Inside a Xinjian camp. Photo credit: Supplied.

Rapidly growing detention camps in China's northwest have prompted international concern for the human rights of as many as one million Muslims thought to be locked away.

Re-education camps aiming to "carry out anti-extremist ideological education" in China's Xinjiang Province have been dramatically growing in size.

Satellite imagery shows rapid growth in 28 camps across the Xinjiang Province, over two million new square metres added since the beginning of 2017.

The UK Government this week confirmed large numbers of the Muslim population from the province have been detained or forced to enter these camps.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government had "a lot of concerns" about the processes and secrecy within the camps.

"I think this issue is of very great, and growing, concern," he said in Parliament this week.

The Chinese Government describes the camps as "education programmes" providing teaching and training to citizens, but the centres have been accused of being propaganda-filled and brutal.

The same 'camp' pictured from early-2016 to mid-2017.
The same 'camp' pictured from early-2016 to mid-2017. Photo credit: Google Earth.

The Guardian reported the story of Kairat Samarkand, a Muslim Kazakh who was in a re-education camp in northern Xinjiang for almost four months this year.

He said he was forced to wear a contraption known as "iron clothes," an outfit of iron claws and rods that left him immobile in a star position. One day, he was made to wear it for 12 hours after he refused to make his bed.

One woman was taken by police to a detention camp for not having her identification with her.

She told The Guardian that guards threatened her with extended sentences, shouted at inmates for approaching windows and not speaking Chinese, and she remembers one woman she knew having her hands and feet chained together for four days.

Other former detainees were forced to learn Chinese, pledge allegiance to the Communist Party, and follow a strict military style regimen, according to CNN.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press conference that their "anti-terrorist and anti-extremist measures are aimed at preventing and stopping violent terrorist attacks."

State-run news organisation the Global Times said the camps gave people a "changed and better life" and said trainees inside had "at one time been coerced, lured, or pushed into terrorist or extremist activities".