China has legalised internment camps believed to be holding hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in the first official recognition of the centres.
A new law allows for “vocational skill education training centres” to “carry out anti-extremist ideological education” and implement “psychological and behavioural correction to promote thought transformation of trainees, and help them return to society and family.”
All those being “educated and converted” should also learn the national language of Mandarin Chinese, according to the law.
Xi Jinping, China’s president, has launched a widespread campaign to stamp out dissent, re-assert the ruling Communist party, and promote patriotism.
In Xinjiang, a western province home to Uighurs – a Turkic-speaking and primarily Muslim minority – that has meant many restrictions on daily life and reports of hundreds of thousands forced into internment camps. Human rights groups have long alleged mistreatment and abuse of Uighurs in Xinjiang, with the United Nations estimating China had detained as many as 1 million Uighurs.
In 2017, China banned activity deemed “extremist” was banned, including wearing a headscarf, having “abnormal” beards, refusing to follow state media, or preventing children from receiving state education.
Residents are also reportedly monitored via facial recognition, mobile phone scans, DNA collection and scores of security cameras.