In a 160-page document that includes testimonies from former detainees in camps in China’s northwest Xinjiang region, Amnesty detailed what it called “systematic state-organized mass incarceration, torture and persecution that amount to crimes against humanity.”
The report documents what the human rights group called “extreme measures” taken by Chinese authorities since 2017 against Uighurs and people from other Turkish ethnic minorities.
“The Chinese authorities have created a dystopian hell on an astonishing scale,” said Amnesty Secretary General Agnès Callamard.
“Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations,” he added, saying the abuses “should shock the conscience of humanity.”
The report documents how, since the beginning of 2017, large numbers of men and women in Xinjiang have been arbitrarily detained.
“They include hundreds of thousands who have been sent to prisons, plus hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a million or more, who have been sent to internment camps,” the report says.
The more than 50 former detainees Amnesty interviewed said they had been detained for conduct such as possessing a religious-themed photograph or communicating with someone abroad.
Many details described how they were first brought in for questioning at police stations, where they were restrained to steel chairs with shackles and handcuffs.
They said beatings, sleep deprivation and overcrowding were common, and that in the “highly regulated” internment camps they had no privacy or autonomy and risked severe punishment.
“The Chinese government has done everything possible to cover up its violations of international human rights law in Xinjiang,” Amnesty charged.
The US government accuses China of carrying out “genocide” in Xinjiang. Britain has refused to use that designation, but joined the United States and Germany last month in calling on Beijing to end its crackdown on the Uighur minority.
Beijing has repeatedly denied abuses there, saying they are labor camps meant to deter extremism and increase income.
“China must immediately dismantle the internment camps, release the people arbitrarily detained in them and in prisons,” Callamard said, calling for a UN investigation under international law.