New details of torture, cover-ups in China’s internment camps revealed in Amnesty International report

Chinese officials spent days burning documents after government information leaked to global media exposed conditions in the camps.

The prevalence of torture and the lengths to which the Chinese government has gone to cover up its treatment of Muslim minorities are described in comprehensive detail in an Amnesty International report on detention camps in Western China.

Every former camp detainee Amnesty interviewed in the report recounted cruel and degrading treatment, including torture. The report, released Thursday, is based on interviews with 108 people, including 55 camp survivors and several government cadres who worked in the camps.

As part of an attempt to hide camp conditions from the world, Chinese officials created a massive, nearly week-long bonfire, burning as many documents as could be found from an office overseeing the camps, according to an ex-cadre who spoke to Amnesty and whose identity has been concealed for his safety.

The report also gives a behind-the-scenes look at the “tours” of the camps that the government gives to international journalists, which are meant to paint the facilities, which Chinese officials call “re-education camps,” in a positive light.

The document burning occurred in 2019 following a leak of a trove of official Chinese government documents revealing the high-level organization and planning of the internment camps. They were published as part of a global reporting project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that included NBC News.