The report describes in detail China’s use of re-education camps, called “Vocational Education and Training Centre” (VETC), for the purpose of “deradicalization”.
The Chinese government in 2019 said the VETC is a “lenient” form of rehabilitation for those involved in “minor cases”.
However, the UN report said that the distinction between what constitutes “serious” and “minor” acts of terrorism and/or “extremist” acts is unclear, with the same types of conduct often included under both legal categories.
File: Security officers in protective suits stand at a reception area at the visitors’ hall at the Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Xinjiang (AP)
Moreover, the report says it found “credible” allegations of torture and sexual assault — including rape — at such detention centres in Xinjiang.
Individuals interviewed by OHCHR gave shocking details of treatment meted out by the authorities during their confinement at VETC facilities.
Their accounts included being “beaten with batons, including electric batons while strapped in a so-called ‘tiger chair’, being subjected to interrogation with water being poured in their faces, prolonged solitary confinement, and being forced to sit motionless on small stools for prolonged periods of time.”
The number in the VETCs, at least between 2017 and 2019, “was very significant, comprising a substantial proportion of the Uighur and other predominantly Muslim minority populations”, the UN said.