Why do Chinese men have no beards?

Beijing. Secret documents from the Chinese power apparatus reveal the arbitrary reasons for Uyghur detention in re-education camps. Wearing a headscarf or a beard, applying for a passport, relatives abroad, a pilgrimage or religious books are mentioned in the lists that a group of German and international media reported on Tuesday. Among them are the NDR, the WDR, the Deutsche Welle and "Süddeutsche Zeitung".

Families of the Muslim minority in northwest China's Xinjiang region are classified as "trustworthy" or not, their attitudes "good" or "ordinary" or the atmosphere in the family as religious to justify suspicion. How many relatives are already in the camp is also taken into account.

The lists with personal information about monitored persons come from the Karakax district (Hotan administrative district). They are around 140 pages long and contain detailed information on more than 300 people who are or were interned in camps. Not all entries could be timed, but the most recent entry was from March 2019, reported the NDR.

According to estimates by human rights activists, hundreds of thousands to a million Uyghurs have been sent to such re-education camps. China's government speaks of vocational training institutions that inmates attend voluntarily. The "China Cables", which were similarly revealed in November, showed that staying in the strictly guarded facilities is compulsory.

Like the "China Cables", Uyghur exile Asiye Abdulaheb, who lives in the Netherlands, forwarded the internal papers to the journalists, according to the British BCC. Experts have checked the authenticity. Researcher Rian Thum from the University of Nottingham said, according to NDR, the lists documented "an enormous act of collective punishment" that was ultimately racially motivated.

An estimated ten million Uyghurs live in China, most of them in Xinjiang. They are ethnically related to the Turks and feel economically, politically and culturally oppressed by the ruling Han Chinese. After they came to power in Beijing in 1949, the communists incorporated the former East Turkestan into China. Beijing accuses Uighur groups of separatism and terrorism.

The lists give numerous reasons why people were brought into the camps. According to the NDR, the most common breach of China's birth control laws is mentioned. Other reasons include: "This person has a long beard", "Person who was Hajj on the [Islamic pilgrimage]".

According to information, it was also said: "Internet site clicked that contains links to undesired foreign Internet sites" or "stay away from the flag for no reason". Keeping the restaurant closed during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan is also mentioned. "Veiling the wife" and "relatives of a person who is being searched for abroad" are further reasons.

According to this information, isolated individuals are also suspected of being members or sympathizers of Islamist terror groups. According to the NDR, the list also shows that Uyghurs from certain birth cohorts have been categorically classified as particularly dangerous - especially young men. (dpa)