Authorities in Xinjiang, China, arrested a police chief after he expressed concern for the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the province’s concentration camps, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.
Sources in Kuchar County, Xinjiang, told the outlet that local Police Chief Himit Qari was detained after expressing his concerns over so-called “re-education camps” while attending a party at a friend’s house this year.
The source claimed Qari revealed during the gathering that “many people had died” at a Uyghur concentration camp in Ucha, where he helped oversee the mass internment program that is believed to have begun in 2017. He reportedly did not provide details about how the people died.
Weeks after his admission, Qari was called by the Kuchar County Public Security Bureau’s disciplinary office for questioning, before being taken to prison on charges of “revealing state secrets” and for further investigation.
RFA contacted the Kuchar County Public Security Bureau, where an officer confirmed that he and his colleagues had been “diligently studying ‘police educational films’” and that “Himit Qari is one of the people featured in the films.”
“He is the political commissar of the Ucha Township Police Station — around 45 years old,” he said. “He was detained because he expressed sympathy towards detainees who died in the camp.”
Chinese officials have long sought to silence criticism of their policy, claiming it is a necessary measure to tackle terrorism following various Islamist inspired attacks over the past decades. They claim that the concentration camps are “voluntary de-radicalization camps” and “vocational training centers,” now believed to hold as many as three million Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
According to countless witness testimonies and human rights investigations, the centers more closely resemble concentration camps, with detainees being indoctrinated in support of the Chinese communist regime and coerced into disavowing their allegiance to Islam.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, female victims recounted how Chinese authorities used rape, forced abortions, and the harvesting of organs, while also accusing them of carrying out a “genocide” against the Uyghur people.
This month, the U.S. Commerce Department announced sanctions against 28 Chinese entities involved in human rights violations against the Uyghur population, arguing that they were all “implicated in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance”