It is one of the biggest human rights stories on the planet: China - specifically the province of Xinjiang - and the estimated one million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities currently held in massive internment camps there.

Previously, most of what the world knew about Xinjiang came through satellite imagery, carefully controlled official tours of the camps plus the accounts of some of those imprisoned there.

These new documents blow the CCP narrative out of the water. There is no more denying, no more hiding. It's basically game over for Beijing's propaganda games in Xinjiang.

Adrian Zenz, senior fellow, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Now, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the New York Times say they have troves of classified documents to work with - reportedly leaked from within China's Communist Party.

Both organisations say the documents prove the camps are not about "re-educating extremists" or fighting violence, as Beijing would have the world believe - but to indiscriminately imprison and brainwash Xinjiang's Muslim population.

In response, China has borrowed a phrase or two from offshore, calling the leaks "fabrications and fake news". But as new evidence emerges, Beijing's narrative is proving increasingly difficult to defend. 

The leaks represent a quantum leap in our understanding of what is unfolding in Xinjiang - human rights violations on an historic scale.

"What's most important about these documents is that they are evidence," says Sophie Richardson, China director, Human Rights Watch. "You know this shows a clear intent by the second most powerful government in the world to politically re-engineer people's thinking. What they should be taught, what they're not allowed to say, what they can't think any more. You know it's one thing to read patently dishonest propaganda that talks about religious freedom being guaranteed to everyone in Xinjiang. When you sit down and read a 'how-to' manual by a government that's a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it's terrifying."


Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian - International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Adrian Zenz - Senior fellow, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Nury Turkel - Chairman and founder, Uyghur Human Rights Project

Sophie Richardson - China director, Human Rights Watch

Source: Al Jazeera News