Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.

The current Chinese position seems to be:

A Chinese official told the committee tough security measures in Xinjiang were necessary to combat "extremism and terrorism", but they did not target any specific ethnic group or restrict religious freedoms.

"Xinjiang citizens, including the Uighurs, enjoy equal freedom and rights," Ma Youqing, director of China's United Front Work Department, told the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination."

Is there evidence for Gay McDougall claim that China interns that many Uighurs and Muslim minorities?

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    I believe the official line from China is that they have such camps, so I assume the only thing you're skeptical about is the scale, right? – Andrew Grimm Oct 27 '18 at 23:03
  • That link also says one million and others up to a million: do you see that as the same or different? – Henry Oct 28 '18 at 0:19
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    @Henry : I do consider the number one million to be different then two millions but in any case I would like to have an actual source about where the number is coming from. Ideally, one that's neutral not from the Open Society Justice Initiative, on which board Gay McDougall sits. According to Wikipedia the Open Society Foundation funds the Uighur separatist group Ittipak. Saying "up to a million" is a clever way about not saying anything false when the author doesn't know the actual number. – Christian Oct 28 '18 at 10:20
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    @AndrewGrimm I do think the core question is one of scale. – Christian Oct 28 '18 at 10:21
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    Note: These people are often put in these 're-education facilities' for periods shorter than a year (e.g. source). The quote(s) seems to be about people having been put in at any time, not about currently being in them. – user22865 Oct 29 '18 at 10:33

This BBC report covers a Chinese official explaining that "education centres" are necessary to prevent terrorism. Another BBC report describes how new prison complexes in the area have been mapped. The Chinese government denies that these are prisons, describing them as "re-education facilities", but with high walls, razor wire and guard towers they look an awful lot like prisons. Reporters are not allowed to go anywhere near them to find out.

From the second report:

Pages of local government tendering documents inviting potential contractors and suppliers to bid for the building projects have been discovered online by the German-based academic, Adrian Zenz.


Cross-referencing this information with other media sources, Zenz suggests that at least several hundred thousand and possibly over a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities could have been interned for re-education.

The estimates of the number of detainees are based on the size of these facilities, so the error bars are rather large. However most governments want to house prisoners as cheaply as possible, so the upper end seems more likely than the lower end. As such an estimate of 1-2 million seems perfectly plausible.

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    @Do you have a good reason for thinking that Adrian Zenz is biased to not take into account how many prisoners get housed in facility of a given size in the way you claim? For the claim that his upper end should be considered the lower end? – Christian Oct 29 '18 at 9:17

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