The young man sits slightly crooked in an iron chair, his hands are not in the iron loops of the shelf in front of him, but they are handcuffed. Two Chinese security officers in uniform stand around him, one sits opposite the young man and questions him.

The iron chair is a so-called “tiger chair,” a device that according to the human rights organization Human Rights Watch is also used as an instrument of torture in Chinese police stations and prisons – because prisoners can be fixed on it for hours or even days.

But this chair is in a so-called “re-education camp” for the Uyghur minority in Tekes in western China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. He can be found in one of thousands of pictures that were never intended to be released to the public.

In the “Xinjiang Police Files”, international media, including the “Spiegel” and the “Bayerische Rundfunk”, evaluated data, photos and speeches from 2018 that were apparently leaked to the German researcher Adrian Zenz by an unknown hacker.

The documents offer a harrowing insight into the inhumane treatment of Uyghurs in the camps and arbitrary detentions. Political instructions are also documented in it. According to this, Chen Quanguo, the former party leader of Xinjiang, is said to have issued an order to shoot escaping prisoners in 2018: “First kill, then report.”

China describes the camps as vocational training centers and justifies the detention of Uyghurs with “counterterrorism”. The USA and several Western parliaments, such as Canada and the Netherlands, call China’s actions a “genocide” against the approximately twelve million Uyghurs of Xinjiang. There are reports of forced labor and forced sterilization.

The current publication has already led to diplomatic upsets between Germany and China. In a one-hour video conference with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) demanded transparent clarification of the allegations.

The German Foreign Ministry spoke of “shocking reports and new documentation on the most serious violations of human rights”. Finance Minister Christian Lindner called the pictures “shocking”. “We have to address the human rights situation to Chinese officials on every occasion,” he told the “Handelsblatt”. China’s government dismissed the reports as “defamatory”.

“The Chinese government has been lying from the start and trying to cleverly cover up its atrocities,” says Asgar Can, chairman of the Munich-based Uyghur Community Association. After the “China Cables”, a document leak from Xinjiang in 2019, the “Xinjiang Police Files” would now once again clearly document the cruelty of the Chinese leadership against Uyghurs and other minorities.

“The world public, the UN, the EU and especially the German government must finally wake up and recognize the reality,” says Can. That means “severe sanctions in all areas and an entry ban for high-ranking Chinese politicians to Europe”.

The revelations come as UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet visits China. The former Chilean President also wants to go to Xinjiang to find out about the conditions in the camps there.

How comprehensively and independently she succeeds is the question, human rights organizations fear that her visit could be orchestrated by Chinese propaganda. Bachelet’s employees had emphasized in advance that they could choose their interlocutors and that the conversations would not be monitored.

Against this background, Asgar Can calls for a resolute reaction from the United Nations to the leak: “The UN must address this issue at a separate meeting and condemn the actions of the Chinese government with a resolution.” to rethink China.

“The images straight from the police computers are impressive – especially because they contain so much raw material,” writes Adrian Zenz on Twitter. One image from Tekes shows a man whose back is covered in red welts – obvious signs of abuse. Another shows a police officer standing in front of a cell door, holding a wooden club like a baseball bat.

In addition, there are thousands of data sets with information about the Uyghur population. “From the district of Konasheher, south of the oasis city of Kashgar, almost all residents of the area can be found in the data set,” writes the “Spiegel”. These are hundreds of thousands of people with their names, dates of birth and ID numbers. According to the Xinjiang Police Files, more than 22,000 of them were detained for a short or long term.