Leaked government documents uncovered how China governs life in the network of internment camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are held.
Obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and published by 17 media outlets worldwide on Sunday, the documents show the strict protocols that controls life in the "vocational education centers" in the region, reported AFP.
The leak comes one week after The New York Times reported, based on more than 400 pages of internal papers it had obtained, that Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered officials to act with "absolutely no mercy" against separatism and extremism in a 2014 speech following a Uighur militant attack on a train station.
The latest leak consists of a list of guidelines for running the camps approved by Xinjiang's security chief in 2017, along with intelligence briefings that show how police use data collection and artificial intelligence to select residents for detention.
Referring to detainees as students who must "graduate" from the camps, the guidelines lay out how staff should manage their day-to-day lives, such as by ensuring "timely haircuts and shaves", while also emphasizing that detainees are barred from having cellphones, according to an English translation of the memo posted by ICIJ.
"Students... may not contact the outside world apart from during prescribed activities," the memo reads, adding that staff should "strictly manage students requesting time off."
If indeed the so-called students "really need to leave the training center due to illness or other special circumstances, they must have someone specially accompany, monitor and control them."
The memo says inmates should be judged based on a points system that measures "ideological transformation, study and training, and compliance with discipline."
"There must be full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots, ensuring that guards on duty can monitor in real time, record things in detail, and report suspicious circumstances immediately," it adds.
According to the memo, "students" must stay in detention for at least one year, though that rule was not always enforced, former inmates told ICIJ.
The Chinese embassy in London denied such documents existed, telling the Guardian, one of the partners in publishing the memos, they were "pure fabrication and fake news".