“While cognizant of the security situation that China may face,” they said, “we are deeply concerned that the approaches taken in the counterterrorism law not only violate fundamental rights but also may contribute to further radicalization of persons belonging to the targeted minorities, creating major and growing pockets of fear, resentment and alienation.”
The letter added that “multiple laws, decrees and policies, in particular those concerning national security and terrorism, deeply erode the foundations for the viable social, economic and political development of society as a whole.”
The chilling details contained in the documents obtained by The Times — such as Mr. Xi’s description of Islamist radicalism as a virus or a drug addiction that required “a period of painful, interventionary treatment” — prompted new condemnations from Western politicians.
Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, called the disclosures disturbing, as did several American politicians, including Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, two leading candidates in the Democratic presidential race. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the treatment of the Uighurs was “among the worst abuses of human rights in the world today.”
Given the sensitive nature of the subject — and the source — China’s state media made little other mention of the issue. The Times’s website is blocked in China, but there were signs that the disclosures had filtered through the country’s so-called Great Firewall, as they received unexpected expressions of support.
One user on Weibo, one of China’s most prominent social media platforms, singled out an official cited in the documents, Wang Yongzhi, who had been assigned to oversee the city of Yarkand, a cultural capital of the Uighurs. Mr. Wang, part of the Han ethnic majority in China, initially put in place many harsh measures, but became increasingly concerned about their effectiveness. When he quietly ordered the release of more than 7,000 camp inmates, he was arrested.
“History will not forget this person and this page of paper,” wrote the user, identifying himself as Still Your Old Yang. Others expressed support for the official who leaked the documents.