CHINA’S largest prison holds an estimated 10,000 inmates who are brainwashed, tortured and electrocuted with cattle prods.
The Urumqi No. 3 Detention Centre in Dabancheng is located in the Xinjiang region and holds thousands of Uyghur Muslims.
The detention centre is the largest in the country and possibly the world, with a complex that sprawls over 220 acres – twice the size of Vatican City.
It holds around 10,000 inmates with the vast majority being Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities.
Satellite imagery shows that new buildings stretching for almost a mile were added to the Dabancheng detention facility in 2019.
Accounts from inside the prison describe a place ”worse than hell” with horrid living conditions as inmates are being subjected to torture.
A report by the International Amnesty last month branded the centre a ”dystopian hellscape”.
A teacher at the Dabancheng facility said that during classes she could hear the sounds of people being tortured with electric batons and iron chairs, according to a colleague at a different camp, Qelbinur Sedik.
Only a handful of Western media representatives have been allowed to report from the outside, with AP gaining access to the inside for the first time.
The vast complex is ringed by 25-feet-tall concrete walls painted blue, watchtowers, and humming electric wire.
In a cell of the Urumqi No. 3 Detention Centre a group of Uyghur inmates are sitting wearing uniforms numbered and tagged, watching grainy black-and-white images of Chinese Communist Party history on a TV.
”We control what they watch,” Zhu Hongbin, the centre’s director said. ”We can see if they’re breaking regulations, or if they might hurt or kill themselves.”
”They’re totally unbreakable,” he added.
The centre also screens video classes to teach the inmates about their crimes.
”They need to be taught why it’s bad to kill people, why it’s bad to steal,” Zhu said.
There are 22 rooms with chairs and computers where inmates are allowed to chat with lawyers, relatives, and police via video, as they are strapped to their seats.
There is also a list of guidelines hanging on the wall instructing staff on the protocol of how to deal with sick inmates as well force-feed those on hunger strikes.
Another official, Zhao, said inmates are held for 15 days to a year before trial depending on their suspected crime, and the legal process is the same as in the rest of China.
He said the centre was built to house inmates away from the city because of safety concerns.
Xu Guixiang, a Xinjiang spokesperson, described the higher incarceration rates ”severe measures” in the ”war against terror” after a series of knifings and bombings by a small number of extremist Uyghurs native to Xinjiang.
”Of course, during this process, the number of people sentenced in accordance with the law will increase. This is a concrete indication of our work efficiency,” Xu said.
”By taking these measures, terrorists are more likely to be brought to justice.”
Former detainees have also described the so-called vocational ”training centres” as camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
Researchers say many innocent people were often thrown in detention for things like going abroad or attending religious gatherings.
However, officials have repeatedly denied the existence of ”training centres.”
”There was no connection between our detention centre and the training centres,” insisted Urumqi Public Security Bureau director Zhao Zhongwei. “There’s never been one around here.”
They added that the No. 3 centre was proof of China’s commitment to rehabilitation and the rule of law, with inmates provided hot meals, exercise, access to legal counsel and televised classes lecturing them on their crimes.
Although China makes legal records easily accessible otherwise, almost 90 per cent of criminal records in Xinjiang are not public.
The handful which have leaked show that some are charged with ”terrorism” or ”separatism” for acts such as warning colleagues against watching porn and swearing, or praying in prison.
Last year, Uighur woman Zumret Dawut told The Sun of how she was shackled, beaten and given a mystery injection inside one of the camps, before being sterilised so she couldn’t have any more kids.
Accounts of conditions in other detention centres in Xinjiang vary with some describing restrictive conditions but no physical abuse, while others say they were tortured.
Xinjiang authorities deny all allegations of abuse.