03/2019 The New York Times

He needed a job. China gave him one: Locking up his fellow Muslims.


China’s vast detention program for Muslims has required more and more police officers. And recruits are coming from the very ethnic groups that are being suppressed.

A portrait, shot on assignment for the New York Times, of a Kazakh Muslim hired to work as a guard at one of the many indoctrination camps in China’s Xinjiang region. Baimurat, 39, said he witnessed prison-like conditions in the camps, where the Chinese government has detained as many as a million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities.

The rapid increase in the number of detainees has led the Chinese government to recruit guards from among the same ethnic minority groups as the detainees themselves, such as Baimurat. He later fled with his family to Kazakhstan, where he shared his story with the New York Times, offering a rare, firsthand glimpse into the workings of Xinjiang’s security state.