China's largest detention center is twice the size of Vatican City and has room for at least 10,000 inmates
DABANCHENG, China -- The Uyghur inmates sat in uniform rows with their legs crossed in lotus position and their backs ramrod straight, numbered and tagged, gazing at a television playing grainy black-and-white images of Chinese Communist Party history. This is one of an estimated 240 cells in just one section of Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng, seen by Associated Press journalists granted extraordinary access during a state-led tour to China’s far west Xinjiang region. The detention center is the largest in the country and possibly the world, with a complex that sprawls over 220 acres — making it twice as large as Vatican City. A sign at the front identified it as a “kanshousuo,” a pre-trial detention facility. Chinese officials declined to say how many inmates were there, saying the number varied. But the AP estimated the center could hold roughly 10,000 people, based on satellite imagery and the cells and benches seen during the tour, and many more if crowded. The AP was the first Western media organization allowed in. This site suggests that China still holds and plans to hold vast numbers of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in detention. Satellite imagery shows that new buildings stretching almost a mile long were added to the Dabancheng detention facility in 2019.