Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This is what China calls a“vocational education and training centre". Beijing says the centres are designed to teach Muslim ethnic minorities from Xinjiang - in China's far west - job skills and how to be a good citizen. These students are reading a Chinese lesson called “I am a law abiding citizen”. China says this centre is a humane way of tackling terrorism in the remote, restive province. But there's a growing body of evidence that suggests instead of being schools, these centres are more like prisons as part of a rapidly expanding network of detention facilities aimed at brainwashing the region's Muslim population. If you take a close look at the vision, you'll notice that some of the evidence is hiding in the plain sight. There are at leat 5 security cameras watching this classroom and this basketball court in the background of this video is actually just a mat rolled out for the visiting media. This compound, found on Google Earth, is surrounded by razor wire. Three years ago this area was just a patch of dirt. Today it's a detention centre measuring more than half-a-million square meters. That's 25 MCGs stacked next to each other. By piecing together snippets of information like this, analysts from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute have created what's probably the most comprehensive snapshot of the network to date. 28 so-called re-education camps covering around 2.7 million square metres. It's likely this is just a fraction of the network's full size, with some estimates suggesting there are more than a million people being detained. I think what we're seeing here is a breach of human rights that is of such a scale that we haven't seen since the post Tiananmen Square crackdown in China. If this information is to be believed, China has embarked on its greatest social upheaval since its Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s, when millions of Chinese citizens were detained, tortured and killed. So why is it happening? The answer lies in Xinjiang's recent history. The region has a population of about 24 million and covers an area that is about one-fifth the size of Australia. At least half that population are Uighurs, an ethnic community of Turkic Muslims. The province has long been the epicentre of a sometimes violent separatist movement which seeks to establish an independent homeland called East Turkestan. Beijing brands the movement as terrorist and has responded by massively increasing its local security forces, building police stations on almost every block, and creating a vast electronic surveillance network. Human Rights Watch says authorities in Xinjiang have forced the locals to submit to the collection of an array of biometric data, including voice, blood, DNA samples and iris scans. Many firsthand accounts of life in Xinjiang describe a repressive environment designed to eradicate local Islamic customs that offend Beijing's Communist sensibilities. Adelaide resident Adam Turan says his father was detained in a camp near the Xinjiang city of Kashgar for a year. He was released in September but died a few weeks later. Now, Adam Turan wants answers, but all he has received is this photo of his father, taken soon after he was released. That was gobsmacking, unbelievable how he changed over a year, I think because of the torture he's faced in the internment camps. Australians are also being held in the camps. The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that three Australian citizens were detained in Xinjiang last year, but were later released. What makes this new data so important is that Xinjiang is an information black hole. When the ABC visited the region earlier this year, more than twenty security officials kept a 24-hour watch over our crew, and heavily restricted filming. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canberra declined to be interviewed and instead referred the ABC to a recent news article. Published in a state-owned newspaper, the article says the camps are designed to improve the lives of Xinjiang's Uighurs. But given the growing body of evidence being gathered by Uighur activists and Western researchers, that's a claim that increasingly hard to believe.