HRW said Beijing's mistreatment of Uyghurs dates back more than two decades, but said that they have intensified since 2013 under Chinese president Xi Jinping. Driven by nationalism and Islamophobia, Xi's government wants to "Sinicize" the Muslim communities, the report said.
HRW and the Stanford researchers did not go so far as to accuse Beijing of genocide in Xinjiang, an accusation that has been made by the US government, legislatures in Belgium, Canada and Netherlands, and other rights groups.
HRW said it hadn't documented evidence of "genocidal intent" by Beijing, but also said its report does not preclude such a finding.
"If such evidence were to emerge, the acts being committed against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang --a group protected by the 1948 Genocide Convention -- could also support a finding of genocide."
HRW called for governments to work together to pressure China to change its policies and to help identify the perpetrators. It also called for the United Nations to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations.