Oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang/China

johnq

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Please post all news related to the oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang/China here.
 

johnq

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www.buzzfeednews.com

China Secretly Built A Vast New Infrastructure To Imprison Muslims
China rounded up so many Muslims in Xinjiang that there wasn’t enough space to hold them. Then the government started building.
www.buzzfeednews.com
www.buzzfeednews.com
Built To Last A BuzzFeed News investigation based on thousands of satellite images reveals a vast, growing infrastructure for long-term detention and incarceration.

China has secretly built scores of massive new prison and internment camps in the past three years, dramatically escalating its campaign against Muslim minorities even as it publicly claimed the detainees had all been set free. The construction of these purpose-built, high-security camps — some capable of housing tens of thousands of people — signals a radical shift away from the country’s previous makeshift use of public buildings, like schools and retirement homes, to a vast and permanent infrastructure for mass detention.
In the most extensive investigation of China’s internment camp system ever done using publicly available satellite images, coupled with dozens of interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News identified more than 260 structures built since 2017 and bearing the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds. There is at least one in nearly every county in the far-west region of Xinjiang. During that time, the investigation shows, China has established a sprawling system to detain and incarcerate hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities, in what is already the largest-scale detention of ethnic and religious minorities since World War II.
These forbidding facilities — including several built or significantly expanded within the last year — are part of the government’s unprecedented campaign of mass detention of more than a million people, which began in late 2016. That year Chen Quanguo, the region’s top official and Communist Party boss, whom the US recently sanctioned over human rights abuses, also put Muslim minorities — more than half the region’s population of about 25 million — under perpetual surveillance via facial recognition cameras, cellphone tracking, checkpoints, and heavy-handed human policing. They are also subject to many other abuses, ranging from sterilization to forced labor.
To detain thousands of people in short order, the government repurposed old schools and other buildings. Then, as the number of detainees swelled, in 2018 the government began building new facilities with far greater security measures and more permanent architectural features, such as heavy concrete walls and guard towers, the BuzzFeed News analysis shows. Prisons often take years to build, but some of these new compounds took less than six months, according to historical satellite data. The government has also added more factories within camp and prison compounds during that time, suggesting the expansion of forced labor within the region. Construction was still ongoing as of this month.
“People are living in horror in these places,” said 49-year-old Zhenishan Berdibek, who was detained in a camp in the Tacheng region for much of 2018. “Some of the younger people were not as tolerant as us — they cried and screamed and shouted.” But Berdibek, a cancer survivor, couldn’t muster the energy. As she watched the younger women get dragged away to solitary confinement, “I lost my hope,” she said. “I wanted to die inside the camp.”
BuzzFeed News identified 268 newly built compounds by cross-referencing blanked-out areas on Baidu Maps — a Google Maps–like tool that’s widely used in China — with images from external satellite data providers. These compounds often contained multiple detention facilities.

This map shows the locations of facilities bearing the hallmarks of prisons and internment camps found in this investigation. Note: Many satellite images in this map are from before 2017, meaning that although you can zoom in, you won’t always be able to see the evidence of possible camps.

Locations identified or corroborated by other sources. Satellite images — perimeter walls and guard towers. Satellite images — walls and barbed wire but no guard towers. Detention Center built before 2017. Likely used for detention in the past but now closed or reduced security.
BuzzFeed News; Source: Analysis of satellite imagery using Google Earth, Planet Labs, and the European Space Agency's Sentinel Hub

Ninety-two of these facilities have been identified or verified as detention centers by other sources, such as government procurement documents, academic research, or, in 19 cases, visits by journalists.
Another 176 facilities have been established by satellite imagery alone. The images frequently show thick walls at the perimeter, and often, barbed wire fencing that creates pens and corridors in the courtyards. Many compounds in the region are walled, but the facilities identified by BuzzFeed News have much heavier fortifications. At 121 of these compounds, they also show guard towers, often built into the perimeter wall.
In response to a detailed list of questions about this article as well as a list of GPS coordinates of facilities identified in this article, the Chinese Consulate in New York said “the issue concerning Xinjiang is by no means about human rights, religion or ethnicity, but about combating violent terrorism and separatism,” adding that it was a “groundless lie” that a million Uighurs have been detained in the region.

“Xinjiang has set up vocational education and training centers in order to root out extreme thoughts, enhance the rule of law awareness through education, improve vocational skills and create employment opportunities for them, so that those affected by extreme and violent ideas can return to society as soon as possible,” the consulate added, saying human rights are protected in the centers and that “trainees have freedom of movement.” But it also compared its program to “compulsory programs for terrorist criminals” it said are taking place in other countries including the US and UK.
China's Foreign Ministry and Baidu did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The new facilities are scattered across every populated area of the region, and several are large enough to accommodate 10,000 prisoners at a minimum, based on their size and architectural features. (One of the reporters on this story is a licensed architect.)
Unlike early sites, the new facilities appear more permanent and prisonlike, similar in construction to high-security prisons in other parts of China. The most highly fortified compounds offer little space between buildings, tiny concrete-walled yards, heavy masonry construction, and long networks of corridors with cells down either side. Their layouts are cavernous, allowing little natural light to the interior of the buildings. BuzzFeed News could see how rooms were laid out at some high-security facilities by examining historical satellite photos taken as they were being constructed, including photos of buildings without roofs.
With at least tens of thousands of detainees crowded into government buildings repurposed as camps by the end of 2017, the government began building the largest new facilities in the spring of 2018. Several were complete by October 2018, with further facilities built through 2019 and construction of a handful more continuing even now.
The government has said its camps are schools and vocational training centers where detainees are “deradicalized.” The government’s own internal documentation about its policies in Xinjiang has used the term “concentration,” or 集中, to describe “educational schools.”
The government claims that its campaign combats extremism in the region. But most who end up in these facilities are not extremists of any sort.
Downloading WhatsApp, which is banned in China, maintaining ties with family abroad, engaging in prayer, and visiting a foreign website are all offenses for which Muslims have been sent to camps, according to previously leaked documents and interviews with former detainees. Because the government does not consider internment camps to be part of the criminal justice system and none of these behaviors are crimes under Chinese law, no detainees have been formally arrested or charged with a crime, let alone seen a day in court.
The compounds BuzzFeed News identified likely include extrajudicial internment camps — which hold people who are not suspected of any crime — as well as prisons. Both types of facilities have security features that closely resemble each other. Xinjiang’s prison population has grown massively during the government’s campaign: In 2017, the region had 21% of all arrests in China, despite making up less than 2% of the national population — an eightfold increase from the year before, according to a New York Times analysis of government data. Because China’s Communist Party–controlled courts have a more than 99% conviction rate, the overwhelming majority of those arrests likely resulted in convictions.

“One day I saw a pregnant woman in shackles. Another woman had a baby in her arms, she was breastfeeding.”

People detained in the camps told BuzzFeed News they were subjected to torture, hunger, overcrowding, solitary confinement, forced birth control, and a range of other abuses. They said they were put through brainwashing programs focusing on Communist Party propaganda and made to speak only in the Chinese language. Some former detainees said they were forced to labor without pay in factories.
The government heavily restricts the movements of independent journalists and researchers in the region, and heavily censors the internet and its own domestic media. Muslim minorities can be punished for posts on social media. But satellite images that are collected from independent providers remain outside the scope of Chinese government censorship.
Other kinds of evidence have also occasionally leaked out. In September, a drone video emerged showing hundreds of blindfolded men with their heads shaven and their arms tied behind their backs, wearing vests that say “Kashgar Detention Center.” Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who has done extensive satellite imagery analysis of the detention and prison systems in Xinjiang, said the video shows a prisoner transfer that took place in April 2019 — months after the government first said the system was for vocational training. Previous analyses, including by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in November 2018, identified several dozen early camps.
“The internment and assimilation program in Xinjiang has the overall logic of colonial genocides in North America, the formalized racism of apartheid, the industrial-scale internment of Germany's concentration camps, and the police-state penetration into everyday life of North Korea,” said Rian Thum, a scholar of the history of Islam in China at the University of Nottingham.
The campaign has done deep damage to many Muslim minority groups — but especially Uighurs, who are by far the most populous ethnic minority group in Xinjiang and do not have ties to any other country. The Chinese government has heavily penalized expressions of Turkic minority culture, from Kazakh- and Uighur-language education to the practice of Islam outside of state-controlled mosques. This, combined with forced sterilizations, has led some critics to say that the campaign qualifies as genocide under international law. The Trump administration is reportedly discussing whether to formally call it a genocide, and a spokesperson for Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, said on Tuesday that Biden supports the label.
“These are peaceful people in concentration camps,” said Abduweli Ayup, a Uighur linguist who was jailed and later exiled from Xinjiang after opening kindergartens that taught Uighur children in their own language. “They are businessmen and scholars and engineers. They are our musicians. They are doctors. They are shopkeepers, restaurant owners, teachers who used Uighur textbooks.
“These are the pillars of our society. Without them, we cannot exist.”

The Chinese flag is seen behind razor wire at a housing compound in Yangisar, south of Kashgar, in China's western Xinjiang region, June 4, 2019.

The position of Muslim minorities, particularly Uighurs, in China has been fraught since the Communist Party came to power in 1949. But conditions deteriorated quickly starting in 2016, when the government implemented a system of heavy-handed surveillance and policing as a means to push Muslims into a growing internment camp system for “transformation through education.” Chen, the region’s party boss, called on officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”
Thousands were. Tursunay Ziyawudun, who was detained in March 2018, was one of them. When she arrived at the camp’s gates, she saw hundreds of people around her removing their jewelry, shoelaces, and belts. They were being “processed,” she said, to enter the camp through a security checkpoint.

Early on, the government remade schools, retirement homes, hospitals, and other public buildings into internment camps. There were other, older detention centers available too — BuzzFeed News identified 47 built before 2017 that have been used to lock people up in the region.
Some detention facilities are geared toward releasing detainees after several months; in others, detainees may be sentenced to prison terms, said Adrian Zenz, a leading researcher on the abuses in Xinjiang. Three former detainees interviewed by BuzzFeed News said they were held for months in detention without any charges against them — far longer than is allowed by law — before they were transferred to internment camps. The detentions picked up speed in 2017, and numbers in the camps quickly swelled until the inmates were living on top of each other.
BuzzFeed News interviewed 28 former detainees from the region, many of whom described being blindfolded and handcuffed, much like the men shown in the video. Many spoke through an interpreter. They are among a tiny minority of former detainees who were released and left the country — but they described a brutal system that they saw growing and changing with their own eyes.
Most recalled being frequently moved from camp to camp — a tactic that many believed was meant to combat overcrowding in the first generation of makeshift facilities. At the beginning of the campaign, hundreds of people were arriving on a daily basis. New batches of detainees always seemed to be coming and going.
Some former detainees described sleeping two to a twin bed, or even sleeping in shifts when there was not enough room to house all the detainees. Almost all said they received meager quantities of rice, steamed buns, and porridge, and little or no meat or other protein.

Orynbek Koksebek, a 40-year-old ethnic Kazakh, was first detained relatively early in the campaign, around the end of 2017. At first, he slept in a room with seven other men, and everyone had a bed to themselves. But within a few months, he began to notice more and more people arriving. “One day I saw a pregnant woman in shackles,” he said. “Another woman had a baby in her arms, she was breastfeeding.”
By February 2018, there were 15 men in his room, he said.
“Some of us had to share blankets or sleep on the floor,” he said. “They told us later that some of us would be given prison sentences or transferred to other camps.”
Camp officials regularly forced detainees to memorize Communist Party propaganda and Chinese characters in classrooms. But some former detainees said their facilities were too crowded for even this — instead, they had to sit on plastic stools next to their beds and stare at textbooks, sitting with their backs perfectly straight while cameras monitored them. Camp guards told them there were too many people to fit in classrooms.
For Koksebek, the claustrophobia was unbearable.
“There was a window in our room, but it was so high I couldn’t see much other than a patch of sky,” he said. “I used to wish I were a bird so I could have the freedom to fly.”














The camp at Shufu, in Xinjiang, seen by satellite on April 26, 2020. BuzzFeed News; Google Maps

On a frigid, overcast morning last December, Shohrat Zakir, the region’s governor and second-most-powerful official, gave a rare press conference at China’s State Council Information Office, located in a closed compound in central Beijing. The office is one of only a handful of government bodies in China that regularly briefs both local and international journalists, and Zakir sat with four other officials at a long podium at the front of the small room. The officials took the opportunity to tout the region’s economic growth and claim China’s campaign against terrorism in Xinjiang has been a success, calling the US government hypocritical for its criticism of China’s human rights abuses. But Zakir was the one who made international headlines.
Of those held in the camps as “trainees,” Zakir painted a rosy picture. They “have all graduated, and have realized stable employment with the government’s help, improved their quality of life, and are enjoying a happy life,” he said.
Even as reporters were scribbling down his remarks, about 2,500 miles away in Xinjiang, construction was wrapping up on a massive high-security compound near the Uighur heartland county of Shufu, just south of a winding river that flows through a countryside dotted by livestock farms. Shufu is small by Chinese standards, with a population of about 300,000 people. It has a main drag with a post office, a lottery ticket vendor, and eateries selling steamed buns and beef noodle soup. The camp was built on farmland less than a 20-minute drive away.
Before workers started construction last March, the land beneath the Shufu site was farmland too, blanketed with green vegetation. By August, workers had built a thick perimeter enclosure, with guard towers looming in the corners and in the center of walls that rise nearly 6 meters, or more than 19 feet, satellite images show. Next came the buildings inside, organized in U-shaped groups, with two five-story structures alongside a two-story one forming the base of the U. By October, two rows of barbed wire fencing appeared on either side of the main concrete-walled compound, its shadow visible in satellite images.
Just outside the walls, on the western side of the compound, two guard buildings were built — distinguished by the narrow walled pathways leading from them up to the wall that would allow guards to access the guard towers and the tops of the walls for patrols. In front of the entrance, a series of buildings provided space for prison offices and police buildings. In total BuzzFeed News estimates that there is room for approximately 10,500 prisoners at this compound — which would help provide a long-term solution to overcrowding.

“I wasn’t happy or sad. I couldn’t feel anything. Even when I was reunited with my relatives in Kazakhstan, they asked me why I didn’t seem happy to see them after so long.”

Ruser reviewed satellite images of the compound and said it was a newly built detention camp. “The vast majority of camps have watchtowers, internal fencing, and a strong external wall entranceway or exit,” he said.
Unlike the old, repurposed camps, new prisons and camps such as this one have higher security, with gates up to four stories tall and thicker walls along their borders, often with further layers of barbed wire on either side of the main walls. These features suggest they are capable of holding much larger groups of people in long-term detention.
The camps can contain not only cells where detainees sleep, but also classrooms, clinics, canteens, stand-alone shower facilities, solitary confinement rooms, police buildings, administrative offices, and small visitor centers, former detainees told BuzzFeed News. Many of the compounds also contain factories, distinguished by their blue, powder-coated metal roofs and steel frames, which are visible in satellite photos taken while they were being constructed. The police buildings, including for guards and administrative personnel, are usually located by the entrances of the compounds.
The locations of these camps and prisons in Xinjiang are not readily available. However, blanked-out portions of maps on China's Baidu make it possible to use satellite imagery to find and analyze them.
Satellite maps, like Google Earth, are made up of a grid of rectangular tiles. On Baidu, the Chinese search giant that has a map service much like Google’s, BuzzFeed News discovered that spaces containing camps, military bases, or other politically sensitive facilities were overlaid with plain light gray tiles. These “mask” tiles appeared upon zooming in on the location. These look different from the darker gray, watermarked tiles that appear when Baidu cannot load something. The “mask” tiles were also present at other locations where camps had been visited and verified by journalists, though they have since been removed.














Dabancheng District, Ürümqi Prefecture
Baidu; Planet Labs











Shule County, Kashgar Prefecture
Baidu; Planet Labs











Gaochang District, Turpan Prefecture
Baidu; Planet Labs

BuzzFeed News identified the compounds using other satellite maps — provided by Google Earth, Planet Labs, and the European Space Agency’s Sentinel Hub — which do not mask those images. For some locations where high-resolution images were not publicly available, Planet Labs used its own satellite to take new pictures, then provided them to BuzzFeed News. Read more here about how this investigation was conducted.
The images showed the facilities being built over a period of months. Details from the images offer a sense of size and scale: Counting the number of windows in building facades, for example, shows how many stories they contain.
Often, these compounds were built next door to an older prison, sharing parking lots, administrative facilities, and police barracks with the older facility, satellite images show.
BuzzFeed News found an additional 50 more compounds that were likely used for internment in the past but have lost some security features, including barbed wire fencing within compounds used to create rectangular pens, closed passages between buildings, and guard towers, with a small number having been demolished.
Ruser and other experts said this does not suggest the Chinese government is pulling back from its campaign. Many of those facilities likely still operate as low-security camps, he said. The far more important trend in Xinjiang, he said, is the government’s increased use of higher-security prisons and detention facilities.
In response to questions, the Chinese Consulate in New York echoed Zakir's December statement.

"All trainees who received courses in standard spoken and written Chinese, understanding of the law, vocational skills, and deradicalization have completed their training, secured stable employment in the society, and are living a normal life," it said.

All of the detainees interviewed by BuzzFeed News were released too long ago to have spent any time in one of the brand-new facilities — many said that before they escaped China for good, they were kept under de facto house or town arrest, unable to venture past the borders of their villages without obtaining permission from a police officer. Many — especially those with less formal education — had no idea what type of facility they were held in or even why they had been detained in the first place. They said they often drew conclusions based on weekly interrogation sessions, where police asked about actions that made them “untrustworthy.”
An older ethnic Kazakh man named Nurlan Kokteubai recognized the camp he was taken to as soon as he arrived in September 2017. Not long before, it had been a middle school.
“My daughter went to that school,” he said. “I had picked her up there before.”

Smile lines appear on Kokteubai’s deeply wrinkled face when he talks about his daughter, who was born in 1992. She later moved to Kazakhstan, where many ethnic Kazakhs from China emigrate because of the Kazakh government’s resettlement policy for people of Kazakh descent. There, she and her husband campaigned relentlessly for Kokteubai’s release in YouTube videos and long letters to human rights groups. He believes his eventual release in March 2018 was due to her campaign. Inside the camp, instead of classrooms where students like his daughter might have studied math or history, Kokteubai saw dorm rooms overcrowded with as many as 40 or 50 men each sleeping on too few bunk beds.
Though the compound itself wasn’t new, it had many updated features, such as high walls and barbed wire around the compound. And the camp was now dotted with CCTV cameras, which a guard told him could film objects as far as 200 meters away.
Another thing that was new: When you entered the gate, a huge red plaque greeted you. “Let’s learn the spirit of the 19th Communist Party Congress,” it said.
Like Kokteubai, several former detainees interviewed by BuzzFeed News said after arriving, they recognized the facilities in which they were held because they had walked or driven past them, or even visited them in their previous incarnations. But these repurposed facilities were never meant to house prisoners and were not big enough to hold all the Muslim minorities the Chinese government intended to detain.
In early 2019, workers started clearing land to expand a camp south of Ürümqi, in a town called Dabancheng, that had become infamous after reporters from BBC and Reuters visited the year before. The camp at Dabancheng was already one of the largest internment facilities in the region, capable in October 2018 of housing up to 32,500 people, according to an architectural analysis by BuzzFeed News. Since the expansion, it is now capable of housing some 10,000 more people. By November of last year another, separate compound had been completed, this one capable of holding a further 10,000 people — for a total capacity of more than 40,000, comparable to the size of the town of Niagara Falls.
"These facilities display characteristics consistent with extrajudicial detention facilities in the Xinjiang region that CSIS has previously analyzed," said Amy Lehr, director of the human rights program at Washington DC-based think tank CSIS after examining the three camps referenced in this article.







Satellite images comparing the size of Dabancheng to Central Park






Dabancheng
District,
Ürümqi, Xinjiang

Planet Labs; Google Maps

The camp at Dabancheng, Ruser said, “is the main catchment camp for Ürümqi. It’s 2 km (1.2 miles) long and was expanded late last year an extra kilometer with a new facility across the road to the west.” By comparison, the camp is about half the length of Central Park.
Kokteubai never found out precisely why he was detained. Because he’s ethnic Kazakh, he was eventually able to settle in Kazakhstan.

On the day he was released, he expected to feel joy, relief, something. Instead he felt nothing at all.
“I wasn’t happy or sad. I couldn’t feel anything,” he said. “Even when I was reunited with my relatives in Kazakhstan, they asked me why I didn’t seem happy to see them after so long.”
“It’s something I can’t explain,” he said. “It’s like my feelings died while I was in there.” ●
 

johnq

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What They Saw
Ex-Prisoners Detail The Horrors Of China’s Detention Camps

This is Part 2 of a BuzzFeed News investigation. For Part 1, click here.
This project was supported by the Open Technology Fund, the Pulitzer Center, and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism.
ALMATY — Maybe the police officers call you first. Or maybe they show up at your workplace and ask your boss if they can talk to you. In all likelihood they will come for you at night, after you’ve gone to bed.
In Nursaule’s case, they turned up at her home just as she was fixing her husband a lunch of fresh noodles and lamb.
For the Uighurs and Kazakhs in China’s far west who have found themselves detained in a sprawling system of internment camps, what happens next is more or less the same. Handcuffed, often with a hood over their heads, they are brought by the hundreds to the tall iron gates.
Thrown into the camps for offenses that range from wearing a beard to having downloaded a banned app, upward of a million people have disappeared into the secretive facilities, according to independent estimates. The government has previously said the camps are meant to provide educational or vocational training to Muslim minorities. Satellite images, such as those revealed in a BuzzFeed News investigation on Thursday, offer bird’s eye hints: guard towers, thick walls, and barbed wire. Yet little is still known about day-to-day life inside.
BuzzFeed News interviewed 28 former detainees from the camps in Xinjiang about their experiences. Most spoke through an interpreter. They are, in many ways, the lucky ones — they escaped the country to tell their tale. All of them said that when they were released, they were made to sign a written agreement not to disclose what happens inside. (None kept copies — most said they were afraid they would be searched at the border when they tried to leave China.) Many declined to use their names because, despite living abroad, they feared reprisals on their families. But they said they wanted to make the world aware of how they were treated.
The stories about what detention is like in Xinjiang are remarkably consistent — from the point of arrest, where people are swept away in police cars, to the days, weeks, and months of abuse, deprivation, and routine humiliation inside the camps, to the moment of release for the very few who get out. They also offer insight into the structure of life inside, from the surveillance tools installed — even in restrooms — to the hierarchy of prisoners, who said they were divided into color-coded uniforms based on their assumed threat to the state. BuzzFeed News could not corroborate all details of their accounts because it is not possible to independently visit camps and prisons in Xinjiang.

“They treated us like livestock. I wanted to cry. I was ashamed, you know, to take off my clothes in front of others.”

Their accounts also give clues into how China’s mass internment policy targeting its Muslim minorities in Xinjiang has evolved, partly in response to international pressure. Those who were detained earlier, particularly in 2017 and early 2018, were more likely to find themselves forced into repurposed government buildings like schoolhouses and retirement homes. Those who were detained later, from late 2018, were more likely to have seen factories being built, or even been forced to labor in them, for no pay but less oppressive detention.
In response to a list of questions for this article, the Chinese Consulate in New York said that "the basic principle of respecting and protecting human rights in accordance with China's Constitution and law is strictly observed in these centers to guarantee that the personal dignity of trainees is inviolable."
"The centers are run as boarding facilities and trainees can go home and ask for leave to tend to personal business. Trainees' right to use their own spoken and written languages is fully protected ... the customs and habits of different ethnic groups are fully respected and protected," the consulate added, saying that "trainees" are given halal food for free and that they can decide whether to "attend legitimate religious activities" when they go home.
China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to several requests for comment.
Nursaule’s husband was watching TV the day she was detained in late 2017 near Tacheng city, she said. She was in the kitchen when there was a sharp knock at the front door. She opened it to find a woman wearing ordinary clothing flanked by two uniformed male police officers, she said. The woman told her she was to be taken for a medical checkup.
At first, Nursaule, a sixtysomething Kazakh woman whose presence is both no-nonsense and grandmotherly, was glad. Her legs had been swollen for a few days, and she had been meaning to go to the doctor to have them looked at.
Nursaule’s stomach began to rumble. The woman seemed kind, so Nursaule asked if she could return to pick her up after she’d eaten lunch. The woman agreed. But then she said something strange.
“She told me to take off my earrings and necklace before going with them, that I shouldn’t take my jewelry where I was going,” Nursaule said. “It was only then that I started to feel afraid.”
After the police left, Nursaule called her grown-up daughter to tell her what happened, hoping she’d have some insight. Her daughter told her not to worry — but something in her tone told Nursaule there was something wrong. She began to cry. She couldn’t eat a bite of her noodles. Many hours later, after the police had interrogated her for hours, she realized that she was starving. But the next meal she would eat would be within the walls of an internment camp.
Like Nursaule, those detained all reported being given a full medical checkup before being taken to the camps. At the clinic, samples of their blood and urine were collected, they said. They also said they sat for interviews with police officers, answering questions on their foreign travel, personal beliefs, and religious practices.
“They asked me, ‘Are you a practicing Muslim?’ ‘Do you pray?’” said Kadyrbek Tampek, a livestock farmer from the Tacheng region, which lies in the north of Xinjiang. “I told them that I have faith, but I don’t pray.” Afterward, the police officers took his phone. Tampek, a soft-spoken 51-year-old man who belongs to Xinjiang’s ethnic Kazakh minority, was first sent to a camp in December 2017 and said he was later forced to work as a security guard.
After a series of blood tests, Nursaule was taken to a separate room at the clinic, where she was asked to sign some documents she couldn’t understand and press all 10 of her fingers on a pad of ink to make fingerprints. Police interrogated her about her past, and afterward, she waited for hours. Finally, past midnight, a Chinese police officer told her she would be taken to “get some education.” Nursaule tried to appeal to the Kazakh officer translating for him — she does not speak Chinese — but he assured her she would only be gone 10 days.
After the medical exam and interview, detainees were taken to camps. Those who had been detained in 2017 and early in 2018 described a chaotic atmosphere when they arrived — often in tandem with dozens or even hundreds of other people, who were lined up for security screenings inside camps protected by huge iron gates. Many said they could not recognize where they were because they had arrived in darkness, or because police placed hoods over their heads. But others said they recognized the buildings, often former schools or retirement homes repurposed into detention centers. When Nursaule arrived, the first thing she saw were the heavy iron doors of the compound, flanked by armed police.

“I recognized those dogs. They looked like the ones the Germans had.”

Once inside, they were told to discard their belongings as well as shoelaces and belts — as is done in prisons to prevent suicide. After a security screening, detainees said they were brought to a separate room to put on camp uniforms, often walking through a passageway covered with netting and flanked by armed guards and their dogs. “I recognized those dogs,” said one former detainee who declined to share his name. He used to watch TV documentaries about World War II, he said. “They looked like the ones the Germans had.”
“We lined up and took off our clothes to put on blue uniforms. There were men and women together in the same room,” said 48-year-old Parida, a Kazakh pharmacist who was detained in February 2018. “They treated us like livestock. I wanted to cry. I was ashamed, you know, to take off my clothes in front of others.”
More than a dozen former detainees confirmed to BuzzFeed News that prisoners were divided into three categories, differentiated by uniform colors. Those in blue, like Parida and the majority of the people interviewed for this article, were considered the least threatening. Often, they were accused of minor transgressions, like downloading banned apps to their phones or having traveled abroad. Imams, religious people, and others considered subversive to the state were placed in the strictest group — and were usually shackled even inside the camp. There was also a mid-level group.

The blue-clad detainees had no interaction with people in the more “dangerous” groups, who were often housed in different sections or floors of buildings, or stayed in separate buildings altogether. But they could sometimes see them through the window, being marched outside the building, often with their hands cuffed. In Chinese, the groups were referred to as “ordinary regulation,” “strong regulation,” and “strict regulation” detainees.
For several women detainees, a deeply traumatic humiliation was having their long hair cut to chin length. Women were also barred from wearing traditional head coverings, as they are in all of Xinjiang.
“I wanted to keep my hair,” said Nursaule. “Keeping long hair, for a Kazakh woman, is very important. I had grown it since I was a little girl, I had never cut it in my life. Hair is the beauty of a woman.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They wanted to hack it off.”
After the haircut, putting her hand to the ends of her hair, she cried.


From the moment they stepped inside the compounds, privacy was gone. Aside from the overwhelming presence of guards, each room was fitted with two video cameras, all the former detainees interviewed by BuzzFeed News confirmed. Cameras could also be seen in bathrooms, and throughout the building. In some camps, according to more than a dozen former detainees, dorms were outfitted with internal and external doors, one of which required an iris or thumbprint scan for guards to enter. The internal doors sometimes had small windows through which bowls of food could be passed.
Periodically, the detainees were subject to interrogations, where they’d have to repeat again and again the stories of their supposed transgressions — religious practices, foreign travel, and online activities. These sessions were carefully documented by interrogators, they said. And they often resulted in detainees writing “self-criticism.” Those who could not read and write were given a document to sign.
None of the former detainees interviewed by BuzzFeed News said they contemplated escaping — this was not a possibility.
Camp officials would observe the detainees’ behavior during the day using cameras, and communicate with detainees over intercom.
Camps were made up of multiple buildings, including dorms, canteens, shower facilities, administrative buildings, and, in some cases, a building where visitors were hosted. But most detainees said they saw little outside their own dorm room buildings. Detainees who arrived early in the government’s campaign — particularly in 2017 — reported desperately crowded facilities, where people sometimes slept two to a twin bed, and said new arrivals would come all the time.
Dorm rooms were stacked with bunk beds, and each detainee was given a small plastic stool. Several former detainees said that they were forced to study Chinese textbooks while sitting rigidly on the stools. If they moved their hands from their knees or slouched, they’d be yelled at through the intercom.
Detainees said there was a shared bathroom. Showers were infrequent, and always cold.
Some former detainees said there were small clinics within the camps. Nursaule remembered being taken by bus to two local hospitals in 2018. The detainees were chained together, she said.
People were coming and going all the time from the camp where she stayed, she said.

“She told me to take off my earrings and necklace before going with them, that I shouldn’t take my jewelry where I was going. It was only then that I started to feel afraid.”

Surveillance was not limited to cameras and guards. At night, the detainees themselves were forced to stand watch in shifts over other inmates in their own rooms. If anyone in the room acted up — getting into arguments with each other, for example, or speaking Uighur or Kazakh instead of Chinese — those on watch could be punished as well. Usually they were beaten, or, as happened more often to women, put into solitary confinement. Several former detainees said that older men and women could not handle standing for many hours and struggled to keep watch. The atmosphere was so crowded and tense that arguments sometimes broke out among detainees — but these were punished severely.
“They took me down there and beat me,” said one former detainee. “I couldn’t tell you where the room was because they put a hood over my head.”
Nursaule was never beaten, but one day, she got into a squabble with a Uighur woman who was living in the same dorm room. Guards put a sack over her head and took her to the solitary room.
There, it was dark, with only a metal chair and a bucket. Her ankles were shackled together. The room was small, about 10 feet by 10 feet, she said, with a cement floor. There was no window. The lights were kept off, so guards used a flashlight to find her, she said.
After three days had passed by, she was taken back up to the cell.



Residents at the Kashgar city vocational educational training center attend a Chinese lesson during a government-organized visit in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, Jan. 4, 2019.


The government has said that “students” in the camps receive vocational training, learn the Chinese language, and become “deradicalized.” Former detainees say this means they were brainwashed with Communist Party propaganda and forced to labor for free in factories.
State media reports have emphasized the classroom education that takes place in the camps, claiming that detainees are actually benefiting from their time there. But several former detainees told BuzzFeed News that there were too many people to fit inside the classroom, so instead they were forced to study textbooks while sitting on their plastic stools in their dorm rooms.
Those who did sit through lessons in classrooms described them all similarly. The teacher, at the front of the room, was separated from the detainees by a transparent wall or a set of bars, and he or she taught them Mandarin or about Communist Party dogma. Guards flanked the classroom, and some former detainees said they carried batons and even hit “pupils” when they made mistakes about Chinese characters.
Nearly every former detainee who spoke to BuzzFeed News described being moved from camp to camp, and noted that people always seemed to be coming and going from the buildings where they were being held. Officials did not appear to give reasons for these moves, but several former detainees chalked it up to overcrowding.
Among them was Dina Nurdybai, a 27-year-old Kazakh woman who ran a successful clothing manufacturing business. After being first detained on October 14, 2017, Nurdybai was moved between five different camps — ranging from a compound in a village where horses were raised to a high-security prison.
In the first camp, “it seemed like 50 new people were coming in every night. You could hear the shackles on their legs,” she said.



Nursaule never expected to be released.
“It was dinner time and we were lining up at the door,” she said. “They called my name and another Kazakh woman’s name.” It was December 23, 2018.

She was terrified — she had heard that some detainees were being given prison sentences, and she wondered if she might be among them. China does not consider internment camps like the ones she was sent to be part of the criminal justice system — no one who is sent to a camp is formally arrested or charged with a crime.
Nursaule had heard that prisons — which disproportionately house Uighurs and Kazakhs — could be even worse than internment camps. She whispered to the other woman, “Are we getting prison terms?” The two were taken in handcuffs to a larger room and told to sit on plastic stools. Then an officer undid the handcuffs.
He asked if Nursaule wanted to go to Kazakhstan. She said yes. He then gave her a set of papers to sign, promising never to tell anyone what she had experienced. She signed it, and they allowed her to leave — to live under house arrest until she left for Kazakhstan for good. The day after, her daughter arrived with her clothes.
Nearly all of the former detainees interviewed by BuzzFeed News told a similar story about being asked to sign documents that said they’d never discuss what happened to them. Those who didn’t speak Chinese said they couldn’t even read what they were asked to sign.
Some of them were told the reasons they had been detained, and others said they never got an answer.
“In the end they told me I was detained because I had used ‘illegal software,’” Nurdybai said — WhatsApp.



A giant national flag is displayed on the hillside of the peony valley scenic area in the Tacheng region, in northwest China, May 13, 2019.


Nursaule’s daughter, who is in her late twenties, is a nurse who usually works the night shift at a local hospital in Xinjiang, starting at 6 p.m. Nursaule worries all the time about her — about how hard she works, and whether she might be detained someday too. After Nursaule was eventually released from detention, it was her daughter who cared for her, because her husband had been detained too.

Like for other Muslim minorities, government authorities have taken her daughter’s passport, Nursaule said, so she cannot come to Kazakhstan.
Snow fell softly outside the window as Nursaule spoke about what had happened to her from an acquaintance’s apartment in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, where a cheery plastic tablecloth printed with cartoon plates of pasta covered the coffee table. Nursaule spoke slowly and carefully in her native Kazakh, with the occasional bitter note creeping into her voice, long after the milky tea on the table had grown cold.
But when she asked that her full name not be used in this article, she began to weep — big, heaving sobs pent up from the pain she carried with her, from talking about things she could hardly bear to remember or relate, even to her husband.
She was thinking about her daughter, she said, and about what could happen if Chinese officials discovered she spoke about her time in the camps. It is the reason that she, like so many former detainees and prisoners, has never spoken publicly about what was done to her.
“I am still afraid of talking about this,” she said. “I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t bear it.”
“It makes me suffer to tell you this,” she said.
“But I feel that I have to tell it.” ●
 

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Blanked-Out Spots On China's Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang's Camps
China's Baidu blanked out parts of its mapping platform. We used those locations to find a network of buildings bearing the hallmarks of prisons and internment camps in Xinjiang. Here's how we did it.
Picture of Christo Buschek





Baidu / Via map.baidu.com


A masked tile on Baidu Maps.


Read Part 1 of this investigation here. Read Part 2 here.
This project was supported by the Open Technology Fund, the Pulitzer Center, and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism.
In the summer of 2018, as it became even harder for journalists to work effectively in Xinjiang, a far-western region of China, we started to look at how we could use satellite imagery to investigate the camps where Uighurs and other Muslim minorities were being detained. At the time we began, it was believed that there were around 1,200 camps in existence, while only several dozen had been found. We wanted to try to find the rest.
Our breakthrough came when we noticed that there was some sort of issue with satellite imagery tiles loading in the vicinity of one of the known camps while using the Chinese mapping platform Baidu Maps. The satellite imagery was old, but otherwise fine when zoomed out — but at a certain point, plain light gray tiles would appear over the camp location. They disappeared as you zoomed in further, while the satellite imagery was replaced by the standard gray reference tiles, which showed features such as building outlines and roads.
At that time, Baidu only had satellite imagery at medium resolution in most parts of Xinjiang, which would be replaced by their general reference map tiles when you zoomed in closer. That wasn’t what was happening here — these light gray tiles at the camp location were a different color than the reference map tiles and lacked any drawn information, such as roads. We also knew that this wasn’t a failure to load tiles, or information that was missing from the map. Usually when a map platform can’t display a tile, it serves a standard blank tile, which is watermarked. These blank tiles are also a darker color than the tiles we had noticed over the camps.
Once we found that we could replicate the blank tile phenomenon reliably, we started to look at other camps whose locations were already known to the public to see if we could observe the same thing happening there. Spoiler: We could. Of the six camps that we used in our feasibility study, five had blank tiles at their location at zoom level 18 in Baidu, appearing only at this zoom level and disappearing as you zoomed in further. One of the six camps didn’t have the blank tiles — a person who had visited the site in 2019 said it had closed, which could well have explained it. However, we later found that the blank tiles weren’t used in city centers, only toward the edge of cities and in more rural areas. (Baidu did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)
Having established that we could probably find internment camps in this way, we examined Baidu's satellite tiles for the whole of Xinjiang, including the blank masking tiles, which formed a separate layer on the map. We analyzed the masked locations by comparing them to up-to-date imagery from Google Earth, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel Hub, and Planet Labs.
In total there were 5 million masked tiles across Xinjiang. They seemed to cover any area of even the slightest strategic importance — military bases and training grounds, prisons, power plants, but also mines and some commercial and industrial facilities. There were far too many locations for us to sort through, so we narrowed it down by focusing on the areas around cities and towns and major roads.
Prisons and internment camps need to be near infrastructure — you need to get large amounts of building materials and heavy machinery there to build them, for starters. Chinese authorities would have also needed good roads and railways to bring newly detained people there by the thousand, as they did in the early months of the mass internment campaign. Analyzing locations near major infrastructure was therefore a good way to focus our initial search. This left us with around 50,000 locations to look at.
We began to sort through the mask tile locations systematically using a custom web tool that we built to support our investigation and help manage the data. We analyzed the whole of Kashgar prefecture, the Uighur heartland, which is in the south of Xinjiang, as well as parts of the neighboring prefecture, Kizilsu, in this way. After looking at 10,000 mask tile locations and identifying a number of facilities bearing the hallmarks of detention centers, prisons, and camps, we had a good idea of the range of designs of these facilities and also the sorts of locations in which they were likely to be found.
We quickly began to notice how large many of these places are — and how heavily securitized they appear to be, compared to the earlier known camps. In site layout, architecture, and security features, they bear greater resemblance to other prisons across China than to the converted schools and hospitals that formed the earlier camps in Xinjiang. The newer compounds are also built to last, in a way that the earlier conversions weren’t. The perimeter walls are made of thick concrete, for example, which takes much longer to build and perhaps later demolish, than the barbed wire fencing that characterizes the early camps.
In almost every county, we found buildings bearing the hallmarks of detention centers, plus new facilities with the characteristics of large, high-security camps and/or prisons. Typically, there would be an older detention center in the middle of the town, while on the outskirts there would be a new camp and prison, often in recently developed industrial areas. Where we hadn’t yet found these facilities in a given county, this pattern pushed us to keep on looking, especially in areas where there was no recent satellite imagery. Where there was no public high-resolution imagery, we used medium-resolution imagery from Planet Labs and Sentinel to locate likely sites. Planet was then kind enough to give us access to high-resolution imagery for these locations and to task a satellite to capture new imagery of some areas that hadn’t been photographed in high resolution since 2006. In one county, this allowed us to see that the detention center that had previously been identified by other researchers had been demolished and to find the new prison just out of town.


This is Yiwu, Hami prefecture in Google Earth, in the most recent publicly available high-resolution imagery. The photo was taken in 2006. The white marker shows the old, now-demolished prison and the red marker shows the new one on the outskirts.


Google Earth



Here is a close-up of the location where the new prison would eventually be built.


Google Earth



Planet Labs took a new satellite image in 2020, showing the fully built facility.


Planet Labs



Prison requirements — why prisons are built where they are
There’s good reason why these places are developed close to towns. There’s the occasional camp in a more remote location, such as the sprawling internment camp in Dabancheng, but even there it’s next to a major road, with a small town nearby. Having the prison or camp close to an existing town minimizes, in principle, the distance that detainees must be transported (although there are also examples of prisoners and detainees being taken right across Xinjiang, from Kashgar to Korla, as in the drone video that reemerged recently, according to analysts). It is easier for families to visit loved ones who are in custody. Being near a town means that a prison or camp can be staffed more easily. Guards have families, their children need to go to school, their partners have jobs, they need access to healthcare, etc. Construction workers are needed to build the prison in the first place. It is also useful for amenities. Prisons and camps need electricity, water, telephone lines. It is way cheaper and easier to connect to an existing nearby network than to run new pipes and cables tens of kilometers to a more remote location.
Finally, you need a large plot of land for a prison, preferably with space to expand in the future, and this is what the recently developed industrial estates offer: large, serviced plots, close to existing towns and cities. Building in industrial estates also places the camps close to factories for forced labor. While many camps have factories within their compounds, in several cases that we know of detainees are bused to other factory sites to work.
Our list of sites
In total we identified 428 locations in Xinjiang bearing the hallmarks of prisons and detention centers. Many of these locations contain two to three detention facilities — a camp, pretrial administrative detention center, or prison. We intend to analyze these locations further and make our database more granular over the next few months.
Of these locations, we believe 315 are in use as part of the current internment program — 268 new camp or prison complexes, plus 47 pretrial administrative detention centers that have not been expanded over the past four years. We have witness testimony showing that these detention centers have frequently been used to detain people, who are often then moved on to other camps, and so we feel it is important to include them. Excluded from this 315 are 39 camps that we believe are probably closed and 11 that have closed — either they’ve been demolished or we have witness testimony that they are no longer in use. There are a further 14 locations identified by other researchers, but where our team has only been able to check the satellite evidence, which in these cases is weak. These 14 are not included in our list.
We have also located 63 prisons that we believe belong to earlier, pre-2016 programs. These facilities were typically built several years — in some cases, several decades — before the current internment program and have not been significantly extended since 2016. They are also different in style from the detention centers, known in Chinese as “kanshousuo,” and also from the newer camps. These facilities are not part of the 315 we believe to be in use as part of the current internment program and are included separately in our database.
Many of the earlier camps, which were converted from other uses, had their courtyard fencing, watchtowers, and other security features removed, often in late 2018 or early 2019. In some cases, the removal of most barricading, plus the fact that there are often cars parked in several places across the compounds, suggests that they’re no longer camps and are classified as probably closed in our database. The removal of the security features, in several cases, coincided with the opening of a larger, higher-security facility being completed nearby, suggesting that detainees may have been moved to the newer location.
Where facilities were purpose-built as camps and have had courtyard fencing removed but otherwise don’t show any change of use (like cars in the compound), we think they’re likely to still be camps — albeit with lower levels of security.

The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 
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Beijing has rejected US accusations that the Chinese government has detained large numbers of Muslims in the Xinjiang region in what former detainees describe as re-education centers with prison-like conditions. CNN's Matt Rivers investigates. #China #CNN #News
The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 
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China’s Vanishing Muslims: Undercover In The Most Dystopian Place In The World
China’s Uighur minority live a dystopian nightmare of constant surveillance and brutal policing. At least one million of them are believed to be living in what the U.N. described as a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy,” while many Uighur children are taken to state-run orphanages where they're indoctrinated into Chinese customs. The Uighurs' plight has largely been kept hidden from the world, thanks to China’s aggressive attempts to suppress the story at all costs. VICE News’ Isobel Yeung posed as a tourist to gain unprecedented access to China’s western Xinjiang region, which has been nearly unreachable by journalists. She and our crew experienced China’s Orwellian surveillance and harassment first-hand during their time in Xinjiang, and captured chilling hidden-camera footage of eight Uighur men detained by police in the middle of the night. We spoke with members of the Uighur community about their experience in these camps, and about China’s attempts to silence their history and lifestyle under the cover of darkness.

The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 
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hina transferred detained Uighurs to factories used by global brands – report
At least 80,000 Uighurs working under ‘conditions that strongly suggest forced labour’

At least 80,000 Uighurs have been transferred from Xinjiang province, some of them directly from detention centres, to factories across China that make goods for dozens of global brands, according to a report from the Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Using open-source public documents, satellite imagery, and media reports, the institute identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that have used labourers transferred from re-education centres in Xinjiang since 2017 as part of a programme known as “Xinjiang aid”.

In conditions that “strongly suggest forced labour”, the report says, workers live in segregated dormitories, are required to study Mandarin and undergo ideological training. They are frequently subjected to surveillance and barred from observing religious practices. According to government documents analysed by the ASPI, workers are often assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.

The factories were part of supply chains providing goods for 83 global brands, the report found, including Apple, Nike and Volkswagen among others.

China has come under mounting international scrutiny for its policies toward Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, where as many as 1.5 million people have been sent to re-education and internment camps.
Beijing, which says these facilities are voluntary vocational training centres, has said in recent months that most “students” of such centres have “graduated” and returned to society.

The report from the ASPI adds to growing evidence that even after being released from the camps, former detainees are still subject to severe controls and in some cases forced labour. The report’s authors said the actual number of those sent to other parts of China as part of the work programme was “likely to be far higher” than 80,000.

“This report exposes a new phase in China’s social re-engineering campaign targeting minority citizens, revealing new evidence that some factories across China are using forced Uighur labour under a state-sponsored labour transfer scheme that is tainting the global supply chain,” the researchers concluded.

Case studies highlighted in the report, titled Uyghurs for Sale, include Qingdao Taekwang Shoes, a factory in eastern China that produces shoes for Nike. The workers were mostly Uighur women from the prefectures of Hotan and Kashgar in southern Xinjiang, and attended night classes whose curriculum was similar to that of the re-education camps.


According to government notices, workers were required to attend the “Pomegranate Seed” night school, named after a policy that aims to make ethnic minorities and the majority Han Chinese ethnic group as close as the seeds of a pomegranate. At the school, workers study Mandarin, sing the Chinese national anthem and receive “patriotic education”. Public security and other government workers were to give daily reports on the “thoughts” of the Uighur workers.

Advertisements for “government-sponsored Uighur labour” have begun to appear more frequently online, according to the researchers. One ad read: “The advantages of Xinjiang workers are: semi-military style management, can withstand hardship, no loss of personnel … minimum order 100 workers!”

The report called on China to allow multinational companies unfettered access to investigate any potential instances of abusive or forced labour in factories in China, and for companies to conduct audits and human rights due-diligence inspections.

“It is vital that, as these problems are addressed, Uighur labourers are not placed in positions of greater harm or, for example, involuntarily transferred back to Xinjiang, where their safety cannot necessarily be guaranteed,” it said.

An Apple spokesman, Josh Rosenstock, told the Washington Post: “Apple is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We have not seen this report but we work closely with all our suppliers to ensure our high standards are upheld.”

A Volkswagen spokesman told the paper: “None of the mentioned supplier companies are currently a direct supplier of Volkswagen.” He said: “We are committed to our responsibility in all areas of our business where we hold direct authority.”

A Nike spokeswoman told the Post: “We are committed to upholding international labour standards globally,” adding that its suppliers are “strictly prohibited from using any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labour”. Kim Jae-min, the chief executive of Taekwang, the QingdaoTaekwang factory’s South Korean parent company, said about 600 Uighurs were among 7,100 workers at the plant, adding that the migrant workers had been brought in to offset local labour shortages.

The above article is proof that just banning products made in Xinjiang, Tibet and other minority areas is not enough. The Chinese government is moving Uyghur, Tibetan and other minority areas' people to other parts of China to work as slaves in factories that make products for big brand name corporations like Nike and Apple. These international corporations are complicit by looking the other way for access to cheap Chinese slave labor. The only way to stop forced slave labor in China is if these big international corporations move all their manufacturing out of China.
 

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-muslims-detention-centers-xinjiang-crackdown/2020/09/23/44d2ce50-f32b-11ea-8025-5d3489768ac8_story.html
China is building vast new detention centers for Muslims in Xinjiang


A huge Brutalist entrance gate, topped with the red national flag, stands before archetypal Chinese government buildings. There is no sign identifying the complex, only an inscription bearing an exhortation from Communist Party founding father Mao Zedong: "Stay true to our founding mission and aspirations."

But the 45-foot-high walls and guard towers indicate that this massive compound — next to a vocational training school and a logistics center south of Kashgar — is not just another bureaucratic outpost in western China, where authorities have waged sweeping campaigns of repression against the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
It is a new detention camp spanning some 60 acres, opened as recently as January. With 13 five-story residential buildings, it can accommodate more than 10,000 people.

The Kashgar site is among dozens of prisonlike detention centers that Chinese authorities have built across the Xinjiang region, according to the Xinjiang Data Project, an initiative of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), despite Beijing's claims that it is winding down its internationally denounced effort to "reeducate" the Uighur population after deeming the campaign a success.
A recent visit to Xinjiang by The Washington Post and evidence compiled by ASPI, a Canberra-based think tank, suggest international pressure and outrage have done little to slow China's crackdown, which appears to be entering an ominous new phase.

For the past year, the Chinese government has said that almost all the people in its "vocational training program" in Xinjiang, ostensibly aimed at "deradicalizing" the region's mostly Muslim population, had "graduated" and been released into the community.

"This shows that the statements made by the government are patently false," said ASPI researcher Nathan Ruser, adding that there had merely been a "shift in style of detention."
'Prisons by another name'
The new compound, one of at least 60 facilities either built from scratch or expanded over the past year, has floodlights and five layers of tall barbed-wire fences in addition to the towering walls.
Satellite imagery reveals a tunnel for sending detainees from a processing center into the facility, and a large courtyard like those seen in other camps where detainees have been forced to pledge allegiance to the Chinese flag.
"This is a much more concerted effort to detain and physically remove people from society," Ruser said. "There aren't any sort of rehabilitative features in these higher-security detention centers. They seem to rather just be prisons by another name."

Some prison-style facilities like the one outside Kashgar are new. Other existing sites have been expanded with higher-security areas. New buildings added to Xinjiang's largest camp, in Dabancheng, near Urumqi, last year stretched to almost a mile in length, Ruser said.
Some 14 facilities are still being built across Xinjiang, the satellite imagery shows.

Construction next to what is believed to be another new, prisonlike detention center built to intern Uighurs in Kashgar.



Construction next to what is believed to be another new, prisonlike detention center built to intern Uighurs in Kashgar. (Lorenz Huber for The Washington Post)
The findings support recent reporting from BuzzFeed News that China has built massive new high-security prison camps to create a vast and permanent infrastructure for mass detention.
These detention camps are the backdrop to all Chinese government efforts to control the population in Xinjiang, said James Millward, a professor of inter-societal history at Georgetown University who has been tracking the plight of the Uighurs.

"They exist as a threat," Millward said. "[The authorities] can go to people and say: We want you to move 600 miles and work in a factory, or your father better not object to this marriage that's been set up for you by the party committee, otherwise you'll be seen as an extremist."
Blocked by security
When a Post reporter tried to visit the detention center half an hour's drive south of Kashgar this month, her vehicle was quickly surrounded by at least eight cars that had previously been tailing at some distance. This site was clearly sensitive.

When The Post's reporter and two European journalists headed toward another new camp in Akto, south of Kashgar, they were stopped repeatedly, made to register their passports and drive behind police cars, only to be turned around at a county border. Coronavirus precautions were given as the reason.

Conversely, when they visited several compounds that previously held local Uighurs, authorities didn't bother much with trying to obstruct the reporters.
Those facilities appeared empty. Windows swung open at one former "vocational training" center. Bunk beds lay in piles in the yard at another. Litter rolled past ping-pong tables and over lonely soccer fields.

This reeducation center in Kashgar appeared on the BBC, with local officials taking BBC reporters inside in an effort to show the detentions were about deradicalization. The center now appears to be demobilized.



This reeducation center in Kashgar appeared on the BBC, with local officials taking BBC reporters inside in an effort to show the detentions were about deradicalization. The center now appears to be demobilized. (Lorenz Huber for The Washington Post)
About eight camps appear to have been decommissioned and 70 more, almost all of them lower-security facilities, have had their internal fencing or perimeter walls removed, according to ASPI's database. But there are no signs of soccer fields, factories or vocational facilities at the new compound south of Kashgar that would indicate a rehabilitative purpose.

Many Uighurs and people of other ethnic minority groups who have been sent to reeducation camps have subsequently disappeared into prisons. Mayila Yakufu, a Mandarin-speaking insurance company worker, was released this month after two years and three months of detention without trial. She had previously been put into a "vocational training" internment camp for 10 months.
When the scale of the human rights abuses in Xinjiang came to light in 2017 and 2018, China categorically denied their existence. But as satellite imagery and testimony from survivors and relatives became incontrovertible, and United Nations experts estimated that 1 million people or more had been incarcerated, Beijing tried to explain away the camps as a necessary program to deal with terrorists.

One of the former “reeducation” centers in Kashgar, where Uighur Muslims were detained as part of what human rights advocates have described as a cultural genocide, stands empty.



One of the former “reeducation” centers in Kashgar, where Uighur Muslims were detained as part of what human rights advocates have described as a cultural genocide, stands empty. (Lorenz Huber for The Washington Post)
The region, which was conquered during the Qing dynasty in the 1700s and given a name meaning "new frontier" in Chinese, is home to Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims whose culture and language are distinct from that of China's dominant Han people.

For more than two centuries, people here have protested, sometimes violently, against Chinese repression. Some 200 people were killed in riots in the provincial capital, Urumqi, 11 years ago.

Chinese authorities face widespread anger in Inner Mongolia after requiring Mandarin-language classes

In recent years, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, Beijing has used these protests as a reason to carry out what many human rights advocates have labeled cultural genocide.

People who have been interned in the camps have described being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol; to renounce their religion and pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party; and to undergo what they have described as systematic brainwashing. Women have been forcibly sterilized and the Uighur birthrate has plummeted.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called China's treatment of Uighur Muslims the "stain of the century," and the administration is reportedly weighing a declaration of China's actions as genocide.

Xinjiang authorities did not respond to repeated requests for an interview about the development of the detention system.
But Xinjiang government chairman Shohrat Zakir, the top Uighur official in the party structure in the region, has said that the "reeducation camps" were needed to combat violent religious extremism and that the "graduates" now faced brighter futures.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said this month that suggestions that China was persecuting Uighurs had been "concocted by some anti-China forces" and were "another farce designed to smear and discredit China."
A chilling shift

Almost all signs in Kashgar, the traditional capital of Uighur culture in China, are now written in Mandarin Chinese characters first, with the Uighur language relegated to second place.



Almost all signs in Kashgar, the traditional capital of Uighur culture in China, are now written in Mandarin Chinese characters first, with the Uighur language relegated to second place. (Lorenz Huber for The Washington Post)
The shift is part of a chilling new reality here in Kashgar, the traditional capital of Uighur culture, which has been under strict Communist Party controls for three years coinciding with the reeducation campaign.

With the population cowed, authorities recently appear to have let up a bit, secure in their control of Kashgar.
The "convenience" police stations that used to monitor movements at every major intersection have gone. Airport-style security checks at markets and in underpasses have largely disappeared, with only metal detectors in use.
Around Kashgar, Uighurs were palpably afraid to talk to foreign visitors, waving away reporters before they could ask questions.
The Old City, once an atmospheric oasis on the Silk Road, has been turned into a theme park for Han Chinese tourists, complete with light displays featuring Mandarin Chinese characters and kitschy settings that are perfect for selfies.
China’s clampdown on Muslims creeps into the heartland, finds new targets
But closer observation reveals that none of the men in this Muslim city have beards and none of the women wear hijab. The men chopping fruit and meat in the bazaar use knives that are chained to their stalls.

A visitor to Kashgar's Old City might think life looks relatively normal. But a close observer will notice that none of the men in this Muslim center have beards and none of the women wear hijab.



A visitor to Kashgar's Old City might think life looks relatively normal. But a close observer will notice that none of the men in this Muslim center have beards and none of the women wear hijab. (Lorenz Huber for The Washington Post)

Stalls are open in the atmosphere market in the Old City of Kashgar, China, but vendors use knives that are chained to their counters, part of the government's efforts to thwart any kind of dissent.



Stalls are open in the atmosphere market in the Old City of Kashgar, China, but vendors use knives that are chained to their counters, part of the government's efforts to thwart any kind of dissent. (Lorenz Huber for The Washington Post)
Many of the historic buildings remain, but an alarming number have padlocked doors and bear signs reading "empty house."
There are no working mosques — they have been turned into cafes or museums or closed entirely — and the landmark yellow-tiled Id Kah Mosque stands as a lonely monument to the reeducation campaign.
The Post reporter who visited the mosque on a day its doors were opened for tourists had to register her passport number to be allowed in and was then accompanied through the courtyard, empty but for banks of facial recognition cameras and the smell of bleach.
The prayer hall was locked; a guide told one reporter that prayers were at 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. — times that did not adhere to the Islamic schedule — and another reporter that they had been canceled because of the coronavirus.
Opposite the mosque, a large red banner in Chinese characters thanked President Xi for his loving care.

The Chinese flag hoisted above the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar stands taller than the crescents and minarets, a way to show which institution is preeminent.



The Chinese flag hoisted above the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar stands taller than the crescents and minarets, a way to show which institution is preeminent.


The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/whats-happening-in-xinjiang-is-genocide/2020/07/06/cde3f9da-bfaa-11ea-9fdd-b7ac6b051dc8_story.html
What’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide


WHAT HAS been known until now about China’s persecution of the Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province has focused on cultural genocide: concentration camps intended to eradicate their language, traditions and ways of life. This was cruel enough. But new evidence has surfaced that China has also imposed on the Uighurs a form of demographic genocide with forced sterilizations and other measures aimed at reducing the population.

The disclosure comes in an investigative report from the Associated Press and a new research report by scholar Adrian Zenz for the Jamestown Foundation. The new evidence shows that China is systematically using pregnancy checks, forced intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion to reduce the population of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. Moreover, having too many children is being punished by incarceration in the camps. According to a set of leaked data, obtained and corroborated by the AP, of 484 camp detainees listed in Karakax county in Xinjiang, 149 were there for having too many children, the most common reason for holding them. Detention in camps — which the government claims is vocational education — is written policy in at least three counties for parents with too many children.
The AP reported that authorities have gone hunting for such parents, ripping them away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.

Mr. Zenz found that the Xinjiang authorities planned in 2019 to subject at least 80 percent of women of childbearing age in four rural southern prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries, intrauterine devices or sterilizations. Moreover, in 2018, 80 percent of all new IUD placements in China were performed in Xinjiang — despite the fact that the region makes up only 1.8 percent of the nation’s population.
The campaign to depress the Uighur population appears to be working. Birthrates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. Across the Xinjiang region, birthrates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24 percent last year alone, compared with just 4.2 percent nationwide.
China long employed coercion in family life with its one-child policy, now abandoned. In Xinjiang, it has sought to whitewash the horrors it is inflicting on people. The new disclosures make it even more urgent that China’s leaders be pressed to account for these atrocities. The measures fall within the definition of genocide in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which includes “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” China is a signatory but rejects the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

President Trump has just signed a new sanctions law against individuals who are found responsible for abuses in Xinjiang. But China’s treatment of the Uighurs is so reprehensible that it calls into serious question whether China should be permitted to proceed as host of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Why should the world sports community honor a country that has committed genocide?
 

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China’s Profitable Business of Concentration Camps
 

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Leaked Documents Give Chilling Look Inside Chinese Muslim Detention Camps | NBC Nightly News
Chinese authorities claim its centers holding Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are vocational centers. Leaked records show the re-education camps are run more like prisons. NBC News is reporting on the previously undisclosed documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, together with 17 news organizations around the world.
 

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John Oliver discusses the human rights abuses the Uighur people are facing at the hands of the Chinese government, and why those atrocities are worth our undivided attention.


The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

johnq

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Why more than a million Uighurs are being held in camps in China
In Xinjiang, China, more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are being held in "re-education" camps which the Chinese government claims are benign vocational centres teaching useful career skills. But former camp detainees have described them as de facto prisons implementing mass brainwashing and obedience to the Communist party. As more evidence emerges of torture, forced sterilisation of women and other methods of population reduction, should the situation in Xinjiang be termed a genocide?
 

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www.theguardian.com

The 'perfect Uighur': outgoing and hard working – but still not safe from China's camps

Beijing claims its re-education camps in Xinjiang are needed to combat Islamic terrorism, but Dilara’s experiences tell a different story
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The 'perfect Uighur': outgoing and hard working – but still not safe from China's camps

Beijing claims its re-education camps in Xinjiang are needed to combat Islamic terrorism, but Dilara’s experiences tell a different story

Eveline Chao in New York
Mon 20 Jul 2020 21.39 EDT Last modified on Tue 11 Aug 2020 03.47 EDT


Dilara at the beach with her daughter
Dilara at the beach with her daughter. Dilara’s mother was sent to a “re-education” camp in China after spending time with her daughter in Turkey. Photograph: Dilara

By the standards of Chinese officialdom, Dilara is surely the perfect minority. She doesn’t wear a headscarf. She drinks beer. Pretty and outgoing, she socialises often with Chinese friends.
If you closed your eyes and heard her speak Mandarin, you would never guess she had greenish eyes and brown hair, that she isn’t Han – the dominant ethnic group in China – but Uighur, a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people who call Xinjiang province, in the far west of China, their homeland.
In fact, Dilara’s entire family are model citizens. Her parents are also fluent Chinese speakers – slightly unusual for Uighurs of their generation. During the 1990s, they were among the only Uighurs working at a big, state-owned utility in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Her mother had landed the coveted position because she was the top student at her school, which was almost entirely Han. Dilara grew up amongst Han Chinese, in a modern apartment complex in a desirable part of town. Like her mother, she was the top student in school, and attended a prestigious university on China’s east coast.

But then Dilara made a mistake. She moved to Turkey with her husband in 2015. Her mother came to visit, staying a year to help care for their newborn baby. When her mother returned to China in early 2018, she was told she needed “education”. Her passport was confiscated and she was imprisoned in an internment camp for nearly a year.

“All of my Uighur friends in Turkey have family members in the camps,” Dilara said.

Since 2017, up to 1.8 million Uighurs and other Muslims have been held in what researcher Adrian Zenz calls “probably the largest incarceration of an ethno-religious minority since the Holocaust”. Many have been interned for reasons as trivial as wearing headscarves or long beards, declining to eat pork, or in the case of Dilara’s mother, having travelled abroad. Many of them, according to Dilara, have also had their assets seized.

The city of Hotan in Xinjiang in 2010
The city of Hotan in Xinjiang in 2010 Photograph: Eveline Chao
Human rights investigators say an outright genocide is taking place. As Uighur men have disappeared into prison or forced labor compounds while mosques and other religious sites have been demolished, Uighur women are being forcibly sterilised, given abortions and IUDs. Many Uighurs abroad fear that speaking out will incur retaliation against their family members back home. For that reason, Dilara asked to use only her first name.


Lawyers have filed evidence to the international criminal court calling on it to investigate senior Chinese officials, including Xi Jinping, for genocide and crimes against humanity. The US has placed sanctions on senior Chinese officials, prompting China to retaliate, while the UK has said it is clear the minority group has suffered “egregious human rights abuses”.


As international outcry has grown, the Chinese government has maintained the internment camps are language schools or vocational centres, bringing economic development to an impoverished area. It also claims its harsh policies in Xinjiang are necessary to combat Islamic terrorism, citing as justification several deadly incidents in years past that were carried out by Uighurs.


However, the experiences of Dilara’s family and friends undermine those claims. Like Dilara’s mother, many people who have been interned are educated, cosmopolitan Uighurs who had well-paying, white-collar jobs. Teachers, office clerks, doctors and lawyers, they are fluent in Chinese and in many cases, were only casually observant in their religious practice. They are the very ideal of the so-called well-assimilated minorities that the government claims it is creating. But they have not been spared.

‘We love China, we’re not bad people’

As 2018 dragged on with no word of her mother’s whereabouts, Dilara’s anxiety mounted. Her relatives deleted her from their phones and a Han Chinese stranger moved into her 85-year-old grandmother’s house, part of a surveillance campaign that has sent more than a million Chinese citizens to occupy Uighur households. Her grandmother, Dilara learned later, would curse the man every day in Uighur, a language he couldn’t understand. “She wasn’t afraid, because she’s so old,” Dilara said.


Finally, after close to a year, Dilara received a message from an aunt: “She’s out.” Dilara and her husband worked for Chinese companies in Turkey who had sent letters on the family’s behalf, “telling them we love China, we’re not bad people, and we’re not terrorists”.

Dilara holding a photograph of her mother

Dilara holds a photograph of her mother Photograph: Dilara
Since the release, Dilara and her mother communicate regularly through WeChat. Life feels oddly normal, full of chit-chat about grandchildren and food - her mother lost 10kg in the camp – and yet, it is not. Her mother’s passport has been confiscated, and Dilara does not dare return to China.


For months after being released, her mother had to attend weekly flag-raising ceremonies at the camp, standing silently alongside rows of other Uighurs. Each time, she would post a video of it to WeChat. “Every fucking Monday,” Dilara said, pulling out her phone and loading up her mother’s account, “she posts, ‘Flag-raising ceremony.’” She scrolled down to the next several posts. “Flag-raising ceremony,” she repeated.

An image of the flag raising ceremony
An image of the flag raising ceremony Photograph: Eveline Chao
Dilara is aware there are large subject areas her mother avoids, because their calls are probably monitored. Her mother only feels safe mentioning the camps when saying something positive. She has bragged that she was the best student there, getting high marks in the monthly tests on “Xi Jinping thought” and Communist party doctrine.

‘They don’t believe me’

What is most upsetting to Dilara – and what compels her to speak out – is that none of her Han Chinese friends know what is happening. During the year her mother was interned, she tried to tell her colleagues about the camps, but “they would always say, ‘No you must be wrong, that can’t be.’”. Her company paid for return trips to China every few months, and each time, her colleagues would ask why she wasn’t coming home too. “I kept telling them, we can’t go back, but they don’t believe me,” she said.


To this day, Dilara thinks of herself as both Uighur and Chinese; the identities are not mutually exclusive. In casual conversation, she refers to herself as Chinese. She and her other Uighur friends seek out Chinese restaurants, and she is especially fond of rice noodles. She dreams of being able to live in Shanghai, her favourite city in the world.


But looking back, she realises the Chinese government doesn’t consider her an equal. She learned this when she was 19, on a trip to Shanghai with a university friend.


When they tried to check into their hotel, the clerk told them, “I’m sorry, we can’t allow people from Xinjiang to stay here.” At the time, Dilara did not know about a policy barring Uighurs and Tibetans from hotels. They tried three more places, and were turned away from each.


Past 1am, exhausted and desperate, they found a police officer. He made several calls, and found an expensive, foreign-owned hotel that agreed to take them for one night.


In their room, she and her friend cried. “It hurt so much,” she recalled. “They made us feel like criminals.” As for the officer, “He told us: ‘You should leave this place.’”

The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

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'Virtually entire' fashion industry complicit in Uighur forced labour, say rights groups
Human rights coalition says cotton produced in camps in Xinjiang region finds its way into one in five products worldwide
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'Virtually entire' fashion industry complicit in Uighur forced labour, say rights groups

Human rights coalition says cotton produced in camps in Xinjiang region finds its wayinto one in five cotton products worldwide




In this undated video footage run by China’s CCTV, Muslim trainees work in a garment factory at the Hotan Vocational Education and Training Center in Hotan, Xinjiang.
In this undated video footage run by China’s CCTV, Muslim trainees work in a garment factory at the Hotan Vocational Education and Training Centre in Hotan, Xinjiang. Photograph: AP Video

Many of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers are complicit in the forced labour and human rights violations being perpetrated on millions of Uighur people in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, says a coalition of more than 180 human rights groups.
There is mounting global outrage over the atrocities being committed against the Uighur population in the region, including torture, forced separation and the compulsory sterilisation of Uighur women.
Despite these abuses, the coalition of human rights groups says many of the world’s leading clothing brands continue to source cotton and yarn produced through a vast state-sponsored system of detention and forced labour involving up to 1.8m Uighur and other Turkic and Muslim people in prison camps, factories, farms and internment camps in Xinjiang. It says that the forced labour system across the region is the largest internment of an ethnic and religious minority since the second world war.



Global fashion brands source so extensively from Xinjiang that the coalition estimates it is “virtually certain” that as many as one in five cotton products sold across the world are tainted with forced labour and human rights violations occurring there.


China is the largest cotton producer in the world, with 84% of its cotton coming from the Xinjiang region. Cotton and yarn produced in Xinjiang are used extensively in other key garment-producing countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam. Xinjiang cotton and yarn are also used in textiles and home furnishings. This week the New York Times reported that factories in the region were also supplying face masks and other PPE to countries around the world.


The coalition has published an extensive list of brands it claims continue to source from the region, or from factories connected to the forced labour of Uighur people, including Gap, C&A, Adidas, Muji, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

Workers at a cotton factory in Awat county, in China’s Xinjiang region.


Workers at a cotton factory in Awat county, in China’s Xinjiang region. Photograph: Xinhua/Alamy
“Virtually the entire [global] apparels industry is tainted by forced Uighur and Turkic Muslim labour,” the coalition said in a statement issued today.


The coalition says many more leading clothing brands also continue to maintain lucrative strategic partnerships with Chinese companies, accepting subsidies from their government to expand textile production in the region or benefiting from the forced labour of Uighur people transferred from Xinjiang to factories across China.


“There is a high likelihood that every high street and luxury brand runs the risk of being linked to what is happening to the Uighur people,” says Chloe Cranston, business and human rights manager at Anti-Slavery International.


In a call to action, the coalition, which includes more than 70 Uighur rights groups, anti-slavery organisations and labour rights campaigners, says the global apparel industry must eradicate all products and materials linked to forced labour in Xinjiang within a year.


“Global brands need to ask themselves how comfortable they are contributing to a genocidal policy against the Uighur people. These companies have somehow managed to avoid scrutiny for complicity in that very policy – this stops today,” said Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.




Why more than 1 million Uighurs are being held in camps in China – video explainer
According to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), one of the signatories of the call to action, brands have no credible way of proving that their supply chains from the Xinjiang are free of forced labour.


“Forced labourers in the Uighur region face vicious retaliation if they tell the truth about their circumstances. This makes due diligence through labour inspections impossible and virtually guarantees that any brand sourcing from the Uighur region is using forced labour,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the WRC.


“An apparel brand that claims to know, with confidence, that all the farms and factories it uses in the region are free of forced labour is either deeply cynical or misinformed.”


In April, the Global Legal Action Network (Glan), a group of human rights lawyers, also provided evidence to HMRC that brands including Muji, Uniqlo, H&M and Ikea were selling products in the UK containing cotton and yarn from the Xinjiang region. Glan argued that the UK government should halt sales of products linked to forced labour across the region as it breached several UK laws including the 1897 Foreign Made Goods Act.


In response, H&M and Ikea said they would stop buying cotton from the region. In an updated statement to The Guardian, H&M said that it had an indirect relationship with one yarn producer operating in the region but said it was reviewing the relationship.

The coalition says workers face ‘vicious retaliation’ if they tell the truth about their employment conditions.



The coalition says workers face ‘vicious retaliation’ if they tell the truth about their employment conditions. Photograph: VCG/Getty Images
Muji confirmed that it continues to use cotton yarn from Xinjiang but denies that its cotton and yarn are connected to forced labour. “Our business partner [assures] us that the people who make our products have good working conditions and are treated with respect, the independent auditors have conducted on-site audit on these cotton spinning mills and have confirmed that there is no evidence of forced labour and discrimination of ethnoreligious minorities at their facilities.


A Uniqlo spokesperson said that no Uniqlo product is manufactured in the region and insists that all production partners in its supply chain uphold their codes of conduct on human and workers rights.


In a statement, PVH Corporation, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, said it did not source finished garments from the region and would cease all business relationships with any factories and mills that produce garments or fabric, or use cotton grown, in Xinjiang within the next 12 months.


Adidas said it does not source goods from Xinjiang and have instructed its suppliers not to source yarn from the region.


A C&A spokesperson said it did not source from any manufacturers or work with any fabric or yarn mills in the region.


Yet members of the coalition said that it was not sufficient for brands and retailers to just sever direct relationships to suppliers but that a complete overhaul of the sector’s links to the region had to be undertaken.


“This isn’t just about direct supply chain links, it’s about how the global apparels sector is helping prop up and facilitate the system of human rights abuses and forced labour,” says Cranston. “There needs to be a deep and thorough interrogation of how brands and retailers are linked to what is happening at scale to the Uighur people.”


Gap has been contacted for a response.


China’s human rights record in Xinjiang has provoked growing international condemnation. Earlier this month, the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials in protest at the treatment of the Uighur and other minority groups, including Kazakhs.


Last week the Chinese ambassador to the UK denied his government was committing human rights violations after videos resurfaced online appearing to show shackled and blindfolded Uighur prisoners being loaded on to trains in Xinjiang.

The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

johnq

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‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims
More than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.
The students booked their tickets home at the end of the semester, hoping for a relaxing break after exams and a summer of happy reunions with family in China’s far west.


Instead, they would soon be told that their parents were gone, relatives had vanished and neighbors were missing — all of them locked up in an expanding network of detention camps built to hold Muslim ethnic minorities.


The authorities in the Xinjiang region worried the situation was a powder keg. And so they prepared.


The leadership distributed a classified directive advising local officials to corner returning students as soon as they arrived and keep them quiet. It included a chillingly bureaucratic guide for how to handle their anguished questions, beginning with the most obvious: Where is my family?








They’re in a training school set up by the government,” the prescribed answer began. If pressed, officials were to tell students that their relatives were not criminals — yet could not leave these “schools.”







The question-and-answer script also included a barely concealed threat: Students were to be told that their behavior could either shorten or extend the detention of their relatives.







I’m sure that you will support them, because this is for their own good,” officials were advised to say, “and also for your own good.

The directive was among 403 pages of internal documents that have been shared with The New York Times in one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.


Read the Full Document: What Chinese Officials Told Children Whose Families Were Put in Camps


The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words and orders of the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.


Even as the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, it discussed and organized a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications. Senior party leaders are recorded ordering drastic and urgent action against extremist violence, including the mass detentions, and discussing the consequences with cool detachment.


Children saw their parents taken away, students wondered who would pay their tuition and crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of manpower, the reports noted. Yet officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet.


The leaked papers offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country’s most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era. The key disclosures in the documents include:


• President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

President Xi Jinping of China visiting a mosque in the city of Urumqi in 2014. Xinhua/Reuters

• Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.


• The internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment in August 2016 of Chen Quanguo, a zealous new party boss for the region. He distributed Mr. Xi’s speeches to justify the campaign and exhorted officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”


• The crackdown encountered doubts and resistance from local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth. Mr. Chen responded by purging officials suspected of standing in his way, including one county leader who was jailed after quietly releasing thousands of inmates from the camps.


The leaked papers consist of 24 documents, some of which contain duplicated material. They include nearly 200 pages of internal speeches by Mr. Xi and other leaders, and more than 150 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang. There are also references to plans to extend restrictions on Islam to other parts of China.










The documents include 96 pages of internal speeches by

Mr. Xi,



102 pages of internal speeches by other officials,



161 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and

control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang



and 44 pages of material from internal investigations

into local officials.




Though it is unclear how the documents were gathered and selected, the leak suggests greater discontent inside the party apparatus over the crackdown than previously known. The papers were brought to light by a member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity and expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.


The Chinese leadership wraps policymaking in secrecy, especially when it comes to Xinjiang, a resource-rich territory located on the sensitive frontier with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups make up more than half the region’s population of 25 million. The largest of these groups are the Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language and have long faced discrimination and restrictions on cultural and religious activities.



A restaurant in the old city of Yarkand in August. Above patrons a propaganda poster is quoting Xi Jinping : "Every ethnic group must tightly bind together like the seeds of a pomegranate." Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Beijing has sought for decades to suppress Uighur resistance to Chinese rule in Xinjiang. The current crackdown began after a surge of antigovernment and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital, and a May 2014 attack on an outdoor market that killed 39 people just days before Mr. Xi convened a leadership conference in Beijing to set a new policy course for Xinjiang.


Since 2017, the authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party.


Of the 24 documents, the directive on how to handle minority students returning home to Xinjiang in the summer of 2017 offers the most detailed discussion of the indoctrination camps — and the clearest illustration of the regimented way the party told the public one story while mobilizing around a much harsher narrative internally.





Even as the document advises officials to inform students that their relatives are receiving “treatment” for exposure to radical Islam, its title refers to family members who are being “dealt with,” or chuzhi, a euphemism used in party documents to mean punishment.


Officials in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang, drafted the question-and-answer script after the regional government warned local officials to prepare for the returning students. The agency coordinating efforts to “maintain stability” across Xinjiang then distributed the guide across the region and urged officials to use it as a model.


The government sends Xinjiang’s brightest young Uighurs to universities across China, with the goal of training a new generation of Uighur civil servants and teachers loyal to the party.


The crackdown has been so extensive that it affected even these elite students, the directive shows. And that made the authorities nervous.


“Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” the directive noted. “The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”








The document warned that there was a “serious possibility” students might sink into “turmoil” after learning what had happened to their relatives. It recommended that police officers in plain clothes and experienced local officials meet them as soon as they returned “to show humane concern and stress the rules.”







The directive’s question-and-answer guide begins gently, with officials advised to tell the students that they have “absolutely no need to worry” about relatives who have disappeared.







Tuition for their period of study is free and so are food and living costs, and the standards are quite high,” officials were told to say, before adding that the authorities were spending more than $3 per day on meals for each detainee, “even better than the living standards that some students have back home.







If you want to see them,” the answer concluded, “we can arrange for you to have a video meeting.

The authorities anticipated, however, that this was unlikely to mollify students and provided replies to a series of other questions: When will my relatives be released? If this is for training, why can’t they come home? Can they request a leave? How will I afford school if my parents are studying and there is no one to work on the farm?


The guide recommended increasingly firm replies telling the students that their relatives had been “infected” by the “virus” of Islamic radicalism and must be quarantined and cured. Even grandparents and family members who seemed too old to carry out violence could not be spared, officials were directed to say.


“If they don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism,” one answer said, citing the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State. “No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study.”


Students should be grateful that the authorities had taken their relatives away, the document said.


“Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills,” one answer said. “This offers a great foundation for a happy life for your family.”


The authorities appear to be using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: The document instructed officials to tell the students that their behavior could hurt their relatives’ scores, and to assess the daily behavior of the students and record their attendance at training sessions, meetings and other activities.










Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules, and not believe or spread rumors,” officials were told to say. “Only then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.







If asked about the impact of the detentions on family finances, officials were advised to assure students that “the party and the government will do everything possible to ease your hardships.







The line that stands out most in the script, however, may be the model answer for how to respond to students who ask of their detained relatives, “Did they commit a crime?







The document instructed officials to acknowledge that they had not. “It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts,” the script said.







Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.
Secret Speeches

The ideas driving the mass detentions can be traced back to Xi Jinping’s first and only visit to Xinjiang as China’s leader, a tour shadowed by violence.


In 2014, little more than a year after becoming president, he spent four days in the region, and on the last day of the trip, two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally.


Weeks earlier, militants with knives had gone on a rampage at another railway station, in southwest China, killing 31 people and injuring more than 140. And less than a month after Mr. Xi’s visit, assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39.


Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Mr. Xi delivered a series of secret speeches setting the hard-line course that culminated in the security offensive now underway in Xinjiang. While state media have alluded to these speeches, none were made public.


The text of four of them, though, were among the leaked documents — and they provide a rare, unfiltered look at the origins of the crackdown and the beliefs of the man who set it in motion.


“The methods that our comrades have at hand are too primitive,” Mr. Xi said in one talk, after inspecting a counterterrorism police squad in Urumqi. “None of these weapons is any answer for their big machete blades, ax heads and cold steel weapons.”


“We must be as harsh as them,” he added, “and show absolutely no mercy.”


In free-flowing monologues in Xinjiang and at a subsequent leadership conference on Xinjiang policy in Beijing, Mr. Xi is recorded thinking through what he called a crucial national security issue and laying out his ideas for a “people’s war” in the region.


Although he did not order mass detentions in these speeches, he called on the party to unleash the tools of “dictatorship” to eradicate radical Islam in Xinjiang.


A watchtower this spring at a high-security facility near what is believed to be a re-education camp on the outskirts of Hotan. Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images




Mr. Xi displayed a fixation with the issue that seemed to go well beyond his public remarks on the subject. He likened Islamic extremism alternately to a virus-like contagion and a dangerously addictive drug, and declared that addressing it would require “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.”


“The psychological impact of extremist religious thought on people must never be underestimated,” Mr. Xi told officials in Urumqi on April 30, 2014, the final day of his trip to Xinjiang. “People who are captured by religious extremism — male or female, old or young — have their consciences destroyed, lose their humanity and murder without blinking an eye.”


In another speech, at the leadership conclave in Beijing a month later, he warned of “the toxicity of religious extremism.”


“As soon as you believe in it,” he said, “it’s like taking a drug, and you lose your sense, go crazy and will do anything.”


In several surprising passages, given the crackdown that followed, Mr. Xi also told officials to not discriminate against Uighurs and to respect their right to worship. He warned against overreacting to natural friction between Uighurs and Han Chinese, the nation’s dominant ethnic group, and rejected proposals to try to eliminate Islam entirely in China.


“In light of separatist and terrorist forces under the banner of Islam, some people have argued that Islam should be restricted or even eradicated,” he said during the Beijing conference. He called that view “biased, even wrong.”


But Mr. Xi’s main point was unmistakable: He was leading the party in a sharp turn toward greater repression in Xinjiang.


Before Mr. Xi, the party had often described attacks in Xinjiang as the work of a few fanatics inspired and orchestrated by shadowy separatist groups abroad. But Mr. Xi argued that Islamic extremism had taken root across swaths of Uighur society.


In fact, the vast majority of Uighurs adhere to moderate traditions, though some began embracing more conservative and more public religious practices in the 1990s, despite state controls on Islam. Mr. Xi’s remarks suggest he was alarmed by the revival of public piety. He blamed lax controls on religion, suggesting that his predecessors had let down their guard.




Chinese security forces securing an area outside a mosque in Kashgar, China, in 2014. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

While previous Chinese leaders emphasized economic development to stifle unrest in Xinjiang, Mr. Xi said that was not enough. He demanded an ideological cure, an effort to rewire the thinking of the region’s Muslim minorities.


“The weapons of the people’s democratic dictatorship must be wielded without any hesitation or wavering,” Mr. Xi told the leadership conference on Xinjiang policy, which convened six days after the deadly attack on the vegetable market.

The Soviet Prism

Mr. Xi is the son of an early Communist Party leader who in the 1980s supported more relaxed policies toward ethnic minority groups, and some analysts had expected he might follow his father’s milder ways when he assumed leadership of the party in November 2012.


But the speeches underscore how Mr. Xi sees risks to China through the prism of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he blamed on ideological laxity and spineless leadership.


Across China, he set about eliminating challenges to party rule; dissidents and human rights lawyers disappeared in waves of arrests. In Xinjiang, he pointed to examples from the former Soviet bloc to argue that economic growth would not immunize a society against ethnic separatism.


The Baltic republics were among the most developed in the Soviet Union but also the first to leave when the country broke up, he told the leadership conference. Yugoslavia’s relative prosperity did not prevent its disintegration either, he added.


“We say that development is the top priority and the basis for achieving lasting security, and that’s right,” Mr. Xi said. “But it would be wrong to believe that with development every problem solves itself.”


In the speeches, Mr. Xi showed a deep familiarity with the history of Uighur resistance to Chinese rule, or at least Beijing’s official version of it, and discussed episodes rarely if ever mentioned by Chinese leaders in public, including brief periods of Uighur self-rule in the first half of the 20th century.


Violence by Uighur militants has never threatened Communist control of the region. Though attacks grew deadlier after 2009, when nearly 200 people died in ethnic riots in Urumqi, they remained relatively small, scattered and unsophisticated.


Even so, Mr. Xi warned that the violence was spilling from Xinjiang into other parts of China and could taint the party’s image of strength. Unless the threat was extinguished, Mr. Xi told the leadership conference, “social stability will suffer shocks, the general unity of people of every ethnicity will be damaged, and the broad outlook for reform, development and stability will be affected.”


Setting aside diplomatic niceties, he traced the origins of Islamic extremism in Xinjiang to the Middle East, and warned that turmoil in Syria and Afghanistan would magnify the risks for China. Uighurs had traveled to both countries, he said, and could return to China as seasoned fighters seeking an independent homeland, which they called East Turkestan.


“After the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan, terrorist organizations positioned on the frontiers of Afghanistan and Pakistan may quickly infiltrate into Central Asia,” Mr. Xi said. “East Turkestan’s terrorists who have received real-war training in Syria and Afghanistan could at any time launch terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.”


Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, responded to the 2009 riots in Urumqi with a clampdown but he also stressed economic development as a cure for ethnic discontent — longstanding party policy. But Mr. Xi signaled a break with Mr. Hu’s approach in the speeches.





“In recent years, Xinjiang has grown very quickly and the standard of living has consistently risen, but even so ethnic separatism and terrorist violence have still been on the rise,” he said. “This goes to show that economic development does not automatically bring lasting order and security.”


Ensuring stability in Xinjiang would require a sweeping campaign of surveillance and intelligence gathering to root out resistance in Uighur society, Mr. Xi argued.


He said new technology must be part of the solution, foreshadowing the party’s deployment of facial recognition, genetic testing and big data in Xinjiang. But he also emphasized old-fashioned methods, such as neighborhood informants, and urged officials to study how Americans responded to the Sept. 11 attacks.


Like the United States, he said, China “must make the public an important resource in protecting national security.”


“We Communists should be naturals at fighting a people’s war,” he said. “We’re the best at organizing for a task.”


The only suggestion in these speeches that Mr. Xi envisioned the internment camps now at the heart of the crackdown was an endorsement of more intense indoctrination programs in Xinjiang’s prisons.


“There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals,” he told officials in southern Xinjiang on the second day of his trip. “And even after these people are released, their education and transformation must continue.”


Within months, indoctrination sites began opening across Xinjiang — mostly small facilities at first, which held dozens or hundreds of Uighurs at a time for sessions intended to pressure them into disavowing devotion to Islam and professing gratitude for the party.


Then in August 2016, a hard-liner named Chen Quanguo was transferred from Tibet to govern Xinjiang. Within weeks, he called on local officials to “remobilize” around Mr. Xi’s goals and declared that Mr. Xi’s speeches “set the direction for making a success of Xinjiang.”


New security controls and a drastic expansion of the indoctrination camps followed.








The struggle against terror and to safeguard stability is a protracted war, and also a war of offense,” Mr. Chen said in a speech to the regional leadership in October 2017 that was among the leaked papers.







In another document, a record of his remarks in a video conference in August 2017, he cited “vocational skills, education training and transformation centers” as an example of “good practices” for achieving Mr. Xi’s goals for Xinjiang.

The crackdown appears to have smothered violent unrest in Xinjiang, but many experts have warned that the extreme security measures and mass detentions are likely to breed resentment that could eventually inspire worse ethnic clashes.


The camps have been condemned in Washington and other foreign capitals. As early as the May 2014 leadership conference, though, Mr. Xi anticipated international criticism and urged officials behind closed doors to ignore it.


“Don’t be afraid if hostile forces whine, or if hostile forces malign the image of Xinjiang,” he said.

‘Round Up Everyone’

The documents show there was more resistance to the crackdown inside the party than previously known — and highlight the key role that the new party boss in Xinjiang played in overcoming it.


Mr. Chen led a campaign akin to one of Mao’s turbulent political crusades, in which top-down pressure on local officials encouraged overreach and any expression of doubt was treated as a crime.


In February 2017, he told thousands of police officers and troops standing at attention in a vast square in Urumqi to prepare for a “smashing, obliterating offensive.” In the following weeks, the documents indicate, the leadership settled on plans to detain Uighurs in large numbers.


Mr. Chen issued a sweeping order: “Round up everyone who should be rounded up.” The vague phrase appears repeatedly in internal documents from 2017.



The party boss for the Xinjiang region, Chen Quanguo, right, during a Communist Party Congress in Beijing in 2017. Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images

The party had previously used the phrase — “ying shou jin shou” in Chinese — when demanding that officials be vigilant and comprehensive in collecting taxes or measuring harvests. Now it was being applied to humans in directives that ordered, with no mention of judicial procedures, the detention of anyone who displayed “symptoms” of religious radicalism or antigovernment views.


The authorities laid out dozens of such signs, including common behavior among devout Uighurs such as wearing long beards, giving up smoking or drinking, studying Arabic and praying outside mosques.


Party leaders reinforced the orders with warnings about terrorism abroad and potential copycat attacks in China.








For example, a 10-page directive in June 2017 signed by Zhu Hailun, then Xinjiang’s top security official, called recent terrorist attacks in Britain “a warning and a lesson for us.” It blamed the British government’s “excessive emphasis on ‘human rights above security,’ and inadequate controls on the propagation of extremism on the internet and in society.”







It also complained of security lapses in Xinjiang, including sloppy investigations, malfunctions in surveillance equipment and the failure to hold people accused of suspicious behavior.







Keep up the detentions, it ordered. “Stick to rounding up everyone who should be rounded up,” it said. “If they’re there, round them up.




The number of people swept into the camps remains a closely guarded secret. But one of the leaked documents offers a hint of the scale of the campaign: It instructed officials to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in crowded facilities.

‘I Broke the Rules’

The orders were especially urgent and contentious in Yarkand County, a collection of rural towns and villages in southern Xinjiang where nearly all of the 900,000 residents are Uighur.


In the 2014 speeches, Mr. Xi had singled out southern Xinjiang as the front line in his fight against religious extremism. Uighurs make up close to 90 percent of the population in the south, compared to just under half in Xinjiang over all, and Mr. Xi set a long-term goal of attracting more Han Chinese settlers.


He and other party leaders ordered a quasi-military organization, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, to accelerate efforts to settle the area with more Han Chinese, the documents show.


A few months later, more than 100 Uighur militants armed with axes and knives attacked a government office and police station in Yarkand, killing 37 people, according to government reports. In the battle, the security forces shot dead 59 assailants, the reports said.


An official named Wang Yongzhi was appointed to run Yarkand soon afterward. With his glasses and crew cut, he looked the picture of a party technocrat. He had grown up and spent his career in southern Xinjiang and was seen as a deft, seasoned official who could deliver on the party’s top priorities in the area: economic development and firm control of the Uighurs.


But among the most revealing documents in the leaked papers are two that describe Mr. Wang’s downfall — an 11-page report summarizing the party’s internal investigation into his actions, and the text of a 15-page confession that he may have given under duress. Both were distributed inside the party as a warning to officials to fall in line behind the crackdown.


Han officials like Mr. Wang serve as the party’s anchors in southern Xinjiang, watching over Uighur officials in more junior positions, and he seemed to enjoy the blessing of top leaders, including Yu Zhengsheng, then China’s most senior official for ethnic issues, who visited the county in 2015.


Mr. Wang set about beefing up security in Yarkand but he also pushed economic development to address ethnic discontent. And he sought to soften the party’s religious policies, declaring that there was nothing wrong with having a Quran at home and encouraging party officials to read it to better understand Uighur traditions.


When the mass detentions began, Mr. Wang did as he was told at first and appeared to embrace the task with zeal.


He built two sprawling new detention facilities, including one as big as 50 basketball courts, and herded 20,000 people into them.


He sharply increased funding for the security forces in 2017, more than doubling spending on outlays such as checkpoints and surveillance to 1.37 billion renminbi, or about $180 million.


And he lined up party members for a rally in a public square and urged them to press the fight against terrorists. “Wipe them out completely,” he said. “Destroy them root and branch.”




Military police at a rally in Hotan, in February 2017. Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But privately, Mr. Wang had misgivings, according to the confession that he later signed, which would have been carefully vetted by the party.


He was under intense pressure to prevent an outburst of violence in Yarkand, and worried the crackdown would provoke a backlash.


The authorities set numeric targets for Uighur detentions in parts of Xinjiang, and while it is unclear if they did so in Yarkand, Mr. Wang felt the orders left no room for moderation and would poison ethnic relations in the county.


He also worried that the mass detentions would make it impossible to record the economic progress he needed to earn a promotion.


The leadership had set goals to reduce poverty in Xinjiang. But with so many working-age residents being sent to the camps, Mr. Wang was afraid the targets would be out of reach, along with his hopes for a better job.


His superiors, he wrote, were “overly ambitious and unrealistic.”


“The policies and measures taken by higher levels were at gaping odds with realities on the ground and could not be implemented in full,” he added.


To help enforce the crackdown in southern Xinjiang, Mr. Chen transferred in hundreds of officials from the north. Publicly, Mr. Wang welcomed the 62 assigned to Yarkand. Privately, he seethed that they did not understand how to work with local officials and residents.


The pressure on officials in Xinjiang to detain Uighurs and prevent fresh violence was relentless, and Mr. Wang said in the confession — presumably signed under pressure — that he drank on the job. He described one episode in which he collapsed drunk during a meeting on security.





“While reporting on my work in the afternoon meeting, I rambled incoherently,” he said. “I’d just spoken a few sentences and my head collapsed on the table. It became the biggest joke across the whole prefecture.”


Thousands of officials in Xinjiang were punished for resisting or failing to carry out the crackdown with sufficient zeal. Uighur officials were accused of protecting fellow Uighurs, and Gu Wensheng, the Han leader of another southern county, was jailed for trying to slow the detentions and shield Uighur officials, according to the documents.


Secret teams of investigators traveled across the region identifying those who were not doing enough. In 2017, the party opened more than 12,000 investigations into party members in Xinjiang for infractions in the “fight against separatism,” more than 20 times the figure in the previous year, according to official statistics.


Mr. Wang may have gone further than any other official.


Quietly, he ordered the release of more than 7,000 camp inmates — an act of defiance for which he would be detained, stripped of power and prosecuted.








I undercut, acted selectively and made my own adjustments, believing that rounding up so many people would knowingly fan conflict and deepen resentment,” Mr. Wang wrote.







Without approval and on my own initiative,” he added, “I broke the rules.
Brazen Defiance

Mr. Wang quietly disappeared from public view after September 2017.


About six months later, the party made an example of him, announcing that he was being investigated for “gravely disobeying the party central leadership’s strategy for governing Xinjiang.”


The internal report on the investigation was more direct. “He should have given his all to serving the party,” it said. “Instead, he ignored the party central leadership’s strategy for Xinjiang, and he went as far as brazen defiance.”


Both the report and Mr. Wang’s confession were read aloud to officials across Xinjiang. The message was plain: The party would not tolerate any hesitation in carrying out the mass detentions.


Propaganda outlets described Mr. Wang as irredeemably corrupt, and the internal report accused him of taking bribes on construction and mining deals and paying off superiors to win promotions.


The authorities also emphasized he was no friend of Uighurs. To hit poverty-reduction targets, he was said to have forced 1,500 families to move into unheated apartments in the middle of the winter. Some villagers burned wood indoors to keep warm, leading to injuries and deaths, his confession said.


But Mr. Wang’s greatest political sin was not revealed to the public. Instead, the authorities hid it in the internal report.


“He refused,” it said, “to round up everyone who should be rounded up.”



The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

johnq

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China's secret internment camps
China has been quietly detaining its population of Uighurs, the country’s Muslim minority, in internment camps. First-hand accounts from inside the camps paint a brutal picture of torture and political indoctrination. At first, China denied the existence of these camps and tried to cover them up. But as a network of academics and activists uncovered evidence of the camps' locations, and the reality of what’s going on inside, China changed its story.
 

johnq

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Inside China's 'thought transformation' camps - BBC News
The BBC has been given rare access to the vast system of highly secure facilities thought to be holding more than a million Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang. Authorities there insist they are just training schools. But the BBC’s visit uncovers important evidence about the nature of the system and the conditions for the people inside it. The BBC's China Correspondent John Sudworth sent this report.
 

johnq

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Blindfolded, shaved and shackled, video showing the mistreatment of Uighur's in China
The Australian government has condemned a video that surfaced online last week showing the mistreatment of Uighur's in China.

The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

johnq

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Joined
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How China is creating the world’s largest prison | Four Corners
Tell the World: Exposing how China is creating the world’s largest prison. Four Corners uncovers disturbing evidence of how China is effectively operating the world’s largest prison. It’s a remote corner of the world, but what is taking place in China’s Xinjiang province is nothing short of breathtaking. Today its Uyghur population is being systematically rounded up and detained, with estimates of as many as a million citizens being held in re-education camps. Even those still left in their homes are being monitored. The communist regime is using cutting edge technology, mass surveillance tools and artificial intelligence to control an entire population. By piecing together witness accounts from Australian citizens caught up in the Chinese Government’s campaign, along with satellite imagery analysis and official documents uncovered online, the truth about what is occurring in Xinjiang is laid bare. We have uncovered evidence of detainees being forced to work in factories with implications for Australian companies doing business in the region. We also reveal concerning evidence about Australia’s links to China’s dystopian surveillance state and the tools used to racially profile its own citizens. The events unfolding in China are creating heartbreak for Uyghurs in Australia. They have stayed quiet for fear of provoking the authorities into punishing their relatives. Now, in desperation they are breaking their silence to tell the world what is going on.

The only way to stop China from enslaving and torturing these people in concentration camps and making them do forced labor in Chinese factories is to move all manufacturing out of China. Just banning products made in Xinjiang is not enough. The Chinese will simply move the Uyghurs and other minorities to factories in other regions to continue forcing them to work as slaves.
Until international corporations move all manufacturing out of China, the atrocities in such concentration camps will continue. International corporations are complicit in all of this because they look the other way for cheap labor even as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minorities are forced to work as slaves.
 

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