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‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims

The New York Review of Books James A. Millward February 07, 2019

People outside Xinjiang first began to learn about the camps in 2017. Uighurs abroad grew alarmed as friends and relatives at home dropped out of touch, first deleting phone and social media contac...

Internment Restricting communication Use of technology James A. Millward ‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims all the-new-york-review-of-books The New York Review of Books all internment all restricting-communication use-of-technology People outside Xinjiang first began to learn about the camps in 2017. Uighurs abroad grew alarmed as friends and relatives at home dropped out of touch, first deleting phone and social media contacts and then disappearing entirely. Uighur students who returned or were forced back to China after studying in foreign countries likewise vanished upon arriving. When they can get any information at all, Uighurs outside China have learned that police took their relatives and friends to the reeducation camps: “gone to study” is the careful euphemism used on the closely surveilled Chinese messaging app WeChat. 2019-02-07 00:00:00 +0000

China scrubs evidence of Xinjiang clampdown amid ‘genocide’ debate

Washington Post Eva Dou, Lily Kuo March 17, 2021

Surveillance and censorship have long hindered a full view of conditions in Xinjiang. But last year Beijing locked down borders, citing the coronavirus; expelled foreign journalists who reported on...

Surveillance Restricting journalism Eva Dou, Lily Kuo China scrubs evidence of Xinjiang clampdown amid ‘genocide’ debate all washington-post Washington Post all surveillance all restricting-journalism Surveillance and censorship have long hindered a full view of conditions in Xinjiang. But last year Beijing locked down borders, citing the coronavirus; expelled foreign journalists who reported on Xinjiang; and scrubbed information off websites across the region. Gene Bunin, a researcher who documents Uyghur testimonies, said he does not know of a single former detainee who managed to leave China in 2020. Coupled with harsh restrictions on Xinjiang residents communicating with outsiders, that means scant new first-person testimony for a year. The effects of this vacuum are becoming more pronounced. Human rights activists are frustrated by the drift of discussions toward the abstract and historic. Meanwhile, Chinese propaganda outlets are seizing on vague or outdated information circulating in the West to try to discredit the broader evidence. Questions remain about what access international investigators would receive: Xinjiang officials are known to take foreign visitors for staged tours, sometimes with officials pretending to be villagers. 2021-03-17 00:00:00 +0000

Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life

Wall Street Journal Josh Chin, Clément Bürge December 19, 2017

When fruit vendor Parhat Imin swiped his card at a telecommunications office this summer to pay an overdue phone bill, his photo popped up with an “X.” Since then, he says, every scan of his ID car...

Surveillance Use of technology Restrictions on movement Josh Chin, Clément Bürge Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all surveillance all use-of-technology restrictions-on-movement When fruit vendor Parhat Imin swiped his card at a telecommunications office this summer to pay an overdue phone bill, his photo popped up with an “X.” Since then, he says, every scan of his ID card sets off an alarm. He isn’t sure what it signifies, but figures he is on some kind of government watch list because he is a Uighur and has had intermittent run-ins with the police. He says he is reluctant to travel for fear of being detained. “They blacklisted me,” he says. “I can’t go anywhere.” 2017-12-19 00:00:00 +0000

A Woman Tells Her Story Of Forced Abortion And Escape From China's Repression

NPR Rob Schmitz November 14, 2018

SCHMITZ: This story begins when this woman leaves China and crosses the border into neighboring Kazakhstan. The woman, who doesn't use her name for fear of retaliation by Chinese authorities, says ...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization Restricting communication Rob Schmitz A Woman Tells Her Story Of Forced Abortion And Escape From China's Repression all npr NPR all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization restricting-communication SCHMITZ: This story begins when this woman leaves China and crosses the border into neighboring Kazakhstan. The woman, who doesn't use her name for fear of retaliation by Chinese authorities, says after her husband died in 2015, she was left in Xinjiang with two children and little else. But then she met her current husband. Like her, he's ethnic Kazakh but from across the border in Kazakhstan. They married last summer, and she and her children promptly left China. But when she returned a year ago to ask for permission to cancel her Chinese passport to become a Kazakh citizen, the problems began. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) The police told me that I needed to return to China with my two children in a month to complete the process. I told them my children are at school and that I would return on my own. They said I needed to bring my children as well or my brother would bear the consequences. SCHMITZ: She said she didn't want to get her brother, the leader of a local mosque, in trouble. So she did as she was told. She brought her children back to China. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) When we returned to China, the police collected our passports, checked my phone and seized it because I had WhatsApp on my phone. They told me the app was illegal. SCHMITZ: She later got her phone back but not the passports. As she waited, village police invited her to the hospital for a health check and then visited her every two or three days, asking her why she wanted to leave China, who she knew in Kazakhstan - interrogations that lasted hours. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) They'd call me nearly every night after midnight, asking me to come back to the station. They told me my phone should always be on because they could call me any time. SCHMITZ: She says in late December, police came to her house at midnight. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) I thought they wanted to interrogate me again. But they took me to the hospital instead. They administered another health check. And then they told me I was pregnant. SCHMITZ: She was six weeks along. Before she could share the news with her husband, local authorities returned to her house the next day. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) They ordered me to get an abortion. They said I couldn't have the babies because I've had two others and that a third was not allowed. I told them my husband is a Kazakh citizen and that I'm carrying a Kazakh citizen. But they insisted. SCHMITZ: After that, they called her every day reminding her to come into the hospital for an abortion. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) Finally, I told them no, I'm not willing to do it. The police and local officials came and took me and my brother to a government building. They made my brother sign a document saying if I don't get an abortion, he would suffer the consequences. I knew this meant he'd be detained in a camp. So I agreed to the abortion. SCHMITZ: She called her husband and told him she had to go through with it. Two days after the abortion, she says police took her brother to an internment camp anyway. She spent the next 10 days in the hospital, recuperating. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) I was staying in the solitary ward. There was a camera facing my door. They wouldn't let me see my children. They gave me some newspaper articles about the 19th party Congress, saying I should know China's leaders by heart. SCHMITZ: And after they let her out, she says five local officials were assigned to stay with her inside her house. They worked in shifts and were always with her. This has become common in Xijiang, where Han Chinese state workers are eligible for promotions if they volunteer to live with ethnic minority families to keep an eye on them and to educate them about the policies of China's Communist Party. But she suspects they were there because her husband had been writing letters to both the Chinese and Kazakh governments about what happened to her, demanding compensation for their lost child. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) They probably wanted to send me to re-education camp. But because they knew that forcing me to abort my child was illegal, they didn't want to make things worse. So they chose to detain me this way. SCHMITZ: Four months after her abortion, the woman in this story says officials took her to a re-education camp, escorted her to her room with a flat screen TV. On it was an empty table with a microphone. Suddenly, a voice asked her, do you want to stay in China or go back to Kazakhstan? She answered, Kazakhstan. A week later, officers escorted her and her children to the Kazakh border. UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) At the border, they made me sign a pledge that I wouldn't talk to journalists about what happened to me, what's happening in Xinjiang nor the fact that I had an abortion involuntarily. Then they let me cross the border. 2018-11-14 00:00:00 +0000

More Than One in 10 Residents of Xinjiang Township Held in Political ‘Re-Education Camps’

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes August 24, 2018

More than one in 10 residents of Toqsun township in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been detained in three political “re-education camps” in the area, according to a...

Internment Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes More Than One in 10 Residents of Xinjiang Township Held in Political ‘Re-Education Camps’ all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all More than one in 10 residents of Toqsun township in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been detained in three political “re-education camps” in the area, according to an official source, who said he is unaware of anyone ever having been released. 2018-08-24 00:00:00 +0000

Uighur man's 10-year sentence shows harsh reality of Chinese repression

Guardian Emma Graham-Harrison, Juliette Garside November 24, 2019

In late 2016, a 47-year-old Uighur employed on a road-building crew in China’s western Xinjiang region started hectoring his co-workers about their behaviour. He warned them against watching porn ...

Religious Persecution Forced Assimilation Pretexts for Detention Emma Graham-Harrison, Juliette Garside Uighur man's 10-year sentence shows harsh reality of Chinese repression all guardian Guardian all religious-persecution forced-assimilation all pretexts-for-detention In late 2016, a 47-year-old Uighur employed on a road-building crew in China’s western Xinjiang region started hectoring his co-workers about their behaviour. He warned them against watching porn or swearing, badgered them not to eat food cooked by non-Muslims, smokers or people who drink alcohol, and made offensive slurs against the country’s majority Han ethnic group. In most countries, his remarks would have simply marked him out as a bigot and religious bore. But in China, the state viewed them – and him – far more harshly. Two years later, the comments would land him in court, and earn him a 10-year sentence for “incitement of ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination”, according to a leaked summary of his trial 2019-11-24 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghurs Losing Circumcision Traditions Under China’s Xinjiang Policies

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur January 29, 2021

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are severely restricting the Islamic tradition of circumcision, either by delinking its religious significance or banning i...

Religious Persecution Shohret Hoshur Uyghurs Losing Circumcision Traditions Under China’s Xinjiang Policies all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are severely restricting the Islamic tradition of circumcision, either by delinking its religious significance or banning it outright, according to officials. … A “stability” officer in Suydung (Shuiding) township, in Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Qorghas (Huocheng) county, told RFA that one of the points of education she and her colleagues give to residents is that they should not take part in religious circumcisions. According to the woman, once they reach the age for circumcision, boys are taken to a designated hospital in nearby Ghulja (Yining) city, where the operation is performed. Family gatherings, prayers, and neighborhood celebrations, all part of the religious and social fabric, are reportedly prohibited on the day of the circumcision. “You are supposed to have it done at government-sanctioned hospitals,” she said. “It is prohibited to do the ritual at home with religious rites.” The officer said authorities have even put heavy restrictions on visits to those young boys who have been circumcised in government-approved hospitals. Would-be visitors to their hospital rooms are required to first register themselves with the neighborhood community center. If there are more than 10 visitors to a single child, the parents will be punished, perhaps even with detention in a camp or other center. “They told us if relatives come, the number should not exceed 10, and we should report it to the government,” she said. “We were told that if there are visitors to see the child, we should register them, otherwise there will be a problem … that they will be sent for ‘re-education.’” A civil servant in the seat of Kashgar (Kashi) prefecture confirmed that religious life-cycle ceremonies, including circumcisions and weddings, are also heavily restricted in her region of the XUAR. When asked whether such events can be performed under the guidance of an akhun, or Muslim officiant, she confirmed that doing so “is not allowed” in Kashgar. Earlier reporting by RFA has confirmed that religious wedding rites, nikah, have been heavily restricted in parts of Kashgar for at least the past two years. Historically, Uyghur couples have performed nikah on the morning of their wedding, gathering with their immediate families, as well as their best man and maid of honor, in the presence of an akhun. Multiple wedding receptions—complete with food, dancing, and merriment, and attended by extended family and members of the couple’s social circle—typically follows during the same afternoon and evening, or over the course of subsequent days. But sources told RFA in August last year that after the internment campaign began in 2017, authorities began pushing couples to wed solely by obtaining an official marriage license and without nikah, which they identified as a sign of “religious extremism.” 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

China ‘holding itself back’ by shying away from global terrorism fight

South China Morning Post Catherine Wong June 25, 2017

Shopkeepers line up with wooden clubs to perform their daily anti-terror drill outside the bazaar in Kashgar in Xinjiang.

Surveillance Civilian Informants Catherine Wong China ‘holding itself back’ by shying away from global terrorism fight all south-china-morning-post South China Morning Post all surveillance all civilian-informants Shopkeepers line up with wooden clubs to perform their daily anti-terror drill outside the bazaar in Kashgar in Xinjiang. 2017-06-25 00:00:00 +0000

Western Companies Get Tangled in China’s Muslim Clampdown

Wall Street Journal Eva Dou, Chao Deng May 16, 2019

In southern Xinjiang, the governments of Hotan and Kashgar announced in 2017 a three-year push to place 100,000 “surplus rural laborers” in vocational programs. ... In Aksu, officials have gather...

Internment Religious Persecution Surveillance Forced Labor Eva Dou, Chao Deng Western Companies Get Tangled in China’s Muslim Clampdown all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all internment religious-persecution surveillance all forced-labor In southern Xinjiang, the governments of Hotan and Kashgar announced in 2017 a three-year push to place 100,000 “surplus rural laborers” in vocational programs. ... In Aksu, officials have gathered up more than 4,000 residents over the past two years for deradicalization and textile-making courses under “concentrated, closed-off, military-style management” to meet factories’ labor needs, Aksu’s human resources and social services bureau said in a notice in December. Many were headed for textile factories, the notice said. ... During the Journal’s visit, village bulletin boards around Aksu displayed lists of residents below the poverty line, with their full names, national ID numbers and reason for impoverishment (“lack land,” “lack skills,” “lack motivation”). All of the dozens of listed names viewed by the Journal in two villages carried the same case resolution: “transferred to work.” ... A Uighur outside of the city remembers officials sweeping through villages to “organize” locals to work in textile factories last year. If the workers quit, the person said, officials return to organize them again. “If the government tells you to go work, you go,” this person said. Li Xinbin, propaganda chief of Aksu, said he and other officials are assigned individual families to lift out of poverty, defined as an annual income below 2,300 yuan ($340), by the end of this year. They use personal time and funds if necessary, and must log their progress in a smartphone app. Mr. Li said the city had no “training centers” of any kind. ... After the initial training, Xinjiang factories are expected to monitor workers and conduct periodic deradicalization programs, according to factory announcements. At the Aksu textile park, a subsidiary of Shanghai-listed shirtmaker Youngor Group Co. held such a session for 240 workers in May 2017 at the request of park management. At the meeting, workers were told not to pray in public or keep books with ethnic or religious content, according to an online post by Youngor. The post said employees were told not to browse or spread online content harmful to ethnic unity, and that the company would tighten its internet oversight. 2019-05-16 00:00:00 +0000

The Reciter: A Uyghur family’s pride — and downfall

SupChina Darren Byler May 05, 2021

It took him three years, but finally, at the age of 14, Nurali recited the entire Quran. This, he remembers, was one of the happiest days of his mother’s life. Over the phone she told him how proud...

Destruction of the Family Religious Persecution Internment Pretexts for Detention Restricting communication Darren Byler The Reciter: A Uyghur family’s pride — and downfall all supchina SupChina all destruction-of-the-family religious-persecution internment all pretexts-for-detention restricting-communication It took him three years, but finally, at the age of 14, Nurali recited the entire Quran. This, he remembers, was one of the happiest days of his mother’s life. Over the phone she told him how proud she was. How he had brought so much joy and honor to his family. He was a living Quran, his life itself part of a sacred tradition that had been passed on for centuries. Now he became Nurali Qari — Nurali the Reciter. Nurali was living with his aunt in Cairo at the time . . . He did not know that his pursuit of something that would make his mother so happy would result in an Interpol “red notice,” Chinese authorities deeming his family members “terrorists” — and, for his mother, a 16-and-a-half-year prison sentence. … The last time Nurali saw his mother Mehire was in 2015. She came with his father to Egypt after Nurali had been studying the Quran for one year. Mehire visited not only to see her son, but also her sister, Mewlude, who just had a baby. … The trouble began in mid-2016. The police started to call Mahire into the station and ask about Nurali. They told her to “make him come back” over and over again, Mewlude recalled. They said, “He is young and is required to still be in school.” They did not recognize that Nurali was still in school and that every year hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens send middle schoolers abroad to study. From others in the Uyghur community in Egypt, Mewlude heard that returnees were disappearing upon arrival back in China, so she decided not to return, even though her family was being pressured by authorities back home. At this time, Nurali was nearly finished with his training as a qari. Mahire stopped sending money, hoping that Chinese authorities would give up. But this was not the case. Sometime in 2017, just months after Nurali became a qari, Chinese authorities issued a “red alert” on Interpol — which at the time was led by the Chinese official Mèng Hóngwěi 孟宏伟 — for Mewlude and her husband, declaring them “fugitives” (táofàn 逃犯) wanted on “terrorism” charges. Civil servants pasted a “three evil forces family” label on the door of Mahire’s apartment in Urumqi. In one of her final messages that the family received, Mahire said, “Please don’t be surprised if I disappear. No matter how hard I try, I am going to be taken away. Horrible things are happening now. When I walk down the street the neighbors avoid me. They just turn away.” One night in 2018, the Atush police came to Ürümqi to take her away. “We thought it was just like the other times where they kept her in the police station overnight, but this time it was different,” Mewlude said. “She just disappeared.” Between that time and December 2019, no one in the family knew where Mahire was. Then someone spotted a notice posted by the Atush People’s Court that read: “On May 13, 2015, Mahire Nurmuhemmed used her bank card to remit 8,650 yuan in financial support to Mewlude Nurmuhemmed and Memet’eli Imam (fugitives suspected of endangering national security) in Egypt.” It said that Mahire had used the services of a Hui man who facilitated support for the Uyghur community in Egypt to send the money. The court document failed to note that, at the time when Mahire sent the money to her sister, she had no idea Mewlude would be deemed a terrorist — the term used over and over in the court document to describe her and other Uyghur students — two years later. A few months later, another family friend contacted Mewlude and told her that Mahire had been sentenced to 16 and a half years in prison because she had financially supported her son’s studies in Egypt. Mewlude and the family left Egypt for Turkey in April 2017, since there were signs that it was becoming dangerous to stay there and it became hard to find jobs. In Turkey, they had a bigger community and more opportunities. In July 2017, the police in Cairo began to round up and deport Uyghur students. The students who have returned to China have disappeared. In Turkey, Nurali is preparing for his college entrance exam. He tries not to think about his mother too much. “It just makes me too sad. Sometimes it feels like more than I can bear.” He tries to cling to the memory of his mother’s happiness when she heard the news that he had become a qari, but bearing the weight of Islamic tradition and the honor of his family is a lot for a young reciter to carry. 2021-05-05 00:00:00 +0000

How China Turned a City Into a Prison

New York Times Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy April 10, 2019

We visited Kashgar several times to see what life is like. We couldn’t interview residents — that would have been too risky for them, because we were constantly followed by the police. But the rest...

Surveillance Restricting communication Restrictions on movement Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy How China Turned a City Into a Prison all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all restricting-communication restrictions-on-movement We visited Kashgar several times to see what life is like. We couldn’t interview residents — that would have been too risky for them, because we were constantly followed by the police. But the restrictions were everywhere. 2019-04-10 00:00:00 +0000

China Uighurs: A model's video gives a rare glimpse inside internment

BBC John Sudworth August 04, 2020

As a model for the massive Chinese online retailer Taobao, the 31-year-old was well paid to flaunt his good looks in slick promotional videos for clothing brands. But one video of Mr Ghappar is di...

Internment Internment conditions Restricting communication John Sudworth China Uighurs: A model's video gives a rare glimpse inside internment all bbc BBC all internment all internment-conditions restricting-communication As a model for the massive Chinese online retailer Taobao, the 31-year-old was well paid to flaunt his good looks in slick promotional videos for clothing brands. But one video of Mr Ghappar is different. Instead of a glitzy studio or fashionable city street, the backdrop is a bare room with grubby walls and steel mesh on the window. And in place of the posing, Mr Ghappar sits silently with an anxious expression on his face. Holding the camera with his right hand, he reveals his dirty clothes, his swollen ankles, and a set of handcuffs fixing his left wrist to the metal frame of the bed - the only piece of furniture in the room. ... The video of Mr Ghappar, along with a number of accompanying text messages also passed to the BBC, together provide a chilling and extremely rare first-hand account of China's highly secure and secretive detention system - sent directly from the inside. In addition to the clear allegations of torture and abuse, Mr Ghappar's account appears to provide evidence that, despite China's insistence that most re-education camps have been closed, Uighurs are still being detained in significant numbers and held without charge. It also contains new details about the huge psychological pressure placed on Uighur communities, including a document he photographed which calls on children as young as 13 to "repent and surrender". ... Merdan Ghappar's text messages, said to have been sent from the same room as his self-shot video, paint an even more terrifying picture of his experience after arriving in Xinjiang. Written via the Chinese social media app WeChat, he explains that he was first kept in a police jail in Kucha. "I saw 50 to 60 people detained in a small room no bigger than 50 square metres, men on the right, women on the left," he writes. "Everyone was wearing a so-called 'four-piece-suit', a black head sack, handcuffs, leg shackles and an iron chain connecting the cuffs to the shackles." Mr Ghappar was made to wear the device and, joining his fellow inmates in a caged-off area covering around two-thirds of the cell, he found there was no room to lie down and sleep. "I lifted the sack on my head and told the police officer that the handcuffs were so tight they hurt my wrists," he writes in one of the text messages. "He shouted fiercely at me, saying 'If you remove your hood again, I will beat you to death'. And after that I dared not to talk," he adds. "Dying here is the last thing I want." ... He writes about the constant sound of screaming, coming from elsewhere in the jail. "Interrogation rooms," he suggested. And he describes squalid and unsanitary conditions - inmates suffering from lice while sharing just a handful of plastic bowls and spoons between them all. "Before eating, the police would ask people with infectious diseases to put their hands up and they'd be the last to eat," he writes. "But if you want to eat earlier, you can remain silent. It's a moral issue, do you understand?" Then, on 22 January, with China at the height of its coronavirus crisis, news of a massive, nationwide attempt to control the epidemic reached the prisoners. Mr Ghappar's account suggests the enforcement of quarantine rules were much stricter in Xinjiang than elsewhere. At one point, four young men, aged between 16 and 20, were brought into the cell. "During the epidemic period they were found outside playing a kind of game like baseball," he writes. "They were brought to the police station and beaten until they screamed like babies, the skin on their buttocks split open and they couldn't sit down." The policemen began making all the prisoners wear masks, although they still had to remain hooded in the stuffy, over-crowded cell. "A hood and a mask - there was even less air," he writes. ... When the officers later came around with thermometers, several inmates including Mr Ghappar, registered higher than the normal body temperature of 37C (98.6F). Still wearing his "four-piece suit", he was moved upstairs to another room where the guards kept the windows open at night, making the air so cold that he could not sleep. There, he said, the sounds of torture were much clearer. "One time I heard a man screaming from morning until evening," he says. A few days later, the prisoners were loaded onto minibuses and sent away to an unknown location. Mr Ghappar, who was suffering from a cold and with his nose running, was separated from the rest and taken to the facility seen in the video he sent - a place he described as an "epidemic control centre". Once there, he was handcuffed to the bed. "My whole body is covered in lice. Every day I catch them and pick them off from my body - it's so itchy," he writes. ... After 18 days inside the police jail, he was suddenly and secretly in touch with the outside world. For a few days he described his experiences. Then, suddenly, the messages stopped. Nothing has been heard from Mr Ghappar since. The authorities have provided no formal notification of his whereabouts, nor any reason for his continued detention. 2020-08-04 00:00:00 +0000

She survived a Chinese internment camp and made it to Virginia. Will the U.S. let her stay?

Washington Post Emily Rauhala, Anna Fifield November 17, 2019

A Chinese flag-ceremony attendance record for Muhammad and Dawut.

Forced Assimilation Flag-raising/Village meeting Emily Rauhala, Anna Fifield She survived a Chinese internment camp and made it to Virginia. Will the U.S. let her stay? all washington-post Washington Post all forced-assimilation all flag-raising-village-meeting A Chinese flag-ceremony attendance record for Muhammad and Dawut. 2019-11-17 00:00:00 +0000

China’s Algorithms of Repression

Human Rights Watch May 01, 2019

We know that there are at least two other apps that Xinjiang government officials use to gather personal data from residents: an app for Xinjiang officials when they conduct intrusive home visits (...

Surveillance Internment Pretexts for Detention Use of technology Civilian Informants China’s Algorithms of Repression all human-rights-watch Human Rights Watch all surveillance internment all pretexts-for-detention use-of-technology civilian-informants We know that there are at least two other apps that Xinjiang government officials use to gather personal data from residents: an app for Xinjiang officials when they conduct intrusive home visits (“新疆入户走访”), and another app for collecting data on migrant workers (“基础工作小助手”). While we have not had access to them, some local government reports state that the data collected via these other apps feed into the IJOP [Integrated Joint Operations Platform] system. ... These officials are under tremendous pressure to carry out the Strike Hard Campaign. Failure to fulfill its requirements can be dangerous, especially for cadres from ethnic minorities, because the Strike Hard Campaign also targets and detains officials thought to be disloyal. ... Search function: The IJOP app allows officials to search for information about people using their name, ID number, household number used to access public utilities (户号), and building address (see Appendix III). In addition, officials can access, upon approval of their superiors, the “full profile” of a given individual. Facial recognition function: The IJOP app uses a facial recognition functionality by Face++—a well-known facial recognition company in China. It is used to check whether the photo on the ID matches the person’s face or for cross-checking pictures on two different documents. Wifi detecting: The IJOP app appears to collect data about wireless networks in range of the device. The collected data includes SSID (the service set identifier, or the name of a Wi-Fi network), encryption method, and GPS locations. Our technical investigation suggests that this possibly serves the purpose of creating a map of the existing wireless networks in the region, also known as “War Driving.” This function could also potentially be used to identify and target weakly secured wireless networks and to join them for the purpose of surveillance and infiltration. It can also be used to understand the population density, connectivity, and the produced data volume of a given area. However, it is unclear how this functionality—or the data it gathers—is used." "In screen 1, officials are prompted to choose the circumstances under which information is being collected by using a drop-down menu. The five choices are: “during home visits,” “on the streets,” in “political education camps,” “during registration for those who travel abroad,” and “when collecting information from whose ‘hukou’ (or registered residency) is in Xinjiang but living in the mainland.” Although not shown on the screenshot, officials with “administrative rights”—likely higher-level officials—are also presented with a sixth choice: “when collecting information from foreign nationals who have entered [Xinjiang].” ... Officials are then prompted to log and submit to the IJOP central system a range of information about the person, from the person’s height, to their blood type, to their political affiliation. ... there are 36 “person types” to whom the authorities are paying special attention. ... The most interesting—and revealing—part of the app is the group of tasks called “investigative missions” (调查任务). Mission instructions are sent directly via the IJOP central system to officers, requiring them to investigate certain individuals, vehicles, or events and provide feedback. ... In screen 3, officials are prompted to collect further identifying information about people’s vehicles by opening related screens with information about the vehicle, including color and type, as well as the license plate number and a picture of the vehicle. Entering such information presumably enables cameras equipped with artificial intelligence capabilities to recognize and keep track of the vehicle as it travels and passes through vehicle checkpoints. ... Officials are also prompted to log whether the people in question use a list of 51 “suspicious” internet tools, and if so, their account number.[61] Most of these tools are foreign messaging tools, such as Viber, WhatsApp, and Telegram, but also include Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)." "Officials are also prompted, through related screens, to log individuals’: Bank information (which bank they use and the bank account number), Family members (name, ID number, relationship, phone number), and “Suspiciousness,” and, if so, explain whether they require further investigation." "People who move into or out of their registered residency (or “hukou”) area: Internal migrants; People who have go abroad “for too long” (“overdue” persons); and People returning from abroad People who have “problematic” relationships: People targeted in “Operation 913”; Embassy Alert; and “Four associations” ; People who use an “unusual” amount of electricity; People who have gone “off-grid” ; People with mismatched identities; “Problematic” individuals ; “Problematic” vehicles ; “Matched” persons ; and “Matched” vehicles ... An examination of the source code suggests that the following categories of people are considered “problematic”: People related to those whose whereabouts are unclear; People related to internal migrants; People related to those who are monitored by the IJOP; People related to those who cannot be contacted; People related to those who use the identification documents of dead people; People related to those whose phone number and identity is mismatched; People related to those who have left the country three days ago; People related to those who have not returned after leaving the country 30 or more days ago; People related to those who have not returned after leaving the country [for over a] half year; People related to those who have not returned after leaving the country [for over] one year; People related to those [newly] held in detention centers for endangering security; People related to those who have started a new phone number account; and Others. 2019-05-01 00:00:00 +0000

Beijing's crackdown in Xinjiang has separated thousands of children from their parents, new report claims. CNN found two of them

CNN Rebecca Wright, David Culver, Ben Westcott March 18, 2021

Mamutjan said his family, who are ethnically Uyghur, are unable to leave China, while he would be at risk of being detained or imprisoned if he returned. He is now living in Adelaide, Australia. W...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Rebecca Wright, David Culver, Ben Westcott Beijing's crackdown in Xinjiang has separated thousands of children from their parents, new report claims. CNN found two of them all cnn CNN all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication Mamutjan said his family, who are ethnically Uyghur, are unable to leave China, while he would be at risk of being detained or imprisoned if he returned. He is now living in Adelaide, Australia. With Mamutjan's permission, CNN journalists visited his parents' house in Kashgar unannounced to see if they could help locate his children -- and find out what happened to his wife. His daughter Muhlise answered the door in a bright pink shirt and black pants. When showed a picture of Mamutjan, she said: "This is my Dad." She said she knew where her father was but seemed unwilling to talk about her mother's location. After checking the answer with her grandparents, Muhlise said her mother was at her other grandmother's house but she "can't see her very often." The 10-year-old said she last saw her mother "a month or two ago." She said her brother was not with her but she saw him regularly. When Muhlise was asked if she wanted to be reunited with her father, she said, "We can't go ... Our passports were confiscated." After keeping her composure throughout the arrival of the CNN team, Muhlise began to break down when asked if she missed her father. "I don't have my mom here, and I don't have my dad here either ... I want to be reunited with them," she said. Hearing the question, her grandmother burst into tears. ... In 2016, Ablikim Mamtinin and his wife Mihriban Kader said they were forced to flee Xinjiang after she became pregnant with their sixth child. Under China's family planning policies, most families were only allowed to have one child until 2015, although rural ethnic minorities, including the Uyghurs, were permitted up to three in the region. But their travel agent said they weren't able to get visas for all five of their children -- only the youngest. Zumeryem, Yehya, Muhammad and Shehide would have to stay behind. It was a heartbreaking choice for Mihriban and Ablikim. In the end, after leaving the four children with their grandparents, they left, hoping to be reunited as soon as possible . . . But as the crackdown intensified in Xinjiang, their relatives in China stopped responding to their calls and emails. In June 2020 . . . the four children were put into a state-sponsored orphanage. In the county seat of Payzawat, about an hour's drive from Kashgar, CNN attempted to locate the four siblings with their parents' permission, but local officials did not allow the team to visit the children. CNN was able to connect with Yehya, the second-oldest child, over a WeChat video call, as what he called a "teacher" off camera prompted the young man with what to say to journalists. When asked if he wanted to be reunited with his parents, he said, "I do." At one point, a voice on the other end of the phone told Yehya, "Tell them that you see your sister every day." When asked if he wanted to pass on any messages to his parents, the voice told him to say that he had "nothing" to say to his parents. Since their failed escape attempt, when the children occasionally gain access to a phone in the orphanage, they can speak to their parents. Recently, the children sent a photograph of the four of them standing in front of barbed wire outside the facility. Another image they sent showed the siblings with a sign in Chinese, saying, "Dad, Mom, we miss you." 2021-03-18 00:00:00 +0000

Beyond Silence: Collaboration Between Arab States and China in the Transnational Repression of Uyghurs

Uyghur Human Rights Project Bradley Jardine, Lucille Greer March 24, 2022

We have arrived at our upper estimate of 292 Uyghurs detained or deported from Arab states since 2001 in part through data from the China’s Transnational Repression of Uyghurs Dataset, a joint init...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Use of technology Bradley Jardine, Lucille Greer Beyond Silence: Collaboration Between Arab States and China in the Transnational Repression of Uyghurs all uyghur-human-rights-project Uyghur Human Rights Project all surveillance religious-persecution all use-of-technology We have arrived at our upper estimate of 292 Uyghurs detained or deported from Arab states since 2001 in part through data from the China’s Transnational Repression of Uyghurs Dataset, a joint initiative by the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs and the Uyghur Human Rights Project. We have gathered and analyzed cases of China’s transnational repression of Uyghurs in Arab states using original interviews with Uyghurs who have fled the region, reports by experts and witnesses, and public sources in English and Arabic, including government documents, human rights reports, and reporting by credible news agencies. What follows is a comprehensive analysis of how China’s repression of Uyghurs has taken hold in Arab states and developed over the past twenty years. At least six Arab states—Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—have participated in a campaign of transnational repression spearheaded by China that has reached 28 countries worldwide. China’s Party-state uses five primary mechanisms of transnational repression to target Uyghurs in Arab states: 1) transnational digital surveillance, which enables them to track and closely monitor Uyghurs living outside their homeland; 2) Global War on Terror narratives, which serve as justification for the detention or rendering of Uyghurs to China; 3) institutions of Islamic education where Uyghur students enroll, which the Party-state targets for crackdowns; 4) the Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia, which they use to surveil or detain Uyghur pilgrims (a trend accelerating with the increasing involvement of Chinese tech companies in Hajj digital services); and 5) denial of travel documents to Uyghurs in Arab states, rendering them stateless and vulnerable to deportation to the PRC. 2022-03-24 00:00:00 +0000

Five-Year Planning Outline for Persisting in the Sinification of Islam(2018-2022)

Chinese government source January 01, 2018

Better adherence to and continuous advancement of the Sinification of Islam in our country is conducive to resolving the salient problems that we currently have the field of Islam, it is conducive ...

Religious Persecution Five-Year Planning Outline for Persisting in the Sinification of Islam(2018-2022) all chinese-government-source Chinese government source all religious-persecution all Better adherence to and continuous advancement of the Sinification of Islam in our country is conducive to resolving the salient problems that we currently have the field of Islam, it is conducive to the adaptation of Islam to socialist society, and is conducive to the healthy development of Islam in our country. 2018-01-01 00:00:00 +0000

Beyond cotton, another thread in Xinjiang supply chain creates new snag for global textile firms

South China Morning Post Jacob Fromer, Cissy Zhou, Finbarr Bermingham March 28, 2021

Viscose is produced in huge volumes in Xinjiang, a region where Beijing is accused of putting 1 million Uygurs and other Muslim ethnic minority groups in detention camps and subjecting many of them...

Internment Forced Labor Jacob Fromer, Cissy Zhou, Finbarr Bermingham Beyond cotton, another thread in Xinjiang supply chain creates new snag for global textile firms all south-china-morning-post South China Morning Post all internment all forced-labor Viscose is produced in huge volumes in Xinjiang, a region where Beijing is accused of putting 1 million Uygurs and other Muslim ethnic minority groups in detention camps and subjecting many of them to forced labour. Chinese records show how the viscose supply chain in Xinjiang is intrinsically linked to entities already sanctioned by the United States for alleged ties to forced labour. The factories used to make viscose fibre in Xinjiang are located within miles of suspected detention camps, according to satellite images seen by the South China Morning Post. They were matched against open-source research compiled from official government documents, statistics and academic studies by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank that receives funding from the Australian and American governments. … Xinjiang produces between 10 and 18 per cent of the world’s viscose, according to various estimates. Chinese corporate records show the region’s top viscose manufacturer is a state-owned company that built its factories in areas dominated by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), the sprawling quasi-military organisation that was sanctioned by the US last year for human rights abuses. The region’s viscose factories sit alongside huge industrial estates, just miles from suspected detention camps, which Beijing has described as job training centres. A third factory is jointly owned by the XPCC through a subsidiary. It recently modernised its equipment. 2021-03-28 00:00:00 +0000

Toxic Tiles: How Vinyl Flooring Made With Uyghur Forced Labor Ends Up at Big Box Stores

The Intercept Mara Hvistendahl June 14, 2022

Vinyl flooring is seeing a surge of growth, boosted in part by pandemic-era renovations. The industry calls it “luxury vinyl tile.” In reality, it is layer upon layer of thin plastic, a heavily pol...

Internment Forced Labor Mara Hvistendahl Toxic Tiles: How Vinyl Flooring Made With Uyghur Forced Labor Ends Up at Big Box Stores all the-intercept The Intercept all internment all forced-labor Vinyl flooring is seeing a surge of growth, boosted in part by pandemic-era renovations. The industry calls it “luxury vinyl tile.” In reality, it is layer upon layer of thin plastic, a heavily polluting concoction made with fossil fuels. Very often, a new report shows, that plastic is produced using forced labor. The story of vinyl flooring begins 6,600 miles away in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, where it is intertwined with the persecution of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs. The same month that Merth wrote her 2020 blog post, in a village in southern Xinjiang, 30-year-old Abdurahman Matturdi was herded onto a bus emblazoned with the words “Zhongtai Chemical.” That’s short for Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Company, a Chinese government-owned petrochemical firm that is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a type of plastic that is a critical ingredient in vinyl flooring. The World Health Organization had just declared Covid-19 a pandemic, and factories across China were shutting down to protect workers and prevent the coronavirus’s spread, but Zhongtai’s PVC plants were humming. Matturdi, whose story is detailed in a post on the company’s WeChat account, left behind his wife, newborn baby, and ailing mother. Hours later, he arrived in the regional capital of Ürümqi, where people in his group were assigned dormitory beds and given military fatigues to wear. Instead of watching his baby learn to walk or caring for his mother, he would spend his days laboring in Zhongtai’s facilities, exposed to both toxic chemicals and a frightening new virus. … Merth and Matturdi are connected by a troubling supply chain. At one end is Zhongtai, a mammoth state-owned enterprise with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party that is among the top users of forced labor in Xinjiang. By its own account, Zhongtai has brought in more than 5,500 Uyghurs like Matturdi to work at its factories under a government program that human rights advocates say amounts to a grave injustice. To make the plastic resins that go into the flooring under Americans’ feet, Zhongtai belches greenhouse gases and mercury into the air. Its executives uproot lives, tear families apart, and expose workers to coal dust and vinyl chloride monomer, which has been linked to liver tumors. … The new report, by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice in England and at the Maine-based toxic chemical investigative outfit Material Research, details the toll taken by the flooring industry, painting a devastating picture of oppression and pollution in the Uyghur region, all to help consumers in the United States and other wealthy countries cheaply renovate their homes. The report calls on the industry “to identify its risk and extract themselves from complicity in Uyghur forced labor.” It also asks all companies that source from China — including Home Depot — to scrutinize their supply chains. … PVC production occurs in countries around the world, including the U.S., and creates pollution wherever it happens. But in Xinjiang, the process uses mercury, which has been phased out of PVC production in the U.S., and generates more waste than in many other parts of the world, the report notes. Uyghur workers living in dormitories near the plants bear the costs. “In those conditions, at that scale, where the state is in control of production and there’s no accounting for the impacts, it’s almost unimaginable what’s happening,” said Jim Vallette of Material Research, one of the report’s authors. “There’s nothing like it on Earth in the combination of climate and toxic pollution. And workers are living there 24/7.” … In 2017, Zhongtai began bringing in Uyghurs to work at its factories. Many of these laborers were, like Matturdi, from poor villages in southern Xinjiang. Their journeys start when Zhongtai representatives show up at their door. “Companies like Zhongtai recruit workers through state-sponsored programs, and people are not allowed to refuse,” said Murphy, the forced labor scholar. In one instance reported by Chinese state news agency Xinhua, Zhongtai representatives repeatedly visited the home of a young woman named Maynur on the edge of Xinjiang’s Taklamakan Desert. Her parents balked at the thought of her leaving, but their protests were ultimately ignored. Before long, Maynur was operating packaging machines at a Zhongtai PVC factory. … Zhongtai’s executives are active participants in broader government repression in the Uyghur region, according to the report. In 2017, the company held an event devoted to “social stability” in which representatives encouraged Uyghurs to bring their thinking in line with that of the Communist Party. Zhongtai’s employees have helped the Chinese government surveil Uyghur villagers by collecting their personal details and entering them into a widely criticized policing app, according to a WeChat post by a local propaganda department. And Zhongtai executives often publicize their participation in the labor transfer program, allowing state news reporters to film Uyghurs as they arrive by bus or join in military drills. Such workers have reason to fear anyone affiliated with the company, which, as a state-owned enterprise, implicitly represents the Chinese government. When Uyghurs arrive at Zhongtai’s facilities, the company’s corporate communications show, Communist Party officials are often there to receive them. After undergoing training at Zhongtai, Uyghurs are put to work feeding furnaces, mixing and crushing materials for PVC production, and handling caustic soda, a byproduct of the production process. They face respiratory hazards from coal and PVC dust in the air, neurological effects from mercury, and carcinogens from coal reacting with chlorine. Forced study is another part of the program, both at Zhongtai and at other plants in the region that use Uyghur labor. Elimä collected state press news clips about Zhongtai that show Uyghurs in military garb, studying Chinese. Some talk woodenly about how happy they are, as if reading from a script. “Thanks to the Party and Zhongtai for giving us this good opportunity!” says one. “Zhongtai sees it as a corporate success because they’ve managed to turn Uyghurs away from being farmers, away from their homogenous culture, away from their Islamic piety and toward a culture that is more industrialized, urbanized, and ideologically appropriate in the government’s view,” said Murphy. State media reports claim that the workers are paid enough that they can send money home to their families. According to Xinhua, Maynur earned 4,000 yuan a month, equivalent to around $580 at the time of the article. But the Xinjiang Victims Database, an independent project that compiles accounts from victims of persecution in the region, has collected many stories from former Uyghur laborers and their relatives who paint a very different picture of working conditions in the region. “First-person testimony tells us that people are typically not paid or are even in debt to the companies they work for,” said Murphy. Companies often deduct money for food and housing — or they promise to pay salaries and don’t deliver. The article featuring Matturdi’s case says that each worker in his group had 1,000 yuan ($145 at the time) of their first monthly paycheck applied toward meals. The workers suffered anew as a novel coronavirus spread through the world in 2020. Over a two-week period in March, as factories in other parts of China remained closed, Zhongtai boasted that it had brought in over 1,000 Uyghurs from poor villages to work on its assembly lines. Some, like Matturdi, were bused in. Others arrived by train, flooding into halls where it was impossible to maintain social distance, wearing only surgical masks for protection from the virus. 2022-06-14 00:00:00 +0000

China Locks Up Xinjiang’s Uyghur Businessmen; ‘In Their Eyes, We Are All Guilty’

Wall Street Journal Eva Xiao July 13, 2021

In the summer of 2018, Sadir Eli, a Uyghur businessman, was in high spirits. His real-estate firm was pulling in strong profits, and he told his daughter he would buy a house for her in Massachuset...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Eva Xiao China Locks Up Xinjiang’s Uyghur Businessmen; ‘In Their Eyes, We Are All Guilty’ all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all internment all pretexts-for-detention In the summer of 2018, Sadir Eli, a Uyghur businessman, was in high spirits. His real-estate firm was pulling in strong profits, and he told his daughter he would buy a house for her in Massachusetts. Then, Mr. Eli was accused of being a separatist and disappeared into the black box of China’s prison system in the northwest Xinjiang region. “He did not engage in politics,” said Maria Mohammad, who last heard from her husband in June 2018, shortly before he was detained. Instead, she believes, Mr. Eli was targeted in part because he was a rich businessman, giving him influence that the authorities viewed as a threat. … Before the Chinese government’s broad suppression of minority groups in Xinjiang, Mr. Eli and his hometown, the business-friendly city of Atush, showed how Uyghur business people could cultivate friendly ties with the Chinese government while earning the trust of their own community. Located within driving distance of China’s border with Kyrgyzstan, the city had a reputation for cultivating entrepreneurs who like Mr. Eli cared more about trade than politics, according to former Atush and Xinjiang residents. The businessman left a stable job at a municipal bank in the early 2000s to start his own export business, a venture that he hoped would generate enough profit to send his children overseas for university, according to his wife. Like other wealthy Uyghurs in Atush, Mr. Eli donated money to less affluent members of the community and pooled his money with others to fund the construction of a mosque, she added. In addition to direct donations, which were sometimes a form of Islamic almsgiving, the city’s well-off raised money through lamb auctions and sporting events to cover wedding or school fees for those who couldn’t afford them. Many became patrons of Uyghur cultural projects, including calligraphy competitions and art exhibitions. … In 2018, Mr. Eli was arrested for inviting around 10 people to his home during Ramadan, where they allegedly discussed separatist topics, said his daughter, citing information from her father’s friend in Atush. A relative later confirmed her father’s arrest and said he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison, she said. Both she and her mother deny that Mr. Eli was a separatist. … Many Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang who used to travel to Central Asia to sell goods from China found themselves in trouble, as Xinjiang authorities began to scrutinize visits to Muslim-majority countries. This clampdown came despite a broader push by Beijing to boost cross-border trade with many of the same countries through Mr. Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, which envisions Xinjiang as a central trading hub. Hesenjan Qari, a Uyghur textile seller originally from Atush, was arrested after a routine trip in February 2017 into Xinjiang from his home in Kazakhstan—a border that traders used to cross freely, said his wife, Gulshan Manapova. Mr. Qari was later sentenced to 14½ years in prison for “participating in terrorist organizations” and “using extremism to undermine law enforcement,” according to a document Mrs. Manapova received from a relative in 2019. The letter, which was issued by a prison in Tumshuq, where her husband is held, didn’t include any details about his crimes or the evidence that led to his conviction. … Some of the businessmen now being punished were only a few years earlier being lauded with government accolades. Xinjiang’s government named Abdujelil Helil, a wealthy Uyghur exporter, an “excellent builder of socialism with Chinese characteristics” in 2015. In July 2018, Mr. Helil was sentenced to 14 years in prison for allegedly providing financial support for terrorist activities, according to a court document viewed by the Journal. The Kashgar court also fined his firm $770,000 (5 million yuan) and stripped the 57-year-old of personal assets worth approximately $11 million, though Mr. Helil is currently waiting for a fresh legal judgment following a retrial in March, according to an overseas relative. 2021-07-13 00:00:00 +0000

China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

AP June 29, 2020

Once in the detention camps, women are subjected to forced IUDs and what appear to be pregnancy prevention shots, according to former detainees. They are also made to attend lectures on how many ch...

Internment Destruction of the Family Internment conditions Sterilization China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization all ap AP all internment destruction-of-the-family all internment-conditions sterilization Once in the detention camps, women are subjected to forced IUDs and what appear to be pregnancy prevention shots, according to former detainees. They are also made to attend lectures on how many children they should have. Seven former detainees told the AP that they were force-fed birth control pills or injected with fluids, often with no explanation. Many felt dizzy, tired or ill, and women stopped getting their periods. After being released and leaving China, some went to get medical check-ups and found they were sterile. It’s unclear what former detainees were injected with, but Xinjiang hospital slides obtained by the AP show that pregnancy prevention injections, sometimes with the hormonal medication Depo-Provera, are a common family planning measure. Side effects can include headaches and dizziness. Dina Nurdybay, a Kazakh woman, was detained in a camp which separated married and unmarried women. The married women were given pregnancy tests, Nurdybay recalled, and forced to have IUDs installed if they had children. She was spared because she was unmarried and childless. One day in February 2018, one of her cellmates, a Uighur woman, had to give a speech confessing what guards called her “crimes.” When a visiting official peered through the iron bars of their cell, she recited her lines in halting Mandarin. “I gave birth to too many children,” she said. “It shows I’m uneducated and know little about the law.” “Do you think it’s fair that Han people are only allowed to have one child?” the official asked, according to Nurdybay. “You ethnic minorities are shameless, wild and uncivilized.” Nurdybay met at least two others in the camps whom she learned were locked up for having too many children. Later, she was transferred to another facility with an orphanage that housed hundreds of children, including those with parents detained for giving birth too many times. The children counted the days until they could see their parents on rare visits. “They told me they wanted to hug their parents, but they were not allowed,” she said. “They always looked very sad.” ... Ziyawudun and the 40 other women in her “class” were forced to attend family planning lectures most Wednesdays, where films were screened about impoverished women struggling to feed many children. Married women were rewarded for good behavior with conjugal visits from their husbands, along with showers, towels, and two hours in a bedroom. But there was a catch – they had to take birth control pills beforehand. Some women have even reported forced abortions. Ziyawudun said a “teacher” at her camp told women they would face abortions if found pregnant during gynecology exams. A woman in another class turned out to be pregnant and disappeared from the camp, she said. She added that two of her cousins who were pregnant got rid of their children on their own because they were so afraid. Another woman, Gulbahar Jelilova, confirmed that detainees in her camp were forced to abort their children. She also saw a new mother, still leaking breast milk, who did not know what had happened to her infant. And she met doctors and medical students who were detained for The success of China’s push to control births among Muslim minorities shows up in the numbers for IUDs and sterilization. 2020-06-29 00:00:00 +0000

‘Admit Your Mistakes, Repent’: China Shifts Campaign to Control Xinjiang’s Muslims

Wall Street Journal Eva Dou, Philip Wen February 06, 2020

During a recent visit to several cities and towns in the Uighur heartland of southern Xinjiang, it was clear that many of the overt security measures employed in recent years have been rolled back ...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Use of technology Eva Dou, Philip Wen ‘Admit Your Mistakes, Repent’: China Shifts Campaign to Control Xinjiang’s Muslims all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all surveillance religious-persecution all use-of-technology During a recent visit to several cities and towns in the Uighur heartland of southern Xinjiang, it was clear that many of the overt security measures employed in recent years have been rolled back after months of international scrutiny and criticism from the U.S. and other Western nations. Yet other, at-times more subtle, forms of control remain in place. A semblance of normalcy appears to have returned to areas that were once patrolled by paramilitary police and armored vehicles and were once largely devoid of working-age Uighur men—targets of the re-education campaign. Street-corner checkpoints have been abandoned. Young men laughed and joked with friends. Facial-recognition scans and manual and electronic ID checks are still pervasive, taking place at the entrances of residential compounds and public buildings rather than on the street. The doorways to some Uighur homes are still marked with a QR code that police can scan for information on the people living inside. . . . A range of factors likely contributed to the decision to shut down some camps and roll back some of the police presence, including officials’ confidence that they had achieved their goal of diluting the influence of Islam, said James Leibold, an expert on Chinese ethnic-minority policies at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. “I do think international pressure has played some role,” he said. “Another big driver is the energy and expenses of creating a police state.” Xinjiang’s domestic security spending nearly doubled in 2017 to 27 billion yuan ($3.9 billion), according to research by the Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation. A significant portion of that money was spent building more than 7,500 “convenience police stations” around the region that made it easy for police to monitor local residents and mobilize rapidly in response to threats. Many of those stations now sit empty, their windows papered over. Outside Kashgar in Shule county, a scattering of police officers watched idly as villagers sold vegetables and live sheep on a main thoroughfare. Nearby shopfronts remained fortified with metal bars, but armed police patrols, once ubiquitous, had almost disappeared. At the height of the crackdown, young Uighur men tended to refrain from venturing out after dark, deterred by omnipresent vehicle checkpoints and routine phone checks in which police plugged pedestrians’ smartphones into a device that scanned their files and apps. Nightlife has picked up again with the thinning of security forces. In Hotan, a remote former Silk Road city famed for its jade, the cold winter weather didn’t stop Uighur men from gathering at a freshly renovated basement billiards parlor. They laughed and smoked cigarettes, as a cheerful Han Chinese proprietor logged the ID card numbers of new arrivals. Still, the effects of authorities’ assault on expressions of Islamic faith are visible. Almost no men had beards, a marked change from a few years ago. And few women could be seen wearing headscarves, though some wore loose-knit hats that covered their hair. 2020-02-06 00:00:00 +0000

AI emotion-detection software tested on Uyghurs

BBC Jane Wakefield May 26, 2021

A camera system that uses AI and facial recognition intended to reveal states of emotion has been tested on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the BBC has been told. A software engineer claimed to have installe...

Surveillance Use of technology Jane Wakefield AI emotion-detection software tested on Uyghurs all bbc BBC all surveillance all use-of-technology A camera system that uses AI and facial recognition intended to reveal states of emotion has been tested on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the BBC has been told. A software engineer claimed to have installed such systems in police stations in the province. ... The software engineer agreed to talk to the BBC's Panorama programme under condition of anonymity, because he fears for his safety. The company he worked for is also not being revealed. But he showed Panorama five photographs of Uyghur detainees who he claimed had had the emotion recognition system tested on them. "The Chinese government use Uyghurs as test subjects for various experiments just like rats are used in laboratories," he said. And he outlined his role in installing the cameras in police stations in the province: "We placed the emotion detection camera 3m from the subject. It is similar to a lie detector but far more advanced technology." He said officers used "restraint chairs" which are widely installed in police stations across China. "Your wrists are locked in place by metal restraints, and [the] same applies to your ankles." He provided evidence of how the AI system is trained to detect and analyse even minute changes in facial expressions and skin pores. According to his claims, the software creates a pie chart, with the red segment representing a negative or anxious state of mind. He claimed the software was intended for "pre-judgement without any credible evidence". 2021-05-26 00:00:00 +0000

China Can Lock Up A Million Muslims In Xinjiang At Once

Buzzfeed Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing July 21, 2021

For the first time, BuzzFeed News can reveal the full capacity of China's previously secret network of prisons and detention camps in Xinjiang: enough space to detain more than 1 million people. Bu...

Internment Internment conditions Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing China Can Lock Up A Million Muslims In Xinjiang At Once all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all internment all internment-conditions For the first time, BuzzFeed News can reveal the full capacity of China's previously secret network of prisons and detention camps in Xinjiang: enough space to detain more than 1 million people. BuzzFeed News calculated the floor areas of 347 compounds bearing the hallmarks of prisons and internment camps in the region and compared them to China’s own prison and detention construction standards, which lay out how much space is needed for each person detained or imprisoned. Earlier estimates, including one extrapolated from three-year-old leaked government data, have suggested that a total of more than a million Muslims have been detained or imprisoned over the last five years, with an unknown number released during that time. Our unprecedented analysis goes further, showing that China has built space to lock up at least 1.01 million people in Xinjiang at the same time. That’s enough space to detain or incarcerate more than 1 in every 25 residents of Xinjiang simultaneously — a figure seven times higher than the criminal detention capacity of the United States, the country with the highest official incarceration rate in the world. Even this extraordinary capacity is very likely an underestimate, for a simple reason: It does not take into account the suffocating overcrowding that many former Xinjiang detainees have described in interviews. … The campaign to lock up Muslims in Xinjiang started in 2016 as a scramble, with schools and other public buildings turned into makeshift detention centers. But it quickly evolved into a sophisticated network of newly constructed prisons and camps that blankets almost every corner of the sparsely populated but vast Xinjiang region, which is about the same size as Alaska. The course of camp and prison construction suggests that the government carefully orchestrated the campaign. The pattern of new detention compounds neatly fits the geography of counties and prefectures across Xinjiang, with a camp and detention center in most counties and a prison or two per prefecture. As the new, high-security detention centers were being built — a process that takes about a year from idea to completion — the Chinese government commandeered schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings and quickly converted them into makeshift camps. This twin process allowed Beijing to immediately detain hundreds of thousands of Muslims until its vast new detention infrastructure was complete. BuzzFeed News examined only compounds that were newly built or saw significant construction work since 2016. Using satellite images, documents, and testimony, we first identified 268 facilities bearing the hallmarks of camps and prisons last August; this new analysis includes those as well as 79 more that have since been discovered by BuzzFeed News and other organizations. By April 2021, the facilities examined by BuzzFeed News had a combined area of more than 206 million square feet, or about 19.2 million square meters, which would cover a third of the island of Manhattan. Most of that growth came in 2017 and 2018. BuzzFeed News obtained public documents that set forth construction standards and show how the government plans its prisons in meticulous detail, from the size of the bars on the windows to the spacing of the lights along the perimeter to the height of the watchtowers. Cells are designed to hold between eight and 16 people, with between 5 and 7 square meters per person. Construction typically takes between four and six months. The documents are a hard copy of prison regulations, edited by the Chinese Ministry of Justice and published by a Chinese state publisher in 2010, as well as a set of 2013 regulations for detention centers. It is not clear whether the government has revised them since then, but a number of the details in the documents match what can be seen in satellite images of the newly built facilities, including the layers of fencing on either side of the prison perimeter walls and the open-air yards adjacent to each detention center cell. Images from the websites of Chinese companies that build and supply prisons corroborate additional details. One manufacturer’s website shows the prescribed anti-climb fencing, razor wire, beds, cell doors, prison entrance gates, and interrogation chairs. The BuzzFeed News analysis found that by the standards outlined in the document, there is space to detain 1,014,883 people across Xinjiang. That figure does not include the more than 100 other prisons and detention centers that were built before 2016 and are likely still in operation. … In the early months of the campaign, Kashgar and other cities in Xinjiang’s Uyghur heartland, like Hotan and Aksu, seemed to be the government’s focus. Satellite images show camp and prison construction began early there, and some of the first anecdotal evidence of the existence of camps came from these places, which lie in the south of the region. But soon China’s campaign extended to every corner of the region, including areas with large populations of Han Chinese people, where a crackdown might be less expected. … By summer 2017, satellite images show, a new detention center had been added to a steadily growing complex with multiple facilities on Korla’s eastern outskirts. A high-security prison — recognizable by the double layers of barbed wire fencing on both sides of its perimeter wall and with its status confirmed by tender documents — had, by the end of 2017, grown to the size of 39 American football fields. Altogether, the complex had space for 7,312 people. The government still was not finished building in Korla. … Satellite imagery from March 2018 shows the site under construction, with eight identical dormitory buildings, offices, a canteen, and a “correction center,” as well as other support facilities. The plans scheduled just 69 days for the construction of the camp, and a budget of 453 million yuan (around $70 million), according to a state media report uncovered by the Canada-based researcher Shawn Zhang. By July, the camp was ready to begin detaining people. A little more than a year later, the entire complex had grown even further, with a second detention center built and a series of new buildings added to both the medium- and high-security prisons. Altogether, the entire complex can now hold nearly 25,000 people without factoring in overcrowding — a ninefold increase compared to 2016. 2021-07-21 00:00:00 +0000

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen

Der Spiegel Bernhard Zand July 26, 2018

The sound of wailing sirens fills the air, armed trucks patrol the streets and fighter jets roar above the city. The few hotels that still host a smattering of tourists are surrounded by high conc...

Surveillance Use of technology Bernhard Zand A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all surveillance all use-of-technology The sound of wailing sirens fills the air, armed trucks patrol the streets and fighter jets roar above the city. The few hotels that still host a smattering of tourists are surrounded by high concrete walls. Police in protective vests and helmets direct the traffic with sweeping, bossy gestures, sometimes yelling at those who don't comply. The train to Kashgar takes six hours and passes by more oasis towns and settlements, the names of which are synonymous with the Uighur resistance in China: Moyu, Pishan, Shache, Shule. All the train stations are surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire fences. When the train stops at a platform, the train dispatcher is often accompanied by a police officer with either a billy club or a gun. The station is guarded like a military base. Travelers must pass through three checkpoints and dozens of surveillance cameras to get to the platform. [M]ost taxis in Kashgar are outfitted with two cameras. One is aimed at the passenger up front while the other points at those in the backseat. "That was imposed over a year ago," one driver says. "The cameras are directly connected to Public Security. They turn them on and off whenever they want. We have no influence." "[C]onvenience police stations" . . . These bunker-like, barricaded and heavily guarded buildings now litter every crossroads of the major cities. Chen also introduced a block leader system not unlike the old German "Blockwarts," with members of the local Communist Party committee given powers to inspect family homes and interrogate them about their lives: Who lives here? Who visited? What did you talk about? Many apartments have bar code labels on the inside of the front door which the official must scan to prove that he or she carried out the visit. A grand modern museum in the city center charts their history. But anyone who enters must show an ID and there's a barbed wire fence outside. A dozen surveillance cameras watch the surrounding park, complete with pond and playground. The museum's security guards wear helmets and flak jackets. Next to the baggage scanners at the entrance are protective shields used by police for crowd control. It "can all be purchased," says an assistant in the museum shop. "On the other side of the street." [T]here is a store selling security equipment just opposite the museum: Helmets and bayonets, surveillance electronics, 12-packs of batons and, above all, protective vests. "300 yuan each," says a salesperson. That's about 40 euros. "But they only help against stab wounds. We've got bulletproof vests too, but they're much more expensive. Do you have the paperwork?" "There's just been a new directive," says one hotel manager in Turpan, holding up a stamped piece of paper. Guests must show IDs when they check in and every time they re-enter -- however often they leave and return. More security staff also have to be employed. 2018-07-26 00:00:00 +0000

Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang

The New Yorker Raffi Khatchadourian April 05, 2021

While they were squeezed together, the woman explained that she was a student who had been arrested for using a file-sharing program called Zapya to download music. Officials using IJOP were expect...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Raffi Khatchadourian Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment all pretexts-for-detention While they were squeezed together, the woman explained that she was a student who had been arrested for using a file-sharing program called Zapya to download music. Officials using IJOP were expected to log any “suspicious” apps—there were dozens, but many residents did not know what they were. The woman told Sabit that two Uyghur men locked up in the station, a classmate of hers and a butcher, had been detained because of Zapya, too. ... At the police station, Sabit noticed that large numbers of Uyghurs were being brought in to have their information uploaded. Many had been stopped at checkpoints while entering Kuytun; others had been flagged by IJOP as untrustworthy. Most were elderly, or women, or children. The younger men, it seemed, had already been locked up. ... [Xinjiang Party Secretary] Chen Quanguo portrayed his crackdown as a means of bringing order to Xinjiang, but, for people inside the system, the shifting rules and arbitrary enforcement created a condition close to anarchy. A police officer told Sabit that before she could leave she had to sign a document expressing regret and pledging not to repeat her offense. Sabit said that she didn’t know what her offense was. “Why are you here?” he asked. “I was abroad,” she said. “Then write that you’ll not make that mistake again,” he said. When she hesitated, he told her to just write down any mistake. Sabit found a Communist Party magazine in the station’s waiting area and copied down some of its propaganda. ... A few women, their eyes red from crying, were already there, and more arrived later. They were all sure that they had been rounded up in a dragnet preceding the National Congress. Some had been brought in for using WhatsApp. One was on leave from college in America; she had been detained for using a V.P.N. to turn in her homework and to access her Gmail account. A seventeen-year-old had been arrested because her family once went to Turkey on a holiday. The Uyghur woman who was processed with Sabit had been assigned to the cell, too. She was a Communist Party propagandist. Years earlier, she told Sabit, she had booked a flight to Kashgar, but a sandstorm prevented the plane from taking off, so the airline had placed everyone on the flight in a hotel. Later, police officers in Kuytun detained her, and told her that two of the other people in the hotel were deemed suspect. Even though she was working for the Party, the mere fact of being Uyghur and staying in a hotel where others were under suspicion was enough to raise alarms. 2021-04-05 00:00:00 +0000

Exclusive: Kazinform reportage from China’s Xinjiang

Kazinform January 10, 2019

Having visited the vocational center, the journalists were shown again an exemplary kindergarten in the village of Nazirbek in the suburb of Kashgar, where classes are held in two languages. In eac...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Exclusive: Kazinform reportage from China’s Xinjiang all kazinform Kazinform all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language Having visited the vocational center, the journalists were shown again an exemplary kindergarten in the village of Nazirbek in the suburb of Kashgar, where classes are held in two languages. In each group, there are two educators - Han Chinese and Uyghur women. The conversation is conducted in two languages consecutively. Children danced and sang in front of foreign journalists. 2019-01-10 00:00:00 +0000

Elderly Uyghur widow serving 17-year term in Xinjiang women’s prison

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur January 25, 2022

Helchem Pazil, 78, is one of five women from the same family in Korla (in Chinese, Kuerle) who have been imprisoned for religious activities in which they participated in 2013, according to a verdi...

Internment Religious Persecution Pretexts for Detention Shohret Hoshur Elderly Uyghur widow serving 17-year term in Xinjiang women’s prison all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment religious-persecution all pretexts-for-detention Helchem Pazil, 78, is one of five women from the same family in Korla (in Chinese, Kuerle) who have been imprisoned for religious activities in which they participated in 2013, according to a verdict issued in April 2019 and recently seen by RFA. They all were retroactively sentenced after China criminalized such activities in 2018 when it issued de-extremification regulations targeting Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang, purportedly, to prevent extremist violations and ensure social stability. RFA reported Monday that Helchem’s daughters, Melikizat and Patigul Memet, are incarcerated in the same prison, serving sentences of 20 and seven years, respectively. Melikizat was convicted of providing a venue for religious observance and taking part in it, while Patigul was convicted of “collectively bringing social disorder” by attending the services. Another daughter, Zahire Memet, and a daughter-in-law, Bostan Ibrahim, were convicted of “disturbing public order and inciting ethnic hatred” and for “hearing and providing a venue for illegal religious preaching,” according to the verdict, though it is not clear where they are serving their sentences. ... Helchem was charged with inciting ethnic discrimination, disturbing public order, providing a venue for religious preaching, and attending religious gatherings in a second-floor room of a hotel in Korla’s old bazaar. 2022-01-25 00:00:00 +0000

China Cannot Silence Me

The New Yorker Nyrola Elimä December 21, 2021

Under Chinese government policy in Xinjiang, the children of Uyghurs and other Indigenous people who have been detained are normally sent to Han-run orphanages or residential schools. None of Mayil...

Internment Destruction of the Family Nyrola Elimä China Cannot Silence Me all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment destruction-of-the-family all Under Chinese government policy in Xinjiang, the children of Uyghurs and other Indigenous people who have been detained are normally sent to Han-run orphanages or residential schools. None of Mayila’s next of kin, including her ex-husband, dared to provoke the anger of government officials by trying to take custody of her children. But, when cadres came to take the kids away, their pleas prompted my parents to defy them. “They haven’t had a father since they were toddlers, and now their mother is gone,” my mother said. “Let them stay with us.” My parents, after taking oaths of loyalty to the Chinese government, were given temporary custody. Since then, my parents’ hearts race whenever a cadre knocks on the door, or a government organization calls, or a policeman arrives unannounced. Any official, it seems, has the authority to take Uyghur children away from their relatives. 2021-12-21 00:00:00 +0000

China Cannot Silence Me

The New Yorker Nyrola Elimä December 21, 2021

My mother received a call from the Domestic Security Bureau in August, 2019, after Mayila’s second arrest. The police instructed her to wait for them at home. They would not tell her the reason for...

Internment Surveillance Internment conditions Nyrola Elimä China Cannot Silence Me all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment surveillance all internment-conditions My mother received a call from the Domestic Security Bureau in August, 2019, after Mayila’s second arrest. The police instructed her to wait for them at home. They would not tell her the reason for their visit. My mother worried that they were coming to take her away, too. She left me a sobbing farewell message and then put on seven pairs of underwear, two bras, and two long trousers. The officers entered without knocking, as usual. They walked straight through the courtyard, seized my mother, placed her in their car, and drove away. Minutes later, I woke up in Sweden and heard her anguished farewell. I excoriated myself for not waking up earlier, though I knew I could not have done anything. She was thousands of miles away, but it seemed as if only a thick pane of glass separated us so that I could constantly see my parents suffer just beyond my reach. Since that morning, I have always kept my phone beside me, in the bathroom, the kitchen, my garden, beside me while I work. I set it to the maximum volume, and I keep checking whether I have missed a call. Two hours after she was taken away, I received a video call from her. Her face was sweaty, and she spoke breathlessly: “My dear, I’m fine, don’t worry. But I think I am about to have a heat stroke. I need to take off some of these clothes.” When she put the phone aside, the camera faced upward, and I recognized the patterns on the ceiling of my parents’ home. I remembered sleepless nights before holidays when I would lie awake as a child, tracing the outline of those designs with my eyes. My mother reappeared and told me that the police had interrogated her about my cousin. “Same questions that relatives ask me every time,” she said, referring to the cadres. “Once they were done, they let me go.” We both laughed about her putting on so many clothes. “Once they took Mayila away, for the first few months, she never had the chance to change her clothes, and she wasn’t allowed to shower,” my mother explained. “She had told me, ‘The hardest thing to endure in there was being hungry and without clean underwear.’ ” I have never been certain of the details of my cousin’s captivity. After her first release, Mayila called me on WeChat. She told me that they had starved her in the detention camp, where she was held for ten months, and that she had been diagnosed with liver damage. On the night that she was released for a second time, she called me and asked me to tell her parents that she was alive. It was a video call, and I could clearly see her ribs. Nearly seventeen months of being deprived of food had reduced her to a skeleton. The following morning, police detained her again. They put my parents under house arrest and confiscated Mayila’s life savings. 2021-12-21 00:00:00 +0000

China Cannot Silence Me

The New Yorker Nyrola Elimä December 21, 2021

My cousin, Mayila Yakufu, is an insurance saleswoman and a Mandarin tutor. She is forty-four years old, and she has languished in various forms of detention for three and a half years. In March, 20...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Nyrola Elimä China Cannot Silence Me all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment all pretexts-for-detention My cousin, Mayila Yakufu, is an insurance saleswoman and a Mandarin tutor. She is forty-four years old, and she has languished in various forms of detention for three and a half years. In March, 2018, government cadres took her to a camp without warning. Then she was moved to a pretrial detention center. I kept silent to protect my parents and my cousin’s three children. That was a mistake; my silence made no difference. Mayila was released twice and then rearrested. On December 12, 2020, the government sentenced her to six and a half years in prison. Her mistake, we finally learned, was sending her parents money to help them purchase a house in Australia, in 2013. The government called it “financing terrorist activities.” 2021-12-21 00:00:00 +0000

Police Chief Detained in Xinjiang After Expressing Concerns Over Mass Detention of Fellow Uyghurs

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes October 21, 2019

A police chief in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been detained for expressing concerns over the mass detention, and possible deaths, of fellow Uyghurs in internment ...

Internment Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Police Chief Detained in Xinjiang After Expressing Concerns Over Mass Detention of Fellow Uyghurs all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all A police chief in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been detained for expressing concerns over the mass detention, and possible deaths, of fellow Uyghurs in internment camps in his township, according to sources from the area. 2019-10-21 00:00:00 +0000

In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs

Der Spiegel Georg Fahrion May 27, 2021

The images seem made-to-order, and they are. Following prayer, the Uighurs of Kashgar dance in the square in front of the Id Kah Mosque, one of the largest in the Xinjiang region. They spin by the ...

Georg Fahrion In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all all The images seem made-to-order, and they are. Following prayer, the Uighurs of Kashgar dance in the square in front of the Id Kah Mosque, one of the largest in the Xinjiang region. They spin by the hundreds, throwing their hands in the air, performing the Sema, a traditional dance of the Muslim Sufi brotherhoods, as drummers on the mosque’s huge portal beat out the rhythm. It is the morning of May 13, the date of this year’s Muslim festival of Id al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Two drone cameras from Chinese state television buzz over the scene. Later, Chinese propagandists will disseminate the footage over social media channels – welcome images to the leadership in Beijing. They seem to prove, after all, that Uighurs can spontaneously and freely observe their traditions. There is, however, nothing spontaneous about them. In previous days, the men had practiced the performance on the same square. One Uighur man says that he had been summoned for the occasion by a "lingdao,” a person of authority. A producer for state television shared the information in advance that the performance was scheduled for 11 a.m. Dozens of agents in civilian clothing are out on this holiday, standing in dark alcoves around the mosque even before sunrise. Stewards direct the dancing crowd. Videos of earlier Id celebrations from Kashgar show that the Sema has been performed by Uighurs in previous years, so the staging isn’t completely improbable. And many of the children do look like they’re having fun. But upon closer inspection, many of the dancers look more discontented than joyful. One old man, moving along with labored, scurrying steps, seems almost out of breath, but he keeps on dancing anyway. Is participation compulsory? Can those who have had enough simply leave? We’d like to ask the participants, but the state informers are listening in. This is how things always go in Xinjiang for journalists: Even as we observe something with our own eyes, we can’t be sure of what we are seeing. People cannot speak freely, and state control is omnipresent. But there are signals, gestures, contradictions everywhere. And so the impression grows that Xinjiang, four-and-a-half times the size of Germany, is little more than a Potemkin village, a make-believe world. … The repression has changed and become less obvious. There are uniformed men patrolling here and there, but they carry batons instead of firearms. The density of security cameras isn’t higher than in Beijing and we are only stopped once at a checkpoint – and allowed to pass without much fuss. It seems like Chinese leaders believe that they have broken all resistance and can therefore allow things to relax. But the oppression of Muslims in Xinjiang isn’t over. It has merely entered a new phase. 2021-05-27 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

An internal report by Xinjiang’s agriculture department, taken at the height of the internment drive, lamented that “all that’s left in the homes are the elderly, weak women, and children.” It is l...

Internment Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment all An internal report by Xinjiang’s agriculture department, taken at the height of the internment drive, lamented that “all that’s left in the homes are the elderly, weak women, and children.” It is likely the largest internment of ethnic and religious minorities since the Second World War. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Purge of Mosque Clergy in Xinjiang’s Ghulja Leaves Nobody Left to Conduct Ceremonies

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Roseanne Gerin July 16, 2021

Nearly all Uyghur clergymen from a mosque in a city in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been imprisoned, leaving no one in the community who is able to conduct rel...

Religious Persecution Internment Shohret Hoshur, Roseanne Gerin Purge of Mosque Clergy in Xinjiang’s Ghulja Leaves Nobody Left to Conduct Ceremonies all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution internment all Nearly all Uyghur clergymen from a mosque in a city in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been imprisoned, leaving no one in the community who is able to conduct religious ceremonies, said two sources familiar with the current situation in a corner of Xinjiang near Kazakhstan. Chinese authorities have taken into custody all seven religious leaders from the Tahtiyun Mosque in the Chinese bazaar district of Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) in the Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, said a source from outside the area who requested anonymity to speak freely. Among the seven detained in early 2018 were a khatib (a man who delivers a sermon) Kudrat Qarim (an honorific used for people who can recite the Koran), a muezzin (a man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque) Ahmatjan, and imam Saydahmat, the source said. They all were sentenced to prison not long afterwards, the person added. The Tahtiyun Mosque had been under surveillance for nearly two years by an “excessively active” police officer, who even turned the lower floor of the building into a dedicated interrogation room, the source said. ... There are now no religious leaders capable of officiating at weddings or funerals, or of overseeing ceremonies in Ghulja, and substitutes who have stepped in to conduct the ceremonies are often not trained to do so, said the source. ... When contacted by RFA, the police officer who previously served as deputy chief at the provincial-level Public Security Bureau and later was assigned to oversee surveillance of the Tahtiyun Mosque, confirmed that the seven mosque leaders had been taken into custody in 2018. 2021-07-16 00:00:00 +0000

China: Visiting Officials Occupy Homes in Muslim Region

Human Rights Watch May 13, 2018

Since 2014, Xinjiang authorities have sent 200,000 cadres from government agencies, state-owned enterprises, and public institutions to regularly visit and surveil people. Authorities state that th...

Surveillance Forced Assimilation In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Flag-raising/Village meeting China: Visiting Officials Occupy Homes in Muslim Region all human-rights-watch Human Rights Watch all surveillance forced-assimilation all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives flag-raising-village-meeting Since 2014, Xinjiang authorities have sent 200,000 cadres from government agencies, state-owned enterprises, and public institutions to regularly visit and surveil people. Authorities state that this initiative, known as “fanghuiju” (访惠聚, an acronym that stands for “Visit the People, Benefit the People, and Get Together the Hearts of the People” [访民情、惠民生、聚民心]), is broadly designed to “safeguard social stability.” In October 2016, authorities initiated a related effort, called the “Becoming Family” (结对认亲) campaign. About 110,000 officials visit the largely Turkic Muslim population in southern Xinjiang every two months with a view toward “fostering ethnic harmony.” This “Becoming Family” campaign has been greatly expanded in recent months. In December 2017, Xinjiang authorities mobilized more than a million cadres to spend a week living in homes primarily in the countryside. They typically stay with Muslim families, though sometimes cadres are dispatched to stay with Han families. In early 2018, Xinjiang authorities extended this “home stay” program. Cadres spend at least five days every two months in the families’ homes. There is no evidence to suggest that families can refuse such visits. The cadres perform several functions during their stay. They collect and update information about the families, such as whether they have local hukous – household registration – or are migrants from another region, their political views, and their religion. The visiting cadres observe and report on any “problems” or “unusual situations” – which can range from uncleanliness to alcoholism to the extent of religious beliefs – and act to “rectify” the situation. Cadres also carry out political indoctrination, including promoting “Xi Jinping Thought” and explaining the Chinese Communist Party’s “care” and “selflessness” in its policies toward Xinjiang. They also warn people against the dangers of “pan-Islamism,” “pan-Turkism,” and “pan-Kazakhism” – ideologies or identities that the government finds threatening. Cadres are tasked with imposing a sense of ethnic unity between the families and the Han majority. They teach the families Mandarin, the Han majority language; make them sing the Chinese national anthem and other songs praising the Chinese Communist Party; and ensure families participate in the weekly national flag-raising ceremony. Cadres and the families are also required to participate in activities together, such as Han Chinese New Year festivities, as well as group games, dancing, and sports. Cadres are also required to help the families, from sweeping the grounds and planting seedlings to helping them obtain government benefits and subsidies, regardless of whether such assistance has been requested. The cadres meticulously document their activities, including by submitting reports of the homestays with accompanying photos. Some of these photos and videos can be found on the Wechat and Weibo accounts of the participating agencies, which show scenes of cadres living with minority families, including in the most intimate aspects of domestic life, such as cadres and family members making beds and sleeping together, sharing meals, and feeding and tutoring their children. None of these videos or photos are posted by the visited families, and there is no indication that they consented to having them posted online. 2018-05-13 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese Police Order Xinjiang's Muslims to Hand in All Copies of The Quran

Radio Free Asia Qiao Long, Wong Lok-to September 27, 2017

Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have ordered ethnic minority Muslim families to hand in religious items including prayer mats and copies of the Quran to the authorities, ...

Religious Persecution Qiao Long, Wong Lok-to Chinese Police Order Xinjiang's Muslims to Hand in All Copies of The Quran all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have ordered ethnic minority Muslim families to hand in religious items including prayer mats and copies of the Quran to the authorities, RFA has learned. Officials across Xinjiang have been warning neighborhoods and mosques that ethnic minority Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims must hand in the items or face harsh punishment if they are found later, sources in the region said. "Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for namaaz [prayer]," a Kazakh source in Altay prefecture, near the border with Kazakhstan told RFA on Wednesday. Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, said reports have emerged from Kashgar, Hotan and other regions of similar practices starting last week. 2017-09-27 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

The impact of widespread detention is not limited to those who are in prison. One document indicates 326 children in one of the seven districts in Ürümqi have one or both parents in detention.

Destruction of the Family Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all destruction-of-the-family all The impact of widespread detention is not limited to those who are in prison. One document indicates 326 children in one of the seven districts in Ürümqi have one or both parents in detention. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

A document from October 2018 described how these home inspections unfold: “First, the personnel from the police station should gather all the people in the house into the living room in order to ve...

Surveillance Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance all A document from October 2018 described how these home inspections unfold: “First, the personnel from the police station should gather all the people in the house into the living room in order to verify their identities one by one. Second, the cadres responsible for the household and members of the patrol team will conduct a careful inspection of all rooms of the house, especially under the carpet, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, and under the bed. Suspicious areas such as corners of the sofas, etc., are to be inspected one by one using a “turning over the boxes, emptying out the cabinets” approach, and the house number where the suspicious objects were found and photo of the owner of the objects are to be taken as evidence.” 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

Documents illustrate Xinjiang’s complex system of prison-like facilities, which roughly speaking break down into four categories: those for temporary detention; “re-education”; a more lenient form ...

Internment Internment conditions Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all internment all internment-conditions Documents illustrate Xinjiang’s complex system of prison-like facilities, which roughly speaking break down into four categories: those for temporary detention; “re-education”; a more lenient form of re-education referred to as “vocational training”; and long-term prison. Under this system, relatives and cadre members typically meet the person in re-education and a judge issues a “pre-judgment” and “pre-sentence,” usually of two to four years in documents from the database. Sometimes, certain requirements come along with the sentence, such as acquiring Chinese language skills. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Crackdown in Xinjiang: Where have all the people gone?

Financial Times Emily Feng April 14, 2019

The first thing you notice is the quiet. Then the white strips of paper stretched diagonally across the front doors of stores that look like they were vacated in a hurry. Once you get close enough,...

Internment Surveillance Pretexts for Detention Use of technology Emily Feng Crackdown in Xinjiang: Where have all the people gone? all financial-times Financial Times all internment surveillance all pretexts-for-detention use-of-technology The first thing you notice is the quiet. Then the white strips of paper stretched diagonally across the front doors of stores that look like they were vacated in a hurry. Once you get close enough, you can read the painted serial numbers on the house walls — WB-BUK 1 to 15 on one street — that tell you no one is coming back to these homes, and that many of those who lived there have been detained. Rather than bustling, some neighbourhoods in the regional capital Urumqi and Kashgar, once the most culturally vibrant city, are deserted, stripped of people and life....Empty streets in Urumqi and Kashgar are an eerie testament to how the security campaign is fraying Xinjiang’s economic and social fabric. “So many people, mostly the men, were imprisoned for so-called ‘913’ crimes: having forbidden digital content on their phones,” says Alfiya, a Kashgar housewife. “The economic problems here are huge,” says a Han businessman surnamed Dong, who moved back to Urumqi from the northern province of Liaoning to be closer to his family. “There are not enough people to fill all the open jobs, and there is no one left to buy your goods. Imagine what happens when you remove that many people.” A huge security presence has smothered dissent but many quietly seethe at the daily indignities. “Why is it that I have to stop at checkpoints but Han Chinese do not? Why is it that I cannot have a passport but other people can?” says Yasinjiang, a Kashgar driver. “Why is it only Uighurs who must be subject to these security practices?” During a June afternoon, one such Urumqi depot frequented by central Asian traders sat largely empty, its storefronts locked up. 2019-04-14 00:00:00 +0000

In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown

Washington Post Dake Kang August 31, 2020

The government in China’s far northwest Xinjiang region is resorting to draconian measures to combat the coronavirus, including spraying detainees with acidic disinfectant, physically locking resid...

Internment Internment conditions Dake Kang In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown all washington-post Washington Post all internment all internment-conditions The government in China’s far northwest Xinjiang region is resorting to draconian measures to combat the coronavirus, including spraying detainees with acidic disinfectant, physically locking residents in homes, imposing strict quarantines of more than 40 days and arresting those who do not comply. Furthermore, in what experts call a breach of medical ethics, some residents are being coerced into swallowing traditional Chinese medicine despite a lack of rigorous clinical data proving it works, according to government notices, social media posts, and interviews with three people in quarantine in Xinjiang. One middle-aged Uighur woman told the AP that when she was detained at the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak, she was forced to drink a medicine that made her feel weak and nauseous. She and others in her cell had to strip naked once a week as guards hosed them and their cells down with disinfectant, she said. “It was scalding,” recounted the woman by phone from Xinjiang, declining to be named out of fear of retribution. “My hands were ruined, my skin was peeling.” After over a month in detention, the Uighur woman was released and locked into her home. Once a day, she says, community workers force white unmarked bottles of traditional medicine on her, saying she’ll be detained if she doesn’t drink them. 2020-08-31 00:00:00 +0000

The Uyghur women fighting China's surveillance state

Coda Isobel Cockerell May 01, 2019

Amina Abduwayit, 38, a businesswoman from Urumqi who now lives in Zeytinburnu, remembers having her face scanned and inputted into the police database. “It was like a monkey show,” she said. “They ...

Surveillance Use of technology Isobel Cockerell The Uyghur women fighting China's surveillance state all coda Coda all surveillance all use-of-technology Amina Abduwayit, 38, a businesswoman from Urumqi who now lives in Zeytinburnu, remembers having her face scanned and inputted into the police database. “It was like a monkey show,” she said. “They would ask you to stare like this and that. They would ask you to laugh, and you laugh, and ask you to glare and you glare.” Abduwayit was also asked to give DNA and blood samples to the police. This was part of a larger, comprehensive campaign by the Chinese government to build a biometric picture of Xinjiang’s Uyghur population, and help track those deemed non-conformists. “The police station was full of Uyghurs,” Abduwayit says. “All of them were there to give blood samples.” Finally, Abduwayit was made to give a voice sample to the police. “They gave me a newspaper to read aloud for one minute. It was a story about a traffic accident, and I had to read it three times. They thought I was faking a low voice.” Halmurat Harri, a Finland-based Uyghur activist, visited the city of Turpan in 2016 and was shocked by the psychological impact of near-constant police checks. “You feel like you are under water,” he says. “You cannot breathe. Every breath you take, you’re careful.” He remembers driving out to the desert with a friend, who told him he wanted to watch the sunset. They locked their cellphones in the car and walked away. “My friend said, “tell me what’s happening outside. Do foreign countries know about the Uyghur oppression?” We talked for a couple of hours. He wanted to stay there all night.” Abduwayit describes how they were afraid to turn the lights on early in the morning, for fear the police would think they were praying. 2019-05-01 00:00:00 +0000

Xinjiang education reform and the eradication of Uyghur-language books

SupChina Darren Byler October 02, 2019

At the end of the school year there would be a major Chinese test. If she did not pass it, she would not be allowed to go on to high school. Instead, she would be sent to a vocational school where ...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Darren Byler Xinjiang education reform and the eradication of Uyghur-language books all supchina SupChina all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language At the end of the school year there would be a major Chinese test. If she did not pass it, she would not be allowed to go on to high school. Instead, she would be sent to a vocational school where she would be trained in Chinese and political ideology before being sent to work in a factory. Essentially, her education would end if she didn’t pass the test. She felt as though her entire life hung in the balance. For as long as she could remember, she had dreamed of becoming a doctor. It was a lot of pressure for a 15-year-old. Beginning on September 1, 2017, primary schools across the region began to change their “bilingual” curriculum to a Chinese-only “mode 2” program in anticipation of these Chinese-language exams. In another 2019 video chat with his father, Kaiser found out that his collection of Uyghur literature books . . . had been confiscated by the police, despite the fact that all of them had previously been approved. His father told him that there were no Uyghur-language books left in their village. 2019-10-02 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese Authorities Demolish Home of Uyghur Supporting Quranic Studies

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Qiao Long, Joshua Lipes April 01, 2015

Authorities in northwestern China’s restive Xinjiang region have demolished the home of an ethnic Uyghur Muslim family that had served as an underground school for Quranic studies, according to loc...

Religious Persecution Shohret Hoshur, Qiao Long, Joshua Lipes Chinese Authorities Demolish Home of Uyghur Supporting Quranic Studies all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all Authorities in northwestern China’s restive Xinjiang region have demolished the home of an ethnic Uyghur Muslim family that had served as an underground school for Quranic studies, according to local officials and residents. On March 24, officials from Qarasay town in Hotan (Hetian) prefecture’s Qaraqash (in Chinese, Moyu) county ordered some 500 local villagers to watch as workers tore down the home of Mettursun Qasim to set an example for those who support unofficial religious studies, sources said. ... The higher level authorities wouldn’t allow us to take photos, but ordered that we widely spread knowledge of the consequences of underground Quran teaching to the villagers. ... A resident of Aral village, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity, said neighbors were only able to remove a sack of wheat, four bags of flour, and some bedding from the house before authorities proceeded with the demolition. “The rest of their belongings, including their cooking utensils and curtains, ended up buried under the walls and roof,” he said.“ The officials repeatedly announced, ‘These are the consequences of disregarding government orders and supporting illegal activities,’ as the house was knocked down, so the people were afraid of revealing their pity for Mettursun Qasim.” Qasim, a 27-year-old farmer, and his wife, 25, had been detained a month earlier for allowing the Quran studies in their home, while their three children—two of whom were students at the unofficial school—were relocated to live with their grandparents nearby. Officers who answered the phone at the Qarasay police station did not deny that the demolition had taken place, but refused to provide details about the incident or answer questions about the detention of Qasim and his wife. According to Turdi, the unofficial school had nine students, aged seven to 22 years old. Police exposed the school around two weeks after classes began there in the middle of February, he said, and charged four of the students—aged 17-22—with “endangering state security” at a public trial in Qarasay on March 21. 2015-04-01 00:00:00 +0000

China Undercover

PBS April 07, 2020

NARRATOR: Back in Kazakhstan, Muslims who have left Xinjiang say that when detainees are released from the camps, they emerge transformed. SHOLPAN: [Speaking Kazakh] People who left detention have ...

Internment China Undercover all pbs PBS all internment all NARRATOR: Back in Kazakhstan, Muslims who have left Xinjiang say that when detainees are released from the camps, they emerge transformed. SHOLPAN: [Speaking Kazakh] People who left detention have changed a lot. They wouldn’t even talk. They wouldn’t even answer the question, “How are you feeling?” Women who used to wear long dresses, now wear short skirts. Those who wore hijab and scarves have taken them off. 2020-04-07 00:00:00 +0000

China Undercover

PBS April 07, 2020

RAHIMA: [Speaking Kazakh] The main reason I was detained was for having WhatsApp on my phone. RAHIMA Detained for 12 months

Internment Restricting communication Use of technology China Undercover all pbs PBS all internment all restricting-communication use-of-technology RAHIMA: [Speaking Kazakh] The main reason I was detained was for having WhatsApp on my phone. RAHIMA Detained for 12 months 2020-04-07 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur woman sentenced to 14 years for teaching Islam, hiding Qurans

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur January 07, 2022

A Uyghur woman abducted from her home in China's far-western Xinjiang region in the middle of the night more than four years ago was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing religious instruct...

Internment Religious Persecution Pretexts for Detention Shohret Hoshur Uyghur woman sentenced to 14 years for teaching Islam, hiding Qurans all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment religious-persecution all pretexts-for-detention A Uyghur woman abducted from her home in China's far-western Xinjiang region in the middle of the night more than four years ago was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing religious instruction to children in her neighborhood and hiding copies of the Quran, sources with knowledge of the situation and local police said. Hasiyet Ehmet, now 57 and a resident of Manas (in Chinese, Manasi) county in Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, has not been heard from since she was abducted by authorities in May 2017, said the source who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Chinese authorities. Police from the county’s No. 3 police station broke into Hasiyet’s home and put a black hood over her head, refusing her request to put on other clothes and gather her medicine before they took her away, according to the person with knowledge of the situation. A Manas county court official confirmed that Hasiyet Ehmet had been sentenced to 14 years. “It was because of teaching kids the Quran and hiding two copies of Quran when authorities were confiscating them, and later getting caught,” the official said. “These were the reasons for her sentences.” … Hasiyet was arrested along with some of her neighbors and held for 15 days after questioning, said the chairman of the local neighborhood committee, a grassroots-level organization in China that monitors residents. Authorities arrested her a second time that September and sentenced her. 2022-01-07 00:00:00 +0000

How TikTok opened a window into China’s police state

Coda Isobel Cockerell September 25, 2019

A recent flurry of TikTok footage of weddings between Uyghur women and Han Chinese men has been a source of distress for Uyghurs in the diaspora, who see the videos as evidence of forced racial ass...

Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage Isobel Cockerell How TikTok opened a window into China’s police state all coda Coda all destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage A recent flurry of TikTok footage of weddings between Uyghur women and Han Chinese men has been a source of distress for Uyghurs in the diaspora, who see the videos as evidence of forced racial assimilation. According to a report by Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur service, in 2017 the Xinjiang government introduced a “Uyghur-Han Marriage and Family Incentive Strategy,” which offered 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to Uyghur and Han Chinese couples who intermarried. Mixed marriages are a rarity in China: According to the 2010 census, just 0.2 percent of Uyghurs married Han people. James Leibold, the scholar in Australia, has also uncovered video evidence of the inter-marriage program. In April, he tweeted that the Chinese internet was “awash with short videos promoting Han-Uyghur inter-marriage.” Leibold explained how “there is a long history of this colonial strategy — using inter-ethnic marriage as a tool for national integration.” 2019-09-25 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State

Bloomberg Peter Martin January 24, 2019

By contrast, most Uighurs appeared too scared to say anything, They engaged in hushed and cryptic conversations, insisting all was fine and abruptly walking away. Two Uighurs eating lamb and radish...

Surveillance Restricting communication Peter Martin Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State all bloomberg Bloomberg all surveillance all restricting-communication By contrast, most Uighurs appeared too scared to say anything, They engaged in hushed and cryptic conversations, insisting all was fine and abruptly walking away. Two Uighurs eating lamb and radishes in a restaurant just outside Xinjiang had warned it would be hard to get anyone to talk. Many of their neighbors back home had disappeared to “study,” one said. “All Uighurs are scared that if we do anything we will get in trouble,” the man said. At the same time, he defended Xi’s government: “If you think about it, those people in camps could have all been executed, but they’ve been given a second chance.” Some Uighurs were finding it easier to join with the Communist Party than to resist: Perhaps half of the shadowy men and propaganda officials who followed me during various parts of my trip were Uighur. 2019-01-24 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

More than 10,000 mosques, shrines and other cultural sites have been razed, according to satellite imagery analyses. The few left standing as tourist sites have mostly had Islamic features carved o...

Religious Persecution Destruction of Religious Spaces Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all religious-persecution all destruction-of-religious-spaces More than 10,000 mosques, shrines and other cultural sites have been razed, according to satellite imagery analyses. The few left standing as tourist sites have mostly had Islamic features carved off or covered up with signs declaring: “Love the Party, Love the Nation.” 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

Several Uighur villages the reporters visited near Kashgar and Korla appeared empty. Signs were posted on doors stating that the locks had been changed because residents had been absent for too long.

Forced Assimilation Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all forced-assimilation all Several Uighur villages the reporters visited near Kashgar and Korla appeared empty. Signs were posted on doors stating that the locks had been changed because residents had been absent for too long. 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

In Xinjiang today, cameras hang over every street and inside every taxi, sending footage to the police. Residential compounds are watched by facial recognition systems, security guards, and pandemi...

Surveillance Use of technology Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all surveillance all use-of-technology In Xinjiang today, cameras hang over every street and inside every taxi, sending footage to the police. Residential compounds are watched by facial recognition systems, security guards, and pandemic QR codes that are scanned at every entry or exit. Police in flak jackets stand at bus stops, stores and ubiquitous “convenience stations” that often have large portraits of Xi surrounded by happy children, smiling through the windows. 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement

Journal of Contemporary China Leibold May 31, 2019

In another related programme, known as ‘finding a partner and becoming kin’ (结对认亲), Han and Uyghur families are literally paired up in the name of ‘inter-ethnic mingling’ and ‘ethnic harmony’. Init...

Destruction of the Family In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Leibold Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement all journal-of-contemporary-china Journal of Contemporary China all destruction-of-the-family all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives In another related programme, known as ‘finding a partner and becoming kin’ (结对认亲), Han and Uyghur families are literally paired up in the name of ‘inter-ethnic mingling’ and ‘ethnic harmony’. Initiated in October 2016, the campaign paired 1.1 million cadres from XUAR level government bodies and SOEs with 1.6 million villagers in 2018, with Han cadres paired with minority families and Uyghur cadres matched with Han peasants or other minorities. 2019-05-31 00:00:00 +0000

Documenting the disappeared: Relatives, friends build database of missing Uyghurs

Globe and Mail Nathan VanderKlippe November 01, 2018

One woman spent two years working at an international school in the United Arab Emirates. Another woman purchased a SIM card for her sister. One man chatted with his wife in Kazakhstan on WeChat, t...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Nathan VanderKlippe Documenting the disappeared: Relatives, friends build database of missing Uyghurs all globe-and-mail Globe and Mail all internment all pretexts-for-detention One woman spent two years working at an international school in the United Arab Emirates. Another woman purchased a SIM card for her sister. One man chatted with his wife in Kazakhstan on WeChat, the Chinese media app. A sister and brother married people with foreign passports. Family and friends outside China have struggled for months to learn any information about loved ones detained in Xinjiang. Uyghurs around the world are uploading personal video testimonials, sending information to Uyghur organizations and adding names of the vanished to a small but growing Xinjiang Victims Database, a nascent catalogue of Muslims missing in western China. 2018-11-01 00:00:00 +0000

China Is Using Uighur Labor to Produce Face Masks

New York Times Muyi Xiao, Haley Willis, Christoph Koettl, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan July 19, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive demand for personal protective equipment, Chinese companies are rushing to manufacture the gear for domestic and global consumption. A New York Times ...

Internment Forced Labor Muyi Xiao, Haley Willis, Christoph Koettl, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan China Is Using Uighur Labor to Produce Face Masks all new-york-times New York Times all internment all forced-labor As the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive demand for personal protective equipment, Chinese companies are rushing to manufacture the gear for domestic and global consumption. A New York Times visual investigation has found that some of those companies are using Uighur labor through a contentious government-sponsored program that experts say often puts people to work against their will. Uighurs are a largely Muslim ethnic minority primarily from the Xinjiang region of northwest China. The program sends Uighurs and other ethnic minorities into factory and service jobs. Now, their labor is part of the P.P.E. supply chain. According to China’s National Medical Products Administration, only four companies in Xinjiang produced medical grade protective equipment before the pandemic. As of June 30, that number was 51. After reviewing state media reports and public records, The Times found that at least 17 of those companies participate in the labor transfer program. 2020-07-19 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese authorities order video denials by Uyghurs of abuses

AP Dake Kang May 21, 2021

China has highlighted an unlikely series of videos this year in which Uyghur men and women deny U.S. charges that Beijing is committing human rights violations against their ethnic group. In fact, ...

Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Dake Kang Chinese authorities order video denials by Uyghurs of abuses all ap AP all all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays China has highlighted an unlikely series of videos this year in which Uyghur men and women deny U.S. charges that Beijing is committing human rights violations against their ethnic group. In fact, a text obtained by the AP shows that the videos are part of a government campaign that raises questions about the willingness of those filmed. Chinese state media have published dozens of the videos praising the Communist Party and showing Uyghurs angrily denouncing former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for declaring a genocide in the far west Xinjiang region. The videos, which officials have insisted are spontaneous outpourings of emotion, have also featured prominently in a series of government news conferences held for foreign media. But the text obtained by AP is the first concrete confirmation that the videos are anything but grassroots. Sent in January to government offices in the northern city of Karamay, the text told each office to find one Uyghur fluent in Mandarin to film a one-minute video in response to Pompeo’s “anti-China remarks.” “Express a clear position on Pompeo’s remarks, for example: I firmly oppose Pompeo’s anti-Chinese remarks, and I am very angry about them,” the text said. “Express your feelings of loving the party, the country and Xinjiang (I am Chinese, I love my motherland, I am happy at work and in life, and so on).” While it’s not impossible officials were able to find Uyghurs willing to be in such a public relations campaign, China’s track record in Xinjiang and its documented abuses of Uyghurs have led many experts to conclude it’s more likely those in the videos were forced to take part. 2021-05-21 00:00:00 +0000

How China Uses High-Tech Surveillance to Subdue Minorities

New York Times Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur May 22, 2019

A God’s-eye view of Kashgar, an ancient city in western China, flashed onto a wall-size screen, with colorful icons marking police stations, checkpoints and the locations of recent security inciden...

Surveillance Use of technology Restrictions on movement Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur How China Uses High-Tech Surveillance to Subdue Minorities all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all use-of-technology restrictions-on-movement A God’s-eye view of Kashgar, an ancient city in western China, flashed onto a wall-size screen, with colorful icons marking police stations, checkpoints and the locations of recent security incidents. At the click of a mouse, a technician explained, the police can pull up live video from any surveillance camera or take a closer look at anyone passing through one of the thousands of checkpoints in the city. To demonstrate, she showed how the system could retrieve the photo, home address and official identification number of a woman who had been stopped at a checkpoint on a major highway. The system sifted through billions of records, then displayed details of her education, family ties, links to an earlier case and recent visits to a hotel and an internet cafe. The simulation, presented at an industry fair in China, offered a rare look at a system that now peers into nearly every corner of Xinjiang, the troubled region where Kashgar is located. ... Treating a city like a battlefield, the platform was designed to “apply the ideas of military cyber systems to civilian public security,” Wang Pengda, a C.E.T.C. engineer, said in an official blog post. “Looking back, it truly was an idea ahead of its time.” The system taps into networks of neighborhood informants; tracks individuals and analyzes their behavior; tries to anticipate potential crime, protest or violence; and then recommends which security forces to deploy, the company said. On the screen during the demonstration was a slogan: “If someone exists, there will be traces, and if there are connections, there will be information.” ... A New York Times investigation drawing on government and company records as well as interviews with industry insiders found that China is in effect hard-wiring Xinjiang for segregated surveillance, using an army of security personnel to compel ethnic minorities to submit to monitoring and data collection while generally ignoring the majority Han Chinese, who make up 36 percent of Xinjiang’s population. ... In the city of Kashgar, with a population of 720,000 — about 85 percent of them Uighur — the C.E.T.C. platform draws on databases with 68 billion records, including those on people’s movements and activities, according to the demonstration viewed by a Times reporter at the industry fair, held in the eastern city of Wuzhen in late 2017. By comparison, the F.B.I.’s national instant criminal background check system contained about 19 million records at the end of 2018. ... The app, which the Times examined, also allows police officers to flag people they believe have stopped using a smartphone, have begun avoiding the use of the front door in coming and going from home, or have refueled someone else’s car. ... The police use the app at checkpoints that serve as virtual “fences” across Xinjiang. If someone is tagged as a potential threat, the system can be set to trigger an alarm every time he or she tries to leave the neighborhood or enters a public place, Human Rights Watch said. ... The multilayered program to harvest information from Uighurs and other Muslims begins on the edges of towns and cities across Xinjiang in buildings that look like toll plazas. Instead of coins, they collect personal information. On a recent visit to one checkpoint in Kashgar, a line of passengers and drivers, nearly all Uighur, got out of their vehicles, trudged through automated gates made by C.E.T.C. and swiped their identity cards. “Head up,” the machines chimed as they photographed the motorists and armed guards looked on. ... There are smaller checkpoints at banks, parks, schools, gas stations and mosques, all recording information from identity cards in the mass surveillance database. ... Identification cards are also needed to buy knives, gasoline, phones, computers and even sugar. The purchases are entered into a police database used to flag suspicious behavior or individuals, according to a 2017 dissertation by a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences that features screenshots of the system in Kashgar. ... Not everyone has to endure the inconvenience. At many checkpoints, privileged groups — Han Chinese, Uighur officials with passes, and foreign visitors — are waved through “green channels.” In this way, the authorities have created separate yet overlapping worlds on the same streets — and in the online police databases — one for Muslim minorities, the other for Han Chinese. ... “The goal here is instilling fear — fear that their surveillance technology can see into every corner of your life,” said Wang Lixiong, a Chinese author who has written about Xinjiang as well as China’s surveillance state. “The amount of people and equipment used for security is part of the deterrent effect.” ... A database stored online by SenseNets, a Chinese surveillance company, and examined by the Times suggests the scale of surveillance in Xinjiang: It contained facial recognition records and ID scans for about 2.5 million people, mostly in Urumqi, a city with a population of about 3.5 million. ... The authorities in Xinjiang also sometimes force residents to install an app known as “Clean Net Guard” on their phones to monitor for content that the government deems suspicious. ... These databases are not yet completely integrated, and despite the futuristic gloss of the Xinjiang surveillance state, the authorities rely on hundreds of thousands of police officers, officials and neighborhood monitors to gather and enter data. ... A technician who until recently installed and maintained computers for the authorities in Xinjiang said police surveillance centers relied on hundreds of workers to monitor cameras, an expensive and inefficient undertaking. ... And outside urban centers, police officers often do not have the skills to operate the sophisticated systems, said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing repercussions for speaking to a journalist. ... “Preserving stability is a hard-and-fast task that takes priority over everything else,” the leadership said in the region’s annual budget report. “Use every possible means to find funds so that the high-pressure offensive does not let up.” 2019-05-22 00:00:00 +0000

Night Images Reveal Many New Detention Sites in China’s Xinjiang Region

New York Times Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy September 24, 2020

The Chinese government has created formidable barriers to investigating conditions in Xinjiang. Officials tail and harass foreign journalists, making it impossible to safely conduct interviews. Acc...

Internment Restricting journalism Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy Night Images Reveal Many New Detention Sites in China’s Xinjiang Region all new-york-times New York Times all internment all restricting-journalism The Chinese government has created formidable barriers to investigating conditions in Xinjiang. Officials tail and harass foreign journalists, making it impossible to safely conduct interviews. Access to camps is limited to selected visitors, who are taken on choreographed tours where inmates are shown singing and dancing. The researchers for the new report overcame those barriers with long-distance sleuthing. They pored over satellite images of Xinjiang at night to find telltale clusters of new lights, especially in barely habited areas, which often proved to be new detention sites. A closer examination of such images sometimes revealed hulking buildings, surrounded by high walls, watchtowers and barbed-wire internal fencing — features that distinguished detention facilities from other large public compounds like schools or hospitals. 2020-09-24 00:00:00 +0000

Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century

Fair Observer Sean R. Roberts December 17, 2018

In work places, employees are made aware of the many criteria that makes one either an “extremist,” or in state places of work (including schools and universities), a “two-faced official,” criteria...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Pretexts for Detention Sean R. Roberts Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century all fair-observer Fair Observer all surveillance all civilian-informants pretexts-for-detention In work places, employees are made aware of the many criteria that makes one either an “extremist,” or in state places of work (including schools and universities), a “two-faced official,” criteria against which they are constantly evaluated. While not stated explicitly, people know that these regular evaluations are intended to determine whether they will be sent to an education center. For some Uighurs, this experience is even more immediate, as those who evaluate their loyalty are sent by the state to periodically live with them in their homes. On one hand, this process of constant evaluation offers Uighurs a road map of the things to avoid being perceived as doing as a means of navigating the new normal of Xinjiang. On the other hand, they serve as a means to force Uighurs outside the camps to forsake the markers of their identity, including their language, history and religion. Additionally, these regular evaluations provide an avenue for others to attack those with whom they may have disagreements. Thus, my informant said that there are frequent instances of people using accusations of “extremist tendencies” or “two-facedness” against others as a means to remove competitors in the workplace or neighbors with whom one has a disagreement. 2018-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century

Fair Observer Sean R. Roberts December 17, 2018

As my informant explained to me, now, when one enters a store to buy clothes, the salesperson will ask without emotion if they are buying regular clothes or clothes for the camps. These examples su...

Internment Sean R. Roberts Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century all fair-observer Fair Observer all internment all As my informant explained to me, now, when one enters a store to buy clothes, the salesperson will ask without emotion if they are buying regular clothes or clothes for the camps. These examples suggest that people have to a certain extent internalized the existence of these camps as a normal part of life. My informant said that it is widely believed that people are taken to the camps from their homes late in the evening, leading to many sleepless nights. A, for example, would stay up most nights waiting anxiously to find out if the authorities would be coming. 2018-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur Detainee in BBC Video Report on Xinjiang Camps Identified as Cultural Official

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes July 29, 2019

A detainee in a video report documenting China’s mass incarceration of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been identified as a former cultural official from Kashgar (in Chi...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Uyghur Detainee in BBC Video Report on Xinjiang Camps Identified as Cultural Official all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all pretexts-for-detention A detainee in a video report documenting China’s mass incarceration of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been identified as a former cultural official from Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture and father of two, according to a source. ... A former resident of the seat of Kashgar prefecture recently informed RFA that he had identified one of the detainees in the video—shown studying at a camp in the city known as No. 4 Middle School—as a classmate of his in elementary school named Akber Ebeydulla, who he said had been working as an official with Kashgar Department of Cultural Heritage. ... Ebeydulla, who had received multiple awards for his work at both the prefectural and regional level, was detained because he had been too “proud” while explaining Uyghur cultural heritage to foreigners and was suspected of “harming the state,” the source said. 2019-07-29 00:00:00 +0000

Orphaned by the state: How Xinjiang’s gulag tears families apart

The Economist October 17, 2020

For Zumrat Dawut's three children, Fridays were terrifying. That was the day when officials would question students at their schools in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang in China’s far west....

Destruction of the Family Surveillance Civilian Informants Orphaned by the state: How Xinjiang’s gulag tears families apart all the-economist The Economist all destruction-of-the-family surveillance all civilian-informants For Zumrat Dawut's three children, Fridays were terrifying. That was the day when officials would question students at their schools in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang in China’s far west. The interrogators were looking for clues about their lives at home. They wanted to know whether parents prayed or used Islamic greetings at home, or talked to the children about the prophet Muhammad. The information they gleaned could result in a family member being sent to a “vocational training centre”, the government’s euphemism for a camp in Xinjiang’s new gulag. 2020-10-17 00:00:00 +0000

China pushes the ‘Sinicization of religion’ in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs

Radio Free Asia Nuriman Abdureshid May 22, 2022

When Erkin Tuniyaz, chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), visited the largest mosque in Urumqi before the Eid al-Fitr holy day marking the end of Ramadan, he used the opportunity to...

Religious Persecution Surveillance Forced Assimilation Destruction of Religious Spaces Use of technology Nuriman Abdureshid China pushes the ‘Sinicization of religion’ in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution surveillance forced-assimilation all destruction-of-religious-spaces use-of-technology When Erkin Tuniyaz, chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), visited the largest mosque in Urumqi before the Eid al-Fitr holy day marking the end of Ramadan, he used the opportunity to promote Beijing’s policy of assimilation of non-Chinese people in its far western regions. “According to the arrangements and invitation of the autonomous region party committee, we must hold absolutely tight to the plan for Sinicizing the Islamic religion in Xinjiang and actively take the lead in fitting the Islamic religion into socialist society,” he said at the Noghay Mosque, as quoted in an April 30 article by Xinjiang Daily. Though the 19th-century mosque is technically open, the complex is cordoned off with fences and barbed wire. In recent years, Chinese authorities removed the Arabic shahada, or testament of faith from above the entrance gate to the building — the largest mosque in Urumqi (in Chinese, Wulumuqi) — also known as the Tatar Mosque. They also installed a security checkpoint next to the gate where Muslim worshippers must pass facial recognition scanners to verify their identities as uniformed guards look on. A few days before Erkin made his statement, XUAR Party Secretary Ma Xingrui commented on China’s political strategy in the region, reemphasizing the concepts of “the shared sense of belonging of the Chinese nation” and “ethnic fusion” in an April article in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Ma proposed strengthening assimilative policies in the XUAR along with the further tightening of the CCP’s religious policy by Sinicizing Islam. 2022-05-22 00:00:00 +0000

Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang

The New Yorker Raffi Khatchadourian April 05, 2021

Members of Sabit’s residential committee constantly interfered with her life—trying to mold her into the state’s idea of a good citizen. They urged her to take a Han husband. There was money in it ...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage Raffi Khatchadourian Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all forced-assimilation destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage Members of Sabit’s residential committee constantly interfered with her life—trying to mold her into the state’s idea of a good citizen. They urged her to take a Han husband. There was money in it for her, they said; in an attempt to alter the ethnic balance of Xinjiang, the state had launched an aggressive campaign to encourage indigenous women to marry Han men. When Sabit demurred, the officials told her that Muslim men were chauvinists—adding, with a laugh, “Han husbands dote on their wives!” 2021-04-05 00:00:00 +0000

Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains

Associated Press Dake Kang October 10, 2021

Four years after Beijing launched a brutal crackdown that swept up to a million or more Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons, its control of Xinjiang has ente...

Surveillance Forced Assimilation Religious Persecution Restricting journalism Restricting communication Destruction of Religious Spaces Dake Kang Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains all associated-press Associated Press all surveillance forced-assimilation religious-persecution all restricting-journalism restricting-communication destruction-of-religious-spaces Four years after Beijing launched a brutal crackdown that swept up to a million or more Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons, its control of Xinjiang has entered a new era. Chinese authorities have scaled back many of the most draconian and visible aspects of the region’s high-tech police state. The panic that gripped the region a few years ago has subsided considerably, and a sense of normality is creeping back in. But there is no doubt about who rules, and evidence of the terror of the last four years is everywhere. It’s seen in Xinjiang’s cities, where many historic centers have been bulldozed and the Islamic call to prayer no longer rings out. It’s seen in Kashgar, where one mosque was converted into a café, and a section of another has been turned into a tourist toilet. It’s seen deep in the countryside, where Han Chinese officials run villages. And it’s seen in the fear that was ever-present, just below the surface, on two rare trips to Xinjiang I made for The Associated Press, one on a state-guided tour for the foreign press. A bike seller’s eyes widened in alarm when he learned I was a foreigner. He picked up his phone and began dialing the police. A convenience store cashier chatted idly about declining sales – then was visited by the shadowy men tailing us. When we dropped by again, she didn’t say a word, instead making a zipping motion across her mouth, pushing past us and running out of the store. At one point, I was tailed by a convoy of a dozen cars, an eerie procession through the silent streets of Aksu at 4 in the morning. Anytime I tried to chat with someone, the minders would draw in close, straining to hear every word. It’s hard to know why Chinese authorities have shifted to subtler methods of controlling the region. It may be that searing criticism from the West, along with punishing political and commercial sanctions, have pushed authorities to lighten up. Or it may simply be that China judges it has come far enough in its goal of subduing the Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities to relax its grip. … Regardless of intent, one thing is clear: Many of the practices that made the Uyghur culture a living thing – raucous gatherings, strict Islamic habits, heated debate – have been restricted or banned. In their place, the authorities have crafted a sterilized version, one ripe for commercialization. Xinjiang officials took us on a tour to the Grand Bazaar in the center of Urumqi, which has been rebuilt for tourists, like many other cities in Xinjiang. Here, there are giant plastic bearded Uyghur men and a giant plastic Uyghur instrument. A nearby museum for traditional naan bread sells tiny plastic naan keychains, Uyghur hats and fridge magnets. Crowds of Han Chinese snap selfies. James Leibold, a prominent scholar of Xinjiang ethnic policy, calls it the “museumification” of Uyghur culture. Chinese officials call it progress. 2021-10-10 00:00:00 +0000

Uighur Muslim teacher tells of forced sterilisation in Xinjiang

Guardian Emma Graham-Harrison, Lily Kuo September 04, 2020

A teacher coerced into giving classes in Xinjiang internment camps has described her forced sterilisation at the age of 50, under a government campaign to suppress birth rates of women from Muslim ...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization Emma Graham-Harrison, Lily Kuo Uighur Muslim teacher tells of forced sterilisation in Xinjiang all guardian Guardian all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization A teacher coerced into giving classes in Xinjiang internment camps has described her forced sterilisation at the age of 50, under a government campaign to suppress birth rates of women from Muslim minorities. Qelbinur Sidik said the crackdown swept up not just women likely to fall pregnant, but those well beyond normal childbearing ages. Messages she got from local authorities said women aged 19 to 59 were expected to have intrauterine devices (IUDs) fitted or undergo sterilisation. In 2017, Sidik was 47 and her only daughter was at university when local officials insisted she must have an IUD inserted to prevent the unlikely prospect of another pregnancy. Just over two years later, at 50, she was forced to undergo sterilisation. When the first order came, the Chinese language teacher was already giving classes at one of the now notorious internment camps appearing across China’s western Xinjiang region. She knew what happened to people from Muslim minorities who resisted the government, and a Uighur-language text message that she shared with the Guardian, which she said came from local authorities, made the threat explicit. “If anything happens, who will take responsibility for you? Do not gamble with your life, don’t even try. These things are not just about you. You have to think about your family members and your relatives around you,” the message said. “If you fight with us at your door and refuse to collaborate with us, you will go to the police station and sit on the metal chair!” On the day of her appointment there were no Han Chinese among crowds of women waiting for their compulsory birth control at the government compound, she said. … The IUD caused heavy bleeding, and she paid to have it removed illegally. But later in 2018 a routine check found it was missing and she was forced to have a second device installed, and then a year later forced to undergo sterilisation. “In 2017, just because I was an official worker in a school, they gave me a wider choice to have this IUD or sterilisation operation. But in 2019 they said there is an order from the government that every woman from 18 years to 59 years old has to be sterilised. So they said you have to do this now.” She tried to plead both age and the damaging impact of the IUDs on her health. “I said my body cannot take it, but they told me ‘you don’t want children, so you have no excuse not to have the sterilisation operation.’” Her story, first told to the Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation, is difficult to verify. It is hard to take photos inside detention facilities and there is little documentation. But details match accounts by other camp detainees and research into coercive birth control practices. She previously gave anonymous accounts of her experience in the camps and with IUDs, but had not spoken about her sterilisation. She was frightened that being identified might affect family still in China, particularly her husband. But he has since divorced her, and with that link severed Sidik decided to come forward under her name. 2020-09-04 00:00:00 +0000

Spirit Breaking: Capitalism and Terror in Northwest China

Chuang Adam Hunerven January 01, 2019

Soon after I arrived in Ürümchi in 2014 I met a young Uyghur man named Alim. He grew up in a small town near the city of Khotan in the deep south of the Uyghur homeland near the Chinese border with...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Adam Hunerven Spirit Breaking: Capitalism and Terror in Northwest China all chuang Chuang all internment all pretexts-for-detention Soon after I arrived in Ürümchi in 2014 I met a young Uyghur man named Alim. He grew up in a small town near the city of Khotan in the deep south of the Uyghur homeland near the Chinese border with Pakistan. He was a tall, quiet young man who had come to the city looking for better opportunities . . . As a young Uyghur male, he was terrified that he would be caught up in the counter-terrorism sweeps. Every day, he tried to put the threat out of his mind and act as though it was not real. “Most Uyghur young men my age are psychologically damaged,” he explained. “When I was in elementary school surrounded by other Uyghurs I was very outgoing and active. Now I feel like I ‘have been broken’” (Uy: rohi sunghan). He told me stories of the way that friends of his had been taken by the police and beaten, only to be released after powerful or wealthy relatives had intervened in their cases. He said, “Five years ago [after the protests of 2009] people fled Ürümchi for the South (of Xinjiang) in order to feel safer, now they are fleeing the South in order to feel safer in the city. Quality of life is now about feeling safe.” Once, meeting Alim in a park, he said that a relative stationed at a prison near Alim’s hometown had told him what was happening there. Over the past few months many young Uyghur women who had previously worn reformist Islamic coverings had been arrested and sentenced to 5 to 8 years in the prison as religious “extremists” who harbored “terrorist” ideologies. As he spoke, Alim’s lower lip trembled. He said the Uyghur and Han prison guards had repeatedly raped these young women, saying that if they did this “they didn’t miss their wives at home.” They told each other “you can just ‘use’ these girls.” Many Uyghurs repeated such claims. They described beatings, torture, disappearances and everyday indignities that they and their families suffered at the hands of the state. At times these stories seemed to be partial truths, but many times the level of detail and the emotional feeling that accompanied these stories made them feel completely true. Part of the widespread psychological damage that Alim mentioned above, came precisely from hearing about such things in an atmosphere that makes all kinds of atrocities possible. Even if the individual claim might be false in some instances the particular type of violence it describes was probably occurring nonetheless, or it would soon. As a result the Uyghur present was increasingly traumatic and there was no end in sight. 2019-01-01 00:00:00 +0000

https://ipvm.com/reports/hikvision-uyghur

IVPM Charles Rollet November 11, 2019

Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned them on it. This AI technology allows the PRC to...

Surveillance Use of technology Charles Rollet https://ipvm.com/reports/hikvision-uyghur all ivpm IVPM all surveillance all use-of-technology Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned them on it. This AI technology allows the PRC to automatically track Uyghur people, one of the world's most persecuted minorities. "Capable of analysis on target personnel's sex (male, female), ethnicity (such as Uyghurs, Han) and color of skin (such as white, yellow, or black), whether the target person wears glasses, masks, caps, or whether he has beard, with an accuracy rate of no less than 90%." The product page had been up for 7 months as Google search results show that it was first indexed in April 2019. 2019-11-11 00:00:00 +0000

‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’

ChinaFile Joanne Smith Finley December 28, 2018

She complained of how the city’s state-run Xinhua bookstore now carries no books teaching the Uighur script, which is a modified version of the Arabic script, to children. Sure enough, I later foun...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Joanne Smith Finley ‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’ all chinafile ChinaFile all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language She complained of how the city’s state-run Xinhua bookstore now carries no books teaching the Uighur script, which is a modified version of the Arabic script, to children. Sure enough, I later found only one box of flashcards with Uighur phonetics on sale there. Meanwhile, outside the barricaded and razor-wired Urumqi No. 1 primary school, the Uighur script had been removed from a poster exhorting Chinese and Uighur children to respect their teachers and “improve their personal quality.” The last time that the modified Arabic script had been banned in Xinjiang was during the Cultural Revolution. 2018-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains

Helena Kennedy Centre Laura T. Murphy, Nyrola Elimä May 01, 2021

The last ten years has seen the rapid expansion of the metallurgical-grade silicon manufacturing sector in the Uyghur Region, with one company – Xinjiang Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. – dominating a...

Internment Forced Labor Laura T. Murphy, Nyrola Elimä IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains all helena-kennedy-centre Helena Kennedy Centre all internment all forced-labor The last ten years has seen the rapid expansion of the metallurgical-grade silicon manufacturing sector in the Uyghur Region, with one company – Xinjiang Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. – dominating all of the others. Hoshine (also known as Hesheng) and many of its competitors in the Uyghur Region engage in state-sponsored labour transfer programmes, affecting the entire solar module supply chain. … There is evidence that Hoshine has actively recruited and employed “transferred surplus labour” from rural villages around Turpan to its Shanshan facility. The company’s labour recruitment process promises “transformation of surplus rural labour into industrial workers and urban dwellers, making them become fresh combat troops for industrialization, urbanization, and agricultural modernization.” A Hoshine recruitment fair in 2017 included a visit to the County National Unity Education Hall nearby, where the recruits “unanimously agreed that Xinjiang has always been an inalienable part of the motherland, and that people of all ethnicities have staunchly resisted the incursions of foreigners for over one hundred years.” Political indoctrination is an integral aspect of the ideological transformation imposed on rural farmers who are subject to labour transfer. Xinjiang Hoshine relies on government programmes that place rural labourers deemed to be “surplus” in factory work. In its 2019-2021 vocational skills implementation plan, the Turpan government explicitly names Hoshine as a “key enterprise” in the “vocational skills training platform.”74 One effort early in Hoshine’s development in the Uyghur Region suggests the potential scale of that collaboration. In 2017, the Turpan Bureau of Human Resources assured the media that the agency had adjusted its training of 9,800 surplus rural labourers to provide them with skills required by Hoshine and would be able to “fully meet [Hoshine’s] employment needs” for 5,000 trained labourers. … State-sponsored recruitment efforts on Xinjiang Hoshine’s behalf depend on coercive strategies that suggest non-voluntary labour. For instance, one media report depicts a married couple from rural Dikan Township who were targeted for “poverty alleviation.” They were provided a government-determined “income-increasing package,” which began with the assignment of a cadre who instructed them in Chinese language skills “to pave the way for them to leave their hometown to work.” The regional work team then assigned the couple to vocational skills training to learn to be welders in the farming off-season. The couple followed the directives of the cadre, while the regional work team still provided “encouragement and help” for them to do “pre-employment training for the surplus rural labour force,” after which they were transferred to work at Xinjiang Hoshine. Though the couple owned seven acres of grape fields that would need tending, the government “relieved the two of their worries,” by transferring their land use rights (流转) to the state. The couple was transferred to Xinjiang Hoshine, more than 50 kilometers away from home, to work as a mechanic and a product inspector in the Shanshan County Hoshine Silicon Industry factory, leaving behind their children and ill parents. Though the report indicates that the couple have a bright and spacious house in their village, the photos accompanying the story suggest that the couple now lives in a bunk house with other employees at Xinjiang Hoshine and only rarely return home. … Xinjiang Hoshine Silicon presents a useful case study for understanding how the deployment of compulsory labour transfers can potentially put an entire supply chain at risk. Hoshine has benefited from a wide variety of government-sponsored incentives programmes designed to require the industrial employment of all indigenous people of the region deemed employable by the government, and the company has actively engaged in the ideological re-education efforts associated with those programmes. The company has accepted the government’s assistance in seeking impoverished rural workers to work in its facilities, exploiting the rural poors’ vulnerability to such mandatory government programmes. The “transferred” labourers are put to work directly in the production of the silicon, manning the furnaces and inspecting the final products. Furthermore, Hoshine likely sources its quartz from companies likely engaged in labour transfers and perhaps employing detainees from internment camps. … The widespread adoption of state-sponsored labour programmes in the Uyghur Region means that it is nearly impossible to avoid forced-labour-tainted raw materials if they are being sourced in the XUAR under the current regime. 2021-05-01 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese government targets Uyghur children with ‘pomegranate flower’ policy

Radio Free Asia Gulchehra Hoja, Roseanne Gerin October 21, 2021

The Chinese government is pairing up ethnic majority Han Chinese youths with Uyghur children in the latest phase of a coercive surveillance and assimilation program that Uyghurs say shows Beijing’s...

Destruction of the Family Forced Assimilation In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Gulchehra Hoja, Roseanne Gerin Chinese government targets Uyghur children with ‘pomegranate flower’ policy all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all destruction-of-the-family forced-assimilation all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives The Chinese government is pairing up ethnic majority Han Chinese youths with Uyghur children in the latest phase of a coercive surveillance and assimilation program that Uyghurs say shows Beijing’s genocidal intent toward the Muslim minority in the far-western Xinjiang region. The “Pomegranate Flower” policy, unveiled by state media last month, comes on the heels of a widely resented program that sent 1.2 million Han civil servants to live with and monitor Uyghur families in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). ... Under the program targeting children, state-assigned Han “relatives” from across China will contact Uyghur youngsters by phone and visits to the XUAR, the report said. … According to a report published on Sept. 11 on Tengritagh (Tianshan), the official website of the XUAR government, toddlers and primary school pupils in one village in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture voted to “realize the objective of becoming family” with Han youths from all over China. In just over a week, nearly 40 children in one village, including one-year-old Mahliya Mahmut, were matched up with 36 pairs of Pomegranate Flower “relatives” from some 30 cities across 13 provinces, regions, and municipalities in China, Tengritagh said. … Many Uyghurs had already spoken by phone with their assigned “families” in other Chinese provinces, who in turn were planning to go to Xinjiang to visit their children, the report said. But the report did not explain why toddlers or preschool-age children needed to be matched with Han family members or where their own parents were. 2021-10-21 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

During this time, the camp was growing. According to an analysis of satellite photos, the facility had expanded fivefold since Otarbai was first held there, in 2017, and construction had begun on a...

Internment Forced Labor Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment all forced-labor During this time, the camp was growing. According to an analysis of satellite photos, the facility had expanded fivefold since Otarbai was first held there, in 2017, and construction had begun on an approximately twenty-thousand-square-foot factory and warehouse. In November, Otarbai “graduated” from his studies and joined other detainees on the factory floor producing children’s clothing. Official claims that camp populations are declining may therefore be accurate, as detainees are increasingly sent to work in factories and on farms, or else sentenced and transferred to conventional prisons. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

One day, a local official showed Kokteubai a photo of his daughter, claiming that she was a member of a terrorist group in Kazakhstan. According to multiple former detainees, such practices were us...

Destruction of the Family Civilian Informants Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all destruction-of-the-family all civilian-informants One day, a local official showed Kokteubai a photo of his daughter, claiming that she was a member of a terrorist group in Kazakhstan. According to multiple former detainees, such practices were used to intimidate or extract information about relatives living abroad. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

China says pace of Xinjiang 'education' will slow, but defends camps

Reuters Ben Blanchard January 06, 2019

Last week, the government organized a visit to three such facilities, which it calls vocational education training centers, for a small group of foreign reporters, including Reuters. Seeking to co...

Internment Internment conditions Ben Blanchard China says pace of Xinjiang 'education' will slow, but defends camps all reuters Reuters all internment all internment-conditions Last week, the government organized a visit to three such facilities, which it calls vocational education training centers, for a small group of foreign reporters, including Reuters. Seeking to counter that narrative, the government took reporters to three centers, in Kashgar, Hotan and Karakax, all in the heavily Uighur-populated southern part of Xinjiang, where much of the violence has taken place in recent years. In one class reporters were allowed to briefly visit, a teacher explained in Mandarin that not allowing singing or dancing at a wedding or crying at a funeral are signs of extremist thought. The students took notes, pausing to look up as reporters and officials entered the room. Some smiled awkwardly. Others just looked down at their books. All were Uighur. None appeared to have been mistreated. In another class, residents read a Chinese lesson in their textbook entitled “Our motherland is so vast.” There was plenty of singing and dancing in other rooms reporters visited, including a lively rendition in English of "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands," that seemed to have been put on especially for the visit. Several residents agreed to speak briefly to reporters, though all in the presence of government officials. Reporters were closely chaperoned at all times. Several residents agreed to speak briefly to reporters, though all in the presence of government officials. Reporters were closely chaperoned at all times. 2019-01-06 00:00:00 +0000

How TikTok opened a window into China’s police state

Coda Isobel Cockerell September 25, 2019

But every so often, Erkin comes across a video that reveals something about the realities of China’s mass surveillance crackdown and brainwashing policy in Xinjiang: a video of a propaganda rally, ...

Surveillance Restricting communication Isobel Cockerell How TikTok opened a window into China’s police state all coda Coda all surveillance all restricting-communication But every so often, Erkin comes across a video that reveals something about the realities of China’s mass surveillance crackdown and brainwashing policy in Xinjiang: a video of a propaganda rally, with Uyghurs singing songs praising the Communist Party of China; footage from inside a Uyghur orphanage for children with parents in detention; crowds of Uyghurs chanting in Mandarin rather than their native Uyghur language; a mosque being demolished. Often he’ll find shots of the deserted streets of once-bustling Kashgar, his now empty home city. Most valuable of all is evidence of life under Xinjiang’s oppressive surveillance regime, such as footage of a long line of Uyghurs waiting to pass through a security checkpoint or heavily armed Xinjiang police in training. Another official video shows mostly Uyghur police dancing before the Chinese flag. A sign above them suggests it’s part of a group psychological support session — a telling detail, given Uyghur police are routinely required to arrest and detain their own people. In August, something unusual began to happen on Chinese TikTok. One by one, dozens of Uyghurs from inside Xinjiang began posting mute videos of themselves in front of pictures of their relatives. Many were crying. “I think there was a mastermind behind it — one or two creative people,” Hidayat said. It was a wordless, digital flashmob; each video copying the last. “People caught on without getting together, without having to explain the concept. It was completely coded,” Hidayat said. “But every Uyghur understood those videos.” In one video, a girl sits before a picture of four men, holding up four fingers. Slowly, she makes a fist. 2019-09-25 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese Officials Force Muslims to Drink, Eat Pork At Festival

Radio Free Asia Qiao Long February 06, 2019

Residents of the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) told RFA that officials had invited them to celebratory dinners marking the Lunar New Year at which...

Religious Persecution Internment Pretexts for Detention Qiao Long Chinese Officials Force Muslims to Drink, Eat Pork At Festival all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution internment all pretexts-for-detention Residents of the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) told RFA that officials had invited them to celebratory dinners marking the Lunar New Year at which pork was served, then threatening to send them to a "re-education" camp if they refused to take part. ... Photos sent to RFA also showed an official from Ili's Yining city visiting Muslim households and distributing raw pork, in the name of helping the less well-off on Monday, on the eve of the Year of the Pig. ... An ethnic Kazakh resident of Altay's Qinggil (in Chinese, Qinghe) county told RFA that the attempts to make Muslims eat pork had begun late last year. "Kazakh people in Xinjiang have never [eaten pork]," the resident said. "Starting last year, some people have been forced to eat pork so they can celebrate a festival belonging to the Han Chinese." ... "Muslims like us, the Uyghurs, the Hui, and the Kazakhs, don't do that," Kesay said. "But people have been sticking up New Year poetic couplets at the doors of Uyghur and Kazakh households, and giving them pork." "If we won't put up the couplets or hang lanterns, they they say we are two-faced, and they send us to re-education camps," she said, adding that officials had begun delivering pork to around 80 percent of Kazakh households in Savan (in Chinese, Shawan) county, since the end of 2018. 2019-02-06 00:00:00 +0000

China policies could cut millions of Uyghur births in Xinjiang

AP Cate Cadell June 06, 2021

Chinese birth control policies could cut between 2.6 to 4.5 million births of the Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang within 20 years, up to a third of the region’s projected mi...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization Cate Cadell China policies could cut millions of Uyghur births in Xinjiang all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization Chinese birth control policies could cut between 2.6 to 4.5 million births of the Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang within 20 years, up to a third of the region’s projected minority population, according to a new analysis by a German researcher. The report, shared exclusively with Reuters ahead of publication, also includes a previously unreported cache of research produced by Chinese academics and officials on Beijing’s intent behind the birth control policies in Xinjiang, where official data shows birth-rates have already dropped by 48.7% between 2017 and 2019. … The Chinese government has not made public any official target for reducing the proportion of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. But based on analysis of official birth data, demographic projections and ethnic ratios proposed by Chinese academics and officials, Zenz estimates Beijing’s policies could increase the predominant Han Chinese population in southern Xinjiang to around 25% from 8.4% currently. … The new research compares a population projection done by Xinjiang-based researchers for the government-run Chinese Academy of Sciences based on data predating the crackdown, to official data on birth-rates and what Beijing describes as “population optimization” measures for Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities introduced since 2017. It found the population of ethnic minorities in Uyghur-dominated southern Xinjiang would reach between 8.6-10.5 million by 2040 under the new birth prevention policies. That compares to 13.14 million projected by Chinese researchers using data pre-dating the implemented birth policies and a current population of around 9.47 million. … Reuters shared the research and methodology with more than a dozen experts in population analysis, birth prevention policies and international human rights law, who said the analysis and conclusions were sound. Some of the experts cautioned that demographic projections over a period of decades can be affected by unforeseen factors. The Xinjiang government has not publicly set official ethnic quota or population size goals for ethnic populations in Southern Xinjiang, and quotas used in the analysis are based on proposed figures from Chinese officials and academics. … Birth quotas for ethnic minorities have become strictly enforced in Xinjiang since 2017, including though the separation of married couples, and the use of sterilisation procedures, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and abortions, three Uyghur people and one health official inside Xinjiang told Reuters. Two of the Uyghur people said they had direct family members who were detained for having too many children. Reuters could not independently verify the detentions. "It is not up to choice," said the official, based in southern Xinjiang, who asked not to be named because they fear reprisals from the local government. “All Uyghurs must comply… it is an urgent task." The Xinjiang government did not respond to a request for comment about whether birth limits are more strictly enforced against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Xinjiang officials have previously said all procedures are voluntary. Still, in Xinjiang counties where Uyghurs are the majority ethnic group, birth rates dropped 50.1% in 2019, for example, compared to a 19.7% drop in majority ethnic Han counties, according to official data compiled by Zenz. Zenz’s report says analyses published by state funded academics and officials between 2014 and 2020 show the strict implementation of the policies are driven by national security concerns, and are motivated by a desire to dilute the Uyghur population, increase Han migration and boost loyalty to the ruling Communist Party. For example, 15 documents created by state funded academics and officials showcased in the Zenz report include comments from Xinjiang officials and state-affiliated academics referencing the need to increase the proportion of Han residents and decrease the ratio of Uyghurs or described the high concentration of Uyghurs as a threat to social stability. "The problem in southern Xinjiang is mainly the unbalanced population structure … the proportion of the Han population is too low,” Liu Yilei, an academic and the deputy secretary general of the Communist Party committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a government body with administrative authority in the region, told a July 2020 symposium, published on the Xinjiang University website. Xinjiang must “end the dominance of the Uyghur group”, said Liao Zhaoyu, dean of the institute of frontier history and geography at Xinjiang’s Tarim University at an academic event in 2015, shortly before the birth policies and broader internment programme were enforced in full. 2021-06-06 00:00:00 +0000

US electronics firm struck deal to transport and hire Uyghur workers

Reuters Cate Cadell October 08, 2021

U.S. remote-control maker Universal Electronics Inc (UEIC.O) told Reuters it struck a deal with authorities in Xinjiang to transport hundreds of Uyghur workers to its plant in the southern Chinese ...

Internment Surveillance Forced Labor Restricting journalism Restrictions on movement Cate Cadell US electronics firm struck deal to transport and hire Uyghur workers all reuters Reuters all internment surveillance all forced-labor restricting-journalism restrictions-on-movement U.S. remote-control maker Universal Electronics Inc (UEIC.O) told Reuters it struck a deal with authorities in Xinjiang to transport hundreds of Uyghur workers to its plant in the southern Chinese city of Qinzhou, the first confirmed instance of an American company participating in a transfer program described by some rights groups as forced labor. The Nasdaq-listed firm, which has sold its equipment and software to Sony, Samsung, LG, Microsoft and other tech and broadcast companies, has employed at least 400 Uyghur workers from the far-western region of Xinjiang as part of an ongoing worker-transfer agreement, according to the company and local officials in Qinzhou and Xinjiang, government notices and local state media. In at least one instance, Xinjiang authorities paid for a charter flight that delivered the Uyghur workers under police escort from Xinjiang's Hotan city - where the workers are from - to the UEI plant, according to officials in Qinzhou and Hotan interviewed by Reuters. The transfer is also described in a notice posted on an official Qinzhou police social media account in February 2020 at the time of the transfer. ... Reuters was unable to interview plant workers and therefore was not able to determine whether they are being compelled to work at UEI. The conditions they face, however, bear hallmarks of standard definitions of forced labor, such as working in isolation, under police guard and with restricted freedom of movement. UEI's Uyghur workers are under surveillance by police during their transportation and life at the factory, where they eat and sleep in segregated quarters, according to details in Qinzhou government notices and local state media. Programs like this have transferred thousands of Uyghur laborers to factories in Xinjiang and elsewhere. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups, citing leaked Chinese government documents and testimony from detainees who say they were forced into such jobs, say the programs are coercive and part of China's overall plan to control the majority-Uyghur population in the region. … The UEI spokeswoman told Reuters the company does not conduct independent due diligence on where and how its workers are trained in Xinjiang. She said the arrangement is vetted by a third-party agent working with the Xinjiang government, who brokered the deal. She declined to identify that agent. Reuters could not determine if the agent is independent or works for the Xinjiang government. … Organized transfers of Uyghur laborers to other parts of China date back to the early 2000s, according to state media and government notices from the time. The program has expanded since about 2016, Xinjiang officials said in late July, around the time the mass internment program began. ... Six groups of workers were transported from Xinjiang to the UEI factory between May 2019 and February 2020, according to Qinzhou government notices, confirmed to Reuters by government officials in Xinjiang and Guangxi. In early 2020, as the new coronavirus began to spread in China and lockdowns crippled manufacturing, about 1,300 Uyghurs were transported from Xinjiang’s southern Hotan region. They were sent to factories around the country to alleviate labor shortages and help get them running again, according to officials cited by Chinese state media outlet Economic Daily in February 2020. The police-escorted charter flights were funded by the Xinjiang government, according to Qinzhou government notices and an official in Hotan who spoke to Reuters in May. UEI’s Qinzhou factory took more than 100 workers in the February 2020 transfer, according to notices on the Qinzhou government website, state media and Qinzhou officials. That was one of several transfers made under an agreement struck some nine months earlier between UEI and Xinjiang authorities. Reuters could not determine exactly where the workers came from. UEI’s operation underscores the role played by agents in supplying companies with Uyghur workers. The UEI spokeswoman confirmed the company entered into an agreement with Xinjiang authorities in 2019 after being approached by the third-party agent. UEI said the same agent hires and pays the workers and that UEI does not sign individual contracts with the workers. The spokeswoman declined to disclose what the Uyghur workers are paid, beyond saying that they receive the same as others at the facility, which is "higher than Qinzhou local minimum wage." The Economic Daily reported that workers sent in UEI's February 2020 transfer are expected to make around 3,000 yuan ($465) a month. That compares with the average manufacturing wage in the province of Guangxi of 3,719 yuan, according to China’s national bureau of statistics. UEI's Uyghur employees are part of a much bigger system. Two separate labor agents hired by Hotan and Kashgar authorities in Xinjiang told Reuters they had each been set targets of placing as many as 20,000 Uyghurs annually with companies outside the region. They, and one other agent, showed Reuters copies of three contracts for transfers already completed this year. These included a January contract to transport 1,000 workers to an auto parts factory in Xiaogan, Hubei province, who had to undergo "political screening" prior to transfer. The three agents told Reuters that separate dormitories, police escorts and payments overseen by third-party agents are routine elements in such transfers. "Uyghur workers are the most convenient workers for companies," one of the agents told Reuters. "Everything is managed by the government." The Uyghurs of UEI are kept under tight watch all along this labor-supply chain. Photographs published online by the Economic Daily and an official social media account of Qinzhou police, dated Feb. 28, 2020, show the workers lining up before dawn outside the airport in the city of Hotan before taking the flight. "Get to work quickly and get rich through hard work using both hands," one manager employed by Xinjiang authorities told the gathered workers, according to an account published online by the Qinzhou Daily. Accompanying photos show the workers dressed in blue and red uniforms. More than a dozen uniformed police officers escorted the same workers through the Nanning Wuxu airport and onto buses, according to posts on a social media account of a Qinzhou police unit and a post by the Qinzhou government. The buses were then escorted by police vehicles to the UEI factory in Qinzhou, some 75 miles (120 km) away. The mostly young Uyghur laborers at UEI’s plant sleep in separate dormitories and eat in a segregated canteen under the watch of managers assigned by Xinjiang authorities. Non-Uyghur laborers are not subject to such monitoring. The managers stay with the Uyghur workers throughout their employment, according to state media, local police notices and government officials who spoke to Reuters. UEI said the canteens were established to provide local Uyghur food, and says it allows Xinjiang workers to share dormitories "as they wish." The Uyghurs must participate in what are described as "education activities" run by Qinzhou police and judicial authorities within the UEI facility, as part of the agreement between the U.S. firm and local authorities, according to notices on the government website of the Qinzhou district where UEI's factory is located. Reuters could not determine what those activities involve. Beijing has said that legal education is a key aspect of the training programs in Xinjiang's camps. The education activities in UEI’s factory only apply to the Uyghur workers, according to two Qinzhou government notices. The UEI spokeswoman said UEI is "not aware of specific legal education activities" that Uyghurs take part in at its plant. Two Reuters journalists visited the Qinzhou factory in April during a local public holiday when the plant was not running. Women in Uyghur ethnic dress were visible inside the compound. Half a dozen police arrived, followed by a delegation of officials from the Qinzhou Foreign Affairs Office. The officials confirmed that Uyghur laborers worked in the factory, which is run by UEI's wholly owned China subsidiary Gemstar Technology. The officials said Gemstar had taken the lead in setting up the May 2019 agreement to transfer workers. The officials told Reuters not to take photos of Uyghurs in the factory. The district of Qinzhou where UEI is located has surveillance measures targeting Uyghurs that predate the transfers. A June 2018 procurement document seen by Reuters shows police there purchased a 4.3 million yuan ($670,000) system that establishes blacklists of "high-risk" people. These include "terrorists, Xinjiang people and mental patients." The document also lists a specific need for "automatic alarms" - a computer system that sends alerts via an internal messaging system to police when Uyghurs from Xinjiang are detected in the area. According to a March 2020 post on the official Qinzhou police website, UEI agreed to provide daily reports on the workers to police. 2021-10-08 00:00:00 +0000

China to Punish 'Two-Faced' Uyghur Officials in New Reward Scheme

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes December 26, 2017

[A]uthorities had earmarked 100 million yuan (U.S. $15.2 million) to reward residents of Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture who report “acts of terrorism” in the predominantly ethnic Uyghur-inha...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes China to Punish 'Two-Faced' Uyghur Officials in New Reward Scheme all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all surveillance all civilian-informants [A]uthorities had earmarked 100 million yuan (U.S. $15.2 million) to reward residents of Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture who report “acts of terrorism” in the predominantly ethnic Uyghur-inhabited area. . . .But he also referred to two articles in the notice that specifically mention rewards for informants who report officials and public figures who “assist criminals” or commit “criminal offenses,” suggesting that the campaign also seeks to root out those in positions of authority who try to undermine Chinese rule in the region. 2017-12-26 00:00:00 +0000

Detainees Are Trickling Out of Xinjiang’s Camps

Foreign Policy Gene A. Bunin January 18, 2019

To date, more than 90 named individuals allegedly released over the past four months have been identified by the Xinjiang Victims Database—a project I created for documenting and monitoring the reg...

Internment Forced Labor Gene A. Bunin Detainees Are Trickling Out of Xinjiang’s Camps all foreign-policy Foreign Policy all internment all forced-labor To date, more than 90 named individuals allegedly released over the past four months have been identified by the Xinjiang Victims Database—a project I created for documenting and monitoring the region’s detentions. The vast majority of the information has come from testimonies and interviews with the victims’ friends and relatives, in addition to public video announcements. Anecdotal accounts bring the number much higher. Serikzhan Bilash, the head of Atajurt, says the number of Kazakh releases that he has been notified of is now more than 200. For most of the released, the freedom obtained is only partial at best. While a large number have been placed under what appears to be surveilled house arrest, some of the documented releases were let out only to be transferred to factories or other compulsory labor. Two people whom I met in Kazakhstan talked about relatives who had been sent to the Jiafang textile factory in Xinjiang’s northern hub of Yining, lauded by state media as one of the enterprises contributing to “poverty relief” in Xinjiang by putting young locals to work. 2019-01-18 00:00:00 +0000

China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor

New York Times Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy December 16, 2018

Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month ren...

Internment Forced Labor Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor all new-york-times New York Times all internment all forced-labor Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month renouncing their religious convictions. Now the government was showing them on television as models of repentance, earning good pay — and political salvation — as factory workers. China’s ruling Communist Party has said in a surge of upbeat propaganda that a sprawling network of camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty, backwardness and the temptations of radical Islam. But mounting evidence suggests a system of forced labor is emerging from the camps, a development likely to intensify international condemnation of China’s drastic efforts to control and indoctrinate a Muslim ethnic minority population of more than 12 million in Xinjiang. Accounts from the region, satellite images and previously unreported official documents indicate that growing numbers of detainees are being sent to new factories, built inside or near the camps, where inmates have little choice but to accept jobs and follow orders. The program aims to transform scattered Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities — many of them farmers, shopkeepers and tradespeople — into a disciplined, Chinese-speaking industrial work force, loyal to the Communist Party and factory bosses, according to official plans published online. These documents describe the camps as vocational training centers and do not specify whether inmates are required to accept assignments to factories or other jobs. But pervasive restrictions on the movement and employment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, as well as a government effort to persuade businesses to open factories around the camps, suggest that they have little choice. The documents detail plans for inmates, even those formally released from the camps, to take jobs at factories that work closely with the camps to continue to monitor and control them. The socks, suits, skirts and other goods made by these laborers would be sold in Chinese stores and could trickle into overseas markets. Kashgar, an ancient, predominantly Uighur area of southern Xinjiang that is a focus of the program, reported that in 2018 alone it aimed to send 100,000 inmates who had been through the “vocational training centers” to work in factories, according to a plan issued in August. 2018-12-16 00:00:00 +0000

China: Big Data Program Targets Xinjiang’s Muslims

Human Rights Watch December 09, 2020

A leaked list of over 2,000 detainees from Aksu prefecture . . . is further evidence of China’s use of technology in its repression of the Muslim population. [A] big data program, the Integrated Jo...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Use of technology Restrictions on movement Restricting communication China: Big Data Program Targets Xinjiang’s Muslims all human-rights-watch Human Rights Watch all surveillance religious-persecution all use-of-technology restrictions-on-movement restricting-communication A leaked list of over 2,000 detainees from Aksu prefecture . . . is further evidence of China’s use of technology in its repression of the Muslim population. [A] big data program, the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), apparently flagged the people on the Aksu List, whom officials then evaluated and sent to “political education” camps in Xinjiang. Human Rights Watch’s analysis of the Aksu List strongly suggests that the vast majority of the people flagged by the IJOP system are detained for everyday lawful, non-violent behavior. This contradicts the Chinese authorities’ claims that their “sophisticated,” “predictive” technologies, like the IJOP, are keeping Xinjiang safe by “targeting” criminals “with precision.” An examination of the Aksu List suggests that the authorities consider the following behavior suspicious: Practicing Islam in the following ways: Studying the Quran without state permission or allowing one’s children to study the Quran; Reciting the Quran, including Khitma [海提玛], the recitation of the entire Quran; Preaching the Quran without state permission or listening to such preaching; Wearing religious clothing, such as the burqa or veil, or having a long beard; Having more children than allowed by China’s family planning policy; Marrying or divorcing outside of official Chinese legal requirements; for example, marrying before reaching the legal age (22 for men and 20 for women), marrying through a Nikah (an Islamic law marriage contract), or practicing polygamy; Going on Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, considered a religious duty in Islam) without state permission; Performing the Hijra (伊吉拉特), a form of migration to escape religious persecution following the pattern of the immigration of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, which the authorities consider to be motivated by adherence to Islam. Using suspicious (or “minority” 小众) software, in particular peer-to-peer file sharing application Zapya (快牙), but also Virtual Private Network, Skype, Payeco (易联), L2TP, and imo. Traveling: Internationally to “sensitive” countries, including Turkey, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Kyrgyzstan; Domestically outside Aksu, including elsewhere in Xinjiang such as Urumqi and Kashgar, or to other parts of China such as Beijing and Shanghai; Without notifying local officials. People are also detained for having no fixed address. Going “off grid” (去向不明 or 轨迹不明), for example “switching off their phone repeatedly” or being missing for periods of time. Having mismatched identity, including using a cellphone number or ID card not registered in one’s name, having more than one hukou (residency registration), or having falsified official documents like marriage certificates. In one case, losing an ID—subsequently used by someone else—was a cause for detention. Having “extremist thoughts” or downloading “extremist” audiovisual content. Having relatives in a group the authorities have labeled as terrorist, including the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and a couple of Aksu local groups. Having previously been a target of Xinjiang government actions, such as being detained or convicted of ordinary crimes or political crimes. In one case, a man was subjected to “political education” because he had been detained in 2014 for 15 days for carrying a knife and for not “properly explaining” the incident. Resisting official policies or official “management.” In one case, a man was detained for not paying rent on his land. Being generally untrustworthy (不放心人员). Being young; that is, “born after the 1980s” (80, 90后不放心人员). “Generally acting suspiciously,” “having complex social ties” or “unstable thoughts,” or “having improper [sexual] relations.” An examination of the Aksu List suggests that Xinjiang’s Turkic Muslims are presumed guilty until proven innocent. In one case, a man was sent to political education camp because “suspicion [of him] cannot be eliminated and would require further interrogation.” The evidence suggests that, consistent with official rhetoric, political education is akin to a form of preventive detention, where people’s behaviors are deemed vaguely suspicious but not criminal. They are being held until their loyalty can be ascertained and, as needed, instilled. In mid-2019, Human Rights Watch was able to speak with an official in the region involved in carrying out the IJOP system. The person said: From 2016 to mid-2018 we were arresting people. In the beginning we were arresting those who spread terrorism videos, those who receive or give funds to ETIM, [and] those who participated in riots, and we would send them to the local political education centers. Later on … there were quotas for arrests in all the locales, and so we began to arrest people randomly: people who argue in the neighborhood, people who street fight, drunkards, people who are lazy; we would arrest them and accuse them of being extremists. There was not enough room for them all in the centers, so they built new ones.… In the beginning when the IJOP system came live, if [we] labeled someone as suspicious during evaluation, the local village committee and the police would go and take the person into custody. Later on, we rarely marked someone as suspicious. Often … we asked them leading questions. Let’s say we had to evaluate a person whom the system had lost track of. We’d [go to his home and] ask, “these last few days you were working the fields? You didn’t go anywhere?” As long as they said yes, we’d fill out [the form in the app] noting the villager said he was working in the fields, he didn’t go anywhere but everything was fine. It was like that for all other verification tasks.” 2020-12-09 00:00:00 +0000

After Mass Detentions, China Razes Muslim Communities to Build a Loyal City

Wall Street Journal Josh Chin, Clément Bürge March 20, 2019

In this old Silk Road city in western China, a state security campaign involving the detention of vast numbers of people has moved to its next stage: demolishing their neighborhoods and purging the...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Religious Spaces Destruction of Language Restrictions on movement Josh Chin, Clément Bürge After Mass Detentions, China Razes Muslim Communities to Build a Loyal City all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-religious-spaces destruction-of-language restrictions-on-movement In this old Silk Road city in western China, a state security campaign involving the detention of vast numbers of people has moved to its next stage: demolishing their neighborhoods and purging their culture. Empty mosques remain, while the shantytown homes that surrounded them have been replaced by glass towers and retail strips like many found across China. Food stalls that sold fresh nang, the circular flatbread that is to Uighur society what baguettes are to the French, are gone. The young men that once baked the nang (or nan in Uighur) have disappeared, as have many of their customers. Uighur-language books are missing from store shelves in a city, the capital of China’s Xinjiang region, that has long been a center of the global Uighur community. Supplanting the Turkic culture that long defined large parts of Urumqi is a sanitized version catering to Chinese tourists. On a recent morning in the Erdaoqiao neighborhood, the once-bustling heart of Uighur Urumqi, nang ovens were nowhere to be seen—but souvenir shops sold nang-shaped pocket mirrors, nang bottle openers and circular throw pillows with covers printed to look like nang. When plans for Urumqi’s urban overhaul were announced in 2017, the party-controlled Xinjiang Daily said the government would offer compensation to residents forced to move, and planned new residential districts “designed with full consideration of the customs and convenience of all ethnic groups.” “We can’t have a culture anymore,” said a Uighur resident of Urumqi who works at a state-owned resources company. He said he stopped visiting his local mosque after officials came to his house to confiscate his Quran. “No one goes any more. It’s too dangerous,” he said. “A lot of people have left,” said an employee at a once-popular live-music bar in one of Urumqi’s Uighur-dominated districts. With barely a dozen customers on a recent Saturday night, he declined to explain where the people had gone. “That’s political. I can’t say,” he said. Moments later, three men, one equipped with a body camera, entered the bar and wrote down the identification card numbers of the Uighur customers. The employee said the men had been sent by local officials, and that such inspections were routine. But in a single year, 2017, Urumqi’s official population fell by 15%—to 2.2 million from 2.6 million the year before, the first drop in more than three decades. That was the year, in May 2017, that city police began rounding up local Uighurs and taking them to detention camps, residents said. Around the same time, they said, authorities in Urumqi forced Uighur migrants from other parts of Xinjiang to return to their hometowns. The Urumqi government has yet to release a new population breakdown by ethnicity. The Urumqi government also earmarked 70 billion yuan ($10 billion) last year to demolish and rebuild the city’s shantytowns, which housed large numbers of Uighur migrants from southern Xinjiang. Authorities see young migrant men, the same group that baked the city’s nang, as instigators of violence and ripe targets for radicalization. One settlement reduced to rubble is Heijiashan, once a low-rise jumble of makeshift houses built around a market and two mosques. Before being flattened over the course of 2017 and 2018, it was a center of Uighur migrant life in the city, said the University of Washington’s Mr. Byler. “On Fridays, 5,000 to 10,000 people would come for the prayer,” Mr. Byler said. On a recent visit, the mosques still stood in the shadows of rising apartment towers, but appeared abandoned. While attempting to film them, Journal reporters were detained and taken to a nearby police station.Summoned by police, a district propaganda official said the government had taken care not to raze the mosques. “That shows the government’s respect for Islam,” said the official, a Mr. Xing. The city had more than 400 mosques as late as 2015, according to state media. Several have been closed down or repurposed in recent years, while those still in service are surrounded by razor wire and surveillance cameras, with only a trickle of elderly worshipers. Authorities in Xinjiang are also looking to promote tourism, which would bring more investment and help eradicate the poverty they say nurtures radicalism. North of downtown Urumqi, tourists can pose for pictures under a towering sculpture of a nang and purchase more than 150 varieties of the staple from industrial kitchens at a new 226,000 square-foot Nang Culture Industry Park. “Staff wear white, and their squeaky clean image bumps up the ‘attractiveness index’ not a small amount,” a local Communist Party-controlled newspaper said in a story on the park in January. The tourism effort can also be seen in the transformation of the former Uighur commercial center, Erdaoqiao. The neighborhood was the site of the worst violence during the 2009 riots. In November 2017, when the Journal visited to document the reach of Beijing’s surveillance state, Erdaoqiao hummed with activity and tension. A year later, it resembled a theme park. A pair of pedestrian promenades guarded by large security gates have replaced streets previously dense with cars, pedestrians and police outposts. Around a large central bazaar, the sounds of commerce conducted in Uighur have given way to a loudspeaker broadcast offering cheerful greetings in Mandarin and English. “Hello, dear tourists!” says the recorded voice, inviting visitors to enjoy “the magnificent reappearance of the commercial hub of the Silk Road.” 2019-03-20 00:00:00 +0000

Inside China’s internment camps: tear gas, Tasers and textbooks

AFP Ben Dooley October 25, 2018

On state television, the vocational education centre in China's far west looked like a modern school where happy students studied Mandarin, brushed up their job skills, and pursued hobbies such as ...

Internment Internment conditions Ben Dooley Inside China’s internment camps: tear gas, Tasers and textbooks all afp AFP all internment all internment-conditions On state television, the vocational education centre in China's far west looked like a modern school where happy students studied Mandarin, brushed up their job skills, and pursued hobbies such as sports and folk dance. But earlier this year, one of the local government departments in charge of such facilities in Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture made several purchases that had little to do with education: 2,768 police batons, 550 electric cattle prods, 1,367 pairs of handcuffs, and 2,792 cans of pepper spray. The shopping list was among over a thousand procurement requests made by local governments in the Xinjiang region since early 2017 related to the construction and management of a sprawling system of "vocational education and training centres". Government propaganda insisted the centres were aimed at countering the spread of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism through "free" education and job training. However, an AFP examination of more than 1,500 publicly available government documents -- ranging from tenders and budgets to official work reports -- shows the centres are run more like jails than schools. Thousands of guards equipped with tear gas, Tasers, stun guns and spiked clubs keep tight control over "students" in facilities ringed with razor wire and infrared cameras, according to the documents. "Detain those who should be detained to the greatest extent possible", cadres were told. Detentions surged, catching local governments unprepared. In 2017, spending by justice bureaus throughout Xinjiang exploded, driven largely by huge outlays for building and running vocational centres. The offices spent nearly three billion yuan ($432 million) -- at least 577 percent more than planned -- according to AFP's calculations. Around April 2017, local governments began posting a wide variety of tenders related to the facilities. Some orders -- furniture, air conditioners, bunk beds, cutlery -- would not seem out of place at a typical Chinese university. But others resembled prison equipment: sophisticated surveillance systems, cameras for recording students in their rooms, razor wire, a system for eavesdropping on phone calls, and infrared monitoring devices. At least one centre requested "tiger chairs", a device used by Chinese police to restrain interrogation subjects. The gear was necessary, party officials in the regional capital Urumqi argued in an emergency request for Tasers, to "guarantee staff members' personal safety". Non-lethal weapons, it said, were important for "reducing the possibility of accidental injury in some situations where it is not necessary to use standard firearms". While China has rejected estimates that upwards of one million are held in the centres, tender documents hint at huge numbers. In a one-month period in early 2018, Hotan county's vocational education bureau, which oversees at least one centre, ordered 194,000 Chinese language practice books. And 11,310 pairs of shoes. 2018-10-25 00:00:00 +0000

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen

Der Spiegel Bernhard Zand July 26, 2018

There is a modern shopping center at the edge of the city, though barely one in five stores is still open. Most of the others were closed recently due to "security and stability measures," accordin...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Bernhard Zand A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all internment all pretexts-for-detention There is a modern shopping center at the edge of the city, though barely one in five stores is still open. Most of the others were closed recently due to "security and stability measures," according to the official seals adhered to the doors. "Everyone was sent to school," one passerby says quietly while looking around. More than half the people we met along the way during our journey spoke of family members or acquaintances who were "sent to school." The stories differ, yet they all contain important parallels. Most of the people affected are men. The arrests usually occur at night or in the early morning. The reasons cited include contacts abroad, too many visits to a mosque or possessing forbidden content on a mobile phone or computer. Relatives of those who are apprehended often don't hear from them for months. And when they do manage to see them again, it's never in person but rather via video stream from the prison visitor area. 2018-07-26 00:00:00 +0000

One in Six Uyghurs Held in Political ‘Re-Education Camps’ in Xinjiang’s Onsu County

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes August 31, 2018

More than one out of every six ethnic Uyghurs in one county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being detained in political “re-education camps,” according to local of...

Internment Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes One in Six Uyghurs Held in Political ‘Re-Education Camps’ in Xinjiang’s Onsu County all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all More than one out of every six ethnic Uyghurs in one county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being detained in political “re-education camps,” according to local officials. Onsu (in Chinese, Wensu) county, in the XUAR’s Aksu (Akesu) prefecture is home to around 230,000 people, according to the county government’s website. Some 180,000 of them are members of minority groups—the largest of which is Uyghurs. While investigating the political re-education camp network in Aksu, RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke with an officer at the Onsu county police station who said that “30,000 people” from the county are currently held in re-education camps. 2018-08-31 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur Schoolchildren, Parents Forced to Abstain From Fasting During Ramadan

Radio Free Asia Gulchehra Hoja, Joshua Lipes May 21, 2018

But a student in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture’s Peyziwat (Jiashi) county recently told RFA that school officials made him and his classmates sign agreements with their parents that they w...

Religious Persecution Gulchehra Hoja, Joshua Lipes Uyghur Schoolchildren, Parents Forced to Abstain From Fasting During Ramadan all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all But a student in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture’s Peyziwat (Jiashi) county recently told RFA that school officials made him and his classmates sign agreements with their parents that they would not fast during Ramadan—which falls between May 16 and June 14 this year—marking the first time authorities have been known to target school-age children with the measures. ... When asked if his parents were fasting during Ramadan, the student said that they weren’t because “they are not allowed to practice such things in front of … their children.” 2018-05-21 00:00:00 +0000

For China’s embattled Uighurs, a bank transfer abroad can become a ‘terrorism’ ordeal

Washington Post Anna Fifield September 19, 2019

The Chinese state has come down not once, but twice, on Mayila Yakufu. First, the 41-year-old insurance company worker was taken away for 10 months of “vocational training” in one of the internmen...

Internment Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Anna Fifield For China’s embattled Uighurs, a bank transfer abroad can become a ‘terrorism’ ordeal all washington-post Washington Post all internment destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication The Chinese state has come down not once, but twice, on Mayila Yakufu. First, the 41-year-old insurance company worker was taken away for 10 months of “vocational training” in one of the internment camps China has set up in the mostly-Muslim Xinjiang region as part of an extensive campaign to strip the Uighur minority of its culture and language. She was out for barely four months before the authorities picked her up again — this time for financing terrorism. Now, the single mother of three is in a prison for criminals, serving a sentence of unknown length. ... Uighurs living abroad have started to hear reports of family members being arrested and jailed on suspicion of financing terrorism after sending money to relatives abroad. Those relatives have also had their savings and assets confiscated by the state, they say. This new and alarming effort appears aimed at keeping Uighurs in China from having any contact with their family members beyond the country’s borders, analysts say. "The authorities also confiscated all of Mayila’s savings — the equivalent of about $56,000, Nyrola said. It was money she had saved from working three jobs. “They are now targeting people with money so that they can take it,” Nyrola said. ... Mayila’s aunt and uncle, 60-year-old Gulebaikeremi Maimutimin and 63-year-old Hasimu Tuoheti, live in constant fear that the children will be taken from them. Last month, they received notices from the Public Security Bureau that they were being investigated on suspicion of helping finance terrorist activities and illegally possessing articles of extremism. They trace this action to the fact that their names are associated with the money sent to Australia in 2013 for Mayila’s parents’ house. “We can prove that this money didn’t go to terrorist activities,” Nyrola said, referring to the bank statements and the housing contract. Her mother has been busy teaching the children how to cook and shop and look after themselves in case she is jailed, Nyrola said. She has shown them where the winter clothes and bedding are stored and how to turn on the heating once the cold weather arrives. 2019-09-19 00:00:00 +0000

Securitizing Xinjiang: Police Recruitment, Informal Policing and Ethnic Minority Co-optation

The China Quarterly Adrian Zenz, James Leibold July 12, 2019

This article investigates the securitization of Xinjiang through an analysis of official police recruitment documents. Informal police jobs, which represent the backbone of recent recruitment drive...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Adrian Zenz, James Leibold Securitizing Xinjiang: Police Recruitment, Informal Policing and Ethnic Minority Co-optation all the-china-quarterly The China Quarterly all surveillance all civilian-informants This article investigates the securitization of Xinjiang through an analysis of official police recruitment documents. Informal police jobs, which represent the backbone of recent recruitment drives, have historically carried inferior pay levels. Yet, advertised assistant police positions in Xinjiang now offer high salaries despite low educational requirements, thereby attracting lesser-educated applicants, many of whom are ethnic minorities. Besides co-opting Uyghurs into policing their own people, the resulting employment is in itself a significant stability maintenance strategy. 2019-07-12 00:00:00 +0000

China party urges Uighur youth to 'love motherland' to avoid 'terrorist' label

Reuters May 18, 2018

Young members of China’s Uighur Muslim minority should “love the motherland” and learn Mandarin to help fight a perception they are “terrorists”, Uighur members of the ruling Communist Party said i...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays China party urges Uighur youth to 'love motherland' to avoid 'terrorist' label all reuters Reuters all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays Young members of China’s Uighur Muslim minority should “love the motherland” and learn Mandarin to help fight a perception they are “terrorists”, Uighur members of the ruling Communist Party said in state media on Thursday. ... Young Uighurs should reflect on how the party had created a “harmonious, prosperous, happy and safe” life for minorities in Xinjiang, they said, adding that a failure to grasp the nation’s common language of Mandarin was a “disgrace”. “Siblings, the great motherland has granted us a blessed, heavenly life, how can we follow those devils to abandon our motherland?” they said. 2018-05-18 00:00:00 +0000

Families of missing Uighurs use Tiktok video app to publicise China detentions

Guardian Kate Lyons August 20, 2019

Uighurs are sending out messages on social media video app Tiktok showing family members who have gone missing, in their latest attempt to raise awareness about the estimated 1 million Uighurs who ...

Destruction of the Family Internment Kate Lyons Families of missing Uighurs use Tiktok video app to publicise China detentions all guardian Guardian all destruction-of-the-family internment all Uighurs are sending out messages on social media video app Tiktok showing family members who have gone missing, in their latest attempt to raise awareness about the estimated 1 million Uighurs who have been detained in camps that have sprung up across China’s Xinjiang region. The videos, many of which are over eery music, show images of missing people, with a photograph or video of the person posting the clip superimposed over the top. Many of those posting the videos are crying. TikTok enables users to share short videos, 15 to 60 seconds long, usually set to music or film dialogue. The app groups videos that use the same music clip, allowing users to views multiple videos posted by Uighurs about their missing loved ones all together. 2019-08-20 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

One illustration of how policing became increasingly aggressive and ubiquitous in Xinjiang is a police report discussing how one knife at a dumpling shop was not chained to a secure post, as per re...

Surveillance Use of technology Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance all use-of-technology One illustration of how policing became increasingly aggressive and ubiquitous in Xinjiang is a police report discussing how one knife at a dumpling shop was not chained to a secure post, as per regulation. The report said the violation needed to be rectified within a day. Laws in Xinjiang require not only the chaining of knives, the document indicated, but that knives also have QR codes identifying their owners. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

“While doing home visits, a community worker learned that [name redacted] . . . female, Uyghur, has no job and stays home to care for her young children . . . We did not see anyone there in the las...

Surveillance Restricting communication Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance all restricting-communication “While doing home visits, a community worker learned that [name redacted] . . . female, Uyghur, has no job and stays home to care for her young children . . . We did not see anyone there in the last few days. Community police searched on the police net and found out that the person was arrested in [hometown] on September 21st, 2017, the reason for arrest: Cellphone contains obscure chat program.” Police in the Shuimogou district of Ürümqi investigated a young woman because her high school friend went to study at Stanford University and because the woman sometimes talked to her on WeChat. Even phone calls or text chats involving outside countries invite scrutiny from authorities in Xinjiang. In Tianshan, the historic and majority-Uyghur center of Ürümqi, authorities reported sending a professional driver to re-education following an unusual phone call to a “key country.” 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Authorities warn Uyghurs not to talk about ‘re-education’ with UN team

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur May 11, 2022

The Chinese government has issued a new directive that forbids Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region from discussing the network of internment camps or accepting calls from international phone numbers ahe...

Surveillance Restricting communication Shohret Hoshur Authorities warn Uyghurs not to talk about ‘re-education’ with UN team all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all surveillance all restricting-communication The Chinese government has issued a new directive that forbids Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region from discussing the network of internment camps or accepting calls from international phone numbers ahead of an expected visit by the United Nations human rights chief, a police office in the region told RFA. The officer, who works in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) and declined to give his name, told RFA that police received special government notices on how to prepare for the visit this month by Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights. The policeman said he was a Chinese Communist Party member and was playing a leading role in disseminating the notices during political study sessions and enforcing their mandates. “The political study sessions are being held on Wednesdays, and prefectural and autonomous regional notices are being studied as they arrive,” he said. … Officials issued a notice prohibiting Uyghurs from speaking about “re-education” or internment camps, but added that if the topic arose, they should only mention positive aspects of re-education, namely that it is a pathway to living a good and normal life, the Kashgar officer said. Uyghurs have been told not to speak spontaneously when the U.N. team arrives and asks questions, he said. “We were told not to speak about re-education and the current situation, and that we should speak positively about life here,” the police officer said. 2022-05-11 00:00:00 +0000

Hundreds of Uyghurs said to be detained in camp in Xinjiang’s Manas county

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur March 04, 2022

Nearly 800 Uyghurs are being held in a detention camp in Manas county in northwestern China’s Xinjiang, said an official from the area who previously worked at the facility. … The official also sai...

Internment Religious Persecution Pretexts for Detention Internment conditions Shohret Hoshur Hundreds of Uyghurs said to be detained in camp in Xinjiang’s Manas county all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment religious-persecution all pretexts-for-detention internment-conditions Nearly 800 Uyghurs are being held in a detention camp in Manas county in northwestern China’s Xinjiang, said an official from the area who previously worked at the facility. … The official also said that the Uyghur inmates had been arrested for committing “serious crimes,” such as praying, and that inside the facility they learned “the national language” of Mandarin Chinese. “They were divided by an iron fence — males about 500 and females about 270,” he said. “There was no torture of women. They were taught Chinese. These ones [committed] serious crimes — people who prayed five times a day.” 2022-03-04 00:00:00 +0000

One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority

New York Times Paul Mozur April 14, 2019

Now, documents and interviews show that the authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority. I...

Surveillance Use of technology Paul Mozur One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all use-of-technology Now, documents and interviews show that the authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling, experts said. The facial recognition technology, which is integrated into China’s rapidly expanding networks of surveillance cameras, looks exclusively for Uighurs based on their appearance and keeps records of their comings and goings for search and review. The practice makes China a pioneer in applying next-generation technology to watch its people, potentially ushering in a new era of automated racism. The technology and its use to keep tabs on China’s 11 million Uighurs were described by five people with direct knowledge of the systems, who requested anonymity because they feared retribution. The New York Times also reviewed databases used by the police, government procurement documents and advertising materials distributed by the A.I. companies that make the systems. The police are now using facial recognition technology to target Uighurs in wealthy eastern cities like Hangzhou and Wenzhou and across the coastal province of Fujian, said two of the people. Law enforcement in the central Chinese city of Sanmenxia, along the Yellow River, ran a system that over the course of a month this year screened whether residents were Uighurs 500,000 times. A translation of marketing material for CloudWalk’s facial recognition technology. “If originally one Uighur lives in a neighborhood, and within 20 days six Uighurs appear,” it said on its website, “it immediately sends alarms” to law enforcement. The software extends the state’s ability to label Uighurs to the rest of the country. One national database stores the faces of all Uighurs who leave Xinjiang, according to two of the people. 2019-04-14 00:00:00 +0000

China moves to close down Uyghur cultural, language organizations

Radio Free Asia Mihray Abdilim March 01, 2022

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on Feb. 22 issued a “notice of revocation of registration certificates and seals of the legal representatives of social orga...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Mihray Abdilim China moves to close down Uyghur cultural, language organizations all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on Feb. 22 issued a “notice of revocation of registration certificates and seals of the legal representatives of social organizations,” according to Chinese media reports published and information on the websites of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and the Urumqi (in Chinese, Wulumuqi) municipal government. The list issued by the bureau includes 160 organizations devoted to researching traditional Uyghur culture and to the teaching of foreign languages, including the Uyghur Classical Literature and Muqam Research Association, Dolan Farmer Painters’ Association, Atlan Vocational Training School, Intil Language School and Miraj Vocational Training School. 2022-03-01 00:00:00 +0000

Built To Last: A BuzzFeed News investigation based on thousands of satellite images reveals a vast, growing infrastructure for long-term detention and incarceration.

Buzzfeed Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing, Christo Buschek August 27, 2020

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 de...

Internment Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing, Christo Buschek Built To Last: A BuzzFeed News investigation based on thousands of satellite images reveals a vast, growing infrastructure for long-term detention and incarceration. all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all internment all 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 2020-08-27 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur kids recall physical and mental torment at Chinese boarding schools in Xinjiang

NPR Emily Feng February 03, 2022

In quiet, polite voices, Aysu and Lütfullah Kuçar describe the nearly 20 months they spent in state boarding schools in China's western region of Xinjiang, forcibly separated from their family. Un...

Internment Forced Assimilation Destruction of the Family Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Destruction of Language Restricting communication Emily Feng Uyghur kids recall physical and mental torment at Chinese boarding schools in Xinjiang all npr NPR all internment forced-assimilation destruction-of-the-family all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays destruction-of-language restricting-communication In quiet, polite voices, Aysu and Lütfullah Kuçar describe the nearly 20 months they spent in state boarding schools in China's western region of Xinjiang, forcibly separated from their family. Under the watchful gaze of their father, the two ethnically Uyghur children say that their heads were shaved and that class monitors and teachers frequently hit them, locked them in dark rooms and forced them to hold stress positions as punishment for perceived transgressions. By the time they were able to return home to Turkey in December 2019, they had become malnourished and traumatized. They had also forgotten how to speak their mother tongues, Uyghur and Turkish. (The children were being raised in Turkey but got forcibly sent to boarding school during a family visit to China.) "That was the heaviest moment in my life. Standing in front of my two Chinese-speaking children, I felt as if they had killed me," says Abdüllatif Kuçar, their father. … Lütfullah was only 4 years old when he was sent to a boarding school just south of downtown Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, in February 2018. His older sister, Aysu, then 6, was sent to a separate school in the same city. When they were reunited with family members the next year, the two children were nearly unrecognizable to their loved ones. "They were like living corpses," says Neriman Kuçar, their stepmother. "They had become entirely different children." … Abdüllatif Kuçar is originally from Xinjiang but had been living in Turkey for about 30 years. He returned to China with his family for a visit in 2015, with misgivings . . . Kuçar's misgivings proved correct. His Turkish citizenship put him under suspicion, and Chinese authorities seized the family's passports in late 2015, trapping him and his two children in the country. When his documents were finally returned in 2017, Kuçar was deported back to Turkey and barred from reentering China. … Every school day began the same way, as the children describe it to NPR. Kids were roused from the dormitory rooms where they bunked with multiple other Uyghur children of various ages. Teachers came by for a mandatory bed inspection before the children could line up for breakfast, usually corn or rice porridge. Then came a Chinese flag-raising ceremony for which they were taught to chant Chinese political slogans and sing patriotic songs. Years later, the children would still calm themselves down by singing Chinese songs about "Grandfather" Xi Jinping and "Father" Wang Junzheng. The latter is the former security chief of Xinjiang, who has been sanctioned by numerous governments, including the U.S. government, for human rights abuses. "My two children spoke Chinese as well as birds sing," says Kuçar. In interviews from their Istanbul home, both children independently describe routine physical and emotional punishment. An older class monitor assigned to each dorm room was given permission to bully the younger students. "The 'older sisters' pulled my hair and beat me. All my hair fell out when I was at school," says Aysu, now 10. "If we cried, the 'older brother' made us stand still facing the wall or hit us," says Lütfullah, now 8. When children didn't follow orders or learn quickly enough, their teacher would put them into a stress position they call "the motorcycle," the children say. Aysu and Lütfullah demonstrate: two arms stretched out front, knees bent in a half-squat, which they held for several minutes. But they say the worst punishment was being sent to the school's basement. Lütfullah says the teachers told him ghosts lived there, and children including him were locked there in the dark, alone, for hours at a time. In class, the children say, they were taught in only Mandarin for six days a week, and students who spoke without permission or spoke in Uyghur were hit with rulers. After class each day, the children finished their homework in silence before returning to their dormitories and watching television. Terrified to speak to other children, Aysu says she spent much of her waking time alone. "I would just stare at the ceiling in a daze if I could not sleep," she remembers. … In 2019, the Turkish Foreign Ministry informed him it had negotiated with China to allow Kuçar a single-entry visa to enter China and pick up his two children. … "When the Chinese police brought my two children out, they ran to me as fast as a bullet from a gun," Kuçar remembers. He fainted in the December snow as his children began hugging him. When he came to, he realized his children no longer seemed to react to Turkish or Uyghur. "Even though they did not understand me, I did not think there was a language barrier. We could communicate with our expressions," says Kuçar. "I kissed them, I held them, and they could not stop smiling at me." NPR verified that Kuçar traveled from Turkey to China in both 2015 and briefly in 2019 through visa stamps and Chinese and Turkish identification documents. Details of the children's account were corroborated by Turkish medical and education professionals who are treating the children. … Just over two years after returning to Turkey, the Kuçar children are still in the middle of a long recovery process. Both lost weight during their time in boarding school. A pediatric doctor in Istanbul diagnosed them with calcium and iron deficiencies, and the family put them on a special diet. "On her second day back home, I made Aysu laghman, Uyghur-style noodles," says Neriman Kuçar, their stepmother. "Aysu started crying when she saw the dish. They had only been served Uyghur food twice while she was at the school, but older classmates had eaten it all before she got a bite." For both children, the mental trauma stemming from their time in Urumqi runs far deeper than the physical impact. For months, Aysu and Lütfullah hid whenever guests came over. They asked for permission before going to the bathroom and before eating. "Lütfullah could not speak or express himself until the end of first grade. I did not have this problem with other Uyghur children from Xinjiang," says the child's Turkish elementary class teacher. The teacher did not want to be named because discussing China's policies in Xinjiang is politically sensitive in Turkey. The two children also work with a psychiatrist who specializes in treating Uyghur children with art therapy, and they attend Uyghur-language classes after school. For the first four months the children were back in Turkey, Kuçar says, he sat by their bedside every night because of their frequent and intense nightmares. "The children gnashed their teeth, kicked in bed and would shout, 'No, I will not do that!' in their sleep," Kuçar says. He still keeps the lights on 24 hours a day inside the house to chase away Lütfullah's memories of being locked in the dark school basement. 2022-02-03 00:00:00 +0000

China Is Forcing People To Download An App That Tells Them To Delete “Dangerous” Photos

Buzzfeed Megha Rajagopalan April 09, 2018

Ethnic Uighurs in China's west say they are being forced to download an app that scans cell phones for audio and video files and dispatches their information to an outside server. According to new...

Surveillance Use of technology Megha Rajagopalan China Is Forcing People To Download An App That Tells Them To Delete “Dangerous” Photos all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all surveillance all use-of-technology Ethnic Uighurs in China's west say they are being forced to download an app that scans cell phones for audio and video files and dispatches their information to an outside server. According to new research by a team supported by the Open Technology Fund under Radio Free Asia, the app Jingwang Weishi — which translates to “web cleansing” — records a phone’s identifying information, including its IMEI number, model, phone number, and manufacturer. It also searches through the phone for unique, fingerprintlike identifiers associated with files, particularly photos, audio recordings, and videos, researchers found. Reports about people being asked — and forced — to download the app began to surface last year, with some screenshots of the app beginning to appear on social media, leading to speculation about what it actually did. In addition to Jingwang Weishi, police departments in Xinjiang have also pressured residents to download an app called Baixing Anquan, or Citizen Security, which has been referenced in several state media reports. 2018-04-09 00:00:00 +0000

China’s Prisons Swell After Deluge of Arrests Engulfs Muslims

New York Times Chris Buckley August 31, 2019

Courts in Xinjiang — where largely Muslim minorities, including Uighurs and Kazakhs, make up more than half of the population — sentenced a total of 230,000 people to prison or other punishments in...

Internment Chris Buckley China’s Prisons Swell After Deluge of Arrests Engulfs Muslims all new-york-times New York Times all internment all Courts in Xinjiang — where largely Muslim minorities, including Uighurs and Kazakhs, make up more than half of the population — sentenced a total of 230,000 people to prison or other punishments in 2017 and 2018, significantly more than in any other period on record in decades for the region. During 2017 alone, Xinjiang courts sentenced almost 87,000 defendants, 10 times more than the previous year, to prison terms of five years or longer. Arrests increased eightfold; prosecutions fivefold. Han Chinese residents have been largely spared from the wave of detentions, according to experts as well as data from Han-majority parts of Xinjiang. Arrests and indictments in areas run by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps — a quasi-military administration overseeing areas with an 85 percent Han population — rose modestly or remained flat in 2017. 2019-08-31 00:00:00 +0000

Security lapse exposed a Chinese smart city surveillance system

TechCrunch Zack Whittaker May 03, 2019

The system also uses its facial recognition systems to detect ethnicities and labels them — such as “汉族” for Han Chinese, the main ethnic group of China — and also “维族” — or Uyghur Muslims, an ethn...

Surveillance Use of technology Zack Whittaker Security lapse exposed a Chinese smart city surveillance system all techcrunch TechCrunch all surveillance all use-of-technology The system also uses its facial recognition systems to detect ethnicities and labels them — such as “汉族” for Han Chinese, the main ethnic group of China — and also “维族” — or Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority under persecution by Beijing. Where ethnicities can help police identify suspects in an area even if they don’t have a name to match, the data can be used for abuse. 2019-05-03 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghurs in Xinjiang Ordered to Replace Traditional Décor With Sinicized Furniture

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes January 09, 2020

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are ordering Uyghurs to “modernize” the interiors of their homes by ridding them of traditional ethnic decor and adding Sin...

Forced Assimilation Surveillance In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Uyghurs in Xinjiang Ordered to Replace Traditional Décor With Sinicized Furniture all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all forced-assimilation surveillance all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are ordering Uyghurs to “modernize” the interiors of their homes by ridding them of traditional ethnic decor and adding Sinicized furniture, largely to the benefit of majority Han Chinese entrepreneurs, sources said. In recent months, officials in the XUAR have been promoting the “Sanxin Huodong,” or “Three News,” campaign to force Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to abandon the rugs and pillows they traditionally use as furniture in their homes and replace them with sofas, beds, and desks, according to Uyghur sources inside the region and living in exile abroad. The campaign follows one in which authorities in the XUAR allocated more than 4 billion yuan (U.S. $575 million) to “modernize” the lifestyles of residents in the region, in part by destroying elements of traditional Uyghur design, including mihrabs, or ornate domed niches built into a wall or ceiling to denote the correct direction one should face when praying to Mecca. Those who do not follow the directives risk being labeled religious extremists and placed in the region’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities are believed to have held some 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017. After receiving information about the implementation of the Sanxin Huodong campaign in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city’s Nezerbagh township, RFA’s Uyghur Service contacted a government employee there who refused to comment on the situation. But RFA was able to speak with a member of a work group in Kashgar prefecture’s Yengisheher (Shule) county who said that residents are tearing out the prior designs of their homes and renovating them according to the requirements of the new campaign. “It’s the Sanxin Huodong—right after we moved here, [authorities] held a meeting about it after the flag-raising ceremony one morning … and they talk about it once a week now,” the work group member said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal. “The ‘Three News’ means, firstly, having sofas at home, secondly, having beds, and thirdly, having a table for studying or a study desk for the children … Previously, people put down felt mats or carpets [as furniture].” The work group member said that often the new beds Uyghurs place in their homes are provided to official Han Chinese “relatives” who Uyghur families are required to invite into their homes and provide with information about their lives and political views as part of the “Pair Up and Become Family” campaign that was launched in the XUAR in late 2017. “Yes, they sleep in their shared beds,” the work group member said, referring to the “relatives,” who also subject their hosts to political indoctrination during their visits. In the village in Yengisheher county where the work group member is based, they said that “more than 80 percent of people” have complied with the Three News campaign. “My sense is that it has exceeded 80 or 90 percent,” the work group member said. 2020-01-09 00:00:00 +0000

Footage shows hundreds of blindfolded and shackled prisoners in China – video

Guardian September 23, 2019

Drone footage has emerged showing police leading hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men from a train in what is believed to be a transfer of inmates in Xinjiang. The video, posted anonymously on ...

Internment Internment conditions Footage shows hundreds of blindfolded and shackled prisoners in China – video all guardian Guardian all internment all internment-conditions Drone footage has emerged showing police leading hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men from a train in what is believed to be a transfer of inmates in Xinjiang. The video, posted anonymously on YouTube last week, shows what appear to be Uighur Muslims or people from other minorities wearing blue and yellow uniforms, with shaven heads, their eyes covered, sitting in rows on the ground and later being led away by police. 2019-09-23 00:00:00 +0000

Authorities Force Uyghur Students to Return to Xinjiang From Mainland For Propaganda Drive

Radio Free Asia Gulchehra Hoja, Joshua Lipes July 16, 2018

Authorities are requiring Uyghur pupils studying in mainland China universities to return to their homes in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) during their summer break to take part in pr...

Flag-raising/Village meeting Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Gulchehra Hoja, Joshua Lipes Authorities Force Uyghur Students to Return to Xinjiang From Mainland For Propaganda Drive all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all all flag-raising-village-meeting forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays Authorities are requiring Uyghur pupils studying in mainland China universities to return to their homes in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) during their summer break to take part in propaganda tours promoting ethnic unity and lauding central government policies. ... “All Xinjiang students are required to participate (including all ethnic groups), and they will preach to the public, and the publicity activities will cover every student,” the notice reads, adding that all universities must ensure that their pupils from the region take part in the initiative. The students’ speeches are expected to “promote national unity, national mutual trust and anti-extremism as the keynotes, while vigorously promoting the benefits of the party’s various policies” to the masses, it says. The key goals of the campaign are to “denounce the reactionary nature of the ‘three evils,’ expose their ugly face, and demonstrate the students’ firm political stance,” according to the announcement, which notes that completion of the “summer speech program” must be “verified by grassroots government departments and will become part of the students’ record.” While the announcement does not require students to return to the XUAR, they will not be permitted to re-enroll with their university for the fall semester unless they obtain verification from local authorities that they took part in the propaganda campaign in the region—essentially forcing them to do so. 2018-07-16 00:00:00 +0000

'Their goal is to destroy everyone': Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

BBC Matthew Hill, David Campanale, Joel Gunter February 02, 2020

The women had their jewellery confiscated. Ziawudun's earrings were yanked out, she said, causing her ears to bleed, and she was herded into a room with a group of women. Among them was an elderly ...

Internment Internment conditions Matthew Hill, David Campanale, Joel Gunter 'Their goal is to destroy everyone': Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape all bbc BBC all internment all internment-conditions The women had their jewellery confiscated. Ziawudun's earrings were yanked out, she said, causing her ears to bleed, and she was herded into a room with a group of women. Among them was an elderly woman who Ziawudun would later befriend. The camp guards pulled off the woman's headscarf, Ziawudun said, and shouted at her for wearing a long dress - one of a list of religious expressions that became arrestable offences for Uighurs that year. "They stripped everything off the elderly lady, leaving her with just her underwear. She was so embarrassed that she tried to cover herself with her arms," Ziawudun said. The women were told to hand over their shoes and any clothes with elastic or buttons, Ziawudun said, then taken to cellblocks - "similar to a small Chinese neighbourhood where there are rows of buildings". Nothing much happened for the first month or two. They were forced to watch propaganda programmes in their cells and had their hair forcibly cut short. Then police began interrogating Ziawudun about her absent husband, she said, knocking her on the floor when she resisted and kicking her in the abdomen. "Police boots are very hard and heavy, so at first I thought he was beating me with something," she said. "Then I realised that he was trampling on my belly. I almost passed out - I felt a hot flush go through me." A camp doctor told her she might have a blood clot. When her cellmates drew attention to the fact that she was bleeding, the guards "replied saying it is normal for women to bleed", she said. According to Ziawudun, each cell was home to 14 women, with bunk beds, bars on the windows, a basin and a hole-in-the-floor-style toilet. As well as the medical interventions, detainees in Ziawudun's camp spent hours singing patriotic Chinese songs and watching patriotic TV programmes about Chinese President Xi Jinping, she said. "You forget to think about life outside the camp. I don't know if they brainwashed us or if it was the side effect of the injections and pills, but you can't think of anything beyond wishing you had a full stomach. The food deprivation is so severe." Detainees had food withheld for infractions such as failing to accurately memorise passages from books about Xi Jinping, according to a former camp guard who spoke to the BBC via video link from a country outside China. "Once we were taking the people arrested into the concentration camp, and I saw everyone being forced to memorise those books. They sit for hours trying to memorise the text, everyone had a book in their hands," he said. Those who failed tests were forced to wear three different colours of clothing based on whether they had failed one, two, or three times, he said, and subjected to different levels of punishment accordingly, including food deprivation and beatings. The guard said he did not know anything about rape in the cell areas. Asked if the camp guards used electrocution, he said: "Yes. They do. They use those electrocuting instruments." After being tortured, detainees were forced to make confessions to a variety of perceived offences, according to the guard. "I have those confessions in my heart," he said. 2020-02-02 00:00:00 +0000

'Their goal is to destroy everyone': Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

BBC Matthew Hill, David Campanale, Joel Gunter February 02, 2020

The men always wore masks, Tursunay Ziawudun said, even though there was no pandemic then. They wore suits, she said, not police uniforms. Sometime after midnight, they came to the cells to selec...

Internment Internment conditions Matthew Hill, David Campanale, Joel Gunter 'Their goal is to destroy everyone': Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape all bbc BBC all internment all internment-conditions The men always wore masks, Tursunay Ziawudun said, even though there was no pandemic then. They wore suits, she said, not police uniforms. Sometime after midnight, they came to the cells to select the women they wanted and took them down the corridor to a "black room", where there were no surveillance cameras. Several nights, Ziawudun said, they took her. "Perhaps this is the most unforgettable scar on me forever," she said. "I don't even want these words to spill from my mouth." Tursunay Ziawudun spent nine months inside China's vast and secretive system of internment camps in the Xinjiang region. First-hand accounts from inside the internment camps are rare, but several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture. Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells "every night" and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men. [S]ometime in May 2018 - "I don't remember the exact date, because you don't remember the dates inside there" - Ziawudun and a cellmate, a woman in her twenties, were taken out at night and presented to a Chinese man in a mask, she said. Her cellmate was taken into a separate room. "As soon as she went inside she started screaming," Ziawudun said. "I don't know how to explain to you, I thought they were torturing her. I never thought about them raping." "The woman took me to the room next to where the other girl had been taken in. They had an electric stick, I didn't know what it was, and it was pushed inside my genital tract, torturing me with an electric shock." About an hour later, her cellmate was brought back. "The girl became completely different after that, she wouldn't speak to anyone, she sat quietly staring as if in a trance," Ziawudun said. "There were many people in those cells who lost their minds." In the camp in Kunes, Ziawudun's days drifted into weeks and then months. The detainees' hair was cut, they went to class, they underwent unexplained medical tests, took pills, and were forcibly injected every 15 days with a "vaccine" that brought on nausea and numbness. Women were forcibly fitted with IUDs or sterilised, Ziawudun said, including a woman who was just about 20 years old. ("We begged them on her behalf," she said.) Some of the women who were taken away from the cells at night were never returned, Ziawudun said. Those who were brought back were threatened against telling others in the cell what had happened to them. The BBC also interviewed a Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp system, who said she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men. Afterwards, she cleaned the rooms, she said. "My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move," said Gulzira Auelkhan, crossing her wrists behind her head to demonstrate. "Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter - some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door, and when the man left the room I took the woman for a shower." The Chinese men "would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates", she said. Qelbinur Sedik, an Uzbek woman from Xinjiang, was among the Chinese language teachers brought into the camps and coerced into giving lessons to the detainees. Sedik has since fled China and spoken publicly about her experience. The women's camp was "tightly controlled", Sedik told the BBC. But she heard stories, she said - signs and rumours of rape. One day, Sedik cautiously approached a Chinese camp policewoman she knew. "I asked her, 'I have been hearing some terrible stories about rape, do you know about it?' She said we should talk in the courtyard during lunch. "So I went to the courtyard, where there were not many cameras. She said, 'Yes, the rape has become a culture. It is gang rape and the Chinese police not only rape them but also electrocute them. They are subject to horrific torture.'" Another teacher forced to work in the camps, Sayragul Sauytbay, told the BBC that "rape was common" and the guards "picked the girls and young women they wanted and took them away". She described witnessing a harrowing public gang rape of a woman of just 20 or 21, who was brought before about 100 other detainees to make a forced confession. "After that, in front of everyone, the police took turns to rape her," Sauytbay said. "While carrying out this test, they watched people closely and picked out anyone who resisted, clenched their fists, closed their eyes, or looked away, and took them for punishment." The young woman cried out for help, Sauytbay said. 2020-02-02 00:00:00 +0000

Xinjiang Authorities Jail Uyghur Imam Who Took Son to Unsanctioned Religious School

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes May 10, 2018

Authorities in Hotan (in Chinese, Heitian) prefecture, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have sentenced a prominent imam to more than five years in prison for taking his...

Religious Persecution Internment Pretexts for Detention Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Xinjiang Authorities Jail Uyghur Imam Who Took Son to Unsanctioned Religious School all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution internment all pretexts-for-detention Authorities in Hotan (in Chinese, Heitian) prefecture, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have sentenced a prominent imam to more than five years in prison for taking his son to an unsanctioned religious school to meet other children. Abduheber Ahmet, the imam of the Dongbagh Mosque in Urchi township, in Hotan’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county, was initially detained in May 2017 and handed a five and a half-year jail term a month later, the ruling Chinese Communist Party secretary of Urchi township told RFA’s Uyghur Service. The 46-year-old father of four “took one of his sons to an underground religious school” in Dongbagh village, the party secretary said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is said that he only took him once … I think it was four or five years ago … He took him there so that his son would meet and play with other children." Ahmet, a state-approved imam who had previously received a “five star” rating from officials, “revealed [his crime] himself during one of the confession meetings,” the secretary said, and received “leniency” because he admitted to it. 2018-05-10 00:00:00 +0000

New Evidence for China’s Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang

Jamestown Brief Adrian Zenz May 15, 2018

A number of separate reports place the onset of massive detentions among the Uyghur population . . . in late March 2017. This timing coincides neatly with the publication of “de-extremification reg...

Internment Adrian Zenz New Evidence for China’s Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang all jamestown-brief Jamestown Brief all internment all A number of separate reports place the onset of massive detentions among the Uyghur population . . . in late March 2017. This timing coincides neatly with the publication of “de-extremification regulations” (新疆维吾尔自治区去极端化条例) by the government of the XUAR. Directive No. 14 in Section 3 of this document states that “de-extremification must do transformation through education (教育转化) well, jointly implementing individual and centralized education”. A potentially influential document in this development was a research paper published by Xinjiang’s Urumqi Party School. The paper recommends the creation of “centralized transformation through education training centers” in all prefectures and counties. It lists three types of re-education facilities: “centralized transformation through education training centers” (集中教育转化培训中心), “legal system schools” (法制学校), and “rehabilitation correction centers” (康复矫治中心). Government construction bids confirm this and indicate that these are sometimes part of large new compounds that also host criminal detention centers, police stations or even hospitals and supermarkets. The start of [the] re-education initiative correlates closely with the release of detailed information in the form of government procurement and construction bids (采购项目 and 建设项目). Nearly all bids were announced from March 2017, just prior to the re-education drive. Bid descriptions indicate both the construction of new as well as upgrades and enlargements of existing re-education facilities. Some pertain to adding sanitary facilities, warm water supplies and heating or catering facilities, indicating that existing buildings are being used to house more people for longer periods of time. Several planned facilities feature compound sizes exceeding 10,000sqm. One bid combines vocational training and re-education facilities totaling 82,000sqm. Many bids mandate the installation of comprehensive security features that turn existing facilities into prison-like compounds: surrounding walls, security fences, pull wire mesh, barbwire, reinforced security doors and windows, surveillance systems, secure access systems, watchtowers, and guard rooms or facilities for armed police. One bid emphasized that its surveillance system must cover the entire facility, leaving “no dead angles” (无死角). Several facilities branded as vocational or other educational training facilities also carried bids calling for extensive security installations, with some mandating police stations on the same compound. Overall, documentation assembled by the author lists 73 re-education facility related procurement bids valued at RMB 682 million in respect to their re-education components. Nearly all of these were for regions with significant Uyghur or other Muslim minority populations. The scale of re-education facility construction can be reflected in local budget reports. For example, Akto County stated that in 2017 it spent RMB 383.4 million or 9.6 percent of its budget on security-related projects, including “transformation through education centers infrastructure construction and equipment purchase” (教育转化中心等基础设施建设和装备购置). 2018-05-15 00:00:00 +0000

Internment Camp Assigned Uyghur Forced Laborers to Xinjiang Textile Factory: Official

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes November 14, 2019

"More than a dozen Uyghurs have been assigned to work in a factory in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) from a local internment camp, according to officials, bolstering rep...

Internment Forced Labor Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Internment Camp Assigned Uyghur Forced Laborers to Xinjiang Textile Factory: Official all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all forced-labor "More than a dozen Uyghurs have been assigned to work in a factory in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) from a local internment camp, according to officials, bolstering reports that government policy is shifting from mass incarceration to forced labor in the region." "“They are housed in dormitories,” the source said, adding that whether or not workers are allowed to go home “depends on their circumstances.” “I heard that some people go home once a week, others once a month, and some once every three months.”" "While people who work at similar textile factories can earn up to 5,000 yuan (U.S. $710) a month, the source told RFA that most who are assigned to work through internment camps make nothing at all until they “complete their training.” “There are a few people who receive low wages,” the source said. 2019-11-14 00:00:00 +0000

'If you enter a camp, you never come out': inside China's war on Islam

Guardian Lily Kuo January 11, 2019

Today, Hotan prefecture is under “grid style” management, involving intense policing and mass surveillance. On the Luopu government website, it is described as “often in a state of level one or two...

Surveillance Forced Assimilation Flag-raising/Village meeting Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Restrictions on movement Use of technology Lily Kuo 'If you enter a camp, you never come out': inside China's war on Islam all guardian Guardian all surveillance forced-assimilation all flag-raising-village-meeting forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays restrictions-on-movement use-of-technology Today, Hotan prefecture is under “grid style” management, involving intense policing and mass surveillance. On the Luopu government website, it is described as “often in a state of level one or two response”, the highest state of emergency. In Luopu, like many places in Xinjiang, the movements of Uighur residents are restricted. While Han Chinese are waved through security checkpoints, Uighur commuters register their ID cards, do full body scans, have their vehicles searched and their faces scanned. CCTV monitoring on a street corner in Luopu county. Hand-held devices scan smartphones for content deemed problematic. A police officer demanded to check the phone of a Guardian reporter because, she said “someone saw Arabic or Uighur language on it”. In a village in Luopu county, almost every home has a plaque on the door marking it a “model red star family”. These are families who have met requirements, including demonstrating “anti-extremism thought” and a “sense of modern civilisation”. Over the past year, Luopu local officials have gathered villagers to sing patriotic songs, a practice common in the camps, or to teach female residents how to be “good new era women” who promote “ideological emancipation”. 2019-01-11 00:00:00 +0000

In Xinjiang, officials are trying to stamp out Uyghur identity

The Economist October 23, 2021

But displays of loyalty to the party are no longer enough to keep people safe. In 2017 Shireli Eltekin, a famous singer, released “A Song for Leader Xi Jinping”, a paean to China’s president. It in...

Forced Assimilation Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays In Xinjiang, officials are trying to stamp out Uyghur identity all the-economist The Economist all forced-assimilation all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays But displays of loyalty to the party are no longer enough to keep people safe. In 2017 Shireli Eltekin, a famous singer, released “A Song for Leader Xi Jinping”, a paean to China’s president. It includes fawning lyrics such as: “You put light into the hearts of the people.” Uyghurs in exile were dismayed to hear a much-loved performer crooning for the regime. But one night in June he was taken away from his home in his pyjamas, says a family friend. 2021-10-23 00:00:00 +0000

Emotion recognition is China’s new surveillance craze

Financial Times November 01, 2019

Emotion recognition systems have been installed in Xinjiang, a region in far western China where an estimated 1m mostly Muslim minorities are held in internment camps . . . "Using video footage, em...

Surveillance Use of technology Emotion recognition is China’s new surveillance craze all financial-times Financial Times all surveillance all use-of-technology Emotion recognition systems have been installed in Xinjiang, a region in far western China where an estimated 1m mostly Muslim minorities are held in internment camps . . . "Using video footage, emotion recognition technology can rapidly identify criminal suspects by analysing their mental state . . . to prevent illegal acts including terrorism and smuggling,” said Li Xiaoyu, a policing expert and party cadre from the public security bureau in Altay city in Xinjiang. “We’ve already started using it.” The technology is mostly deployed at customs, he added, and identifies signs of aggressiveness and nervousness as well as stress levels and a person’s potential to attack others. " “We work with all kinds of companies in Xinjiang including Hikvision, Uniview, Dahua and Tiandy. Only companies that are strong in AI can really succeed in this field and of course the two biggest companies in this field are Alibaba and Tencent,” said Mr Li, adding the Xinjiang government also worked with them. 2019-11-01 00:00:00 +0000

‘The Man in Shackles is my Father’: Daughter of Jailed ‘Two-Faced’ Uyghur Official

Radio Free Asia JB May 17, 2021

Memet: In October 2020, out of the blue my sister got a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize. She took the call, and it was my father’s voice. My father said they were holding him in Cell ...

Internment Destruction of the Family Restricting communication JB ‘The Man in Shackles is my Father’: Daughter of Jailed ‘Two-Faced’ Uyghur Official all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication Memet: In October 2020, out of the blue my sister got a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize. She took the call, and it was my father’s voice. My father said they were holding him in Cell 11 of the No. 3 prison. She and my mother [who remain in the XUAR] weren’t able to ask about how he was doing on the phone. My mother told me she had heard my father’s voice, that he was alive, but I found I couldn’t believe her. I couldn’t believe what my own mother was saying. She said that they were going to let her see him six months later. On April 29, 2021—in other words, four years after they detained my father—they allowed my parents to see one another via video chat. 2021-05-17 00:00:00 +0000

The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China

Newlines Institute Darren Byler June 08, 2020

This process affects every aspect of their lives not only due to mass detentions, but also because of the way biometric and data surveillance systems supporting the camps have been used to monitor ...

Surveillance Use of technology Darren Byler The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China all newlines-institute Newlines Institute all surveillance all use-of-technology This process affects every aspect of their lives not only due to mass detentions, but also because of the way biometric and data surveillance systems supporting the camps have been used to monitor and transform their behavior . . . despite potential gaps in purported knowledge and technical capability, the ubiquity of checkpoints and cameras make Turkic Muslims modify their behavior in their daily life and reorient their activities around ideals promoted by state authorities. The technologies begin to create a new reality. People who were not immediately detained were nevertheless ordered to go to local police stations and clinics to submit blood and DNA samples have their irises, faces and fingerprints scanned and a unique voice signature recorded. One Kazakh woman told me, “The village government leader told us openly that those who refused would be taken to the re-education camps.” This biometric data was then added to their citizenship file as part of a new “smart” ID card system. Once this system was fully implemented by the end of 2017, it became impossible for Uighurs and Kazakhs to enter a bank or shopping mall without having their face scanned and matched to the image on their ID at fixed checkpoints. Han people were often waved through these checkpoints without a scan, particularly in Turkic Muslim majority areas. The Kazakh woman told me, “On average, over the span of a single day, I had my ID and face scanned more than 10 times.” 2020-06-08 00:00:00 +0000

Relatives of detained Uyghurs forced to work in Xinjiang factories

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur April 11, 2022

Hundreds of family members of detained Uyghur residents of a small community in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have been forced to work in local government-run factories, a source with knowle...

Internment Forced Labor Shohret Hoshur Relatives of detained Uyghurs forced to work in Xinjiang factories all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all forced-labor Hundreds of family members of detained Uyghur residents of a small community in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have been forced to work in local government-run factories, a source with knowledge of the situation and a local police officer said. At least 100 residents from Sheyih Mehelle hamlet in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) county have been imprisoned by authorities, a security guard from the area told RFA in an earlier report. The hamlet has a population of more than 700 people and is part of Cholunqay village, which has more than 10,000 residents. Authorities have been transporting their relatives, mostly women and some elderly men, by bus to the factories where they work 10-12 hours a day under the watch of staff assigned to oversee them, a source familiar with the situation said. … Authorities take the family members to factories in Yamachang on the outskirts of Ghulja city, a police officer in Cholunqay village said. “There are around 500 people working in that [place]. … There are factories there that make clothes, socks and gloves,” he said. 2022-04-11 00:00:00 +0000

China’s crackdown on Uyghurs reaches the Arctic

Coda Isobel Cockerell March 15, 2022

Omer was arrested in Xinjiang in 2017 after traveling abroad. Uyghurs in Xinjiang are invariably targeted by police following foreign trips, which Chinese authorities claim is grounds for arrest on...

Internment Surveillance Pretexts for Detention Internment conditions Isobel Cockerell China’s crackdown on Uyghurs reaches the Arctic all coda Coda all internment surveillance all pretexts-for-detention internment-conditions Omer was arrested in Xinjiang in 2017 after traveling abroad. Uyghurs in Xinjiang are invariably targeted by police following foreign trips, which Chinese authorities claim is grounds for arrest on suspicion of terrorist activities. He spent more than ten months in detention centers and high-security prisons. He was tied to a tiger chair, interrogated and electrocuted. At night, as he slept, 360-degree cameras watched him from all sides. If he turned over in bed, the camera would whirr to follow his movement. If he moved again, a guard would yell through the speaker system to keep still. 2022-03-15 00:00:00 +0000

The Disappearance of Rahile Dawut

China Channel Byler November 02, 2018

On December 4, 2017, the disappearance of Professor Rahile Dawut, an eminent scholar of the Uyghur ethnic minority which she herself belongs to, sent quiet shockwaves among her students and colleag...

Internment Restricting communication Byler The Disappearance of Rahile Dawut all china-channel China Channel all internment all restricting-communication On December 4, 2017, the disappearance of Professor Rahile Dawut, an eminent scholar of the Uyghur ethnic minority which she herself belongs to, sent quiet shockwaves among her students and colleagues around the world. On that day she had packed her bags for a flight to Beijing from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the majority of Uyghurs live, and has not been seen since. Presumably she is being held in detention. The cryptic text messages a colleague sent regarding what happened did not provide many details. They ended with the message, “I am going to delete my VPN [virtual private network, for communicating behind the Chinese firewall] and never use it again. So please if you care about people here, stop asking questions.” Dawut has been a member of the Chinese Communist Party for over 30 years, and her disappearance is particularly shocking because she has long been celebrated within the Chinese academic and political system . . . 2018-11-02 00:00:00 +0000

War on the Uyghurs

China Channel Louisa Lim November 01, 2018

The little boy sat mute beside his father. Just three years old, he was completely still, not fidgeting, just staring straight ahead. His sister, four years old, sobs uncontrollably through the nig...

Destruction of the Family Surveillance Use of technology Louisa Lim War on the Uyghurs all china-channel China Channel all destruction-of-the-family surveillance all use-of-technology The little boy sat mute beside his father. Just three years old, he was completely still, not fidgeting, just staring straight ahead. His sister, four years old, sobs uncontrollably through the night, and refuses to eat. There is no comfort for these children. Though they are in Adelaide, Australia, their mother – an ethnic Uyghur – is in a re-education camp in Xinjiang. Their father’s voice breaks when he says, through a translator, “I had to tell them your Mum has to be kept by Chinese authorities. A little child – what can he understand?” Their father, who asked for anonymity, is from a religious family in the city of Hotan, which Beijing characteriaes as a hotbed of religious extremism. He describes a decade of low-level harassment at the hands of the authorities, including not being permitted to register the official paperwork for one of his children. But individual scrutiny has been taken to extraordinary intrusive levels following the introduction of new surveillance technologies. In 2016, he was summoned to a police station. There his photo was taken from different angles, and he was asked to read a newspaper article out loud so his biometric samples could be recorded for facial and voice recognition databases. That year an app was installed on his phone which he believed was tracking his movements, both in the real world and in cyberspace. “Nothing is hidden,” he said. “They were chasing me 24/7.” When the arrests began in 2017, he left China, hoping to test the waters before bringing his family out. As the situation worsened, he secured his children’s exit through a middleman, but his wife – whose passport had expired – was not able to leave with them. The last message he received was from her sister, telling him that his wife had “malaria” and was going to hospital – a euphemistic way of saying that she had been sent to re-education camp. Such cryptic, coded messages have become commonplace among Uyghurs, who have learned to police their own language, so omnipresent is the surveillance. Scholars of the region fear the far-reaching social consequences of the hard-line policies, which Tom Cliff from the Australian National University describes as an attack on Uyghur identity: “You’re cracking up their social structures, as if fracking rock under the ground to break up and atomize these small family communities and the bigger communities. You’re bringing them into Han institutions to make them more like Han people.” 2018-11-01 00:00:00 +0000

Dozens of Uyghur Children of Xinjiang Village Camp Detainees Sent to Live in Orphanages

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes July 02, 2018

Dozens of Uyghur children from a mostly Uyghur-populated village in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) whose parents or guardians have been detained in “political re-educati...

Internment Destruction of the Family Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Dozens of Uyghur Children of Xinjiang Village Camp Detainees Sent to Live in Orphanages all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment destruction-of-the-family all Dozens of Uyghur children from a mostly Uyghur-populated village in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) whose parents or guardians have been detained in “political re-education camps” have been sent to live in orphanages, according to sources. ... An officer at the Chinibagh village police station, in the seat of Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that local government officials were deciding the fates of children who had been left behind after their guardians had been sent for re-education. “Children left without parents have been sent to orphanages temporarily until their parents are released,” said the officer, who is a resident of nearby Yengisheher village, where sources recently told RFA that around 40 percent of the more than 1,700 residents had been detained in re-education camps. “The children are being placed in the Qaraqash township orphanage because they have no one to look after them. Their grandparents are too old [to take care of them] and are struggling to look after themselves.” When asked how many children from Yengisheher village had been taken to the orphanage in Qaraqash, the officer said “roughly 50 to 60.” In October, a Uyghur officer at a police station in Kashgar (Kashi) prefecture’s Peyziwat (Jiashi) county told RFA that children whose guardians had been sent to camps there were also being sent to orphanages. A Uyghur worker at a regional orphanage in southern Xinjiang, who requested anonymity, told RFA at the time that his facility was seriously overcrowded and described the conditions there as “terrible,” with children between the ages of six months and 12 years “locked up like farm animals in a shed.” 2018-07-02 00:00:00 +0000

‘Ethnic extinction’ in northwest China

SupChina Darren Byler July 09, 2021

This part of the “ethnic extinction” process was enforced by removing children from their homes. First, nearly all schools above eighth grade became residential schools, where students are held beh...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Darren Byler ‘Ethnic extinction’ in northwest China all supchina SupChina all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language This part of the “ethnic extinction” process was enforced by removing children from their homes. First, nearly all schools above eighth grade became residential schools, where students are held behind walls except on weekend home visits. Then, beginning in 2017, many elementary schools and nurseries also became residential schools. In this way, Uyghur children of all ages were increasingly separated from their parents. At the same time, as documented in thousands of job advertisements posted by Social Security Bureaus across Xinjiang, the teachers in Uyghur schools were replaced with newly hired Han elementary school teachers and daycare workers from other parts of China. The basic requirements for these jobs, aside from Mandarin fluency, was “support for the Party’s line, guidelines, and policies, conscientiously safeguarding the unity of the motherland, ethnic solidarity and social stability, while adamantly opposing ethnic separatism and illegal religious activities, and not believing in religion or participating in religious activities.” A group of nearly 90,000 newly hired avowedly non-Muslim educators pushed existing state-employed Uyghur educators to the side. In a 2020 conversation, a Uyghur woman now living in North America told me she asked her mother, a former school teacher, about the conditions of the elementary school near Kaiser’s village. “She told me, ‘None of our people are teachers anymore. Those that are older, like me, have retired. The younger ones now work as cleaners in the school.’” In order to remain in teaching positions, Uyghurs had to prove they could speak and teach Chinese language with near-native fluency and have spotless family backgrounds. For most Uyghur educators, this was simply impossible. Uyghur children across the region are now effectively raised in a non-Muslim, Mandarin-speaking environment. Beginning on September 1, 2017, primary schools across the region began to change their “bilingual” curriculum to a Chinese-only “mode 2” program. An announcement published by the education department of Bortala County, a county in a prefecture near Kaiser’s home, noted, “In the end, only Chinese will be taught.” 2021-07-09 00:00:00 +0000

In China’s Crackdown on Muslims, Children Have Not Been Spared

New York Times Amy Qin December 28, 2019

The first grader was a good student and beloved by her classmates, but she was inconsolable, and it was no mystery to her teacher why. “The most heartbreaking thing is that the girl is often slump...

Destruction of the Family Restricting journalism Amy Qin In China’s Crackdown on Muslims, Children Have Not Been Spared all new-york-times New York Times all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-journalism The first grader was a good student and beloved by her classmates, but she was inconsolable, and it was no mystery to her teacher why. “The most heartbreaking thing is that the girl is often slumped over on the table alone and crying,” he wrote on his blog. “When I asked around, I learned that it was because she missed her mother.” The mother, he noted, had been sent to a detention camp for Muslim ethnic minorities. The girl’s father had passed away, he added. But instead of letting other relatives raise her, the authorities put her in a state-run boarding school — one of hundreds of such facilities that have opened in China’s far western Xinjiang region. As many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others have been sent to internment camps and prisons in Xinjiang over the past three years, an indiscriminate clampdown aimed at weakening the population’s devotion to Islam. Even as these mass detentions have provoked global outrage, though, the Chinese government is pressing ahead with a parallel effort targeting the region’s children. Nearly a half million children have been separated from their families and placed in boarding schools so far, according to a planning document published on a government website, and the ruling Communist Party has set a goal of operating one to two such schools in each of Xinjiang’s 800-plus townships by the end of next year. But the schools are also designed to assimilate and indoctrinate children at an early age, away from the influence of their families, according to the planning document, published in 2017. Students are often forced to enroll because the authorities have detained their parents and other relatives, ordered them to take jobs far from home or judged them unfit guardians. The schools are off limits to outsiders and tightly guarded, and it is difficult to interview residents in Xinjiang without putting them at risk of arrest. But a troubling picture of these institutions emerges from interviews with Uighur parents living in exile and a review of documents published online, including procurement records, government notices, state media reports and the blogs of teachers in the schools. 2019-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’

ChinaFile Joanne Smith Finley December 28, 2018

The imprint of coercive secularization was also visible on Uighur bodies through intrusive state controls on religious dress, resulting in a lack of veils and headscarves, and shorter tunic length ...

Forced Assimilation Joanne Smith Finley ‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’ all chinafile ChinaFile all forced-assimilation all The imprint of coercive secularization was also visible on Uighur bodies through intrusive state controls on religious dress, resulting in a lack of veils and headscarves, and shorter tunic length on women, as well as in an absence of facial hair on men. Back in 2004, as the Islamic revival gathered pace, it had been common to see women, and even young girls, wearing the niqab or hijab in the Uighur district of Urumqi. As recently as 2016, many young women in Urumqi had donned a turban-style head-covering or a modified version of the hijab, in a nod to global sartorial trends for Muslim women. But the situation was then already worsening in the south. Uighur migrants who had fled to the regional capital from Kashgar told me, “a lot of people down south have been put in prison for very small things, like wearing veils and growing beards.” By this summer, it was rare to see anything but the flimsiest chiffon headscarf in Urumqi, while in Kashgar head coverings were not in evidence at all. Similarly, where Uighur men had earlier worn beards or at least a moustache, all but the elderly were now strangely clean-shaven. Images emerged in July, first on social media, then in online news reports, of C.C.P. cadres enforcing secular dress codes by cutting short Uighur women’s dresses in the street. The women in the photographs look humiliated, with some attempting to cover their face before the camera. 2018-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

Fear and oppression in Xinjiang: China’s war on Uighur culture

Financial Times Christian Shepherd September 12, 2019

In fact, a former classmate had reported Yarmuhemmed’s family as being overly religious, resulting in a police search of the family home. Earlier that year, the authorities had ramped up scrutiny o...

Religious Persecution Surveillance Internment Destruction of the Family Forced Assimilation Civilian Informants Pretexts for Detention Destruction of Language Christian Shepherd Fear and oppression in Xinjiang: China’s war on Uighur culture all financial-times Financial Times all religious-persecution surveillance internment destruction-of-the-family forced-assimilation all civilian-informants pretexts-for-detention destruction-of-language In fact, a former classmate had reported Yarmuhemmed’s family as being overly religious, resulting in a police search of the family home. Earlier that year, the authorities had ramped up scrutiny of all Muslim groups in the region, encouraging individuals to report their neighbours if they behaved “suspiciously” — which could mean anything from failing to socialise to fundraising for a local mosque." "In Yarmuhemmed’s family apartment, the police found an MP3 player with recordings of Koran recitations, and Rmb30,000 in cash (about £3,400). Yarmuhemmed, 28, was arrested, tried and jailed for 10 years. Asqar never found out what he’d been charged with. His 29-year-old brother Behram was taken to an extrajudicial internment camp a month later. What happened to the Yarmuhemmeds — police searches, sudden detentions, the separation of families — has been repeated across hundreds of thousands of households in Xinjiang in the past few years, as China’s Communist party has placed the entire region in lockdown. ... The two brothers had run a private publishing business that sold books by their father, Yarmuhemmed Tahir Tughluq, an author of popular Uighur-language books on parenting, education and self-empowerment, with titles such as Life and Morality, Our Tradition and Culture and Grandpa Told Me So. The texts celebrated Uighur culture and emphasised its unique philosophies, history and traditions — a message at odds with the Communist party’s attempts to assimilate Uighurs into Han Chinese cultural traditions. Asqar suspects that the family’s business and religiosity ultimately led to Ekram and Behram being taken away. After her nephews were arrested, Asqar began to worry about her brother, Husenjan Asqar. He worked as a translator at the official Xinjiang Ethnic Language Committee and had published a number of Uighur-Han Chinese dictionaries, as part of Xinjiang government efforts to standardise translations between Uighur and Mandarin Chinese. She hoped that her brother’s position would protect him. She felt comforted by the fact that he had been sent to southern Xinjiang to help with “social stability” efforts, an important government programme. Then, in late 2018, Asqar found her brother’s name on a list of more than 300 detained, jailed or missing Uighur intellectuals gathered by overseas activists. A former colleague of her brother confirmed that Husenjan had been arrested along with six others from the translation committee. “I think the Chinese government arrested him because he was contributing to keeping [the] Uighur language alive,” she says. “Why would he be viewed as someone against the Chinese government when he was devoted to bridging between [the] Chinese language and Uighur?” For overseas Uighurs, China’s de facto outlawing of core parts of Uighur culture has become an alarming sign of the government’s underlying intention. Those on the list alongside Husenjan make up the backbone of Uighur intellectual life: doctors, computer scientists, musicians, anthropologists and authors. Many are moderate and non-religious. Some held positions at state institutions where they had previously won plaudits for promoting Uighur culture and fostering understanding between minority peoples and the Han Chinese majority. ... In Xinjiang, what is missing can be more telling than what is there. While the People’s Park in the heart of downtown Urümqi is packed with Han Chinese, the gates of the parks in the more Uighur areas of southern Urümqi are padlocked shut, including those of the so-called Ethnic Unity Park. The streets near Xinjiang University are quiet, with most shops shuttered amid extensive construction work. At one point, the silence was broken by a young man shouting at patrolling police in Uighur. Within seconds, he was surrounded by a team of helmeted officers carrying automatic rifles, who wrestled him to the ground, forced his T-shirt over his head and marched him away to one of the “convenience” police stations that have been erected on every major intersection of the city. It is almost as hard to find out about missing persons from within Xinjiang as it is from outside. While in Urümqi, I visited the offices where Gulruy Asqar’s brother had previously worked, to try to confirm that the department had been closed. I was told that the committee had moved to the education department. At the department, the guards, who operated a set of facial-recognition gates, told me that no one from the committee was in. Follow-up phone calls were answered with replies of “don’t know” or a suggestion to contact Xinjiang’s foreign affairs office. ... Called The Plot Inside the Textbooks, the film revealed for the first time the alleged “crime” that Chinese authorities were using as a reason to detain and jail hundreds of Uighur intellectuals. According to an audio recording reviewed by the FT, the documentary warns viewers to be on guard against “two-faced people” who “secretly acted to split the motherland”. With dramatic music and sotto voce narration, it tells the story of 88 individuals who “with malicious intent” had compiled and edited school textbooks in Uighur. As punishment, the narrator explains, the main compilers were investigated, stripped of their official positions and jailed. The ringleaders were sentenced to life in prison or given suspended death sentences. Such a “shocking” crime must never be repeated, viewers are warned. “The whole region, from top to bottom, must absorb the profound lessons of this case.” ... “We wanted to give the younger generation an understanding of their identity, their language, their way of life,” says Eset Sulaiman, a Uighur writer who was involved in the textbook compiling process and who now lives in the US. They had decided to promote more original Uighur literature, instead of using mainly Uighur translations of Han Chinese works, as was the case in previous textbooks, he adds. For more than a decade, the textbooks were used, without major incident, in schools across Xinjiang. Then, in 2014, the authorities’ attitude suddenly shifted. An investigation was launched into the books and the content was rewritten. One of Sulaiman’s essays, entitled “Ego and Identity”, was removed, alongside many by other Uighur writers. Chinese works, mostly on Marxism-Leninism and Maoism, replaced them. After the investigation, the authorities began detaining and arresting those involved, Sulaiman says. ... The next generation of Uighurs in Xinjiang are increasingly excluded from their language and cultural heritage, not by accident of their environment, but by dint of Chinese government education policy. Since the 1990s, the use of Uighur and other minority languages has been pared back in favour of greater use of Mandarin Chinese, says Timothy Grose, an assistant professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology who researches education policy in Xinjiang. Mandarin is now introduced to minority children earlier and takes up more weekly classroom time. In the “bilingual” schooling system in the region, almost all classes are in Chinese. Every year, tens of thousands of Uighur and other minority students are offered fully funded places at boarding schools in majority Han areas of inland China. Although the courses are often seen by Uighur families as a way of improving opportunities for their children, they are also a means of inculcating mainstream Han Chinese values, scholars say. “The Chinese Communist party is aware of the valorisation that Uighurs place on their mother language,” Grose says. “They see it as a threat to the crystallisation of a Han culture.” Evidence is mounting that the Xinjiang government is no longer content simply to encourage assimilation, but is forcing it by separating children from their families. The mass internment programme has left many minority children without their parents; the authorities have built a network of de facto orphanages and boarding schools that can hothouse the children in Han Chinese environments. ... Evidence of curbs on the Uighur language can be found across Xinjiang. The outline of recently removed Uighur script is faintly visible on the walls of some schools. Signs inside the gated playgrounds warn that only the “national language” is permitted. Even the language used by Chinese authorities has shifted. The term “Han language”, once the most common way of describing Mandarin Chinese, has been replaced by “national language”. In Xinjiang’s state-run Xinhua Bookstores — which fall under the management of the government’s propaganda department — the shelves are half empty. In each store I visited, the only Uighur-language book was a copy of Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China. In Turpan, a local official first denied that there were no Uighur books, then, after 15 minutes of a fruitless search, said “market demands” meant that customers only wanted to buy Han Chinese books. In Kashgar, the traditional capital of Uighur culture, only five remained out of 16 independent Uighur-language bookstores listed in a 2014 article on cultural preservation by a Kashgar University professor. When asked what books on Uighur literature or history they sold, one store owner said: “We only sell novels, cookery or self-help books.” All the bookstore owners I spoke to said they had no Uighur-language textbooks or copies of Yalqun Rozi’s essay collections. In one store, the owner asked: “How do you know about Yalqun Rozi?” I said that his son was trying to find out exactly what had happened to him. After a pause, she asked: “Did you find him?” I said we had good reason to think he had been arrested, but that the government had not confirmed the details of his case. “Have you heard anything?” I inquired. She shook her head and asked me to leave, her eyes filling with tears. 2019-09-12 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese company transfers thousands of Uyghurs from Xinjiang to Nanjing

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur November 13, 2021

A Chinese job-placement company transferred more than 3,000 Uyghur workers, including girls as young as 16, from the Xinjiang region to factories in other parts of China this year and plans to send...

Internment Forced Labor Shohret Hoshur Chinese company transfers thousands of Uyghurs from Xinjiang to Nanjing all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all forced-labor A Chinese job-placement company transferred more than 3,000 Uyghur workers, including girls as young as 16, from the Xinjiang region to factories in other parts of China this year and plans to send thousands more in early 2022, an RFA investigation has shown. RFA’s Uyghur Service began investigating after a Chinese-language advertisement circulated on Weibo and WeChat said that more than 2,000 Uyghurs — aged 16 to 30, with good Mandarin Chinese skills, and vocational school degrees, the ad said — would be available to work for two years at sites throughout the country. The ad did not list a company name but included a phone number that business executives in need of labor could call. When RFA dialed the number, the woman who answered said the ad was posted by her job-placement company in Sichuan province’s Liangxian prefecture. The company had recently sent more than 3,000 workers from Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) to two different locations in China, the woman said. “They’re no longer available. They’ve already been placed,” said the woman who did not give her name. “All of them are from Kashgar — Uyghurs,” she said, referring to the oasis city in southern Xinjiang with a population of more than 700,000. The Uyghurs had been transferred in June to two locations in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, where they receive salaries of 2,000 yuan (U.S. $313) a month, the employee said. The company, in turn, receives a subsidy of 600 yuan per worker per month, she added. But it wasn’t clear if the subsidy was taken out of the workers’ salaries or was a separate payment made to the job-placement company. Some of the Uyghur workers sent to Nanjing were transferred from the Chinese government’s network of what Beijing calls “re-education” camps in Xinjiang, the recruiter said. … In a follow-up call from RFA the following day, the same company employee said about 30% of the workers transferred from Kashgar to Nanjing were between the ages of 16 and 18. Previous reports by rights groups have not cited Uyghur teenagers among the forced labor workforce. All those who were transferred know Mandarin Chinese, the employee said. About 13% of the transferred workers are university graduates, and the rest have some type of schooling. One-third are single women, and the rest are men, the employee said. Thousands of additional workers are scheduled to be transferred in March 2022, though the company could send them earlier if needed, the employee added. … Earlier RFA investigations into forced Uyghur labor in Kashgar revealed that nine former camp detainees, including Erkin Hashim, who had been released from a camp near the city’s airport, had been working as porters for a freight company at a loading dock in Kashgar city. They earned a monthly salary of 2,200 yuan, but had to surrender 900 yuan of it to staff at the camp in which they were previously held. An October 2020 RFA investigation into forced Uyghur labor transferred from Imamlirim township in Uchturpan (Wushi) county in the region’s in the region’s Aksu (Akesu) prefecture, found that some local camp detainees had been sent to a factory in Aksu to work as part of a forced labor program. At the time, a township security official said that “outstanding” graduates from “re-education” centers were forcibly sent to work on three-year contracts at the Aksu Huafu Textile Factory, which produces cotton yarn for clothing manufacturers. He also said that the workers were not allowed to leave to visit their families. 2021-11-13 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

Three of the intellectual’s children had been detained in 2017, the daughter said: herself, for having made a phone call abroad, and her two brothers for having studied abroad. They were taken to s...

Internment Internment conditions Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all internment all internment-conditions Three of the intellectual’s children had been detained in 2017, the daughter said: herself, for having made a phone call abroad, and her two brothers for having studied abroad. They were taken to separate facilities with no trial or conviction of any crime. She was held in a detention facility for more than a year, then moved to a “school” with slightly better conditions, she said. In both, she had lived in a room of more than 10 other women. Their belongings were confiscated. They had no outside contact except one three-minute phone call to their home every two months. She was not beaten, but her brothers were. They were allowed no calls through the first year. Every day in the camps, they studied two books of Mandarin and Chinese laws and regulations, the daughter said. Those who spoke better Mandarin were made language teachers to the other detainees, many of whom were farmers. Not everyone had been released from the camps, the daughter said. Some had been moved to factories, others to prisons. Those who were out didn’t need any more physical monitoring. Fear of return to the camps kept them silent. Many Uighurs in Xinjiang no longer think of anything beyond eating, sleeping, being together and not being in the camps. 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

Jevlan Shirmemmet, 29, a Uighur who left China as a student in 2011 and is now a tour guide in Istanbul, lost contact with his parents and brother when they were taken to the camps in 2018. Only in...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Restrictions on movement Civilian Informants Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication restrictions-on-movement civilian-informants Jevlan Shirmemmet, 29, a Uighur who left China as a student in 2011 and is now a tour guide in Istanbul, lost contact with his parents and brother when they were taken to the camps in 2018. Only in June this year did he hear from his father, who called from a police station. His first sentence after two years was not a greeting, but an accusation that his son had joined “troublesome groups” abroad. Shirmemmet was shocked. He hadn’t joined any political movements, he told his father. “This was my father’s mouth,” Shirmemmet said, “but it was the Xinjiang authorities and public security speaking through him.” His mother, he was told, had been sent to prison — probably because she visited him in Turkey in 2013. When Shirmemmet asked the Chinese Embassy in Turkey for proof of her trial or conviction, they suggested he instead write a list of his activities and contacts abroad. “If you can figure out where you did wrong, tell us,” an embassy official told him. Shirmemmet’s parents were civil servants who taught him to speak fluent Mandarin and avoid politics. But being Uighur, he said, made him a target for the Communist Party. “They reached their hands into my family, strangled us and wouldn’t let us go,” he said of the party. “As long as you are Uighur, you are political.” 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

The car approached a police tower guarding the Hongyan Clothing Park compound. A slogan appeared on the building’s walls: “Forget not the Party’s mercy, walk with the Party forever.” In an instant,...

Surveillance Restricting journalism Restricting communication Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all surveillance all restricting-journalism restricting-communication The car approached a police tower guarding the Hongyan Clothing Park compound. A slogan appeared on the building’s walls: “Forget not the Party’s mercy, walk with the Party forever.” In an instant, police and men in dark clothing sprinted toward the car, surrounding the reporters inside. “Delete everything,” one of the men ordered. The reporters complied and left, only to be stopped twice more by cars that swerved in front and beside them, letting out minders who demanded double-checks of the journalists’ phones and cameras. ... During one confrontation in a village outside Korla, an official blurted: “You can’t speak with the people here. We’ve had too many negative reports from outside. You can only speak with the people we arrange.” Talking to locals would create a “security problem,” he said. ... One morning before sunrise, a Times reporter evaded the minders and entered the home of a prominent Uighur intellectual . . . Asked by The Times reporter for permission to write about their experiences, the father paused. “You could write our story,” he said, turning to look at the reporter. “But after that, will they let us live?” Journalists in China understand the country’s dark side, he said. “We Uighurs are not meant to live. We Uighurs should be erased from this earth.” “My father is speaking out of anger,” his daughter said. They were glad to know the outside world was paying attention to Xinjiang and that some Uighurs abroad had been reunited with their families. “But we are all here. We have no relatives outside, no escape,” the daughter said . . . “Tell our story, but don’t use our names,” she murmured. “Please leave. I am afraid because you are here.” 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

China Undercover

PBS April 07, 2020

RAHIMA: [Speaking Kazakh] You were like a zombie in the camp, like someone who had lost their mind. You just think about being released and dream of that moment. GULZIRA: [Speaking Kazakh] There we...

Internment Internment conditions China Undercover all pbs PBS all internment all internment-conditions RAHIMA: [Speaking Kazakh] You were like a zombie in the camp, like someone who had lost their mind. You just think about being released and dream of that moment. GULZIRA: [Speaking Kazakh] There were cameras in the dormitories, five which rotated, as well as ones in the classrooms. There were bars and mesh wire all around us. If you exceeded 2 minutes in the toilet they hit our heads with an electric prod. RAHIMA: [Speaking Kazakh] They beat us, hit us and shouted at us. Damn those people. There was one Uyghur woman who went mad. GULZIRA: [Speaking Kazakh] I was forced to sit on a hard chair twice for 24 hours. I was only given water once and went to the toilet where I sat. RAHIMA: [Speaking Kazakh] Many people were affected. Not only young women but even young men tried to commit suicide. Some did. 2020-04-07 00:00:00 +0000

China Undercover

PBS April 07, 2020

LI: You tell me your parents are in a camp? MALE UYGHUR: There are many, many people’s parents. LI: Why? MALE UYGHUR: I don’t know. LI: So you mean every family in Xinjiang, they have somebody in a...

Destruction of the Family China Undercover all pbs PBS all destruction-of-the-family all LI: You tell me your parents are in a camp? MALE UYGHUR: There are many, many people’s parents. LI: Why? MALE UYGHUR: I don’t know. LI: So you mean every family in Xinjiang, they have somebody in a camp? MALE UYGHUR: Yes. Yes. Yes. [Nodding] MALE UYGHUR: [Whispers] Just Uyghurs. LI: Uyghurs. MALE UYGHUR: Maybe I am lucky one. Maybe God protects me. LI: You don’t know whether they will take you next month or next year? MALE UYGHUR: Yes. LI: You don’t know. MALE UYGHUR: Everybody doesn’t know. I miss my parents. LI: I can imagine. Where is the camp? You don’t know? MALE UYGHUR: No, we don’t. 2020-04-07 00:00:00 +0000

Interview: 'As Soon as I Was Taken Inside, I Knew it Was a Prison'

Radio Free Asia Gulchehra Hoja September 24, 2019

RFA: Tell us how the authorities pressed you to agree to undergo forced sterilization. Zumuret Dawut: The family planning office gave me a letter and said: ‘Come back on the date stated in the let...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization Gulchehra Hoja Interview: 'As Soon as I Was Taken Inside, I Knew it Was a Prison' all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization RFA: Tell us how the authorities pressed you to agree to undergo forced sterilization. Zumuret Dawut: The family planning office gave me a letter and said: ‘Come back on the date stated in the letter and we will offer you a free operation to stop you from becoming pregnant.’ On hearing this my husband pleaded, ‘Does she have to undergo this procedure. I know it will effect her health. As long as she doesn’t have any more children, isn’t that good enough?’ They said, ‘If you don’t comply it will effect your entry back into the country in the future, also your children’s schooling.’ 2019-09-24 00:00:00 +0000

Sterilizations, IUDs, andMandatory Birth Control:The CCP’s Campaign to SuppressUyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang

Jamestown Brief Adrian Zenz June 01, 2020

Between 2015 and 2018, about 860,000 ethnic Han residents left Xinjiang, while up to 2 million new residents were added to Xinjiang’s Han majority regions. Also, population growth rates in a Uyghur...

Restrictions on movement Adrian Zenz Sterilizations, IUDs, andMandatory Birth Control:The CCP’s Campaign to SuppressUyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang all jamestown-brief Jamestown Brief all all restrictions-on-movement Between 2015 and 2018, about 860,000 ethnic Han residents left Xinjiang, while up to 2 million new residents were added to Xinjiang’s Han majority regions. Also, population growth rates in a Uyghur region where Han constitute the majority were nearly 8 times higher than in the surrounding rural Uyghur regions (in 2018). These figures raise concerns that Beijing is doubling down on a policy of Han settler colonialism. 2020-06-01 00:00:00 +0000

Sterilizations, IUDs, andMandatory Birth Control:The CCP’s Campaign to SuppressUyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang

Jamestown Brief Adrian Zenz June 01, 2020

Natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically; growth rates fell by 84 percent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in several minorit...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization Adrian Zenz Sterilizations, IUDs, andMandatory Birth Control:The CCP’s Campaign to SuppressUyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang all jamestown-brief Jamestown Brief all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization Natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically; growth rates fell by 84 percent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in several minority regions in 2019. For 2020, one Uyghur region set an unprecedented near-zero birth rate target . . . intended to be achieved through “family planning work.” Government documents bluntly mandate that birth control violations are punishable by extrajudicial internment in “training” camps . . . Documents from 2019 reveal plans for a campaign of mass female sterilization in rural Uyghur regions, targeting 14 and 34 percent of all married women of childbearing age in two Uyghur counties that year. This project targeted all of southern Xinjiang, and continued in 2020 with increased funding. This campaign likely aims to sterilize rural minority women with three or more children, as well as some with two children—equivalent to at least 20 percent of all childbearing-age women . . . In 2018, a Uyghur prefecture openly set a goal of leading its rural populations to accept widespread sterilization surgery. By 2019, Xinjiang planned to subject at least 80 percent of women of childbearing age in the rural southern four minority prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries (IUDs or sterilizations), with actual shares likely being much higher. In 2018, 80 percent of all net added IUD placements in China . . . were performed in Xinjiang, despite the fact that the region only makes up 1.8 percent of the nation’s population. 2020-06-01 00:00:00 +0000

Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains

Associated Press Dake Kang October 10, 2021

The most heavily criticized aspect of Xinjiang’s crackdown has been its so-called “training centers”, which leaked documents show are actually extrajudicial indoctrination camps. After global outcr...

Internment Dake Kang Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains all associated-press Associated Press all internment all The most heavily criticized aspect of Xinjiang’s crackdown has been its so-called “training centers”, which leaked documents show are actually extrajudicial indoctrination camps. After global outcry, Chinese officials declared the camps shuttered in 2019. Many indeed appear to be closed. On the state-led tour in April, they took us to what they said was once a “training center”, now a regular vocational school in Peyzawat County. A mere fence marks the campus boundaries — a stark contrast from the barbed wire, high watchtowers and police at the entrance we saw three years ago. On our own, we see at least three other sites which once appeared to be camps and are now apartments or office complexes. But in their place, permanent detention facilities have been built, in an apparent move from makeshift camps to a long-lasting system of mass incarceration. We encountered one massive facility driving along a country road, its walls rising from the fields, men visible in high guard towers. At a second, we were blocked by two men wearing epidemic-prevention gear. A third ranks among the largest detention facilities on earth. Many are tucked away behind forests or dunes deep in the countryside, far from tourists and city centers. … Officials dodge questions about how many Uyghurs were detained, though statistics showed an extraordinary spike in arrests before the government stopped releasing them in 2019. 2021-10-10 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese Authorities Order Muslim Uyghur Shop Owners to Stock Alcohol, Cigarettes

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes May 04, 2015

Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have ordered shop owners and restaurateurs in a mainly Muslim Uyghur village to sell alcohol and cigarettes or face closure of their establishmen...

Forced Assimilation Religious Persecution Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Chinese Authorities Order Muslim Uyghur Shop Owners to Stock Alcohol, Cigarettes all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all forced-assimilation religious-persecution all Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have ordered shop owners and restaurateurs in a mainly Muslim Uyghur village to sell alcohol and cigarettes or face closure of their establishments, despite a public backlash against the products discouraged by followers of Islam, an official source said. Last week, authorities in Laskuy township, in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Hotan county, issued an announcement in the town seat of Aktash village that “all restaurants and supermarkets in our village should place five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes in their shops before [May 1, 2015]." In addition to directing owners to create “eye-catching displays” to promote the products, the April 29 announcement stated that “anybody who neglects this notice and fails to act will see their shops sealed off, their business suspended, and legal action pursued against them.” Signed by the Aktash village Party Committee of Laskuy township, the notice stated that the order had been handed down “from the top echelons of [China’s ruling Communist Party], in order to provide greater convenience to the public.” ... Sulayman said that abstention from alcohol and cigarettes had become common in Aktash and other parts of Laskuy, with some 70-80 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 45 refraining from drinking and smoking, and while there is no official rule within the Muslim Uyghur community against selling the products, doing so was considered “taboo” for religious reasons. ... He said that as the seat of Laskuy, Aktash was meant to serve as an example to all residents of the township, and his village party committee did not raise the issue of a potential public backlash against the decree when it was first proposed by party leadership. “We have more than 60 restaurants and stores in our township and I was told that all of them began stocking alcohol and cigarettes within three days of the announcement, but I didn’t inspect the businesses myself,” Sulayman said. “I do not know whether people were unhappy about it or not, but I only heard that one person argued and one other agreed to do it after talking to the party secretary,” he said. “Our village is the key village—we have to implement the ‘Weaken Religion’ campaign effectively … Religious sentiment is increasing and this is affecting stability.” 2015-05-04 00:00:00 +0000

The faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps

BBC John Sudworth May 24, 2022

Thousands of photographs from the heart of China’s highly secretive system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang, as well as a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape, are among a huge cache o...

Religious Persecution Internment Surveillance Destruction of the Family Pretexts for Detention Internment conditions John Sudworth The faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps all bbc BBC all religious-persecution internment surveillance destruction-of-the-family all pretexts-for-detention internment-conditions Thousands of photographs from the heart of China’s highly secretive system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang, as well as a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape, are among a huge cache of data hacked from police computer servers in the region. The Xinjiang Police Files, as they’re being called, were passed to the BBC earlier this year. After a months-long effort to investigate and authenticate them, they can be shown to offer significant new insights into the internment of the region’s Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities. … The documents provide some of the strongest evidence to date for a policy targeting almost any expression of Uyghur identity, culture or Islamic faith - and of a chain of command running all the way up to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping. … The hacked files contain more than 5,000 police photographs of Uyghurs taken between January and July 2018. Using other accompanying data, at least 2,884 of them can be shown to have been detained. And for those listed as being in a re-education camp, there are signs that they are not the willing “students” China has long-claimed them to be. … Some of the re-education camp photos show guards standing by, armed with batons. … Many have been detained just for ordinary, outward signs of their Islamic faith or for visiting countries with majority Muslim populations. … With the threat of physical force again visible in the background, this woman’s photo highlights the widespread use of “guilt by association”. Documents describe her son as having “strong religious leanings” because he doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke. As a result, he was jailed for 10 years on terrorism charges. But she appears on a list of “relatives of the detained” - among the thousands placed under suspicion because of the “crimes” of their families. … The youngest, Rahile Omer, was only 15 at the time of her detention. The oldest, Anihan Hamit, was 73. … There are countless examples of people being punished retrospectively for “crimes” that took place years or even decades ago - with one man jailed for 10 years in 2017 for having “studied Islamic scripture with his grandmother” for a few days in 2010. Many hundreds are shown to have been targeted for their mobile phone use - mostly for listening to “illegal lectures” or having encrypted apps installed. Others are punished with up to a decade in prison for not using their devices enough, with well over a hundred instances of “phone has run out of credit” being listed as a sign that the user is trying to evade the constant digital surveillance. The spreadsheets show how lives are sifted in search of the slightest of pretexts, which are turned into the broadest of charges - “picking quarrels” or “disturbing the social order” - and then punished as serious acts of terrorism; seven years, 10 years, 25 years, the columns of sentences stretch on and on. If the terrorism label is ever justly applied, it’s impossible to discern among a sea of data pointing to the internment of a people not for what they’ve done, but for who they are. Tursun Kadir’s spreadsheet entry lists some preaching and studying of Islamic scripture dating back to the 1980s and then, in more recent years, the offence of “growing a beard under the influence of religious extremism”. For this, the 58 year old was jailed for 16 years and 11 months. Photographs in the cache show him both before and after the Chinese state determined his expression of Uyghur identity to be illegal. Even for those not in a camp or prison, the Xinjiang Police Files reveal the gruelling impact of such high levels of scrutiny and surveillance. The images show that Uyghurs still living in their homes were summoned in large numbers to be photographed, with the associated image timestamps showing whole communities - from the very elderly to families with young children - called into police stations at all hours, including in the middle of the night. … Five months after their police photos were taken in 2018, husband and wife Tursun Memetimin and Ashigul Turghun were sent to a detention centre after being accused of having “listened to a recording of an illegal lecture” on someone else’s mobile phone six years earlier. Two of their three daughters’ photographs are also in the hacked files - Ruzigul Turghun, who was 10 at the time of their parents’ disappearance - and Ayshem Turghun, who was six. 2022-05-24 00:00:00 +0000

Inside China’s Push to Turn Muslim Minorities Into an Army of Workers

New York Times Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy December 30, 2019

The order from Chinese officials was blunt and urgent. Villagers from Muslim minorities should be pushed into jobs, willing or not. Quotas would be set and families penalized if they refused to go ...

Internment Forced Labor Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy Inside China’s Push to Turn Muslim Minorities Into an Army of Workers all new-york-times New York Times all internment all forced-labor The order from Chinese officials was blunt and urgent. Villagers from Muslim minorities should be pushed into jobs, willing or not. Quotas would be set and families penalized if they refused to go along. “Make people who are hard to employ renounce their selfish ideas,” the labor bureau of Qapqal, a county in the western region of Xinjiang, said in the directive last year. Such orders are part of an aggressive campaign to remold Xinjiang’s Muslim minorities — mostly Uighurs and Kazakhs — into an army of workers for factories and other big employers. Under pressure from the authorities, poor farmers, small traders and idle villagers of working age attend training and indoctrination courses for weeks or months, and are then assigned to stitch clothes, make shoes, sweep streets or fill other jobs. The government maintains that the Uighur and Kazakh villagers are “rural surplus labor” and are an underemployed population that threatens social stability. Putting them in steady, supervised government-approved work, officials say, will erase poverty and slow the spread of religious extremism and ethnic violence. The government describes the laborers as volunteers, though critics say they are clearly coerced. Official documents, interviews with experts, and visits by The New York Times to Xinjiang indicate that local plans uproot villagers, restrict their movements and pressure them to stay at jobs. Experts say those harsh methods can amount to forced labor, potentially tainting the global supply chain that uses Xinjiang workers, particularly for cotton goods. 2019-12-30 00:00:00 +0000

China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West

New York Times Sui-Lee Wee, Paul Mozur December 03, 2019

With a million or more ethnic Uighurs and others from predominantly Muslim minority groups swept up in detentions across Xinjiang, officials in Tumxuk have gathered blood samples from hundreds of U...

Surveillance Restricting journalism Use of technology Sui-Lee Wee, Paul Mozur China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all restricting-journalism use-of-technology With a million or more ethnic Uighurs and others from predominantly Muslim minority groups swept up in detentions across Xinjiang, officials in Tumxuk have gathered blood samples from hundreds of Uighurs — part of a mass DNA collection effort dogged by questions about consent and how the data will be used. In Tumxuk, at least, there is a partial answer: Chinese scientists are trying to find a way to use a DNA sample to create an image of a person’s face. The technology, which is also being developed in the United States and elsewhere, is in the early stages of development and can produce rough pictures good enough only to narrow a manhunt or perhaps eliminate suspects. But given the crackdown in Xinjiang, experts on ethics in science worry that China is building a tool that could be used to justify and intensify racial profiling and other state discrimination against Uighurs. In the long term, experts say, it may even be possible for the Communist government to feed images produced from a DNA sample into the mass surveillance and facial recognition systems that it is building, tightening its grip on society by improving its ability to track dissidents and protesters as well as criminals. Some of this research is taking place in labs run by China’s Ministry of Public Security, and at least two Chinese scientists working with the ministry on the technology have received funding from respected institutions in Europe. … The police prevented reporters from The New York Times from interviewing Tumxuk residents, making verifying consent impossible. Many residents had vanished in any case. On the road to one of the internment camps, an entire neighborhood had been bulldozed into rubble. … With the ability to reconstruct faces, the Chinese police would have yet another genetic tool for social control. The authorities have already gathered millions of DNA samples in Xinjiang. They have also collected data from the hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and members of other minority groups locked up in detention camps in Xinjiang as part of a campaign to stop terrorism. …. In the papers, the authors said their methods had been approved by the ethics committee of the Institute of Forensic Science of China. That organization is part of the Ministry of Public Security, China’s police. 2019-12-03 00:00:00 +0000

Nearly Half of Xinjiang Village’s Residents Sent to ‘Political Re-Education Camps’: Official

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur; Joshua Lipes June 14, 2018

Authorities in Qaraqash (in Chinese, Moyu) county, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), have detained nearly half of the population of a village in “political re-education...

Internment Shohret Hoshur; Joshua Lipes Nearly Half of Xinjiang Village’s Residents Sent to ‘Political Re-Education Camps’: Official all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all Authorities in Qaraqash (in Chinese, Moyu) county, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), have detained nearly half of the population of a village in “political re-education camps,” according to a local official. A duty officer with the Chinibagh township police station in Qaraqash recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that in his home village of Yengisheher, almost all of the adult males from the area’s more than 1,700 households had been placed in camps, leaving few people behind to farm the local fields. 2018-06-14 00:00:00 +0000

Being Tracked While Reporting in China, Where ‘There Are No Whys’

New York Times Paul Mozur April 17, 2019

Once a bustling Silk Road entrepôt famed for its markets, the city of Kashgar now resembles a prison. Hospitals, schools and parks are swathed in coils of barbed wire. Restaurants and stores sit be...

Surveillance Restricting journalism Use of technology Paul Mozur Being Tracked While Reporting in China, Where ‘There Are No Whys’ all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all restricting-journalism use-of-technology Once a bustling Silk Road entrepôt famed for its markets, the city of Kashgar now resembles a prison. Hospitals, schools and parks are swathed in coils of barbed wire. Restaurants and stores sit behind metal bars. To get just about anywhere in the city you have to pass through checkpoints. A green channel allows tourists and Han Chinese to forgo the ID checks, but Uighurs must submit. My seven followers, all Uighurs, were often stopped. A quick flash of a badge allowed them to proceed. A decade ago, much of the mud-brick old city was leveled and rebuilt. Authorities said it was to guard against earthquakes. Roads and alleyways were widened, making patrolling easier. The rebuilding continues today. At one of the only remaining original spurs of the old town, residents had been moved out and earthmovers chipped away at historic houses. This last island of old Kashgar will soon disappear. On the neighborhood’s edge, I ran into a woman who appeared to be squatting in an abandoned structure. Her bereft expression said about everything there was to say about the tragedy of Xinjiang. Just after I took her picture, two Chinese tourists shouted at her in Mandarin, an attempt to get her to look at their cameras. When she turned her head away and hid it in her hands, they laughed. Each evening as we returned to our hotel, we would pass a boarding school surrounded by tall fences topped with barbed wire. Socializing in clusters in the twilight, the adolescent students looked very much like prisoners. 2019-04-17 00:00:00 +0000

‘Admit Your Mistakes, Repent’: China Shifts Campaign to Control Xinjiang’s Muslims

Wall Street Journal Eva Dou, Philip Wen February 06, 2020

Hundreds of discarded metal bed frames lie jumbled in a grassy lot here behind a recently emptied re-education center for ethnic-minority Muslims in northwest China. Red stickers on them read: “Rec...

Internment Destruction of the Family Internment conditions Forced Labor Restricting communication Eva Dou, Philip Wen ‘Admit Your Mistakes, Repent’: China Shifts Campaign to Control Xinjiang’s Muslims all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all internment destruction-of-the-family all internment-conditions forced-labor restricting-communication Hundreds of discarded metal bed frames lie jumbled in a grassy lot here behind a recently emptied re-education center for ethnic-minority Muslims in northwest China. Red stickers on them read: “Recognize your mistakes, admit your mistakes, repent.” Chinese authorities say everyone has completed their studies at such sites—which Beijing describes as vocational schools. Rights groups and Western governments say that about a million people, most of them Uighurs, have been detained in dozens of such centers across the region in recent years. . . . To reinforce the government’s message, state media broadcast images of the center here, officially named the Kashgar City Vocational Training School, with its darkened classrooms stripped bare of furniture, a bundle of orange internet cables discarded on the floor. An hour’s drive to the south, however, a larger re-education camp was still in use in early January, with bright lights illuminating a ring of high gray walls. Two years before, locals had referred to it as a school. A uniformed guard blocking the road described it as something else. “It’s a jail,” he said. “It’s never been a school.” The images of the two camps illustrate a shift under way in the government’s approach in Xinjiang, an expanse of deserts, oasis communities and mountains on the doorstep of Central Asia that is home to millions of Turkic-speaking Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities. . . . Many Uighurs living overseas say they continue to be deprived of information about the welfare of their relatives despite reports of camps being dismantled. Abdulahat Tursuntohti, who once ran an embroidery factory in Karakax county outside of Hotan before moving to Turkey several years ago, said he had heard through an intermediary that his mother, father and sister-in-law had been released from re-education camps in the fall, but that most of his family remains in detention or assigned to labor in factories. He said the last update he had been able to get about their whereabouts was in October. “I haven’t been able to contact my family for the last four years,” he said. “It’s very hard to get information from Karakax.” In Karakax, Journal reporters found a half-constructed industrial park in the southwest corner of the county. One end of the park was fenced off with brick walls and tall metal gates that bore no company names. Guards blocked reporters from approaching, saying the area was off-limits because a sock factory was operating there. Satellite imagery showed that in early 2018 the site held rows of residential buildings next to a high-security compound ringed by watchtowers. A government construction bid identified it as a re-education center. An official announcement at the end of 2018 said regional government funds would be used to construct a poverty-alleviation workshop in conjunction with the training center. By last summer, the high-security compound had been rebuilt with a larger footprint, satellite images show. Rows of one-story buildings with blue roofs had appeared around the expanded center. One young Uighur man walking in the industrial park said he had been in a training center and now worked nearby. He wore a badge that bore his name, national ID number and hometown and that identified him as being a part of a culinary class. Across Xinjiang, people’s full names and ID numbers are often visible in a way that would be considered an invasion of privacy in eastern Chinese cities. “I’m learning how to roast meat skewers,” the man said. Much of the industrial park was still under construction. Students of a local driving school took halting laps in white cars around the mostly deserted park. Jade peddlers camped out in one empty parking lot, spreading green and yellow stones across the ground. . . . The large, still-active camp south of Kashgar in Shule County highlights a greater concern for the activists: that authorities have begun to charge those who remain in the camps with criminal offenses. The re-education campaign has been accompanied by a wave of prosecutions, with the number of criminal arrests in Xinjiang soaring nearly 10-fold in 2017 from 2016, according to official figures. Uighurs living overseas say they have heard reports in the past year of relatives in camps being sentenced. Outside the facility that two years ago had been called a school, the guard said it was a jail that had been recently renovated. “All countries have jails,” he said. 2020-02-06 00:00:00 +0000

Huawei worked on several surveillance systems promoted to identify ethnicity, documents show

Washington Post Drew Harwell, Eva Dou December 08, 2020

The Chinese tech giant Huawei has tested facial recognition software that could send automated “Uighur alarms” to government authorities when its camera systems identify members of the oppressed mi...

Surveillance Use of technology Drew Harwell, Eva Dou Huawei worked on several surveillance systems promoted to identify ethnicity, documents show all washington-post Washington Post all surveillance all use-of-technology The Chinese tech giant Huawei has tested facial recognition software that could send automated “Uighur alarms” to government authorities when its camera systems identify members of the oppressed minority group, according to an internal document that provides further details about China’s artificial-intelligence surveillance regime. A document signed by Huawei representatives — discovered by the research organization IPVM and shared exclusively with The Washington Post — shows that the telecommunications firm worked in 2018 with the facial recognition start-up Megvii to test an artificial-intelligence camera system that could scan faces in a crowd and estimate each person’s age, sex and ethnicity. If the system detected the face of a member of the mostly Muslim minority group, the test report said, it could trigger a “Uighur alarm” — potentially flagging them for police in China, where members of the group have been detained en masse as part of a brutal government crackdown. The document, which was found on Huawei’s website, was removed shortly after The Post and IPVM asked the companies for comment. 2020-12-08 00:00:00 +0000

China Detains Dozens in Xinjiang For Sharing Songs From Kazakhstan

Radio Free Asia Qiao Long September 12, 2019

Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have detained dozens of ethnic minority Muslim Kazakhs for sharing the national anthem of neighboring Kazakhstan via social media, RFA has...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Qiao Long China Detains Dozens in Xinjiang For Sharing Songs From Kazakhstan all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all pretexts-for-detention Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have detained dozens of ethnic minority Muslim Kazakhs for sharing the national anthem of neighboring Kazakhstan via social media, RFA has learned. 2019-09-12 00:00:00 +0000

Xinjiang officials said to pay Uyghurs to perform dance at Kashgar mosque

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur May 05, 2022

Authorities in Kashgar allegedly paid Muslim Uyghur men to dance outside the most famous mosque in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region to celebrate the end of Ramadan, a performance that was filme...

Religious Persecution Shohret Hoshur Xinjiang officials said to pay Uyghurs to perform dance at Kashgar mosque all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all Authorities in Kashgar allegedly paid Muslim Uyghur men to dance outside the most famous mosque in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region to celebrate the end of Ramadan, a performance that was filmed and released by state media ahead of an anticipated visit by the United Nations human rights chief later this month. Kashgar locals told RFA that people were not allowed to pray at Id Kah Mosque but instead were organized to dance on Eid al-Fitr on May 3, as shown in a YouTube video posted by China News Service (Zhongxinwang) on Tuesday. Chinese tourists can been seen observing the dancing and taking photos in the square. A police officer from the city’s Kumdarwaza police station told RFA that prayers have not been allowed at the Id Kah Mosque since 2016. The dance was organized by residential committees, Chinese Communist Party organizations that oversee neighborhood units in cities and towns across China, he said. “Several of our colleagues went to the square and met residential committee officials, and they told them that they had brought people to perform the Sama,” the officer, who did not provide his name, said. The Muztagh and Donghu residential committees sent about 500-600 people to perform the Sama, the officer added. “Several weeks before the festival, the residential committees created a list with the names of those who would attend the Sama,” he said. “On one list, I saw there were four to five people I knew on one floor of our building.” … The Donghu residential committee paid 120-150 yuan (U.S. $18-23) to those who went to Kashgar to perform the dance because it would take them at least half a day, the police officer said. A typical worker in Kashgar earns about 250-300 yuan a day. The Muztagh residential committee did not pay the Uyghurs, who comprise 90% of the residents in the community, to dance, he said. “No one can reject the demands of the residential committees, especially in the communities where Uyghurs live,” the officer said. “I watched the video, and I guess some people missed the Sama dance because they haven't danced it for six years,” he said. “Some people try to show themselves as being alive and happy — that’s what the residential committees want. “Moreover, after 2017, people became worried about approaching the mosque,” he added. “There is no such thing as running to Sama now. That’s why they paid them.” 2022-05-05 00:00:00 +0000

In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs

Der Spiegel Georg Fahrion May 27, 2021

In front of the gas station is a gate manned by two men in uniform. One of them opens all of the doors of our car, including the trunk and the hood. The other notes down the number of Ayni’s driver...

Surveillance Use of technology Georg Fahrion In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all surveillance all use-of-technology In front of the gas station is a gate manned by two men in uniform. One of them opens all of the doors of our car, including the trunk and the hood. The other notes down the number of Ayni’s driver’s license. All passengers have to get out and Ayni has to have his ID scanned before the gate is opened and he can drive in – alone in the car. He seems to accept the procedure as a completely normal part of his daily life. … Visibility is poor as we step out of a restaurant and wave down a taxi. Plus, we are all wearing facemasks. The driver cannot clearly see who is stepping into his vehicle. As we drive off, he says cheerfully that he is a Uighur, before asking what ethnicity we belong to. We answer that I am a German and my photographer a Ukrainian. "Foreigners?” the driver blurts, suddenly seeming uncomfortable. "Oh no. If I had known that, I wouldn’t have picked you up. I thought you were maybe Tajiks!” Xinjiang borders Tajikistan and there is a Tajik minority in the region, many of whom have Caucasian features similar to our own – and they make for much less-sensitive fares for a taxi driver than we Europeans. We try to calm him by telling him that we have taken a number of taxis in Xinjiang and none of the drivers have voiced similar concerns. "But you have no idea what happens to us once you get out,” he replies. "Look, there are two cameras here in the car!” He does drive us the few hundred meters to our hotel but asks that we pay him cash instead of via WeChat, as is standard. He doesn’t want a data trail. 2021-05-27 00:00:00 +0000

In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs

Der Spiegel Georg Fahrion May 27, 2021

A 27-minute drive south of Kashgar’s center, a uniformed guard patrols on a walkway on top of a wall roughly eight meters (25 feet) high. Google Earth shows that there are around two dozen structur...

Internment Georg Fahrion In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all internment all A 27-minute drive south of Kashgar’s center, a uniformed guard patrols on a walkway on top of a wall roughly eight meters (25 feet) high. Google Earth shows that there are around two dozen structures behind it. Through a telephoto lens, we can see that the guard has a rifle slung over his shoulder. He approaches a watchtower that juts up from the wall. Is it a high-security prison of the kind to be found everywhere in the world? Or is it one of the region’s infamous camps? Chinese authorities leave our inquiries about the facility unanswered. ASPI analyst Nathan Ruser says that it is, in fact, a camp – inaugurated in 2020, at a time when China was claiming that it had already released all interned Uighurs. The wall is blindingly white and the parallel, razor-wire fences glitter in the sunlight. It certainly looks as though the complex hasn’t been here for long. And from the road, it is possible to read slogans affixed on one of the roofs in large, red characters, including "qu ji duan hua” – which means "deradicalization.” We also find another facility listed in the ASPI database – a similar ensemble of buildings set up parallel to each other. As we slowly drive by the entry gate, we can see two watchtowers in the back of the compound. But there is no razor wire on the wall circling the compound and the gate is only secured with a roll shutter. According to the signs, the facility is now a party school. These are just two cursory observations, but they do not contradict the conclusions reached in the ASPI study – namely that fences and watchtowers have been removed from some of the complexes as they have been repurposed, with security at others having been intensified. One possible interpretation: Those who China has deemed incorrigible may have since been sentenced and transferred to regular prisons. Many of those who officials believe had assimilated to a sufficient degree could very well have been released – or put into the Labor Transfer Scheme that has distributed Uighurs among factories across the country. The system of surveillance has since been perfected and the populace brought into line. 2021-05-27 00:00:00 +0000

In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs

Der Spiegel Georg Fahrion May 27, 2021

Now, with Xinjiang largely pacified in the eyes of Chinese officials, they are hoping to leverage the city’s potential. Kashgar is being developed into a mecca of tourism, a destination with an ori...

Forced Assimilation Georg Fahrion In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all forced-assimilation all Now, with Xinjiang largely pacified in the eyes of Chinese officials, they are hoping to leverage the city’s potential. Kashgar is being developed into a mecca of tourism, a destination with an oriental flair. "It’s great, like Morocco,” says a visitor from the southwestern Chinese city of Guiyang. The old, mud-brick walls have disappeared behind a uniform coat of plaster, with walls now decorated with wagon wheels and amphoras. Tourists now wander through gates with pointed arches like in Baghdad and a city wall of concrete has been built on the clay cliffs. A Chinese temple with its curved roofline now graces the highest point of the old town. A tout tries to lure guests into a restaurant – dressed as the monkey king from "Journey to the West,” a classical novel of Chinese literature. "I came for the spectacle. I think it’s great,” says one Chinese visitor as the Uighurs are dancing the Sema. He introduces himself as Yann and says that he studies philosophy in France. Because of the pandemic, though, he has taken a year off, which he is using for travel. By the way, he adds, "there will be a spectacle with a princess later in the old town.” As it turns out, it involves five princesses. They arrive on camelback, dressed in colorful costumes, before they perform a dance – as they do every day. Uighurs as obedient extras in a portrayal of their own lives, a religion without passion or youth, a culture reduced to Disney-esque exoticism, easily digestible for the masses: This version of Uighur existence appears to be the one desired by China’s leaders. 2021-05-27 00:00:00 +0000

In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs

Der Spiegel Georg Fahrion May 27, 2021

In Xinjiang, we frequently encounter Uighurs who announce unprompted their loyalty to the party. It could be that it is a genuine emotion. It could also, however, be a preventative step to ward off...

Forced Assimilation Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Georg Fahrion In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all forced-assimilation all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays In Xinjiang, we frequently encounter Uighurs who announce unprompted their loyalty to the party. It could be that it is a genuine emotion. It could also, however, be a preventative step to ward off any potential suspicion. In the train to Yarkant, an old man shows us pictures of a piece of woodwork he produced – apparently a hobby of his. It was not a mosque or anything like that, but the Gate of Heavenly Peace, a symbol of Beijing’s power. It bears Mao’s portrait, and it also features on the national coat of arms. The man’s model includes five wooden figures intended to represent the leaders of the People’s Republic: "Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao,” he recites eagerly. "And this is Xi Jinping.” 2021-05-27 00:00:00 +0000

In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs

Der Spiegel Georg Fahrion May 27, 2021

It isn’t long after landing in Urumqi on our flight from Beijing that we discover our first tails. The men from state security always look the same: Between 20 and 40 years of age, physically fit e...

Restricting journalism Georg Fahrion In the Sinister Disneyland of Xinjiang: China's Ongoing Oppression of the Uighurs all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all all restricting-journalism It isn’t long after landing in Urumqi on our flight from Beijing that we discover our first tails. The men from state security always look the same: Between 20 and 40 years of age, physically fit enough to follow their targets for a couple of hours at a time, and dressed in a baseball cap, facemask and sunglasses. Their favorite accessory is a men’s handbag. As we step out of the arrivals hall, a man wearing a wine-red T-shirt stares at me for a few seconds before turning away and raising his smartphone to his ear. At the taxi stand, he is a couple spots behind us in line. When we get a car after a 15-minute wait, he steps out of line and wanders away speaking into his phone, likely passing along the license plate number of our taxi. We’ll see him again that afternoon, seemingly randomly running into him in the center of the city – population 3.5 million. He follows us at a distance of 20 to 30 meters. It’s all rather obvious, a message to us that we are being watched. Such shadows will be our constant companions in Xinjiang. In Urumqi, they follow us in a metallic-brown SUV. In Shanshan, it’s a white VW. In Yarkant, we are able to pinpoint five men who follow us on foot and on a moped. One of them is clearly not Han Chinese, and we guess that he might be Uighur. We are sometimes able to shake them: In Urumqi, for example, we suddenly cross the street through stop-and-go traffic and enter a shopping center, before then going out the back entrance. We turn around at each corner and see nobody following us. Later, though, they’re suddenly there again. We can only assume that they found us with the help of cameras and facial recognition technology. They follow us everywhere, but they don’t interfere – a rather reserved approach compared to years past. Still, normal reporting isn’t possible under such conditions. Normally, we would speak with community leaders, clerics and intellectuals, but internal government documents – the so-called Karakax List – makes it clear that Uighurs have been interned for far milder infractions than speaking with foreign journalists. Things like phoning family members abroad, wearing beards or simply being seen as "unreliable” by state agencies. We don’t want to put anybody in danger. Our discussions are limited to random encounters and our impressions are thus inevitably incomplete. 2021-05-27 00:00:00 +0000

Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life

Wall Street Journal Josh Chin, Clément Bürge December 19, 2017

Chinese authorities use forms to collect personal information from Uighurs. One form reviewed by the Journal asks about respondents’ prayer habits and if they have contacts abroad. There are sectio...

Religious Persecution Grading/scoring system Josh Chin, Clément Bürge Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all religious-persecution all grading-scoring-system Chinese authorities use forms to collect personal information from Uighurs. One form reviewed by the Journal asks about respondents’ prayer habits and if they have contacts abroad. There are sections for officials to rate “persons of interest” on a six-point scale and check boxes on whether they are “safe,” “average” or “unsafe.” 2017-12-19 00:00:00 +0000

Room for 10,000: Inside China’s largest detention center

Associated Press Dake Kang July 22, 2021

The Uyghur inmates sat in uniform rows with their legs crossed in lotus position and their backs ramrod straight, numbered and tagged, gazing at a television playing grainy black-and-white images o...

Internment Internment conditions Restricting journalism Dake Kang Room for 10,000: Inside China’s largest detention center all associated-press Associated Press all internment all internment-conditions restricting-journalism The Uyghur inmates sat in uniform rows with their legs crossed in lotus position and their backs ramrod straight, numbered and tagged, gazing at a television playing grainy black-and-white images of Chinese Communist Party history. This is one of an estimated 240 cells in just one section of Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng, seen by Associated Press journalists granted extraordinary access during a state-led tour to China’s far west Xinjiang region. The detention center is the largest in the country and possibly the world, with a complex that sprawls over 220 acres — making it twice as large as Vatican City. A sign at the front identified it as a “kanshousuo,” a pre-trial detention facility. Chinese officials declined to say how many inmates were there, saying the number varied. But the AP estimated the center could hold roughly 10,000 people and many more if crowded, based on satellite imagery and the cells and benches seen during the tour. While the BBC and Reuters have in the past reported from the outside, the AP was the first Western media organization allowed in. This site suggests that China still holds and plans to hold vast numbers of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in detention. Satellite imagery shows that new buildings stretching almost a mile long were added to the Dabancheng detention facility in 2019. … [T]he AP’s visit to Dabancheng, satellite imagery and interviews with experts and former detainees suggest that while many “training centers” were indeed closed, some like this one were simply converted into prisons or pre-trial detention facilities. Many new facilities have also been built, including a new 85-acre detention center down the road from No. 3 in Dabancheng that went up over 2019, satellite imagery shows. The changes seem to be an attempt to move from the makeshift and extrajudicial “training centers” into a more permanent system of prisons and pre-trial detention facilities justified under the law. While some Uyghurs have been released, others have simply been moved into this prison network. However, researchers say many innocent people were often thrown in detention for things like going abroad or attending religious gatherings. Darren Byler, an anthropologist studying the Uyghurs at the University of Colorado, noted that many prisoners have not committed “real crimes by any standards,” and that they go through a “show” trial without due process. “We’re moving from a police state to a mass incarceration state. Hundreds of thousands of people have disappeared from the population,” Byler said. “It’s the criminalization of normal behavior.” During the April tour of No. 3 in Dabancheng, officials repeatedly distanced it from the “training centers” that Beijing claims to have closed. “There was no connection between our detention center and the training centers,” insisted Urumqi Public Security Bureau director Zhao Zhongwei. “There’s never been one around here.” They also said the No. 3 center was proof of China’s commitment to rehabilitation and the rule of law, with inmates provided hot meals, exercise, access to legal counsel and televised classes lecturing them on their crimes. Rights are protected, officials say, and only lawbreakers need worry about detention. “See, the BBC report said this was a re-education camp. It’s not - it’s a detention center,” said Liu Chang, an official with the foreign ministry. However, despite the claims of officials, the evidence shows No. 3 was indeed an internment camp. A Reuters picture of the entrance in September 2018 shows that the facility used to be called the “Urumqi Vocational Skills Education and Training Center”. Publicly available documents collected by Shawn Zhang, a law student in Canada, confirm that a center by the same name was commissioned to be built at the same location in 2017. Records also show that Chinese conglomerate Hengfeng Information Technology won an $11 million contract for outfitting the Urumqi “training center”. A man who answered a number for Hengfeng confirmed the company had taken part in the construction of the “training center,” but Hengfeng did not respond to further requests for comment. A former construction contractor who visited the Dabancheng facility in 2018 told the AP that it was the same as the “Urumqi Vocational Skills Education and Training Center,” and had been converted to a detention facility in 2019, with the nameplate switched. He declined to be named for fear of retaliation against his family. “All the former students inside became prisoners,” he said. … Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center is comparable in size to Rikers Island in New York City, but the region serves less than four million people compared to nearly 20 million for Rikers. At least three other detention centers are sprinkled across Urumqi, along with ten or more prisons. 2021-07-22 00:00:00 +0000

Letter to China: My Uyghur friend Zainur has been detained in one of your camps for two years

Global Voices Addy McTague November 13, 2019

"Even with sanctuaries as rare as they are in China, Zainur, like so many other Uyghurs desperately clung to any semblance of the sacred. Most times she would mime the gestures of prayer wherever s...

Religious Persecution Internment Addy McTague Letter to China: My Uyghur friend Zainur has been detained in one of your camps for two years all global-voices Global Voices all religious-persecution internment all "Even with sanctuaries as rare as they are in China, Zainur, like so many other Uyghurs desperately clung to any semblance of the sacred. Most times she would mime the gestures of prayer wherever she sat or stood. Sometimes she dared to go through the actual motions in their entirety, once I assured her it was safe. And sometimes I watched as she hesitatingly mimicked the positions of ruku and sujood, bowing and prostration, with her finger. Her finger. One evening while on the train, she rested her head upon my shoulder and began to mumble al-Fatihah, the first chapter of the Quran, squeezing my hand for every change of position. She later told me how at home in Xinjiang, in the city of Kashgar, for every salah, or daily prayer, she sought out her mother and did the same. “My mother is my masjid,” she told me. “Maybe sisters are the next best thing.”" "She said it often when she would tell me about what was happening in her home town. They barred women from the masjid. They scanned the faces of anyone who entered the masjid. They scanned faces at markets and airports. They banned the hijab. They banned fasting. Neighbors are disappearing. Cameras are everywhere. We buried our books. They told us to remove the locks from our doors. They took my passport. “I don’t know why.”" "One old Uyghur friend was still at university, awaiting graduation. She knew she would be sent to a camp if she could not find a job. She mentioned her siblings. Prisons now claimed all of her brothers. Camps swallowed up a sister, cousins, and friends. Forced labor. Factory work. Police work. Disappearances. Unknowns. Some knowns. Zainur? Zainur has been in a detention camp since July 5, 2017." 2019-11-13 00:00:00 +0000

China’s Software Stalked Uighurs Earlier and More Widely, Researchers Learn

New York Times Paul Mozur, Nicole Perlroth July 01, 2020

Before the Chinese police hung high-powered surveillance cameras and locked up ethnic minorities by the hundreds of thousands in China’s western region of Xinjiang, China’s hackers went to work bui...

Surveillance Use of technology Paul Mozur, Nicole Perlroth China’s Software Stalked Uighurs Earlier and More Widely, Researchers Learn all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all use-of-technology Before the Chinese police hung high-powered surveillance cameras and locked up ethnic minorities by the hundreds of thousands in China’s western region of Xinjiang, China’s hackers went to work building malware, researchers say. The Chinese hacking campaign, which researchers at Lookout — the San Francisco mobile security firm — said . . . had begun in earnest as far back as 2013 and continues to this day, was part of a broad but often invisible effort to pull in data from the devices that know people best: their smartphones. Lookout found links between eight types of malicious software — some previously known, others not — that show how groups connected to China’s government hacked into Android phones used by Xinjiang’s largely Muslim Uighur population on a scale far larger than had been realized. The tools the hackers assembled hid in special keyboards used by Uighurs and disguised themselves as commonly used apps in third-party websites. Some could remotely turn on a phone’s microphone, record calls or export photos, phone locations and conversations on chat apps. Others were embedded in apps that hosted Uighur-language news, Uighur-targeted beauty tips, religious texts like the Quran and details of the latest Muslim cleric arrests. 2020-07-01 00:00:00 +0000

Inside China’s internment camps: tear gas, Tasers and textbooks

AFP Ben Dooley October 25, 2018

At the end of 2017, "higher authorities" issued directions to standardise the facilities' operations. New "vocational education and training service management bureaus" were set up, headed by offi...

Internment Internment conditions Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Grading/scoring system Ben Dooley Inside China’s internment camps: tear gas, Tasers and textbooks all afp AFP all internment all internment-conditions forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays grading-scoring-system At the end of 2017, "higher authorities" issued directions to standardise the facilities' operations. New "vocational education and training service management bureaus" were set up, headed by officials experienced in running prisons and detention centres, according to local government websites. Students would be tested on their knowledge of Mandarin and propaganda on a weekly, monthly and "seasonal" basis, and write regular "self-criticisms", one bureau wrote in a memo. They would spend their days "shouting slogans, singing red songs and memorising the Three Character Classic", it said, referring to an ancient Confucian text. Their files lodged in a centralised database, students were sorted into categories based on their offences and levels of accomplishment. Criminals who had completed a prison sentence were released directly into the centres, under the principle of "putting untrustworthy people in a trustworthy place". Students who performed well would be allowed to call their families or even visit them in special rooms at the centres. Officials were ordered to regularly visit students' families at home to give them "anti-extremism" lessons and check for signs of anger that could harden into opposition to the Communist Party. The new bureaus also ensured "absolute security" against "troublemaking" in the centres, including preventing "escapes", one local management bureau wrote in a breakdown of its duties. In addition to ex-prisoners and those charged with religious extremism, local governments were also ordered to ensure that at least one member of each household received vocational education for a minimum of one to three months -- a measure ostensibly aimed at alleviating poverty in the region of 24 million. 2018-10-25 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

On January 1, 2018 . . . more than a thousand people gathered at a flag-raising ceremony in a square outside the mayor’s office in Akkoi Farm to hear Aynur, the retired teacher, deliver a public co...

Forced Assimilation Flag-raising/Village meeting Denunciations Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all forced-assimilation all flag-raising-village-meeting denunciations On January 1, 2018 . . . more than a thousand people gathered at a flag-raising ceremony in a square outside the mayor’s office in Akkoi Farm to hear Aynur, the retired teacher, deliver a public confession. An employee at her former school made Aynur write out her statement in Chinese. In 2016, flag-raising ceremonies in Xinjiang became mandatory; every family had to send a representative. Absence was considered a black mark on a household, and was used as a pretext for interrogation. Like the “struggle sessions” of the Cultural Revolution—public humiliations of landowners and other class enemies—confessions at flag-raising ceremonies in Xinjiang made an example of those whose thinking had been polluted. Before she spoke, Aynur stood by herself under a large flagpole while the Chinese flag was raised. Then she explained that, because she was unable to control her husband, he had become involved with terrorists, and that this was why he was living in the camp a few miles down the road, with around five thousand other detainees. When Aynur finished, others rose to give speeches praising the Party. Although she had given brief confessions at previous ceremonies, she’d never been forced to call her husband a terrorist. Afterward, relatives in her village started avoiding her. Former colleagues from her old school stopped saying hello when they saw her on the street. “I felt like a criminal in front of all those people,” she said. “It was not a good feeling.” 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

The changes he saw in his home town alarmed him. Surveillance cameras and police checkpoints had become ubiquitous in Xinjiang. Between 2016 and 2017, authorities advertised more than ninety thousa...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Forced Assimilation Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Use of technology Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all surveillance religious-persecution forced-assimilation all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays use-of-technology The changes he saw in his home town alarmed him. Surveillance cameras and police checkpoints had become ubiquitous in Xinjiang. Between 2016 and 2017, authorities advertised more than ninety thousand police and security jobs and built more than seven thousand police stations. In towns and villages across Xinjiang, residents described seeing armed guards, metal detectors, and police patrols in armored vehicles. In Akkoi Farm, seemingly every house now flew a Chinese flag. Police officers barged into homes, collecting prayer rugs, Qurans, and works of Kazakh literature. Sometimes, they burned these items in people’s yards. Authorities removed a crescent-moon finial from the dome of a village mosque. In the cemetery, tombstones inscribed with Perso-Arabic script were demolished. Kokteubai searched for the markers where his parents were buried. They had been destroyed. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Woman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp

AP November 26, 2018

Raised in China, Tursun moved to Egypt to study English at a university and soon met her husband and had triplets with him. In 2015, Tursun traveled to China to spend time with her family and was i...

Destruction of the Family Woman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all Raised in China, Tursun moved to Egypt to study English at a university and soon met her husband and had triplets with him. In 2015, Tursun traveled to China to spend time with her family and was immediately detained and separated from her infant children. When Tursun was released three months later, one of the triplets died and the other two developed health problems. Tursun said the children had been operated on. She was arrested for a second time about two years later. 2018-11-26 00:00:00 +0000

Woman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp

AP November 26, 2018

Mihrigul Tursun, speaking to reporters in Washington, said she was interrogated for four days in a row without sleep, had her hair shaved and was subjected to an intrusive medical examination follo...

Internment Internment conditions Woman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp all ap AP all internment all internment-conditions Mihrigul Tursun, speaking to reporters in Washington, said she was interrogated for four days in a row without sleep, had her hair shaved and was subjected to an intrusive medical examination following her second arrest in China in 2017. Several months later, she was detained a third time and spent three months in a cramped, suffocating prison cell with 60 other women, having to sleep in turns, use the toilet in front of security cameras and sing songs praising China’s Communist Party. Tursun said she and other inmates were forced to take unknown medication, including pills that made them faint and a white liquid that caused bleeding in some women and loss of menstruation in others. Tursun said nine women from her cell died during her three months there. One day, Tursun recalled, she was led into a room and placed in a high chair, and her legs and arms were locked in place. “The authorities put a helmet-like thing on my head, and each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake violently and I would feel the pain in my veins,” Tursun said in a statement read by a translator. 2018-11-26 00:00:00 +0000

The “Jieqin” Campaign: Ethnic Integration, Surveillance, and Grassroots Governance

Xinjiang Documentation Project

Jieqin (结亲), also known as Minzu Tuanjie Yijiaqin (民族团结一家亲), refers to the idea that people from different ethnic groups should be united as a family, and was originally mentioned by President Xi J...

Surveillance Forced Assimilation Flag-raising/Village meeting In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' The “Jieqin” Campaign: Ethnic Integration, Surveillance, and Grassroots Governance all xinjiang-documentation-project Xinjiang Documentation Project all surveillance forced-assimilation all flag-raising-village-meeting in-home-surveillance-by-relatives Jieqin (结亲), also known as Minzu Tuanjie Yijiaqin (民族团结一家亲), refers to the idea that people from different ethnic groups should be united as a family, and was originally mentioned by President Xi Jinping on April 27th, 2014 when he was visiting a district in Kashgar, XUAR (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) (Xinhua Net, 2014). Later, on October 17th, 2016, the current Party Secretary of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, launched the Jieqin campaign (Yao and Zhang, 2016). In the meeting, Chen emphasized that the campaign aimed to implement the “spirit” of Xi’s speeches. Following Chen’s directive, local governments at all levels soon organized “mobilization meetings” (动员大会) to implement the policies. … Under this program, in every work unit (including governmental and non-governmental organizations), Han Chinese civil servants are required to pair up with Uyghur or Kazakh families as ‘relatives’ (亲戚). Chen specifically emphasizes four prefectures (Kashgar, Khotan, Kizilsu, and Aksu) in southern XUAR (南疆四地州) that are mainly inhabited by Uyghurs and Kirgizs as the “key areas” (Yao and Zhang, 2016). Apart from “emphasized” prefectures, the program also prioritizes “nine populations” (九类人群): poor families, four retired people (retired cadres, retired communists, retired models, and veterans), religious people, people who need “thought work” (思想工作), ), family members of “focus” people (重点人员) who had been released from detainment camps, the floating population (流动人口), uncultured groups (文化程度不高人群), and special people (特殊群体) (Chang, 2020; Sheng & Yanitakqiao, 2017). Moreover, the program requires “three full coverages” (三个全覆盖), which means that government cadres, low income households, and the “focus” population must be all involved in Jieqin activities (Xu, 2018). The local governments also organize “pair-up ceremonies” (结亲仪式) in which cadres and civilians sign“heart-to-heart cards” (连心卡) and take “family photos” (全家福) to become ‘relatives’ (Chang, 2020). By the end of 2017, all cadres in XUAR (approximately one million cadres) had been paired up with 1.5 million families (Xu, 2018). This program requires all governmental cadres to visit their paired-up families six times a year (every two months and five days per visit). During their visit, cadres must carry out si tong (四同), which includes “living together, eating together, learning together, and working together” (同吃、同住、同学习、同劳动). They have to pay 20-50 Chinese yuan per day to the ‘relatives’ for accommodations and meals (Chang, 2020). Besides visiting, cadres also have to contact their ‘relatives’ on a daily basis. The cadres need to communicate often with the ‘relatives’ via WeChat and their phones to monitor their thoughts, religious faith, and working/living conditions (Wang, 2019). Apart from si tong, the cadres also need to practice si song (四送), which includes “bringing law, bringing policy, bringing civilization, bringing warmth” (送法律、送政策、送文明、送温暖) (Also see the Four Togethers Three Gifts Handbook). Regarding the “bringing of law and policy”, the cadres are also required to achieve “eight clarifications” (八个讲清楚) (Chang, 2020): Clarify that the Party’s Central Committee led by Xi Jinping shows loving care for the people of all ethnicities in the XUAR; Clarify all Party’s policies that benefit the people; Clarify ethnic and religious laws and policies enacted by the Party; Clarify the “Xinjiang Aid” provinces’ generous aid to the XUAR people of all ethnicities; Clarify the selfless contributions made by the XUAR army and armed police forces to the security and stability of the XUAR; Clarify the harmful consequences of religious extremism and terrorism; Clarify the important meanings of that all ethnicities in the XUAR are united and prospering together; Clarify the positive change of the XUAR. … The Party in all units (各单位党组织) is required to organize diverse social activities (联谊) each month to substantiate ethnic integration and political propaganda (Cha, 2017; Chang, 2020). The activities include “collective learning” on the days of flag-raising ceremony (升旗日集体学习), lectures of “minzu knowledge” (民族知识讲座), topic forums (主题座谈会), watching feature films (观看专题片), and diverse forms of arts and physical activities (Chang, 2020; Wang, 2019). Through these activities, the Jieqin work propagates the spirit of the 19th National Congress (十九大精神), the minzu theories and religious policies of the Party, policies that benefit the people, the harm of “Three Forces,” and encouraging people to make a “Vow of Loyalty [to the party]” (发声亮剑), which requires participants to make an oath to support the Party and destroy the “three forces” and “two-faced people” (Chang, 2020). Other activities include talent shows, celebrating Chinese traditional festivals, enjoying each other’s foods, learning each other’s dances, and physical activities (Xu, 2018).

Retired Uyghur Finance Bureaucrat, 75, ‘Graduates’ from Xinjiang Internment Camp

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Paul Eckert August 02, 2019

A 75-year-old Uyghur retiree from a township financial management office in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has ‘graduated’ after 13 months in an internment camp, local police and his ...

Internment Internment conditions Shohret Hoshur, Paul Eckert Retired Uyghur Finance Bureaucrat, 75, ‘Graduates’ from Xinjiang Internment Camp all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all internment-conditions A 75-year-old Uyghur retiree from a township financial management office in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has ‘graduated’ after 13 months in an internment camp, local police and his wife told RFA’s Uyghur Service on Friday. Metrozi Jumaniyaz left the camp in Karakash (in Chinese, Moyu) county in Hotan (Hetian) prefecture in the southern part of the XUAR two weeks ago, the first in his township to “graduate” from the Uyghur mass incarceration program China describes as a vocational “boarding schools,” two local police officers told RFA. ... In a telephone interview with RFA, Jumaniyaz’s 60-year-old wife confirmed his occupation, the duration of his term in the camp and his recent release. “My husband received his diploma and came out of the camp. He is now at the hospital.” “He stayed in the camp for one year and one month,” she said. “He was released. He had a broken hip bone and could neither sit nor stand. Plus, he studied well and passed the tests in Chinese,” said the wife, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the couple’s situation. “He also became very sick in the camp. So we took him to the hospital,” she added. 2019-08-02 00:00:00 +0000

Paving over the dead: How China is 'erasing' the Uighur people's past

Sky News Tom Cheshire June 22, 2021

Sky News has uncovered evidence showing the extent to which Uighur sites are being bulldozed and built over as part of China's efforts to change the autonomous region they come from. Among the mon...

Religious Persecution Destruction of Religious Spaces Restricting journalism Tom Cheshire Paving over the dead: How China is 'erasing' the Uighur people's past all sky-news Sky News all religious-persecution all destruction-of-religious-spaces restricting-journalism Sky News has uncovered evidence showing the extent to which Uighur sites are being bulldozed and built over as part of China's efforts to change the autonomous region they come from. Among the monuments to the past which have been replaced are cemeteries, religious buildings and typical architecture. A Sky News team visited Hotan in China's western Xinjiang province and found cultural and historical landmarks flattened and replaced by concrete, and what could be a bone from a grave that had been paved over. ... On the ground in Hotan, access is difficult. As soon as we landed, we were followed nonstop by different vehicles – as many as five at one time. And when we arrived at the GPS coordinates for Tarwizim cemetery, we were initially not sure we were in the right place. There was simply nothing there. Just a muddy expanse, with dirt paths across it. The access roads on the other side were blocked off and a man who refused to identify himself, or say what the location was, stopped us filming. There was almost no trace of a cemetery. Almost. We just had to follow Mergube's advice – and pay closer attention. As we tried to make our way across a field, another man came and blocked our way, and told us to leave. As we tried to speak to him, or wondered whether we should just wait it out, we spotted something in the earth. The wrecked, wooden structure of a Uighur grave marking, pummelled into the earth. And something else. A bone, bleached white, exposed to the elements. Six different forensics experts who have seen this image have told Sky News that this is probably a human bone – most likely, the thigh bone of a child. Complete certainty is impossible without further examination, the experts said. ... One of the clearest losses to the city's skyline is the tower of the Grand Bazaar. It was not a particularly old building, only completed this century, but the shopping complex has been closed off and looks abandoned, apparently ready for redevelopment. It still stands but the high, Islamic-style tower – one of the tallest in Xinjiang before its removal - has been completely demolished. ... The Sultanim Cemetery was much bigger than Tarwizim and located close to the old town. People would gather there every Thursday to say prayers. When Sky News visited, the cemetery had been demolished and divided into two. One half is now a large car park for the hospital nearby. The other is a large construction site, with deep foundations already dug. A local told us it was a residential property development. Chinese state media has reported that the cemetery was moved wholesale to the outskirts of town. ... Hotan's Id Kah mosque was described by one Uighur who fled China as the "Times Square" of Hotan – a busy place where people would always gather. It, too, is now a car park. ... Every spring, thousands of people would trek out into the desert to the Imam Asim Shrine, supposedly the burial site of one of the earliest Muslims to arrive in the Hotan region – a symbolic ancestor of the Uighur people. When Sky News tried to visit, we found numerous roads shut off. Some were obviously temporary roadblocks, manned by police. We kept driving along the edge of the desert and found a spot to pull over. The shrine was a 2.5km trek straight through the sand. As we got closer, we noticed figures on the top of the dunes, watching us. We pressed on and they drew closer, slowly encircling us. About 200 metres from the shrine, we were surrounded by eight men. They did not identify themselves when asked but blocked the way and ordered us to turn around. Outnumbered, we complied. They followed us through the desert all the way back to our car. China has said that journalists are welcome to go to Xinjiang. The reception on the ground is rather different. ... Part of Tarwizim Cemetery is now a landscaped park with a monument proclaiming ethnic unity. A road now runs through the middle and on the other side is wasteland. A former building that was once used to store bodies to be wrapped in white linen before burial is now shuttered and disused. None of the tombs, ornaments and decorations that used to fill the space are there any more. Sky News contacted several forensic experts to identify the bone from Tarwizim Cemetery. They all cautioned that 100% certainty in identification was impossible due to the angle of the photo. An angle of the bone's reverse would likely have been enough for confirmation but our team left the bone undisturbed. All six experts thought it was most likely a human bone. Dr Nicholas Márquez-Grant, senior lecturer in forensic anthropology at Cranfield University, who has assisted in many crime scene investigations for police forces in England and Wales, told Sky News: "Based on the image alone, in my opinion, it appears that the bone is a thigh bone (left femur) of a child (as the ends are not fused yet). 2021-06-22 00:00:00 +0000

Empty Uyghur Mosques During Ramadan in China

Milestones Darren Byler May 18, 2019

In 2014 Uyghur college students secretly fasted during Ramadan. Many of them would wake up early in the morning to eat the cold pilaf and nan that they had hidden away on the bookshelves on their b...

Religious Persecution Surveillance Civilian Informants Use of technology Darren Byler Empty Uyghur Mosques During Ramadan in China all milestones Milestones all religious-persecution surveillance all civilian-informants use-of-technology In 2014 Uyghur college students secretly fasted during Ramadan. Many of them would wake up early in the morning to eat the cold pilaf and nan that they had hidden away on the bookshelves on their bunk beds before they went to sleep. They ate in the dark by the light of battery-powered reading lights, listening for the sound of footsteps outside of their dorm rooms. The authorities in their Chinese university had told them that anyone caught eating before the sun came up would be expelled. They told them in some cases that their parents would be called and the police would be notified. They were told that fasting during Ramadan was a sign of religious “extremism.” Despite these tight controls, many young Turkic Muslims continued to fast across the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. At night restaurants were packed with students waiting with slices of watermelon and pieces of bread that had been distributed throughout the restaurant for those who were breaking the fast. The students waited for a silent signal from restaurant workers that it was time for iftar and that they could begin to eat and drink. Few people talked openly about the fast. Those who fasted were the silent majority. ... Since 2016 and the arrival of a massive, purpose-built, “reeducation” camp system, this practice too has stopped. Now any adult of military age who is caught fasting can be detained. In the universities and high schools the students are now forced to eat and drink in front of school authorities. There is no way to dodge these forced violations of Islamic piety. All restaurants must serve food throughout the day. Everyone must act as though Ramadan is not happening. They know that the police and their informants are everywhere. ... The Uyghur mosques that have not yet been destroyed or closed are empty aside from a few elderly men. At the entrance to each mosque, face-scan checkpoints match state-issued IDs to faces and, in some cases, capture identifying information from their electronic devices. Since they know that they can be detained if they enter a mosque, most Uyghurs no longer attend mosques to pray and study the Quran during Ramadan or any other time of the year. ... Uyghurs from across the region have told me that they have been asked to burn prayer rugs and religious texts, including Qurans, in public displays of loyalty to the state. ... Uyghurs have been informed that any mention of the name God, including the common phrase “God willing,” any sign of prayer after a meal, even using the common Arabic greeting asalam alaykum can result in detention and interrogation. 2019-05-18 00:00:00 +0000

“Eating Hanness”: Uyghur Musical Tradition in a Time of Re-education

China Perspectives Amy Anderson, Darren Byler September 01, 2019

In a 2018 government white paper on ethnic policy in the region, state authorities wrote that “Chinese” culture should now be considered the core of all other ethnic cultures (State Council Informa...

Forced Assimilation Religious Persecution Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Amy Anderson, Darren Byler “Eating Hanness”: Uyghur Musical Tradition in a Time of Re-education all china-perspectives China Perspectives all forced-assimilation religious-persecution all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays In a 2018 government white paper on ethnic policy in the region, state authorities wrote that “Chinese” culture should now be considered the core of all other ethnic cultures (State Council Information Office 2018). They argued that Hanness should be seen as preceding all other identities. “The many ethnic cultures of Xinjiang have their roots in the fertile soil of Chinese civilisation, advancing their own cultural development while enriching the overall culture of China. All ethnic cultures in Xinjiang have borrowed from Chinese culture from the very beginning” (State Council Information Office 2018). In August 2018, the mayor of Urumqi made this even more explicit, declaring that “Uyghurs are not descendants of Turks” and instead are “members of the Chinese family.”3 These counterfactual erasures of Uyghur history by state authorities reveal the current politics of rewriting Uyghur identity. As this article shows, Uyghurs were also being forced to assimilate Hanness in all of its rich and varied forms by learning dances from the Northeast, singing styles from Beijing, and standard Mandarin, and by replacing their identities with imposed values and cultural performances. Although the so-called re-educators carried with them a “Chinese” national identity (Zhonghua minzu 中華民族) that was presented as unmarked by Hanness, they were in fact asking Uyghurs to consume the values and rituals of their colonisers. Across Uyghur society, people came to understand that this new-style performance was a primary way of demonstrating their loyalty to the state. Drawing on multiple years of ethnographic fieldwork, open-source Chinese and Uyghur media, and recent interviews with Uyghurs in the North American diaspora, this article argues that the transformation of Uyghur society now consists of replacing Uyghur cultural traditions, not with socialist rituals, but with Han cultural traditions. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among Uyghur traditional poets, dancers, and musicians, and on an analysis of the transformation of music performance events in the Uyghur homeland, this article first examines the importance of music in Uyghur social life and traditional knowledge through the circulation of performances of Sufi legends. It demonstrates how these forms of performative knowledge have been appropriated by the Chinese state and turned into commodities for non-religious consumers in the 2000s. It then considers how they have been replaced by Han cultural forms since early 2017. The article shows that the subtraction of Uyghur society that has occurred through the re-education campaign using “training centres” as a final stage of the “People’s War on Terror” has also been replicated in Uyghur musical traditions. The state expropriation and reengineering of Uyghur song and dance has shifted to force Uyghur performers to mimic Hanness and in this way has enacted a deeply-felt form of violation. 2019-09-01 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur Children of Incarcerated Parents Undergo Political Education in Xinjiang Schools

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Roseanne Gerin August 26, 2021

A group of Uyghur elementary school students whose parents are incarcerated in internment camps or prison are being subjected to “special political education” classes in schools in northwestern Chi...

Destruction of the Family Shohret Hoshur, Roseanne Gerin Uyghur Children of Incarcerated Parents Undergo Political Education in Xinjiang Schools all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all destruction-of-the-family all A group of Uyghur elementary school students whose parents are incarcerated in internment camps or prison are being subjected to “special political education” classes in schools in northwestern China’s Xinjiang, with some pupils developing serious emotional problems and getting poor grades, sources in the region said. ... A principal in Ghulja county told RFA that his school has 42 students whose parents have been incarcerated and are receiving special political education as directed by higher authorities. A police officer who serves a neighborhood where more than 10 of the 42 children in the school live, said the political education program aims to ensure that they do not despise the Chinese Communist Party and the government. “We gather them all together and give comfort to those who are crying,” the officer said. “We tell them not to worry a bit, that the government isn’t going to do anything [bad], that it simply is going to educate people,” she said. “I call some of the students who have been badly affected by their family situations, especially those who parents have been harshly punished, to my office one by one each week,” she told RFA when asked about the effect of indoctrination on the moods and academic performance of the pupils. “I’ve educated them, telling them that the law is a very just thing, that it’s not going to harm their parents, that [the parents] are going to return [to normal life], that they will be really great when they return, and that the government is doing great work,” she said. “By detaining them, the government prevents big trouble in the country.” 2021-08-26 00:00:00 +0000

China pushes inter-ethnic marriage in Xinjiang assimilation drive

AFP Eva Xiao May 18, 2019

China’s fractious far-west region of Xinjiang has changed its university entrance exam rules to give children from mixed families a leg-up on other students, in what experts say are the latest effo...

Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage Eva Xiao China pushes inter-ethnic marriage in Xinjiang assimilation drive all afp AFP all destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage China’s fractious far-west region of Xinjiang has changed its university entrance exam rules to give children from mixed families a leg-up on other students, in what experts say are the latest efforts to erase a mostly Muslim ethnic culture. In an online notice posted last week, the Xinjiang government published new rules for giving bonus points to disadvantaged groups in the nationwide college entrance exams — a key deciding factor for attending university in China. In a reversal of last year’s policy, the regional government doubled the number of bonus points allocated to inter-ethnic students — defined as those with one Han parent — to 20, while more than halving the amount for students whose parents are both ethnic minorities to 15. 2019-05-18 00:00:00 +0000

Xinjiang Authorities Arrest Prominent Uyghurs in Public to Instill Fear

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes November 14, 2019

"The public arrests of prominent Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities is part of a bid by authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to instill fear in the local popul...

Internment Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Xinjiang Authorities Arrest Prominent Uyghurs in Public to Instill Fear all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all "The public arrests of prominent Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities is part of a bid by authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to instill fear in the local population, according to Uyghur sources in exile." "Perhaps the most terrifying arrests are those of prominent intellectuals, businessmen, and religious figures, which often take place in public forums, such as their place of work or worship, and appear aimed at sending a message to the rest of the community to stay in line. One such arrest was recently detailed to RFA by the secretary of the ruling Communist Party in a township in the XUAR’s Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture, who spoke to condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisal. The secretary, who was attending a ceremony at a government building in Hotan’s Grand Bazaar, said that Tursun Tohtahun, the 30-year-old imam of the area’s Bostan Mosque, was arrested along with at least 10 other people, as hundreds of people looked on. According to the secretary, police stood in front of the crowd and called out the names of the men to be detained, before they were handcuffed, hooded, and led away to waiting vans. No explanation was given for their arrest, he said, and bystanders did not speak out against the authorities." 2019-11-14 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese firms cash in on Xinjiang’s growing police state

AFP Ben Dooley June 27, 2018

A tender obtained by AFP detailed a network of around 35,000 cameras that would monitor the county's schools, streets, offices and 967 mosques, where they will ensure that imams stick to a "unified...

Internment Surveillance Ben Dooley Chinese firms cash in on Xinjiang’s growing police state all afp AFP all internment surveillance all A tender obtained by AFP detailed a network of around 35,000 cameras that would monitor the county's schools, streets, offices and 967 mosques, where they will ensure that imams stick to a "unified" government script. An AFP investigation found one-fifth of adults from one village in Moyu had been sent to the centres -- believed to hold hundreds of thousands across Xinjiang -- but which China's government has claimed do not exist. It would also use cutting-edge networking technology, big data, cloud computing, remote sensing and satellite positioning to "maintain social order". The winning company would provide six "video monitoring systems" for the county's re-education centres. 2018-06-27 00:00:00 +0000

Leaked Documents Detail Xi Jinping’s Extensive Role in Xinjiang Crackdown

Wall Street Journal Josh Chin November 30, 2021

A panel of lawyers and activists in the U.K. has published what it describes as leaked Chinese government documents that shed additional light on the role leader Xi Jinping played in directing the ...

Internment Religious Persecution Forced Assimilation Josh Chin Leaked Documents Detail Xi Jinping’s Extensive Role in Xinjiang Crackdown all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all internment religious-persecution forced-assimilation all A panel of lawyers and activists in the U.K. has published what it describes as leaked Chinese government documents that shed additional light on the role leader Xi Jinping played in directing the Communist Party’s campaign of forcible assimilation against religious minorities in the country’s northwestern region of Xinjiang. Copies of the documents, some marked top secret, describe internal speeches delivered by Mr. Xi and other senior party leaders regarding circumstances in Xinjiang between 2014 and 2017, the period when the assimilation campaign was conceived and launched. The documents show Mr. Xi warning about the dangers of religious influence and unemployment among minorities, and emphasizing the importance of “population proportion,” or the balance between minorities and Han Chinese, for maintaining control in the region. … In another previously unpublished speech, Mr. Xi argued that “population proportion and population security are important foundations for long-term peace and stability.” The phrase was repeated word-for-word six years later by a senior Xinjiang official in warning that the Han Chinese share of the population in Uyghur-dominated southern Xinjiang was “too low” at 15%. … The documents show Mr. Xi drawing a distinction between “the pure spirit of religion” and religious extremism, arguing that “normal religious activities and the legal rights of the religious world must be protected.” But the Chinese leader also rails against what he describes as religious interference in matters of “secular life,” such as marriage, funerals and the finding of spouses, according to the documents. … The leaked documents also contain the text of a 2017 speech by Xinjiang Communist Party boss Chen Quanguo, in which he directly links the internment camps to orders from Beijing, listing them alongside the region’s mass surveillance platform as an example of efforts to “fully implement the central goal” laid out for Xinjiang by Mr. Xi. 2021-11-30 00:00:00 +0000

How China defines religious extremism and how it justifies Xinjiang re-education camps for Muslims

South China Morning Post Mimi Lau October 13, 2018

In practice a broad range of activities are deemed extremist. Besides targeting those who “promote extremism” the regulations target people who: – enforce compulsory religious activities over other...

Religious Persecution Pretexts for Detention Mimi Lau How China defines religious extremism and how it justifies Xinjiang re-education camps for Muslims all south-china-morning-post South China Morning Post all religious-persecution all pretexts-for-detention In practice a broad range of activities are deemed extremist. Besides targeting those who “promote extremism” the regulations target people who: – enforce compulsory religious activities over others, – intervene in other people’s marriages and burials,– intervene in social interactions between peoples of different ethnicities and religious beliefs, – reject the consumption of mass media and entertainment programmes, – practice a loose halal concept in everyday life “by extending the concept of halal to areas other than halal diet”, – enforce the wearing of a veil or “abnormal” beards as a sign of religious dedication, – prevent children from receiving national education, – intimidate or persuade others to refuse to participate in national policy—which can range from refusing welfare entitlements to shirking civic responsibilities – destroy resident ID cards or damage Chinese banknotes,– sabotage public or other private property, – publish, distribute or possess extremist media content, – violate birth control policies. 2018-10-13 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghurs Ordered to Destroy Muslim Architecture Deemed ‘Extremist’ by Authorities

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes July 10, 2019

villagers in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) county, in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, have been forced to remove Muslim ornamentation from buildings in the area ... video...

Religious Persecution Destruction of Religious Spaces Pretexts for Detention Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Uyghurs Ordered to Destroy Muslim Architecture Deemed ‘Extremist’ by Authorities all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all destruction-of-religious-spaces pretexts-for-detention villagers in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) county, in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, have been forced to remove Muslim ornamentation from buildings in the area ... video currently circulating on social media purports to show a Uyghur woman using a shovel to tear down a “mihrab” from her ceiling. Islamic architecture traditionally includes mihrabs, or ornate domed niches built into a wall or ceiling, to denote the correct direction one should face when praying to Mecca. ... officials in Kashgar (Kashi) and Hotan (Hetian) prefectures told RFA that Muslims are being made to carve out the domed shape of mihrabs, or to fill them in completely, lest they face punishment that could include detention in an internment camp. ... The party secretary said that teams of five or six people that include police officers, cadres, and government officials “walk around inspecting neighborhood homes” to ensure they meet “requirements.” ... In cases where homeowners are unable to reshape the mihrabs in their walls, or where mihrabs were carved into a home’s supporting beams, workers are sent in to demolish the building. 2019-07-10 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur county in China has highest prison rate in the world

Associated Press Huizhong Wu, Dake Kang May 16, 2022

Nearly one in 25 people in a county in the Uyghur heartland of China has been sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges, in what is the highest known imprisonment rate in the world, an Assoc...

Internment Religious Persecution Destruction of the Family Pretexts for Detention Huizhong Wu, Dake Kang Uyghur county in China has highest prison rate in the world all associated-press Associated Press all internment religious-persecution destruction-of-the-family all pretexts-for-detention Nearly one in 25 people in a county in the Uyghur heartland of China has been sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges, in what is the highest known imprisonment rate in the world, an Associated Press review of leaked data shows. A list obtained and partially verified by the AP cites the names of more than 10,000 Uyghurs sent to prison in just Konasheher county alone, one of dozens in southern Xinjiang. In recent years, China has waged a brutal crackdown on the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim minority, which it has described as a war on terror. The list is by far the biggest to emerge to date with the names of imprisoned Uyghurs, reflecting the sheer size of a Chinese government campaign by which an estimated million or more people were swept into internment camps and prisons. It also confirms what families and rights groups have said for years: China is relying on a system of long-term incarceration to keep the Uyghurs in check, wielding the law as a weapon of repression. … Uyghur farmer Rozikari Tohti was known as a soft-spoken, family-loving man with three children and not the slightest interest in religion. So his cousin, Mihrigul Musa, was shocked to discover Tohti had been thrown into prison for five years for “religious extremism.” She said she knew others more likely to be swept up in Xinjiang’s crackdown on religion, such as another cousin who prayed every week, but not Tohti. “Never did I think he would be arrested,” said Musa, who now lives in exile in Norway. “If you saw him, you would feel the same way. He is so earnest.” From the list, Musa found out Tohti’s younger brother Abilikim Tohti also was sentenced to seven years on charges of “gathering the public to disturb social order.” Tohti’s next-door neighbor, a farmer called Nurmemet Dawut, was sentenced to 11 years on the same charges as well as “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Konasheher county is typical of rural southern Xinjiang, and more than 267,000 people live there. The prison sentences across the county were for two to 25 years, with an average of nine years, the list shows. While the people on the list were mostly arrested in 2017, according to Uyghurs in exile, their sentences are so long that the vast majority would still be in prison. Those swept up came from all walks of life, and included men, women, young people and the elderly. They had only one thing in common: They were all Uyghurs. … The list does not include people with typical criminal charges such as homicide or theft. Rather, it focuses on offenses related to terrorism, religious extremism or vague charges traditionally used against political dissidents, such as “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” This means the true number of people imprisoned is almost certainly higher. But even at a conservative estimate, Konasheher county’s imprisonment rate is more than 10 times higher than that of the United States, one of the world’s leading jailers, according to Department of Justice statistics. It’s also more than 30 times higher than for China as a whole, according to state statistics from 2013, the last time such figures were released. … Although China makes legal records easily accessible otherwise, almost 90% of criminal records in Xinjiang are not public. The handful which have leaked show that people are being charged with “terrorism” for acts such as warning colleagues against watching porn and swearing, or praying in prison. In the most egregious cases, camp detainees were forced to confess their “crimes” in group sham trials and transferred to prisons, with no independent lawyers to defend them. Another Uyghur from the township of Bulaqsu now living in exile said he knew 100 people on the list, including neighbors and cousins. Included were fathers and sons, both sentenced to jail, said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution from Chinese authorities. … Abduweli Ayup, the Uyghur exile who passed the list to the AP, has closely documented the ongoing repression of his community. But this list in particular floored him: On it were neighbors, a cousin, a high school teacher. “I had collapsed,” Ayup said. “I had told other people’s stories …. and now this is me telling my own story from my childhood.” The widely admired teacher, Adil Tursun, was the only one in the high school in Toquzaq who could teach Uyghur students in Chinese. He was a Communist Party member who had previously won a Model Worker award, and he tutored children during his free time. Every year, the students from his class had the best chemistry test scores in the town. The names of Tursun and others on the list made no sense to Ayup because they were considered model Uyghurs. Some were even eager to assimilate into the Han Chinese mainstream. 2022-05-16 00:00:00 +0000

Uighur children fall victim to China anti-terror drive

Financial Times Emily Feng July 09, 2018

On a quiet street in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, a house lies empty, padlocked from the outside, the family who lived there gone. The father was detained in February; three months later...

Internment Destruction of the Family Emily Feng Uighur children fall victim to China anti-terror drive all financial-times Financial Times all internment destruction-of-the-family all On a quiet street in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, a house lies empty, padlocked from the outside, the family who lived there gone. The father was detained in February; three months later the mother was also taken away by authorities. They had allegedly shared extremist Islamist content on their mobile phones, family friends said. Despite protests from relatives, two of their children, aged 18 and 15, were then detained and their younger two, aged seven and nine, were sent to a state welfare centre. “The grandfather even wept, but the authorities would not let him keep his grandchildren,” recalled an acquaintance. The family had fallen foul of an anti-terror drive conducted by Beijing, which has forcibly separated families, sending thousands of children to de facto orphanages, according to Uighurs interviewed in China and abroad by the Financial Times. The widening scale of the detentions means it is increasingly common for entire extended families to be separated from their children. The younger children are then sent to “child welfare guidance centres” while older children are sometimes sent to state-run vocational institutes, according to residents in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, and Kashgar. If both parents are in jail, the child will be sent to a re-education centre for ‘special children’,” said a former teacher in one of the re-education centres. “The child is forbidden to go to school with the normal children because the parents have a political problem. In early 2017, Xinjiang began building dozens of these welfare centres, according to public tenders issued by local county governments and local state media reports. The orphanages are being built under a new “five guarantees” policy begun in 2017 that aims to provide orphans with state-sponsored care until they turn 18. The centres are usually massive in scale, even when located in remote areas. In Yumin county, with a population of 50,000, authorities recently broke ground on a 3,000 sq m centre at a cost of Rmb9.8m ($1.5m). One county in Kashgar built 18 new orphanages in 2017 alone, according to local media. Not all children are sent to welfare centres, say Xinjiang residents. The rapid escalation of detentions has left local governments unprepared to manage the thousands of children needing care. Some board at existing state-run schools. Older children can be sent to vocational schools, a practice that has existed in China, albeit on a very small scale, for years. “There has been a big readjustment within the educational system here because of the training schools,” said a retired government official in Kashgar surnamed Dong, employing a common euphemism for the detention centres. “[The children] eat, sleep and learn on the government’s expense, though I would not advise you to send your own children there. It is really all just the children of Uighurs.” Mutelip (a pseudonym), an Uighur living in the US, had two cousins aged 10 and 12 taken away by government officials and sent to an unspecified school on a state scholarship last April. His grandparents cut off communication with him, fearing punishment for communicating with someone abroad. 2018-07-09 00:00:00 +0000

Children of Detained Uyghur Parents Held in ‘Welfare Schools’ in China’s Xinjiang

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Roseanne Gerin August 16, 2021

More than 80 percent of the Uyghur children at a village preschool in China’s far-western Xinjiang have at least one parent in state custody, while pupils with both parents in detention attend a se...

Destruction of the Family Internment Restricting communication Shohret Hoshur, Roseanne Gerin Children of Detained Uyghur Parents Held in ‘Welfare Schools’ in China’s Xinjiang all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all destruction-of-the-family internment all restricting-communication More than 80 percent of the Uyghur children at a village preschool in China’s far-western Xinjiang have at least one parent in state custody, while pupils with both parents in detention attend a separate “welfare school” where they are continuously monitored, RFA has learned. … Twenty-five of the 30 children enrolled in the preschool at one township in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture have one parent being detained by authorities, while those with both parents detained are being taught at a separate “welfare preschool”— a boarding school that functions like an orphanage for children four to six years old — a security officer at the school told RFA. “At our preschool, some of the children still have their mother [on the outside], and some of the children still have their father,” she told RFA’s Uyghur Service. “There are something like 25 of these children” among the total 30. About 150,000 people live in 15 villages of Chaharbagh township in Yarkand (Shache) county. During the winter, the children with one detained parent live in dormitories at the preschool, and during the warmer months, they are allowed to live at home and be brought to school each day by their other parent, said the security officer who declined to be named in order to speak freely. The children of detainees are sometimes allowed to have video chats with their parents, though they are unable to speak freely during the brief meetings, she said. ... Some of the children are aware that their parents are in re-education facilities when they speak to them via video chats, she added. RFA has confirmed similar arrangements for children in other parts of the XUAR. 2021-08-16 00:00:00 +0000

How the CCP Took over the Most Sacred of Uighur Rituals

ChinaFile Timothy Grose December 09, 2020

Important lifecycle rituals—baby-namings, circumcision, funerals, and weddings—provide opportunities for devout and casually religious families alike to strengthen connections. These ceremonies rec...

Religious Persecution Timothy Grose How the CCP Took over the Most Sacred of Uighur Rituals all chinafile ChinaFile all religious-persecution all Important lifecycle rituals—baby-namings, circumcision, funerals, and weddings—provide opportunities for devout and casually religious families alike to strengthen connections. These ceremonies recommit the community to a religious path while forging and reinforcing kinship bonds between relatives (oruq-tughan), neighbors (qoshna), and friends. Currently, however, these rites—known generically in official Chinese sources as the “four activities” (si xiang huodong, 四项活动)—demand the overbearing presence of the state in a formalized process referred to as the four applications, four delegations, and four receipts. According to this policy, families intending to hold naming ceremonies, circumcisions, funerals, and weddings must first file an official application. Then an official from the village Party branch will accompany religious clerics to the event, which the Party branch documents in a receipt.… The new rules surrounding the “four activities” put CCP officials right at the center of key Uighur ceremonies. The Central Party Committee in the city of Balghuntai (Baluntai) issued detailed regulations of these events with the ultimate goal of “transferring the management of these rites from religious officials to Party leaders.” The village Party branch representative, or, if unavailable, the highest ranking official in attendance, supervises the entire event. That official also chooses a patriotic religious cleric, if one is needed, to preside over the ceremony. In other words, the Party’s policy around the “four activities” places authority in the hands of Party officials. Religious clerics can only officiate over or recite prayers during these ceremonies if they have been appointed by local officials. … In some cases, Party officials even assume the role of officiant. In a village located in Bay (Baicheng) county, cadres named a newborn boy and an official remarked that he hoped the child would grow up to be “filial, patriotic, and useful to society.” Meanwhile, officials have uprooted such ceremonies from their customary setting in the sacred spaces of Uighur homes and transplanted them to concrete government-built containers called Villager Service Centers. A social media page promoting a newly-opened service center in Khotan (Hotan) advertised, “From now on, residents can hold their [‘four activities’] here!!! It’s convenient, thrifty, and an upgrade!!!” … Held within spaces curated by the state, the events become opportunities to promulgate CCP policies. In 2017, Khotan officials convened to “weaken the religious fervor” of the “four activities” in which any of them participated. The Party made clear its intention to diminish the religious aspects of events for civilian participants, as well. ... Whether aimed at Uighur Party officials, or at the larger population, these efforts seek to erase the religious underpinning of Uighur ceremonies. 2020-12-09 00:00:00 +0000

A Woman’s Journey Through China’s Detention Camps

New York Times Michael Barbaro, Paul Mozur December 09, 2019

Paul Mozur: Ferkat Jawdat is from a Uighur family . . . Many have fled the country to other places, like the United States. Ferkat is one of those, and Ferkat has kind of emerged as an important vo...

Internment Surveillance Destruction of the Family Internment conditions Restricting journalism Restricting communication Use of technology Sterilization Michael Barbaro, Paul Mozur A Woman’s Journey Through China’s Detention Camps all new-york-times New York Times all internment surveillance destruction-of-the-family all internment-conditions restricting-journalism restricting-communication use-of-technology sterilization Paul Mozur: Ferkat Jawdat is from a Uighur family . . . Many have fled the country to other places, like the United States. Ferkat is one of those, and Ferkat has kind of emerged as an important voice in the United States, trying to raise awareness and talk about what happened, because he and his family got out around 2011. But his mother was not able to follow them, and about two years ago, Ferkat’s mother goes missing. And it turns out she falls into the system of repression, and is pulled into the re-education camps there . . . And it’s been quite a ride, because when we first talked to him, he had no idea where his mother was, and he hadn’t seen her for more than a year. And then after we talked to him, we put out a show earlier this year, and a week later, his mother all of a sudden appears . . . Then he’s able to talk to her for the first time in more than a year and a half. He can talk to her over the phone. Michael Barbaro: Right, I remember after we published that first episode about Ferkat’s mother, the Chinese government made a show of releasing her from the camp and letting her go to her house. But really, she’s not actually free. Mozur: Right, so she’s in her house, but she’s being monitored at all times. There’s cameras and checkpoints just outside. You have local government officials and police checking in on her on a daily basis when she talks to her family. They’re monitoring what she says, so she has to parrot this sort of propaganda. And meanwhile, her health deteriorated severely in the camps. When she came home, Ferkat actually thought she might be on her deathbed. So that’s the world she’s living in at this moment. Mozur: And I called him again last week, because I wanted to talk to him about a decision he made to do something extremely risky in order to save his mother. Over the last few months, Ferkat’s been growing increasingly anxious about how his mother is doing. They talk on the phone nearly every day, but it’s clear that she’s not being honest with him, and he can’t really be fully honest with her. He doesn’t really know how she actually is. He doesn’t know her state of mind. He doesn’t know how bad her health is. And I think most importantly, he doesn’t understand what happened to her, because there’s just no ability to speak honestly about the past couple of years. And so I was talking to him, and he asked if I could go try to see her, see how she is, and also potentially find out what happened to her. Barbaro: So he wants you to go there and physically check in on her? Mozur: Yeah, exactly. And what’s important to understand is that we have some stories from people who were in the camps, but very few people who have gotten out recently have been able to talk about it. So this is also a chance to really shine light on what’s happened in the past few years from somebody who was inside. But there’s real risk. It’s really important to understand that by me going there, I put his family under risk. I put him under risk . . . So I told him it would be really, really hard, but I would try to get there and see her. And because it would be so dangerous, Ferkat had to tell his mother. … Barbaro: And Paul, you’ve told me several times just how hard it is to go to this part of western China, where the Uighurs are. So how likely is it that you could actually get to Ferkat’s mom? Mozur: A real part of me thought it was almost pointless. I felt like I was kind of going to get her into trouble, and do it without accomplishing anything. Because you have to understand, the moment you land in a city in Xinjiang, they check the flight manifests. So they know — if a foreign journalist’s name is on there, they meet you at the airport. They meet you at the baggage claim . . . And if they don’t do that, the moment you get in a cab, they have three cars following you away from the airport to see whatever you’re doing. And I’ve never had that not be the case in Xinjiang, in multiple trips there . . . So given all that, no, I’m not thinking that it’s going to be possible to get there without being noticed and just stride right into the house of somebody who is under close surveillance. But I also thought it was worth a try, because he was so desperate that we had to try. Barbaro: So how do you plan to get around the authorities in this case? Mozur: So the longer you deal with this, the more you develop your own little tricks. I take the earliest flight possible, buy it at the last minute, so that they don’t have time to screen the flight. So I arrive in Ferkat’s mom’s town around 7:00 a.m. And it’s always kind of tentative when I come out of the plane, because I’m looking around, saying, O.K., who are the thugs? Who are the guys who are going to follow me this time? And I get out, and I look around, and there’s nobody obvious. It’s dumping rain, so I go and I get an umbrella, and I’m lingering in the store, trying to see that there’s nobody. I walk across the street, and I get in a cab, and the cab goes, and I’m looking behind, and there’s no cars there. Somehow, I’ve gotten through the airport part without anybody picking me up. Mozur: We pull up to the address that Ferkat gave me, the house of his grandmother. And Ferkat’s aunt answers. And there is his aunt, his uncle and his grandmother. And so they show me into a room. And inside on a raised platform are a bunch of rugs, and there, laying prostrate, is Ferkat’s mother. She’s in a lot of pain, because she’s had a fall recently. She was so weak coming out of the camps that just a few days before, she fell, and they think she fractured her vertebrae. But she insists on sitting up for the interview. And there I am next to her, this person that Ferkat hasn’t been able to see in a decade. And I can see her face, and she looks a lot like Ferkat. They have the same sort of cheekbones and the same eyes. She sort of holds my hand, and she says that I have the smell of Ferkat on me, and that her son is with her, because I’m there and I’ve been sent by him. And she says thank you for coming. Mozur: And all the while, you’re thinking, how long do we have? Because you know there’s surveillance . . . You know the police are going to come and check in on her. Barbaro: So what do you do? Mozur: Well, I get Ferkat on the phone, because he’s going to help me translate and talk to her. And we start asking her questions. And she starts telling us what happened three years ago. Telling the story of the camps. In the beginning, in 2017, for a little while, she was taken to a camp to study. And “study” is the euphemism for being locked away. But she gets spit back out, because she’s quite sick. But then in early 2018, they come for her again. And this time, she doesn’t come out. Mozur: All of a sudden, she’s effectively in what looks like a concentration camp. And she says conditions are much, much worse there. There’s way too many people. Ten or 20 people in a cell, sometimes. Oftentimes, people will have to use buckets for toilets. She says the guards are much rougher with the people who are there. So there’s more violence. Mozur: But things get even worse for her, because Ferkat is continuing to speak out about her in the United States. And it gets to the point that he becomes almost so well-known that in late 2018, he actually gets a meeting with the United States secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. And that’s a big deal. It becomes news. And partially because of that, she’s punished. And that means she gets sent to a much more extreme facility. It’s either a prison or a detention center. And there, she says, she was interrogated and tortured, and the guards were extremely rough with her. And we’ve heard reports from other people in these facilities, and they are much, much harsher than other types of camps. Mozur: During questioning, people can be locked to chairs or chained to walls. And there’s even darker stories of women being sexually assaulted or raped, ghastly stories of isolation chambers, people’s fingernails ripped out. And there are also reports of forced injections. People report that they emerge from the camp system sterile. So there’ve been accusations that potentially there’s forced sterilizations going on as well. Mozur: And in particular, very important for her, she’s no longer allowed her medications. So she starts having a lot of health problems. The blood pressure’s really out of control. Her face swells. She stops to being able to talk, because her tongue is swollen . . . And nobody is trying to fix this, because this is very much a place where you’re there to be punished. Mozur: You have to imagine how unique this moment is. She can’t fully sit up, because she’s in too much pain. So we’re lying next to each other, and I’m passing a phone back and forth with her. And she’s telling the story of what has happened to her for the first time. And halfway across the world, on the other end of the phone, is Ferkat. And what he’s hearing for the first time is the truth. He’s finally actually hearing what happened to his mother. And I’m sitting there next to her, and part of me is totally overwhelmed with emotions about this, but a part of me is absolutely terrified of what this could bring for her. Barbaro: So it’s like the worse the details are that she’s telling you, the more afraid you’re becoming for her, for anyone in that room who is hearing the conversation. … Mozur: I hear voices outside and — Ferkat says, I think you have some company. And I look to the front door, and there’s a curtain covering it, and it gets pulled back by a man I haven’t seen before. And then, as soon as he sees me, he disappears. And what I’m worried at that point about is that the game is up, that we’ve been caught. And so we all go into panic mode. And I need to save these recordings, because if they’re officials, they’re going to want to delete them. … Barbaro: So Paul, what happens once you turn off the recording? Mozur: Well, everybody’s freaked out. The man who poked his head in, he is a local government official and Communist Party member checking up on her. And he’s ostensibly claiming that he was looking into a leaky roof because it was raining out. But in reality, he’s a part of the surveillance apparatus. And so he quickly leaves, and we know he’s probably going to go report the whole thing, and it’s just a matter of time before the police show up. Mozur: And so the family is discussing what to do. They have to decide. And it really is informative about the different ways Ferkat and his family see this. So Ferkat says, stay. It’ll help to have a foreign journalist there. No matter what they do, it will be good for you to be there and watch and report on it. But his family thinks the exact opposite. They want me to get the hell out of there, because they think that my presence is the threat and the danger, and the longer I’m there, the more they’re in danger. And so in the last few minutes, we try to get in a last question. Can we see if your mother can answer one or two more questions? Ferkat, can you ask her, tell her that you told me that she taught you to speak out and to speak your mind and to say the truth, and then that’s what you’ve been doing in America. And I just want you to ask her whether she thinks you’ve done right by doing that, whether she believes truly that that is the right thing to do. And so I ask Ferkat’s mother what she makes of what he’s been doing. Mozur: And she tells him that she’s incredibly proud of him, and that she raised him to be this way, and that she understands why he’s doing this, and that it’s out of love for her that he’s doing this. I think it’s just an incredibly important moment, because Ferkat is doing this crusade, and he doesn’t have support from many people in his community in the United States, because Uighurs there are afraid. But at this moment, she tells him, no, what you’re doing, I know that this comes from the right place, and that we’re trying something here, and I’m proud of you. … Mozur: And when I walk out that door, the usual suspects are there, a couple of sketchy-looking guys who start following me down the street. And I led them around the rest of the day across the city. And I went to the airport, got on a plane and flew out. And then a week later, Ferkat calls me, and he tells me that — The police in the area have told him that if he releases the recordings that we took, they will kill her. … Mozur: And so Ferkat’s saying, please don’t release the recordings. I’m saying, of course . . . We won’t release them at all, if you don’t think it’s right. And over the next few weeks, there’s more negotiations, and they kind of back off that threat, and eventually he says, you know what? Let’s do this . . . Let’s release these recordings. Let’s talk about this. Let’s share it with the world. This is the kind of paradox of speaking out. On the one hand, you have the government saying, if you do this, we will kill your mother. But on the other hand, you know that if you don’t speak out, then maybe nothing will change, and maybe you’ll never see her again. He told me right after my visit, state media ran an article basically citing family members of him calling him the scum of the family. … Mozur: Really so much of what we know about what’s going on in Xinjiang comes from these brief moments of courage and these individuals who are willing to testify and speak out. You can’t subpoena the Chinese government. You can’t go in demanding documents. You can’t get interviews with top officials where they’re going to speak honestly. And so everything is this incredible game of investigation, and a lot of the reporting is just trying to figure out tiny trace things, whatever you can. 2019-12-09 00:00:00 +0000

From camps to prisons: Xinjiang’s next great human rights catastrophe

Living Otherwise Gene A. Bunin October 05, 2019

"However, as suggested by the government’s own statistics, some limited reporting, and the new evidence presented by victims’ relatives and former detainees in neighboring Kazakhstan, an incredible...

Internment Gene A. Bunin From camps to prisons: Xinjiang’s next great human rights catastrophe all living-otherwise Living Otherwise all internment all "However, as suggested by the government’s own statistics, some limited reporting, and the new evidence presented by victims’ relatives and former detainees in neighboring Kazakhstan, an incredible number of those detained in 2017 and 2018 are now being given lengthy sentences and transferred to major prisons like the one in Urumqi." 2019-10-05 00:00:00 +0000

I was in China doing research when I saw my Uighur friends disappear

The Conversation Sarah Tynen March 09, 2020

From February to October 2017, the government changed the rules that affected Uigher people’s social lives. For example, in a culture where asking guests to stay overnight was once common, police f...

Restrictions on movement Sarah Tynen I was in China doing research when I saw my Uighur friends disappear all the-conversation The Conversation all all restrictions-on-movement From February to October 2017, the government changed the rules that affected Uigher people’s social lives. For example, in a culture where asking guests to stay overnight was once common, police first began requiring overnight guests to register their stay. Then they said only daytime visitors were allowed to visit Uighur homes. Two weeks later, police prohibited Uighurs from having guests at all. In 2017, housing restrictions on Uighurs were increased. In March 2017, Uighur newcomers to the city were not allowed to rent homes in the city, forcing many Uighurs to return to the countryside. By June 2017, according to my fieldwork and interviews in Urumqi with Han and Uighur residents, all Uighurs – regardless of migration or registration status – were prohibited from renting homes in Urumqi. The streets emptied of the usual markets and Uighur people. I witnessed many Uighur shops being demolished with bulldozers in April and May of 2017. 2020-03-09 00:00:00 +0000

I was in China doing research when I saw my Uighur friends disappear

The Conversation Sarah Tynen March 09, 2020

Uighurs censored their speech. By spring 2017, I stopped hearing people openly give thanks to Allah, the Arabic word for God, after meals. Even saying the words “Ramadan fasting” became taboo.

Religious Persecution Sarah Tynen I was in China doing research when I saw my Uighur friends disappear all the-conversation The Conversation all religious-persecution all Uighurs censored their speech. By spring 2017, I stopped hearing people openly give thanks to Allah, the Arabic word for God, after meals. Even saying the words “Ramadan fasting” became taboo. 2020-03-09 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese officials restrict number of Uyghurs observing Ramadan

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur April 01, 2022

For years, officials in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have prohibited Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims from fully observing Ramadan including by banning civil servants, students and ...

Religious Persecution Shohret Hoshur Chinese officials restrict number of Uyghurs observing Ramadan all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all religious-persecution all For years, officials in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have prohibited Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims from fully observing Ramadan including by banning civil servants, students and teachers from fasting. Some neighborhood committees in Urumqi (in Chinese, Wulumuqi) and some village officials in Kashgar (Kashi) and Hotan (Hetian) prefectures have received notices that only 10-50 Muslims will be allowed to fast during Ramadan, which runs from April 1 to May 1, and that those who do so must register with authorities, according local administrators and police in Xinjiang. “Ramadan measures are being taken,” said a village policeman in Kashgar’s Tokkuzak (Toukezhake) township. “The purpose is to allay the fears of [Uyghurs] who are afraid to fast, in addition to security, because there should not be any misconception about the [Chinese Communist] Party’s religious policy. The party never said to abolish religion, but to Sinicize it.” A village administrator who oversees 10 families in Ghulja (Yining) county in Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, said registration was already under way in his community and that the elderly and adults with no school-age children are allowed to fast. “This system is designed to avoid religion to have negative effects on children’s minds,” he said. “There is a lot of propaganda about it right now. A cadre from the village is registering people who meet the criteria for fasting.” 2022-04-01 00:00:00 +0000

State of Surveillance: Government Documents Reveal New Evidence on China’s Efforts to Monitor Its People

ChinaFile Jessica Batke, Mareike Ohlberg October 30, 2020

Shawan officials sought computer systems that would “automatically identify and investigate key persons involved in terrorism and [threatening social] stability.” To make strategic use of the 70 fa...

Surveillance Jessica Batke, Mareike Ohlberg State of Surveillance: Government Documents Reveal New Evidence on China’s Efforts to Monitor Its People all chinafile ChinaFile all surveillance all Shawan officials sought computer systems that would “automatically identify and investigate key persons involved in terrorism and [threatening social] stability.” To make strategic use of the 70 facial recognition cameras recommended in the document, 50 of them would be placed in mosques. At the time of the feasibility study, Shawan possessed a total of 484 cameras, feeding into various separate monitoring and control systems. The study declared this insufficient to meet video surveillance requirements . . . To address these deficiencies, the study outlined a more comprehensive surveillance system. On the front end: 4,791 networked HD cameras, 70 of which were to be facial recognition units, would be positioned in crowded places with clear entrances and exits, including mosques, with others to be installed in train stations and bus stations. 2020-10-30 00:00:00 +0000

China Runs Region-wide Re-education Camps in Xinjiang for Uyghurs And Other Muslims

Radio Free Asia Eset Sulaiman, Paul Eckert September 11, 2017

“Five kinds of suspicious people have been detained and sent to education camps: people who throw away their mobile phone’s SIM card or did not use their mobile phone after registering it; former p...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Eset Sulaiman, Paul Eckert China Runs Region-wide Re-education Camps in Xinjiang for Uyghurs And Other Muslims all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all pretexts-for-detention “Five kinds of suspicious people have been detained and sent to education camps: people who throw away their mobile phone’s SIM card or did not use their mobile phone after registering it; former prisoners already released from prison; blacklisted people; ‘suspicious people’ who have some fundamental religious sentiment; and the people who have relatives abroad,” a female police officer from far western Xinjiang told RFA. 2017-09-11 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghurs Deplore China’s Unkind Cuts to Local Women’s Skirts

Radio Free Asia Alim Seytoff, Paul Eckert July 16, 2018

Officials in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China have been cutting the skirts of Uyghurs on the spot in the streets to enforce a ban on ethnic minorities wearing long skirts, sparking an outc...

Forced Assimilation Alim Seytoff, Paul Eckert Uyghurs Deplore China’s Unkind Cuts to Local Women’s Skirts all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all forced-assimilation all Officials in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China have been cutting the skirts of Uyghurs on the spot in the streets to enforce a ban on ethnic minorities wearing long skirts, sparking an outcry among Uyghurs worldwide over the latest example of heavy state intrusion in their lives. 2018-07-16 00:00:00 +0000

Brother of World Uyghur Congress President Sentenced to Life in Prison in China’s Xinjiang

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur June 01, 2021

The brother of World Uyghur Congress president Dolkun Isa has been jailed for life by authorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a police officer from the region told RFA. Hu...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Shohret Hoshur Brother of World Uyghur Congress President Sentenced to Life in Prison in China’s Xinjiang all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all pretexts-for-detention The brother of World Uyghur Congress president Dolkun Isa has been jailed for life by authorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a police officer from the region told RFA. Hushtar Isa, based in Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu), was reportedly detained in 1998 and sentenced to two years in prison. At the beginning in 2017 of the XUAR mass internment campaign, under which authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention camps, he was re-detained while working at a driving school because he was a former prisoner, said the officer, who declined to give his name. “He was sentenced to life,” the officer told RFA on May 25. Another police officer contacted by RFA said that Hushtar Isa had been working at the Yong’an Driving School, and that he was currently in prison. 2021-06-01 00:00:00 +0000

Navigating Checkpoints in the Uyghur Homeland

Living Otherwise Darren Byler May 10, 2018

On a visit in April 2018 to the Uyghur homeland in Northwest China I was amazed by the number of checkpoints that turn every city and town into a maze of ethno-racial profiling and ID scans. In som...

Surveillance Use of technology Restrictions on movement Darren Byler Navigating Checkpoints in the Uyghur Homeland all living-otherwise Living Otherwise all surveillance all use-of-technology restrictions-on-movement On a visit in April 2018 to the Uyghur homeland in Northwest China I was amazed by the number of checkpoints that turn every city and town into a maze of ethno-racial profiling and ID scans. In some areas, the checkpoints are every several hundred meters. The checkpoints are only for those who pass as Uyghur. Han folks and obvious foreigners are usually directed to walk through the exits of the checkpoints with the wave of a hand. The checkpoints are not for them. ... At the checkpoint exiting the highspeed rail station in Turpan I observed the way “native” (Uy: yerlik) people were directed through two long lines to have their IDs checked while others were permitted to go through a line through an exit gate on the left without any check at all. The determination of who was “native” was made by a Uyghur officer who was scanning our faces for racial phenotypes and the level of fear in the individual. People who walked confidently without looking at the officer were sometimes read as Han even if they were not. ... While I was there a young Uyghur man was escorted in. He was nervous and stuttering a bit, his face was pale. The officer accompanying him said his ID had beeped when he went through the checkpoint. My second face scan of the day was done so I wasn’t able to stay and hear what they were going to do with him. Over the course of a week in cities across the Uyghur homeland I went through dozens and dozens of checkpoints. I saw young Uyghur officers berate elderly Uyghurs for not showing their IDs. I saw many random checkpoints at the sides of the road that only targeted Uyghur young men and women; or that only targeted cars driven by Uyghurs. Throughout my time there I did not see a Han person asked to show his or her ID at spot checks in the Uyghur districts of Ürümchi, Turpan or Kashgar. The unwritten rules were clear. At some checkpoints, officers also ask Uyghur young people to give them the passwords to open their smart phones. At these checkpoints, the officers look at the spyware app Clean Net Guard (Jingwang Weishi) that all Uyghurs are now required to install on their phones. The officers match the registration of the phone to the ID of the person and they also see if any alerts have been issued by the app. The app scanned the content on the phone and content sent from the phone for any material deemed “extremist” or “separatist.” These types of checkpoints are particularly harrowing for young Uyghurs, because the evidence from these scans is used to send Uyghurs to indefinite detention in reeducation camps. At a checkpoint in Kashgar’s Old City I came across a Uyghur woman screaming at a Han officer in Chinese. With tears in her eyes she was yelling, “How many people are left in your family?” He tried to shut her up by barking “Yak!” “Yak!” (No! No!) in Uyghur and then switching to Chinese he yelled “Bu!” “Bu!” (No! No!) trying to shut her up. People are not permitted to protest the indefinite detention of their loved ones. Those that do are often detained themselves. I didn’t linger because I didn’t want the outcome to be worse for her. 2018-05-10 00:00:00 +0000

‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims

New York Times Austin Ramzy, Chris Buckley November 16, 2019

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 ...

Internment Surveillance Destruction of the Family Grading/scoring system Civilian Informants Restricting communication Austin Ramzy, Chris Buckley ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims all new-york-times New York Times all internment surveillance destruction-of-the-family all grading-scoring-system civilian-informants restricting-communication 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.” “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.” “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.” 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.” 2019-11-16 00:00:00 +0000

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like

Buzzfeed Megha Rajagopalan October 17, 2017

The ubiquity of government surveillance in Xinjiang affects the most prosaic aspects of daily life, those interviewed for this story said. D., a stylish young Uighur woman in Turkey, said that even...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Civilian Informants Megha Rajagopalan This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication civilian-informants The ubiquity of government surveillance in Xinjiang affects the most prosaic aspects of daily life, those interviewed for this story said. D., a stylish young Uighur woman in Turkey, said that even keeping in touch with her grandmother, who lives in a small Xinjiang village, had become impossible. Whenever D. called her grandmother, police would barge in hours later, demanding the elderly woman phone D. back while they were in the room. After she got engaged, D. invited her extended family, who live in Xinjiang, to her wedding. Because it is now nearly impossible for Uighurs to obtain passports, D. ended up postponing the ceremony for months in hopes the situation would improve. Finally, in May, she and her mother had a video call with her family on WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging platform. When D. asked how they were, they said everything was fine. Then one of her relatives, afraid of police eavesdropping, held up a handwritten sign that said, “We could not get the passports.” D. felt her heart sink, but she just nodded and kept talking. As soon as the call ended, she said, she burst into tears. One recent exile reported that his wife, who remained in Xinjiang with their young daughter, asked for a divorce so that police would stop questioning her about his activities. “It’s too dangerous to call home,” said another Uighur exile in the Turkish capital, Ankara. “I used to call my classmates and relatives. But then the police visited them, and the next time, they said, ‘Please don’t call anymore.’” In March, R. told me, he found out that his mother had disappeared into a political education center. His father was running the farm alone, and no one in the family could reach her. R. felt desperate. Two months later, he finally heard from his mother. In a clipped phone call, she told him how grateful she was to the Chinese Communist Party, and how good she felt about the government. “I know she didn’t want to say it. She would never talk like that,” R. said. “It felt like a police officer was standing next to her.” Since that call, his parents’ phones have been turned off. He hasn’t heard from them since May. 2017-10-17 00:00:00 +0000

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like

Buzzfeed Megha Rajagopalan October 17, 2017

Armed police, paramilitary forces, and volunteer brigades stand on every street in Kashgar, stopping pedestrians at random to check their identifications, and sometimes their cell phones, for banne...

Surveillance Megha Rajagopalan This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all surveillance all Armed police, paramilitary forces, and volunteer brigades stand on every street in Kashgar, stopping pedestrians at random to check their identifications, and sometimes their cell phones, for banned apps like WhatsApp as well as VPNs and messages with religious or political content. Other equipment, like high-resolution cameras and facial recognition technology, is ubiquitous. When I walked into a checkpoint a few miles east of Kashgar, a police officer stood near the entrance to check commuters’ cell phones for banned apps and messages (as a foreigner I was sent to a separate line and not asked for my phone). Their faces were then scanned by a facial recognition camera and matched with their identification cards. Glossy white machines for full-body scans stood on the other side of the room. Petrol stations have a similar setup. At a station I visited in Kashgar in September, visitors were stepping out of their cars to have their faces scanned and matched with identity cards before filling up. As a foreigner, I was only asked for my passport. 2017-10-17 00:00:00 +0000

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like

Buzzfeed Megha Rajagopalan October 17, 2017

T., a writer, lived in an apartment complex in the regional capital of Urumqi with his wife and daughters until the middle of this summer. (He and his family are now in the US. He asked me not to d...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Megha Rajagopalan This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all surveillance religious-persecution all T., a writer, lived in an apartment complex in the regional capital of Urumqi with his wife and daughters until the middle of this summer. (He and his family are now in the US. He asked me not to disclose which city because he was afraid of being identified by the government.) For years, an official representing the neighborhood’s Communist Party committee would visit his home every week and ask a set of questions that soon became mundane: Who had come to visit? Was anyone pregnant? Had anyone changed jobs? She would then report the information to the local police department, he said. Then in April, the questions changed. The official began to ask whether the family was Muslim, and how they practiced. T. had never been very religious. But he says he respected Islam because it’s a big part of Uighur culture. The family kept a small collection of religious texts on their bookshelves, as well as four prayer rugs. But the questions made him nervous. He told the official he was not a believer. A month later, the disappearances started. Friends would vanish in the middle of the night, spirited away by police to political education centers. His neighbors began to disappear, he said, one after the other. T. was terrified. Every evening he placed an overcoat and a pair of thick winter trousers near the door so he could pull them on quickly if the police came for him — the weather was warm but he was afraid he could be held into the winter months. He gave away the prayer rugs, and in the relative safety of the apartment, he burned every religious book. “My wife was so upset, she told me, ‘You can’t do that,’” he said. “I told her, what choice do I have? If someone saw them in a public trash bin, it could bring us so much trouble.” The first people in T.’s apartment building to disappear, he said, were those who had traveled abroad and returned, particularly to Muslim countries, from Malaysia to Egypt. Then, in June, he says the police began to conduct random checks of pedestrians’ mobile phones at street corners, bus stops, and petrol stations, sometimes downloading their contents to handheld devices. The police would dispense warnings to anyone whose phone carried banned apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. Sometimes, he said, police would come to some people’s homes and businesses to check their computers for banned software and content. “If they find anything in there, it’ll be trouble for you,” he said. “It was a new kind of police — the internet police.”" 2017-10-17 00:00:00 +0000

China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families

BBC John Sudworth July 04, 2019

Records show that in one township alone more than 400 children have lost not just one but both parents to some form of internment, either in the camps or in prison. Alongside the efforts to transf...

Destruction of the Family John Sudworth China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families all bbc BBC all destruction-of-the-family all Records show that in one township alone more than 400 children have lost not just one but both parents to some form of internment, either in the camps or in prison. Alongside the efforts to transform the identity of Xinjiang's adults, the evidence points to a parallel campaign to systematically remove children from their roots. Campuses have been enlarged, new dormitories built and capacity increased on a massive scale. Significantly, the state has been growing its ability to care full-time for large numbers of children at precisely the same time as it has been building the detention camps. And it appears to be targeted at precisely the same ethnic groups. In just one year, 2017, the total number of children enrolled in kindergartens in Xinjiang increased by more than half a million. And Uighur and other Muslim minority children, government figures show, made up more than 90% of that increase. As a result, Xinjiang's pre-school enrolment level has gone from below the national average to the highest in China by far. In the south of Xinjiang alone, an area with the highest concentration of Uighur populations, the authorities have spent an eye watering $1.2bn on the building and upgrading of kindergartens. Mr Zenz's analysis suggests that this construction boom has included the addition of large amounts of dormitory space. Mr Zenz found one government document that details various subsidies available to "needy groups", including those families where "both a husband and a wife are in vocational training". And a directive issued to education bureaus by the city of Kashgar that mandates them to look after the needs of students with parents in the camps as a matter of urgency. Schools should "strengthen psychological counselling", the directive says, and "strengthen students' thought education" - a phrase that finds echoes in the camps holding their parents. 2019-07-04 00:00:00 +0000

China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

AP June 29, 2020

In other efforts to change the population balance of Xinjiang, China is dangling land, jobs and economic subsidies to lure Han migrants there. It is also aggressively promoting intermarriage betwee...

Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage In other efforts to change the population balance of Xinjiang, China is dangling land, jobs and economic subsidies to lure Han migrants there. It is also aggressively promoting intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uighurs, with one couple telling the AP they were given money for housing and amenities like a washing machine, refrigerator and TV. 2020-06-29 00:00:00 +0000

China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

AP June 29, 2020

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camp...

Destruction of the Family Internment China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family internment all The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children. ... Leaked data obtained and corroborated by the AP showed that 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. Time in a camp — what the government calls “education and training” — for parents with too many children is written policy in at least three counties, notices found by Zenz confirmed.“Test all who need to be tested,” ordered a township directive from 2018. “Detect and deal with those who violate policies early.” ... Abdushukur Umar was among the first to fall victim to the crackdown on children. A jovial Uighur tractor driver-turned-fruit merchant, the proud father considered his seven children a blessing from God. But authorities began pursuing him in 2016. The following year, he was thrown into a camp and later sentenced to seven years in prison — one for each child, authorities told relatives. “My cousin spent all his time taking care of his family, he never took part in any political movements,” Zuhra Sultan, Umar’s cousin, said from exile in Turkey. “How can you get seven years in prison for having too many children? We’re living in the 21st century — this is unimaginable.” Sixteen Uighurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people interned or jailed for having too many children. Many received years, even decades in prison. Leaked data obtained and corroborated by the AP showed that 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. Time in a camp — what the government calls “education and training” — for parents with too many children is written policy in at least three counties, notices found by Zenz confirmed. 2020-06-29 00:00:00 +0000

China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

AP June 29, 2020

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some ...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children. While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.” The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang. In 2014, just over 200,000 IUDs were inserted in Xinjiang. By 2018, that jumped more than 60 percent to nearly 330,000 IUDs. At the same time, IUD use tumbled elsewhere in China, as many women began getting the devices removed. In 2017, the Xinjiang government also tripled the already hefty fines for violating family planning laws for even the poorest residents — to at least three times the annual disposable income of the county. While fines also apply to Han Chinese, only minorities are sent to the detention camps if they cannot pay, according to interviews and data. Government reports show the counties collect millions of dollars from the fines each year. ... The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview. Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24% last year alone — compared to just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show. ... Sultan describes how the policy looks to Uighurs like her: “The Chinese government wants to control the Uighur population and make us fewer and fewer, until we disappear.” ... After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children. If she didn’t, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps — often for having too many children. “God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong,” said Omirzakh, who tears up even now thinking back to that day. “They want to destroy us as a people.” Looking back, Omirzakh considers herself lucky. After that frigid day when officials threatened to lock her up, Omirzakh called relatives around the clock. Hours before the deadline, she scraped together enough money to pay the fine from the sale of her sister’s cow and high-interest loans, leaving her deep in debt. For the next year, Omirzakh attended classes with the wives of others detained for having too many children. She and her children lived with two local party officials sent specially to spy on them. When her husband was finally released, they fled for Kazakhstan with just a few bundles of blankets and clothes. The IUD still in Omirzakh’s womb has now sunk into her flesh, causing inflammation and piercing back pain, “like being stabbed with a knife.” For Omirzakh, it’s a bitter reminder of everything she’s lost — and the plight of those she left behind. “People there are now terrified of giving birth,” she said. “When I think of the word ‘Xinjiang,’ I can still feel that fear.” ... One day, they turned up with a list of at least 200 Uighur women in her compound with more than two children who had to get sterilized, Dawut recalled. “My Han Chinese neighbors, they sympathized with us Uighurs,” Dawut said. “They told me, ‘oh, you’re suffering terribly, the government is going way too far!’” Dawut protested, but police again threatened to send her back to the camp. During the sterilization procedure, Han Chinese doctors injected her with anesthesia and tied her fallopian tubes — a permanent operation. When Dawut came to, she felt her womb ache. “I was so angry,” she said. “I wanted another son.” ... In December 2017, on a visit from Kazakhstan back to China, Gulzia Mogdin was taken to a hospital after police found WhatsApp on her phone. A urine sample revealed she was two months pregnant with her third child. Officials told Mogdin she needed to get an abortion and threatened to detain her brother if she didn’t. During the procedure, medics inserted an electric vacuum into her womb and sucked her fetus out of her body. She was taken home and told to rest, as they planned to take her to a camp. 2020-06-29 00:00:00 +0000

Red Flags for Forced Labor Found in China’s Car Battery Supply Chain

New York Times Ana Swanson, Chris Buckley June 20, 2022

The photograph on the mining conglomerate’s social media account showed 70 ethnic Uyghur workers standing at attention under the flag of the People’s Republic of China. It was March 2020 and the re...

Internment Forced Labor Ana Swanson, Chris Buckley Red Flags for Forced Labor Found in China’s Car Battery Supply Chain all new-york-times New York Times all internment all forced-labor The photograph on the mining conglomerate’s social media account showed 70 ethnic Uyghur workers standing at attention under the flag of the People’s Republic of China. It was March 2020 and the recruits would soon undergo training in management, etiquette and “loving the party and the country,” their new employer, the Xinjiang Nonferrous Metal Industry Group, announced. But this was no ordinary worker orientation. It was the kind of program that human rights groups and U.S. officials consider a red flag for forced labor in China’s western Xinjiang region, where the Communist authorities have detained or imprisoned more than 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other largely Muslim minorities. … The Chinese government denies the presence of forced labor in Xinjiang, calling it “the lie of the century.” But it acknowledges running what it describes as a work transfer program that sends Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities from the region’s more rural south to jobs in its more industrialized north. Xinjiang Nonferrous and its subsidiaries have partnered with the Chinese authorities to take in hundreds of such workers in recent years, according to articles displayed proudly in Chinese on the company’s social media account. These workers were eventually sent to work in the conglomerate’s mines, a smelter and factories that produce some of the most highly sought minerals on earth, including lithium, nickel, manganese, beryllium, copper and gold. … Xinjiang Nonferrous’s role in work transfer programs ramped up several years ago, as part of efforts by the Chinese leader Xi Jinping to drastically transform Uyghur society to become richer, more secular and loyal to the Communist Party. In 2017, the Xinjiang government announced plans to transfer 100,000 people from southern Xinjiang into new jobs over three years. Dozens of state-owned companies, including Xinjiang Nonferrous, were assigned to absorb 10,000 of those laborers in return for subsidies and bonuses. Transferred workers appear to make up only a minor part of the labor force at Xinjiang Nonferrous, perhaps a few hundred of its more than 7,000 employees. The company and its subsidiaries reported recruiting 644 workers from two rural counties of southern Xinjiang from 2017 to 2020, and training more since then. … Before being assigned to work, predominantly Muslim minorities were given lectures on “eradicating religious extremism” and becoming obedient, law-abiding workers who “embraced their Chinese nationhood,” Xinjiang Nonferrous said. Inductees for one company unit underwent six months of training including military-style drills and ideological training. They were encouraged to speak out against religious extremism, oppose “two-faced individuals” — a term for those who privately oppose Chinese government policies — and write a letter to their hometown elders expressing gratitude to the Communist Party and the company, according to the company’s social media account. Trainees faced strict assessments, with “morality” and rule compliance accounting for half of their score. Those who scored well earned better pay, while students and teachers who violated rules were punished or fined. Even as it promotes the successes of the programs, the company’s propaganda hints at the government pressure on it to meet labor transfer goals, even through the coronavirus pandemic. A 2017 article in the Xinjiang Daily quoted one 33-year-old villager as saying that he was initially “reluctant to go out to work” and “quite satisfied” with his income from farming, but was persuaded to go to work at Xinjiang Nonferrous’ subsidiary after party members visited his house several times to “work on his thinking.” And in a visit in 2018 to Keriya County, Zhang Guohua, the company president, told officials to “work on the thinking” of families of transferred laborers to ensure that no one abandoned their jobs. Chinese authorities say that all employment is voluntary, and that work transfers help free rural families from poverty by giving them steady wages, skills and Chinese-language training. “No one has been forced to become ‘transferred labor’ in Xinjiang,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told reporters in Beijing this month. It is difficult to ascertain the level of coercion any individual worker has faced given the limited access to Xinjiang for journalists and research firms. Laura T. Murphy, a professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at Sheffield Hallam University in Britain, said that resisting such programs is seen as a sign of extremist activity and carries a risk of being sent to an internment camp. “A Uyghur person cannot say no to this,” she said. “They are harassed or, in the government’s words, educated,’ until they are forced to go.” 2022-06-20 00:00:00 +0000

China razes Kashgar’s iconic Grand Bazaar

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur May 06, 2022

An RFA analysis of satellite images of the Grand Bazaar provided by PlanetLabs Inc. shows dramatic changes in the market, including the removal of buildings and the roofs of stalls, between photos ...

Forced Assimilation Shohret Hoshur China razes Kashgar’s iconic Grand Bazaar all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all forced-assimilation all An RFA analysis of satellite images of the Grand Bazaar provided by PlanetLabs Inc. shows dramatic changes in the market, including the removal of buildings and the roofs of stalls, between photos taken on April 4 and May 4. According to one local official, a new tourist attraction will arise in its place. Authorities are well known for taking the wrecking ball to historic streetscapes and buildings across China and replacing them with retro facsimiles to draw tourists. But Uyghur activists and foreign scholars say the destruction of the Grand Bazaar is really about the ongoing campaign by Chinese authorities to erase Uyghur traditions and customs in the region in a brutal campaign of forced assimilation. The Kashgar Grand Bazaar was the largest international trade market in China’s Xinjiang region, with 4,000 shops that sell more than 9,000 products on 250-acres of land. Goods from the region sold there include spices, teas, silk, dried fruit, carpets, Uyghur musical instruments, Central Asia clothing and skullcaps called doppas. Now the shops are being destroyed and their owners forced to move to a new location away from the city, according to local officials and videos posted by shop owners on social media. Authorities are cracking down on the criticism too, detaining and interrogating vendors who voiced their displeasure with the government’s decision to tear down the marketplace, local sources said. … Through interviews with local police and other officials, RFA learned that the market demolition was developed and implemented by the Politics and Law Commission of Xinjiang. … Another officer in the same office told RFA that another tourist attraction will be built where the bazaar stood after the marketplace has been cleared. He said he did not know the name of the company that has purchased the land. The demolition of the Grand Bazaar is part of the Chinese government’s process of dispossessing Uyghurs and destroying their culture, Uyghur activists and academics who have studied Uyghur culture say. 2022-05-06 00:00:00 +0000

Exclusive: Kazinform reportage from China’s Xinjiang

Kazinform January 10, 2019

There are police stations every 800-1000 meters along the streets of Urumqi and other cities visited by the journalists.

Surveillance Exclusive: Kazinform reportage from China’s Xinjiang all kazinform Kazinform all surveillance all There are police stations every 800-1000 meters along the streets of Urumqi and other cities visited by the journalists. 2019-01-10 00:00:00 +0000

Exclusive: Kazinform reportage from China’s Xinjiang

Kazinform January 10, 2019

It should be mentioned that throughout the press tour in all cities and locations, interviews were taken in the mandatory presence of Chinese authorities' representatives. It was not possible to co...

Internment Internment conditions Exclusive: Kazinform reportage from China’s Xinjiang all kazinform Kazinform all internment all internment-conditions It should be mentioned that throughout the press tour in all cities and locations, interviews were taken in the mandatory presence of Chinese authorities' representatives. It was not possible to communicate with the speakers in private. What we were interested in was activities of the vocational centers or, as human rights activists in the world media call them, the "political re-education camps". Abdurakip Tumurniyaz said that such institutions help persons, who have been affected by the ideas of religious extremism, improve through learning the language, the laws, and a blue-collar profession. It is impossible to pray there because it is an educational institution. The journalists are brought to the Kashgar vocational center ("political re-education camp"), about which much has been written on the Internet. However, representatives of foreign media were never to visit it. There are 2,000 people, mostly Kashgari Uyghurs aged between 20 and 40, as well as older people they are now fewer. Two-thirds of them are men. According to representatives of the center's administration, this institution is the largest one not only in southern Xinjiang but all over the XUAR. The center was established in late 2017. For now, around 1 thousand people have completed training. The foreign journalists were given insight into the exemplary educational process: lessons of Chinese language, Chinese law, physical education, and art - singing and dancing. In the presence of accompanying persons, the educatees of the center tell how they got at this institution. All the stories voiced are almost the same. "I violated the laws of China - I was indoctrinated with ideas of religious extremism, I watched myself and distributed religious extremist videos to my friends. Here I study sewing. Every week we visit our relatives at home," says Turdygul, a 25-year-old Uygur woman. According to another educatee, Bilikkyz, it is forbidden to pray in the educational institution. But, this can be done at weekends while going to the city. "I got here in early January 2018. After mastering the Chinese language, studying the laws and working specialty, I will leave this place with a diploma. We are given halal food here. Every week from Saturday morning to Sunday evening we have the opportunity to go to the city and visit our relatives. After completing my studies, I plan to start my own tailoring business," she told reporters in an interview. "I have been studying here for 11 months. I was indoctrinated with religious extremist ideology - I studied relevant sermons and shared them with friends. I am local, married. I have a little daughter. My parents and husband Akbar, who works as a taxi driver, look after her. Fortunately, every weekend I have the opportunity to visit my family. After completing my studies, I plan to open my sewing workshop," 24-year-old Gulnigar shares her story. In a men's dormitory room, 6 people are accommodated. There are a washbasin and a water closet behind a small folding screen. In the corridor, there is a landline telephone for calling home during free time. Cell phones are prohibited. According to the administration, people eat three times a day at the canteen. Educatee Usmanzhan says he was recommended to go to study at a vocational center by representatives of the administration of his village after they became aware that he took interest in the ideas of nontraditional Islam. The next morning, the Chinese authorities demonstrated to the representatives of foreign media how the educatees of the vocational center of Moyu County of the Hotan Prefecture go home for the weekend. At 8.30 a.m., young people with their personal belongings got on two buses and went out of the "re-education camp". On the second floor of the institution, as part of professional training, men were cooking food, and women were serving the tables. Kazinform correspondent asked Emirzhan Bakir, one of the future chefs, why he was not allowed to go home for the weekend. He explained that he will be compensated next week for not leaving for the city today. And he began explaining about his voluntary stay in this center. "I voluntarily came to this center because I have a very low level of proficiency in the Chinese language and have no profession. Therefore, I am exposed to extremist ideology. Moreover, everything is free of charge here," Emirzhan Bakir said beneath the approving gaze of the accompanying persons. The journalist of Kazinform asked about freedom of movement for the people in the center. Answering the question, the Party Secretary of the Hotan Prefecture said that people have the right to go to the city at weekend, and on weekdays - only for valid reasons, for instance, illness or death of relatives, a wedding party, and so on. The subject of the demonstration Chinese-language lesson was "What is happiness?". One of the educatees replied diligently in Chinese that "happiness is the opportunity of obtaining as much knowledge as possible." As the teacher said, the length of stay at the center depends on the level of proficiency in Chinese. Despite the status of these centers as educational, the institutions in Hotan are guarded by police. The indicative of this is the fact that there is a public security department station at the exit of the institution. 2019-01-10 00:00:00 +0000

Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang

Jamestown Brief Adrian Zenz, James Leibold September 21, 2017

Between August 2016 and July 2017, Chen Quanguo pushed this multi-tiered policing system to its logical conclusion. Within the space of a single year, Xinjiang advertised 90,866 security-related po...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Adrian Zenz, James Leibold Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang all jamestown-brief Jamestown Brief all surveillance all civilian-informants Between August 2016 and July 2017, Chen Quanguo pushed this multi-tiered policing system to its logical conclusion. Within the space of a single year, Xinjiang advertised 90,866 security-related positions—nearly twelve times the number advertised in 2009 following the Urumqi riots. The vast majority of these jobs (95 percent) were assistant police positions associated with the establishment of an estimated 7,500 convenience police stations across Xinjiang ... ...the XUAR [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] might now have considerably more convenience police stations per capita than the TAR [Tibet Autonomous Region]: 323 versus the TAR’s 216 per 100,000 of the population. On the other hand, the TAR advertised 400 policing-related positions per 100,000 of its population during Chen Quanguo’s rule there, while Xinjiang advertised 394 such positions. Yet the security build-up in Xinjiang is continuing, and likely to surpass the level achieved in the TAR as early as September this year. That said, the sheer number of positions advertised in the XUAR during such a short period of time is apparently making it increasingly difficult to attract new applicants. ... Chen Quanguo’s securitization strategy achieves two stability maintenance (维稳) goals at the same time: the construction of a dense network of police surveillance, and a range of new employment opportunities in a region where stable, well-remunerated jobs are still relatively scarce. ... Even though Chen has not replicated the full employment promise in Xinjiang, security-related work is now the single most important source of new jobs. Growth in “urban non-private units,” a technical term that refers to stable, well-remunerated posts in a) public institutions and b) larger private corporations, slowed down considerably in 2014 and 2015 compared to previous years. Excluding employment in public institutions, Xinjiang’s private corporate sector by itself virtually stagnated during that period. Key sectors such as manufacturing, mining, construction, and transportation actually saw a reduction in employment. This is likely a negative side effect of the region’s exorbitant new security measures. A local businessman told us that Chen’s security measures have resulted in numerous businesses going bankrupt, even in the wealthier north. As a consequence, investors are said to be withdrawing their capital, and qualified employees are leaving the region. Official data reflects this trend. ... As in the TAR, Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities (including Uyghurs) have been able to secure a large proportion of these new security positions. Whereas formal government (or corporate private sector) employment mandates that applicants must hold a university degree, assistant police positions usually require only a middle or high school education. For the large number of lesser-educated and socially disadvantaged rural minorities, especially the Uyghurs, an informal policing job that pays 3,000-6,000 RMB per month is an attractive offer, especially when it comes with a level of social status and authority. 2017-09-21 00:00:00 +0000

Two brothers of Uyghur in exile detained for calling ‘separatist’ sibling abroad

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur November 03, 2021

The brothers of a Uyghur based in the Netherlands have been arrested by authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region for contacting a sibling abroad deemed a “terrorist” during officially sa...

Destruction of the Family Internment Pretexts for Detention Restricting communication Shohret Hoshur Two brothers of Uyghur in exile detained for calling ‘separatist’ sibling abroad all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all destruction-of-the-family internment all pretexts-for-detention restricting-communication The brothers of a Uyghur based in the Netherlands have been arrested by authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region for contacting a sibling abroad deemed a “terrorist” during officially sanctioned phone calls, officials confirmed to RFA. Ghopur Ebey, 46, left his family in Baytoqay village of Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) city in 2009 and moved to the town of Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Ghopur told RFA in September that two of his brothers, Ehtem and Shakir Ebey, were taken away after they talked to him using a phone provided by local authorities who gave them permission to call Ghopur abroad. A third brother, Shukur Ebey, was arrested in 2017 and detained for two years in an internment camp after he took a group trip to Turkey, though he had received permission from officials to travel to the country, which is considered a safe haven for persecuted Muslim Uyghurs and a defender of their rights. When RFA contacted village officials to confirm the identities of Ghopur’s brothers and ask why they were apprehended, a judicial office employee responded, “They are Ehtem Ebey and Shakir Ebey.” Authorities arrested them for talking to Ghopur in the Netherlands, he said. When asked why authorities allowed Ghopur’s family members to call him abroad but then punished them for doing so, the official said he could not answer further questions and suggested that RFA obtain additional information from the Communist Party command headquarters. But when RFA contacted that office, officials there declined to comment. 2021-11-03 00:00:00 +0000

She survived a Chinese internment camp and made it to Virginia. Will the U.S. let her stay?

Washington Post Emily Rauhala, Anna Fifield November 17, 2019

After her detention, she was forced to pay a fine of more than $2,500 for breaking China’s family planning rules by having three, not two, children. She was then told the government was offering h...

Destruction of the Family Sterilization Emily Rauhala, Anna Fifield She survived a Chinese internment camp and made it to Virginia. Will the U.S. let her stay? all washington-post Washington Post all destruction-of-the-family all sterilization After her detention, she was forced to pay a fine of more than $2,500 for breaking China’s family planning rules by having three, not two, children. She was then told the government was offering her a free, surgical sterilization — a procedure she did not want but was terrified to refuse lest she be detained again. On Oct. 22, 2018, a local official escorted her to the hospital, and she underwent surgery. Dawut wept recalling the operation and thinking of the fourth child she longed for but would never have. “They want the extinction of Uighurs,” she said. 2019-11-17 00:00:00 +0000

The Factories In The Camps

Buzzfeed Alison Killing, Megha Rajagopalan December 28, 2020

Forced labor in Xinjiang ramped up in 2018, according to researchers and news reports. One ethnic Kazakh factory owner from northern Xinjiang, who asked that her name and company be withheld out of...

Internment Forced Labor Civilian Informants Alison Killing, Megha Rajagopalan The Factories In The Camps all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all internment all forced-labor civilian-informants Forced labor in Xinjiang ramped up in 2018, according to researchers and news reports. One ethnic Kazakh factory owner from northern Xinjiang, who asked that her name and company be withheld out of fear of retaliation, described the government’s relentless efforts to round up workers that year . . . In 2018, police officers visited her factory five times, asking her to recommend workers to be “reeducated” in order to meet a quota. They told her to look for behavioral slights — using a ceramic bowl with Uyghur-language writing on the bottom, for instance, or repeatedly wearing a headscarf for women. All five times, she managed to fob them off, offering bribes and excuses. The business owner had heard rumors that the internment camps were not for education, as the government claimed, but mass detention. “We had heard that mass detention had occurred, that people were disappearing into these schools. We didn’t know much but we knew that it wasn’t a good place,” she said. She was afraid of being sent to a camp herself, but she could not bear to hand over the names of her workers either. “I never sent a single person to the camp,” she said, a note of pride creeping into her voice. 2020-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

The Factories In The Camps

Buzzfeed Alison Killing, Megha Rajagopalan December 28, 2020

China has built more than 100 new facilities in Xinjiang where it can not only lock people up, but also force them to work in dedicated factory buildings right on site, BuzzFeed News can reveal bas...

Internment Forced Labor Alison Killing, Megha Rajagopalan The Factories In The Camps all buzzfeed Buzzfeed all internment all forced-labor China has built more than 100 new facilities in Xinjiang where it can not only lock people up, but also force them to work in dedicated factory buildings right on site, BuzzFeed News can reveal based on government records, interviews, and hundreds of satellite images. In August, BuzzFeed News uncovered hundreds of compounds in Xinjiang bearing the hallmarks of prisons or detention camps, many built during the last three years in a rapid escalation of China’s campaign against Muslim minorities including Uighurs, Kazakhs, and others. A new analysis shows that at least 135 of these compounds also hold factory buildings. Forced labor on a vast scale is almost certainly taking place inside facilities like these, according to researchers and interviews with former detainees. Collectively, the factory facilities identified by BuzzFeed News cover more than 21 million square feet — nearly four times the size of the Mall of America. (Ford’s historic River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, once the largest industrial complex in the world, is 16 million square feet.) And they are growing in a way that mirrors the rapid expansion of the mass detention campaign, which has ensnared more than 1 million people since it began in 2016. Fourteen million square feet of new factories were built in 2018 alone. Two former detainees told BuzzFeed News they had worked in factories while they were detained. One of them, Gulzira Auelhan, said she and other women traveled by bus to a factory where they would sew gloves. Asked if she was paid, she simply laughed. The former detainees said they were never given a choice about working, and that they earned a pittance or no pay at all. “I felt like I was in hell,” Dina Nurdybai, who was detained in 2017 and 2018, told BuzzFeed News. Before her confinement, Nurdybai ran a small garment business. At a factory inside the internment camp where she was held, she said she worked in a cubicle that was locked from the outside, sewing pockets onto school uniforms. “They created this evil place and they destroyed my life,” she said. She said she was paid a salary of 9 yuan — about $1.38 — in a month, far less than prevailing wages outside the walls of the detention camp. It was a short walk to work — the distance from the residential buildings to the nearest factory was only 25 yards or so, while the farthest, on the opposite side of the site, was still just five minutes away. The women would work from 8 a.m. to noon, she said, and after lunch, again from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. After the nine-hour day, they were required to take classes back in the building where they stayed, memorizing and repeating Chinese Communist Party propaganda and studying Mandarin Chinese. The factory was equipped with new sewing machines, Nurdybai remembered. In fact, all the equipment inside looked new. But there were clues that those who worked there were not doing it by choice. Pairs of scissors were chained to each work table to prevent the women from taking them to the dorms, where they could, in theory, use them to harm themselves or stab the camp’s guards. And there were cameras everywhere, Nurdybai said, even in the bathrooms. Inside the factory building, the floor was divided up, grid style, Nurdybai said. It was not like the factories that she had seen while running her own business. “There were cubicles at about chin height so you couldn’t see or talk to others. Each had a door, which locked,” she said, from the outside. Each cubicle had between 25 and 30 people, she said. On one occasion, one of the camp staff justified the locked cubicles by saying, “These people are criminals, they can seriously harm you.” Police patrolled the floor of the factory. Nurdybai ate with the other workers and slept in the same quarters as them. But, she said, her position as a trainer gave her one special privilege: She had a key fob with which she could open the doors to the bathroom. Others had to ask for permission to go. Near the end of Nurdybai’s time in internment camps in September 2018, police officers finally told her what she was said to have done wrong: She had downloaded an illegal app called WhatsApp. She was later released and told her “education” was over. Her boyfriend at the time brought her a bouquet of flowers, as if she had just come home from a long trip. But in the time she spent in the camps, her life had fallen apart. She owed a bank 70,000 yuan, or about $10,700, in business loans, on which she had been unable to make payments while she was detained. Her clothing orders, too, had sat unfulfilled. “They took everything from my factory — expensive materials — they took it,” she said. “My customers, I had to pay them back.” She began selling off her possessions, even her car, to try and pay down the loan. Factories started appearing in the makeshift camps of the early detention campaign in spring 2017. Often they appeared as a single factory wedged onto the site wherever there was room, squashed between the existing buildings, or built on the sports field of a former school. At the same time, new and expanding high-security facilities also added factories, typically in larger numbers. With the explosion of factory-building in 2018, new patterns emerged. The piecemeal addition of factory buildings on cramped existing sites continued. But the detention compounds on the edge of cities, which had more room, expanded to accommodate new factories that were typically arranged in a neat grid and often separated from the main compound — by a fence, or even a road with barbed wire walkways connecting the two. The factory area often had a separate entrance from the surrounding roads, allowing raw materials to be delivered and finished goods to be picked up without disturbing the wider camp. While some of the new factories have been built in higher-security facilities, they are more often found in lower-security compounds, and they appear to be for light industry — manufacturing clothes rather than smelting zinc or mining. Much of the construction since 2017 has been concentrated in Xinjiang’s south and west: the regions with the highest numbers of Uighur and Kazakh people 2020-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

The Karakax List: Dissecting the Anatomy of Beijing’s Internment Drive in Xinjiang

Journal of Political Risk Adrian Zenz February 17, 2020

The “Karakax List”, named after the county of Karakax (Qaraqash) in Hotan Prefecture . . . presents the strongest evidence to date that Beijing is actively persecuting and punishing normal practice...

Surveillance Internment Religious Persecution Use of technology Restrictions on movement Adrian Zenz The Karakax List: Dissecting the Anatomy of Beijing’s Internment Drive in Xinjiang all journal-of-political-risk Journal of Political Risk all surveillance internment religious-persecution all use-of-technology restrictions-on-movement The “Karakax List”, named after the county of Karakax (Qaraqash) in Hotan Prefecture . . . presents the strongest evidence to date that Beijing is actively persecuting and punishing normal practices of traditional religious beliefs . . . the Karakax List outlines the reasons why 311 persons were interned and reveals the cognition behind the decision-making processes as to whether individuals can be released or not. The listed reasons for internment range from vagueness such as “untrustworthy person born in a certain decade”, to someone with a “minor religious infection” (受宗教极端思想感染轻微人员), or those who “by clicking on a website unintentionally landed on a foreign website” (点击网站链接无意登陆境外网站). Others were interned because their “thinking is hard to grasp” (思想难掌握), they had a “complicated network of relationships” (人际交往复杂), “petition other persons without reasons” (无正当理由缠访闹访人员), is “disassociated from society” (游离于社会面), “applied for a passport but did not actually leave the country” (办理护照未出境), merely has “relatives abroad” (境外有亲属), only “suspected of having watched downloaded terrorist or other religious extremist videos” (具有观看下载传播暴恐音视频或其他类宗教极端音视频的嫌疑), has “talked to persons overseas” (境外通联), used to wear a veil many years ago (such as e.g. from 2012 to 2014), used to grow a long beard years ago (in one instance between 2010 and 2014), used a phone with a number that is not registered to the person’s name, or merely “communicated with a detained person”. Often, these little “sins” are lumped together to justify internment. For example, a person may have traveled overseas and used to grow a beard. 2020-02-17 00:00:00 +0000

In a Xinjiang City, No Room on the Bus for Those With Veils or Long Beards

New York Times Amy Qin August 06, 2014

The authorities in a city in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang have banned long beards and apparel with Islamic symbols on public buses as part of an effort to increase security and ensure sta...

Religious Persecution Amy Qin In a Xinjiang City, No Room on the Bus for Those With Veils or Long Beards all new-york-times New York Times all religious-persecution all The authorities in a city in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang have banned long beards and apparel with Islamic symbols on public buses as part of an effort to increase security and ensure stability, a state-run newspaper has reported. The ban, which took effect Monday in Karamay, a city in northern Xinjiang near the border with Kazakhstan, is directed at “five groups of people,” said The Karamay Daily. These are anyone wearing headscarves, veils, hijabs or clothing bearing the crescent moon and star traditionally associated with Islam, as well as men with long beards. The ban will be in place until the conclusion of a local sports competition on Aug. 20, the newspaper said. ... The new measures announced in Karamay also prohibit passengers from carrying flammable or explosive items on buses, similar to a ban instituted last month in Urumqi, the regional capital. 2014-08-06 00:00:00 +0000

At Least 150 Detainees Have Died in One Xinjiang Internment Camp: Police Officer

Radio Free Asia October 29, 2019

"At least 150 people have died over the course of six months while detained at an internment camp for mainly ethnic Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according ...

Internment Internment conditions At Least 150 Detainees Have Died in One Xinjiang Internment Camp: Police Officer all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all internment-conditions "At least 150 people have died over the course of six months while detained at an internment camp for mainly ethnic Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to an official source, marking the first confirmation of mass deaths since the camps were introduced in 2017. A police officer confirmed the figure while RFA’s Uyghur Service was investigating unconfirmed reports that more than 200 people from a township in Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu) prefecture’s Kuchar (Kuche) county had died in detention. The officer at the Kuchar County Police Department said that at least 150 had died at just one of the county’s four internment camps—the No. 1 Internment Camp in the Yengisher district of the county seat, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Kuchar city center. “No, you cannot say that [200 died from Ucha township]” said the officer, who declined to be named, but previously served for six months as an administrative assistant at the camp in Yengisher. “Not that many—it’s more like 150 or so [from No. 1 Camp],” he said, adding that the deaths had occurred from June to December 2018, during the time he was assigned to the facility. He was unable to provide information about any deaths that might have occurred at the camp prior to the time he worked there or after he left." 2019-10-29 00:00:00 +0000

China cables reveal 23 Australian citizens 'red-flagged' in Uighur crackdown

Guardian Kate Lyons November 24, 2019

The “bulletins” also highlight the power and reach of China’s surveillance dragnet, which combines data scooped up from automated online monitoring, with information collected in more old-fashioned...

Surveillance Use of technology Pretexts for Detention Kate Lyons China cables reveal 23 Australian citizens 'red-flagged' in Uighur crackdown all guardian Guardian all surveillance all use-of-technology pretexts-for-detention The “bulletins” also highlight the power and reach of China’s surveillance dragnet, which combines data scooped up from automated online monitoring, with information collected in more old-fashioned ways, by officials who use an app to input it by hand. The Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) combines all this information in a detailed database of everything from an individual’s exact height and electricity use, to the colour of their car, whether they socialise with neighbours and even if they prefer to use the front or back door to their house. The cables reveal that in a single week in June 2017, IJOP flagged up 24,412 “suspicious” individuals in one part of southern Xinjiang alone. Of these, more than 15,000 were sent to re-education camps, and a further 706 were jailed. That rate of detentions, if matched across the region and continued over time, would explain how hundreds of thousands of people have been swept into camps already. 2019-11-24 00:00:00 +0000

China cables reveal 23 Australian citizens 'red-flagged' in Uighur crackdown

Guardian Kate Lyons November 24, 2019

Muslims in Xinjiang with contacts outside China have already reported being targets of Beijing’s sweeping crackdown. Dual nationals have been rounded up and detained, despite protests from foreign...

Destruction of the Family Surveillance Restricting communication Civilian Informants Kate Lyons China cables reveal 23 Australian citizens 'red-flagged' in Uighur crackdown all guardian Guardian all destruction-of-the-family surveillance all restricting-communication civilian-informants Muslims in Xinjiang with contacts outside China have already reported being targets of Beijing’s sweeping crackdown. Dual nationals have been rounded up and detained, despite protests from foreign relatives or diplomats representing their second nationality. Those in Xinjiang are questioned about relatives in other countries, and communication with loved ones abroad has ground to a virtual halt. Uighurs in Australia have told the Guardian that their family members in Xinjiang have begged them not to contact them, as receiving phone calls from people outside China can raise suspicion and be grounds for arrest and detention. Uighurs living abroad have described attempts to lure them home, often through requests from relatives, or to pressure them into spying on neighbours. Those who return to China frequently disappear into the camps. 2019-11-24 00:00:00 +0000

Images in Red: Han Culture, Uyghur Performers, Chinese New Year

Living Otherwise Darren Byler February 23, 2018

Unlike in years past, this year Uyghurs were asked to perform their Han affinity by participating in Han cultural events. Although “Chinese New Year” is not an exclusively Han tradition, it is seen...

Forced Assimilation Darren Byler Images in Red: Han Culture, Uyghur Performers, Chinese New Year all living-otherwise Living Otherwise all forced-assimilation all Unlike in years past, this year Uyghurs were asked to perform their Han affinity by participating in Han cultural events. Although “Chinese New Year” is not an exclusively Han tradition, it is seen as un-Islamic and experienced as exclusively Han by most Uyghurs. In the past Uyghurs have nearly universally abstained from writing couplets and pasting them over the frames of their doors, lighting fireworks, making dumplings, and forcing their children to dress in Han traditional clothing and perform Han cultural myths. As seen in the state media clip above and the images below, this year was different. This year, according to reports that have filtered out of the region, fines were put in place for those that did not perform their fealty to the state by dressing in red and pasting couplets over the door to their house. Many Uyghurs were also asked to attend dumpling-making celebrations with their Han “older brothers” and “older sisters.” Since asking whether or not the dumplings were stuffed with pork would have been a sign of a lack of love for Han culture, many allegedly were forced to eat dumplings without asking if the meat that was used was pork. Many of those that participated in these events said that they were crying on the inside while smiling on the outside. These images are ubiquitous. All Uyghurs outside of China have seen them: strange banners and couplets pasted to the doorways of their natal homes in the Uyghur homeland. Portraits of family members and Uyghur cultural figures dressed in red or carrying the Chinese flag declaring their love for Han cultural traditions and the beneficence of the state."' The sheer number of the images documenting the celebrations are remarkable. Many of the activities appear to be staged for the camera and for Internet circulation. In all cases the images demonstrate that the women and children who have not been taken to the reeducation camps are loyal to the Chinese state. They also demonstrate the warm-hearted paternalism of Han state workers. It is as though the state workers feel as though they are leading by example. If they simply demonstrate how wonderful Han traditions are, Uyghurs will be able to imagine themselves as becoming Han. At the same time that these images and videos of forced celebration among those who are not yet in the prison system began to circulate, videos and stories of the forced patriotism of Uyghur detainees was also widely circulated among Uyghurs in the diaspora. 2018-02-23 00:00:00 +0000

Gene A. Bunin: How the “Happiest Muslims in the World” are Coping with Their Happiness

Living Otherwise Gene A. Bunin July 31, 2018

There have also been measures, direct and indirect, to make it difficult for foreigners in China to engage regular Uyghur people in any kind of conversation. Journalists, in particular, have been u...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Internment Restricting journalism Restricting communication Use of technology Restrictions on movement Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Gene A. Bunin Gene A. Bunin: How the “Happiest Muslims in the World” are Coping with Their Happiness all living-otherwise Living Otherwise all surveillance religious-persecution internment all restricting-journalism restricting-communication use-of-technology restrictions-on-movement forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays There have also been measures, direct and indirect, to make it difficult for foreigners in China to engage regular Uyghur people in any kind of conversation. Journalists, in particular, have been under very heavy scrutiny, with anyone they’ve managed to interview often too scared to speak normally and honestly. ... Many Uyghurs have deleted most, if not all, of their foreign friends and contacts on China’s (highly monitored) WeChat app, with more secure foreign apps having long ago stopped being an option ... Inviting me to take a seat at a table, he put down his QR-coded knife and came over to join me soon after. Some eleven months had passed since our previous meeting, and a lot of things had changed. The great majority of his staff, about ten in all, had been forced to return to their hometowns in southern Xinjiang, either for “re-education” or for “hometown arrest”, which had left him shorthanded and dependent on the help of friends and relatives. Gone were the shish kebab and the tea, together with the clientele, as a place that had always brimmed with people was suddenly empty. Time and again I’d watch potential customers come in, ask what was available, and then leave because of the lack of options. Uyghur kitchen staff, as the owner put it, were extremely scarce now, and it was close to impossible to find substitutes. ... “Our mood is shot,” he admitted to me. Having already spent a few months in Kashgar, I knew precisely what he meant, just as I knew that the “our mood” referred to all the Uyghur people, and not just his family. After all, all that it took was a pair of human eyes to see the mass depression that Xinjiang’s legions of red mechanical ones failed to. You could see it in how the people stared into space, in their forlorn expressions, in their general languor. More abstractly, you could feel its crushing weight in the air, at times so disorienting that even I – a foreigner protected from the repressions – would hesitate to venture outside, for the fear of being overwhelmed by this invisible force. Police vans with sirens blaring trolled the streets incessantly. In the past, I would take to the Kashgar streets to almost always be approached by a mentally ill Kashgarian acquaintance, who would run up to me, shake my hand – his fly sometimes open – and ask me the same questions over and over, a big smile on his face. But somehow the situation warped even him, as last fall he suddenly stopped rushing over to me, remaining quiet and still on his bench when I passed by. Eventually, he would disappear from the streets completely. The poor mood was also evident in the frank negativity that I noticed in many Uyghur business owners last year. While it is not considered good Uyghur etiquette to tell somebody of your complaints and troubles when they ask you how you’re doing – it is more proper, instead, to say that you’re doing well – more and more often I would put the “how are you doing?” question to people to be met with a “not that great, business is horrible”. Running into a tour guide acquaintance last year, I remarked to him that he had gotten really thin since I had last seen him a year earlier. “We’ve all gotten really thin this past year!” he told me. ... The hardest to forget, I think, is that one time I was walking home on a Kashgar evening. Walking in the opposite direction was an Uyghur family of three – a middle-aged husband and wife with their twenty-something son. The father was drunk, waving his arms around while his wife and son supported him. As a police minivan materialized at the end of the street, the wife told him to be still, but he wouldn’t. And so the van stopped, five or six police jumped out, grabbed the man without asking any questions or asking for ID, and then drove him off together with his wife, the son left alone on the street. The whole thing couldn’t have lasted more than two minutes. ... A fear that would be funny if it weren’t so sad is the fear of religious names. In Xinjiang, one friend went so far as to change his because it had the word “Hajim” in it – a practice previously enforced by the government for children only. On another occasion, a shop owner took an Uyghur book that I was reading, flipped it to a random page, found the word “Hajim” there, and quietly told me that people got locked up for five or ten years now for having books with this word in it. The mass WeChat deletions of foreign friends and contacts are the online manifestation of the fear. One friend claims to have deleted over 400. Another has gone back and forth between adding me and deleting me, before finally deleting me for good and leaving any groups that we were in together. Uyghurs living or studying abroad have also reported being deleted by their Uyghur friends and relatives back in Xinjiang, which – coupled with the danger of calling – has essentially made it impossible for people to support each other during very frightening times. ... In southern Xinjiang, a friend pulled me into his shop to tell me very succinctly that it wasn’t safe for him to talk to foreigners anymore. In the weeks that followed, we would exchange greetings only through body language, then only through eye contact, and then would ultimately ignore each other completely. ... At a time when I was still absorbing Xinjiang’s new reality and struggling to accept it for myself, one of the hardest “rude awakening” moments came while catching up with a friend who worked in Xinjiang’s tourism industry. After chatting for a bit, I remarked on the intense security apparatuses all around the city, in a manner that suggested that I found it all over the top. He, too, had his complaints about the new system, saying how he would be forced to stop and have his ID checked seven times while traveling some 2-3 kilometers on his electric scooter, with each check taking even longer for him especially, because his ID said that he was from out of town. Still, he was quick to add: “But the people all feel really safe now. Before, I used to worry about letting my daughter go to school alone, but now I don’t have to worry.” The words, which almost sounded prepared, stunned me. He then went on to say that this was all to protect the people from terrorism, and that as soon as Russia and the U.S. hurried up and defeated ISIS, all of this would be over. However, when I shared with him my opinion that terrorism could not be defeated with force like this, he was quick to agree with that as well. ... A traveling businessman I talked to in Xinjiang last fall didn’t seem to understand why I asked him if it was safe for him to add me on WeChat. When I told him, quietly and euphemistically, that the “situation was not good right now” (weziyet yaxshi emes), he shook his head and said that he didn’t know much about any of that. It was a rare and puzzling thing to hear. When I saw him again this year, however, he was telling me that he would no longer travel to southern Xinjiang on business, as all the towns were empty (adem yoq) and there was no business to be done. He was going to try his luck in northern Xinjiang, he said. ... More sad than comical were the displays that took place online at the time of the 19th Party Congress, when Uyghur friends who hardly spoke any Mandarin suddenly started posting long messages in fluent Mandarin praising Xi Jinping and the Congress. A few months later, I also heard of there being a WeChat applet that easily allowed someone to fasheng liangjian (“to clearly demonstrate one’s stance” or, literally, “to speak forth and flash one’s sword”), plugging their name into a prepared Mandarin- or Uyghur-language statement that pledged one’s loyalty to the Communist Party and its leaders, promised to uphold core socialist values, and expressed – among other things – one’s determination in upholding “ethnic harmony” while standing opposed to radicalism. The generated image file could then be readily posted on their social network of choice as a show of loyalty. 2018-07-31 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur Australian woman breaks her silence as her husband is sentenced to 25 years in a Chinese jail in Xinjiang

ABC Australia Grace Tobin, Samuel Yang April 19, 2021

Melbourne woman Mehray Mezensof has been married for five years, but her husband has been absent for most of that time. Instead, he has been in and out of detention centres and concentration camps...

Destruction of the Family Internment Surveillance Internment conditions Pretexts for Detention Restricting communication Grace Tobin, Samuel Yang Uyghur Australian woman breaks her silence as her husband is sentenced to 25 years in a Chinese jail in Xinjiang all abc-australia ABC Australia all destruction-of-the-family internment surveillance all internment-conditions pretexts-for-detention restricting-communication Melbourne woman Mehray Mezensof has been married for five years, but her husband has been absent for most of that time. Instead, he has been in and out of detention centres and concentration camps multiple times in China's far north-western region of Xinjiang. ... After marrying in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital city, Ms Mezensof applied for an Australian visa for Mr Taher. The visa was granted on April 1, 2017 . . . The couple's worst fears were realised on the night of April 10, when police came knocking. "They confiscated my husband's passport and one of the first things they asked was, had my husband travelled overseas," Ms Mezensof recalled. "Prior to us getting married, my husband travelled to Turkey and he lived and worked there for about a year so. "So hearing that straightaway, they were just like, OK, we have to continue this at the police station, and then they took him out." He did not return that night. It was the last time Ms Mezensof saw her husband for more than two years. After being questioned by local police for three days, Mr Taher was taken to a detention centre for 10 months before transferring to a concentration camp. Mr Taher was unexpectedly released on May 22, 2019, Ms Mezensof said . . . Mr Taher told her what had occurred behind the high walls of the concentration camp. "He said it was constant brainwashing … it just sounded crazy," Ms Mezensof said. "Learning about the Chinese Communist Party, reading books, and memorising speeches. "After they released him, police officials were still keeping a really close eye on him. "They pretty much called him whenever they got the chance. It was constant surveillance." … [O]n the morning of May 19, 2020, Ms Mezensof noticed something was up: her messages went unanswered for hours. "I was freaking out … every time I'd text, he'd always get back to me," she recalled. "I was constantly calling him and video calling him, and he just wouldn't answer. "Then that was when I found out that [police] had come in and taken him again." She said her husband was detained again on that day and allegedly taken to a camp until August 30, 2020 . . . But only weeks later, Mr Taher was detained for a third time. 7.30 has seen a notice of arrest issued by Hami police in Xinjiang on October 23, 2020. According to the notice, Mr Taher was arrested for the alleged crime of "organising, leading and participating in terrorist organisation" and was detained in Yizhou District's detention centre in Hami, south-east of the capital city Urumqi. . . . "My husband had been sentenced to 25 years prison by the [Chinese Communist Party], all because of time that he spent in Turkey," she said. "In their eyes, what they've convicted him of is separatism. What they've got on him is that when he went to Turkey, [they claim] he basically organised and participated in these kinds of political activities to try and establish an independent country.” "It's just outrageous. The whole reason he went to Turkey was for a holiday, and he ended up really liking it there, so that's why he decided to live and work there for a little bit." 2021-04-19 00:00:00 +0000

China Tries to Counter Xinjiang Backlash With … a Musical?

New York Times Amy Qin April 05, 2021

Last week, the government played up a claim that it had uncovered a plot by Uyghur intellectuals to sow ethnic hatred. CGTN, an international arm of China’s state broadcaster, released a documentar...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Amy Qin China Tries to Counter Xinjiang Backlash With … a Musical? all new-york-times New York Times all internment all pretexts-for-detention Last week, the government played up a claim that it had uncovered a plot by Uyghur intellectuals to sow ethnic hatred. CGTN, an international arm of China’s state broadcaster, released a documentary on Friday that accused the scholars of writing textbooks that were full of “blood, violence, terrorism and separatism.” The books had been approved for use in elementary and middle schools in Xinjiang for more than a decade. Then in 2016, shortly before the crackdown started, they were suddenly deemed subversive. The documentary accuses the intellectuals of having distorted historical facts, citing, for example, the inclusion of a historical photo of Ehmetjan Qasim, a leader of a short-lived independent state in Xinjiang in the late 1940s. “It’s just absurd,” said Kamalturk Yalqun, whose father, Yalqun Rozi, a prominent Uyghur scholar, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018 for attempted subversion for his involvement with the textbooks. He said that a photo of Mr. Rozi shown in the film was the first time he had seen his father in five years. 2021-04-05 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

He has ordered police depots with flashing lights and foot patrols be built every 500 meters (yards)— a total of 1,130, according to the Hotan government. The AP saw cavalcades of more than 40 armo...

Surveillance Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all surveillance all He has ordered police depots with flashing lights and foot patrols be built every 500 meters (yards)— a total of 1,130, according to the Hotan government. The AP saw cavalcades of more than 40 armored vehicles including full personnel carriers rumble down city boulevards. Police checkpoints on every other block stop cars to check identification and smartphones for religious content. Shopkeepers in the thronging bazaar don mandatory armored vests and helmets to sell hand-pulled noodles, tailored suits and baby clothes. Xinjiang’s published budget data from January to August shows public security spending this year is on track to increase 50 percent from 2016 to roughly 45 billion yuan ($6.8 billion) after rising 40 percent a year ago. It’s quadrupled since 2009, a watershed year when a Uighur riot broke out in Xinjiang, leaving nearly 200 members of China’s Han ethnic majority dead, and security began to ratchet up." 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

Hours after visiting the Hotan bazaar, AP reporters were stopped outside a hotel by a police officer who said the public security bureau had been remotely tracking the reporters’ movements. “There...

Surveillance Restricting journalism Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all surveillance all restricting-journalism Hours after visiting the Hotan bazaar, AP reporters were stopped outside a hotel by a police officer who said the public security bureau had been remotely tracking the reporters’ movements. “There are tens of thousands of cameras here,” said the officer, who gave his name as Tushan. “The moment you took your first step in this city, we knew.” 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

Since 2016, local authorities had assigned ten families including theirs to spy on one another in a new system of collective monitoring, and those families had also been punished because he escaped...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all surveillance all civilian-informants Since 2016, local authorities had assigned ten families including theirs to spy on one another in a new system of collective monitoring, and those families had also been punished because he escaped. Members from each were sent to re-education centers for three months, he told the AP. 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

A document obtained by U.S.-based activists and reviewed by the AP show Uighur residents in the Hebei Road West neighborhood in Urumqi, the regional capital, being graded on a 100-point scale. Thos...

Surveillance Grading/scoring system Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all surveillance all grading-scoring-system A document obtained by U.S.-based activists and reviewed by the AP show Uighur residents in the Hebei Road West neighborhood in Urumqi, the regional capital, being graded on a 100-point scale. Those of Uighur ethnicity are automatically docked 10 points. Being aged between 15 and 55, praying daily, or having a religious education, all result in 10 point deductions. In the final columns, each Uighur resident’s score is tabulated and checked “trusted,” “ordinary,” or “not trusted.” Activists say they anecdotally hear about Uighurs with low scores being sent to indoctrination. At the neighborhood police office, a woman who gave her surname as Tao confirmed that every community committee in Urumqi, not just Hebei Road West, needed to conduct similar assessments. She said there were no statistics on how many residents had been deemed “not trusted,” nor were there official procedures to deal with them. 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

What pains most, Uighurs abroad say, is the self-imposed barrier of silence that separates them from loved ones, making efforts to say happy birthday or find out whether a relative is detained risk...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication What pains most, Uighurs abroad say, is the self-imposed barrier of silence that separates them from loved ones, making efforts to say happy birthday or find out whether a relative is detained risky. When Salih Hudayar, an American Uighur graduate student, last called his 70-something grandfather this summer, he spoke in cryptic but reassuring tones. “Our phones will not work anymore,” his grandfather said. “So, don’t try calling and don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine as long as you’re all fine.” He later heard from a cousin in Kyrgyzstan that his grandfather had been sent to re-education. 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

A Uighur student who moved to Washington following the crackdown this summer said that after his move, his wife, a government worker still in Urumqi, messaged to say the police would show up at her...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Civilian Informants Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication civilian-informants A Uighur student who moved to Washington following the crackdown this summer said that after his move, his wife, a government worker still in Urumqi, messaged to say the police would show up at her home in 20 minutes. She had to say goodbye: after that she would delete him permanently from her contacts list. A month later he received calls on WhatsApp from a man who introduced himself as Ekber, a Uighur official from the international cooperation office of the Xinjiang regional public security bureau, who wanted him to work for them in the U.S. — and warned him against saying no. “If you’re not working for us then you’re working for someone else. That’s not a road you want to take,” he snapped. A week after that, he couldn’t help himself placing one last call home. His daughter picked up. “Mom is sick but she doesn’t want me to speak to you. Goodbye,” she said. 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish

AP Gerry Shih December 17, 2017

Nobody knows what happened to the Uighur student after he returned to China from Egypt and was taken away by police. Not his village neighbors in China’s far west, who haven’t seen him in months. ...

Destruction of the Family Gerry Shih Surveillance cams, face scans help China make thousands vanish all ap AP all destruction-of-the-family all Nobody knows what happened to the Uighur student after he returned to China from Egypt and was taken away by police. Not his village neighbors in China’s far west, who haven’t seen him in months. Not his former classmates, who fear Chinese authorities beat him to death. Not his mother, who lives in a two-story house at the far end of a country road, alone behind walls bleached by the desert sun. She opened the door one afternoon for an unexpected visit by Associated Press reporters, who showed her a picture of a handsome young man posing in a park, one arm in the wind. “Yes, that’s him,” she said as tears began streaming down her face. “This is the first time I’ve heard anything of him in seven months. What happened?” “Is he dead or alive?” 2017-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture

Washington Post Simon Denyer May 17, 2018

There, he faced seemingly endless brainwashing and humiliation, he said in an interview, and was forced to study communist propaganda for hours every day and chant slogans giving thanks and wishing...

Internment Internment conditions Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Simon Denyer Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture all washington-post Washington Post all internment all internment-conditions forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays There, he faced seemingly endless brainwashing and humiliation, he said in an interview, and was forced to study communist propaganda for hours every day and chant slogans giving thanks and wishing long life to President Xi Jinping. “Those who disobeyed the rules, refused to be on duty, engaged in fights or were late for studies were placed in handcuffs and ankle cuffs for up to 12 hours,” he said. Further disobedience would result in waterboarding or long periods strapped in agony in a metal contraption known as a “tiger chair,” Samarkand said, a punishment he said he suffered. The 30-year-old stayed in a dormitory with 14 other men. After the room was searched every morning, he said, the day began with two hours of study on subjects including “the spirit of the 19th Party Congress,” where Xi expounded his political dogma in a three-hour speech, and China’s policies on minorities and religion. Inmates would sing communist songs, chant “Long live Xi Jinping” and do military-style training in the afternoon before writing accounts of their day, he said. Bekali described a day that would begin with a flag-raising ceremony at 6:30 a.m., followed by a rendition of one or more “red” songs praising the communist revolution. After breakfast, inmates would spend 10 minutes thanking the Communist Party and Xi for providing everything for the people, from food and drink to their livelihoods. Inmates had to learn the national anthem and red songs, he said, as well as slogans condemning the “three evil forces” of separatism, extremism and terrorism. “There were so many things to recite, and if you couldn’t recite them, they wouldn’t allow you to eat, sleep or sit,” he said. “They brainwash you; you must become like a robot. Listen to whatever the party says, listen to the party’s words, follow the party.” Some inmates committed suicide, Bekali said. Both men said the food was poor, with meat infrequent and food poisoning not uncommon. Inmates sometimes were forced to eat pork, forbidden in Islam, as punishment, while Bekali said those accused of being “religious extremists” also were forced to drink alcohol. 2018-05-17 00:00:00 +0000

Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture

Washington Post Simon Denyer May 17, 2018

Kayrat Samarkand says his only “crime” was being a Muslim who had visited neighboring Kazakhstan. On that basis alone, he was detained by police, aggressively interrogated for three days, then disp...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Internment conditions Simon Denyer Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture all washington-post Washington Post all internment all pretexts-for-detention internment-conditions Kayrat Samarkand says his only “crime” was being a Muslim who had visited neighboring Kazakhstan. On that basis alone, he was detained by police, aggressively interrogated for three days, then dispatched in November to a “reeducation camp” in China’s western province of Xinjiang for three months. Samarkand said 5,700 people were detained in just one camp in the village of Karamagay, almost all ethnic Kazakhs and Uighurs, and not a single person from China’s Han majority ethnic group. About 200 were suspected of being “religious extremists,” he said, but others had been abroad for work or university, received phone calls from abroad, or simply had been seen worshiping at a mosque. His account was corroborated by Omir Bekali, an ethnic Kazakh who was working in a tourism company in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, until he was arrested by police on a visit to see his parents in the village of Shanshan in March 2017. Four days of interrogation, during which he was prevented from sleeping, were followed by seven months in a police cell and 20 days in a reeducation camp in the city of Karamay, he said. He was given no trial, he said, nor was he granted access to a lawyer. Bekali said he met doctors, lawyers and teachers in the camps, while Radio Free Asia (RFA) has reported that wealthy business executives, 80-year-olds and breast-feeding mothers have been among the detainees. One of the best-known detainees is a Uighur soccer player, Erfan Hezim, 19, a former member of China’s youth soccer team and now a forward for Chinese Super League team Jiangsu Suning. Hezim, also known by his Chinese name Ye Erfan, was detained in February while visiting his parents in Xinjiang, according to RFA, on the pretext that he had visited foreign countries, although he had reportedly traveled abroad only to train and take part in soccer matches. 2018-05-17 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur in Xinjiang ‘Vocational Training’ Video Identified as Educated Professional

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes July 25, 2019

A Uyghur man portrayed in a video by official Chinese media as a successful example of “vocational training” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is a university-schooled architect who h...

Internment Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Uyghur in Xinjiang ‘Vocational Training’ Video Identified as Educated Professional all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all A Uyghur man portrayed in a video by official Chinese media as a successful example of “vocational training” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is a university-schooled architect who held a lucrative job prior to his detention, according to a former classmate. Rejepniyaz Hebibulla, a Uyghur from Qaraqash (in Chinese, Moyu) county, in the XUAR’s Hotan (Hetian) prefecture, attended high school in Jiangsu province’s capital Nanjing and Xidian University in Shaanxi province’s capital Xi’an, where he graduated with a degree in architectural engineering. He was then hired back home as the lead computer programmer for the Alrazi Food Production Co., schoolmate Nurmemet Ahmet recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service. Despite his educational and professional achievements, Ahmet said that Hebibulla was detained in one of the XUAR’s internment camps, where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017, but which Beijing describes as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training and protect the country from terrorism. ... In the video, a reporter interviews a “student” at one of the internment camps in Qaraqash named Alahan Yusufu, who is studying how to “shop online.” “The first thing Alahan did, once he learned how to shop online, was to buy his mother a jacket,” the reporter tells the audience, before Yusufu explains that he is “studying very hard” and wants to “master this course, so that when I leave here I can go help the people in my neighborhood to purchase things on the internet.” “At the start of the video, [Hebibulla’s] photo is shown, and in a later scene, he is shown working at a computer,” Ahmet, who fled the XUAR to Turkey in December 2016 and now lives in Germany, told RFA about his friend. “He is very knowledgeable about the operation of computers and doesn’t need training on how to shop online … His Chinese is impeccable, and his English is nearly perfect as well, so there is no situation in which he would require any training in a camp.” 2019-07-25 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese company leaves Muslim-tracking facial recognition database exposed online

ZDNet Catalin Cimpanu February 14, 2019

One of the facial recognition databases that the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months, a Dutch secu...

Surveillance Use of technology Catalin Cimpanu Chinese company leaves Muslim-tracking facial recognition database exposed online all zdnet ZDNet all surveillance all use-of-technology One of the facial recognition databases that the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months, a Dutch security researcher told ZDNet. Gevers told ZDNet that the database contained information on 2,565724 users, along with a stream of GPS coordinates that came in at a rapid pace. The user data wasn't just benign usernames, but highly detailed and highly sensitive information that someone would usually find on an ID card, Gevers said. The researcher saw user profiles with information such as names, ID card numbers, ID card issue date, ID card expiration date, sex, nationality, home addresses, dates of birth, photos, and employer. For each user, there was also a list of GPS coordinates, locations where that user had been seen. The database also contained a list of "trackers" and associated GPS coordinates. Based on the company's website, these trackers appear to be the locations of public cameras from where video had been captured and was being analyzed. Some of the descriptive names associated with the "trackers" contained terms such as "mosque," "hotel," "police station," "internet cafe," "restaurant," and other places where public cameras would normally be found. Gevers told ZDNet that these coordinates were all located in China's Xinjiang province, the home of China's Uyghur Muslim minority population. The database that Gevers found wasn't just some dead servers with old data. The researcher said that during the past 24 hours a stream of nearly 6.7 million GPS coordinates were recorded, meaning the database was actively tracking Uyghur Muslims as they moved around. 2019-02-14 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

Some home visits are for inspection purposes, to find religious items. Documents show police searching for religious books and removing prayer mats and even, as mentioned in a July 2018 police docu...

Religious Persecution Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all religious-persecution all Some home visits are for inspection purposes, to find religious items. Documents show police searching for religious books and removing prayer mats and even, as mentioned in a July 2018 police document, a picture of the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The documents indicate this effort originates from 2018 and is connected to a government initiative known as the “three cleanups” to encourage people to purge material considered extremist from their homes. “In the past two years, there has been a drastic lowering of religious practitioners and there is no one who holds a public sector job who practices or even goes to pray in the mosque . . . The jurisdiction strictly followed the anti-extremism work ordered by the regional officer, increased the strength of anti-extremism advocacy and conducted “three cleaning" activities. The population in the jurisdiction became more aware and the practitioner group as a whole had transformation in its thought process . . . Since the beginning of the 2017 Strike Down and Detain operation, the problematic people in the jurisdiction have been either detained or reeducated. The total population has decreased.” “Practitioners in the jurisdiction reflected that they have heard if they exceeded 200 attendance at the mosque they will be going to re-education, therefore they are afraid to go to the mosque for prayers.” Authorities surveil mosque attendance, tally which worshippers are migrants and which are residents, and monitor whether prayers are conducted in an orderly way, according to police reports in the database. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

[C]itizens are rewarded for reporting on one another . . . Informants are rewarded for passing along information, but people are also rewarded for more specific actions. Linking their WeChat accoun...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance all civilian-informants [C]itizens are rewarded for reporting on one another . . . Informants are rewarded for passing along information, but people are also rewarded for more specific actions. Linking their WeChat account, passing a verification, and posting an image can all result in a cash reward. In addition to drafting ordinary citizens individually to report on neighbors, authorities in Xinjiang also organized them through more formal community groups known as “safety units” or “brigades” . . . 10 households or 10 businesses might be organized as a brigade, with one volunteer from each group responding to calls like an emergency medical technician and doing drills in opposition to “terrorism.” 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

The authorities also monitor phone calls between detainees and their family members back home. One document detailed such a call that lasted four minutes and 20 seconds, describing the contents of ...

Surveillance Destruction of the Family Civilian Informants Restricting communication Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance destruction-of-the-family all civilian-informants restricting-communication The authorities also monitor phone calls between detainees and their family members back home. One document detailed such a call that lasted four minutes and 20 seconds, describing the contents of the conversation and how grateful the relatives were that the government allowed it. In many cases, relatives were asked to record their call and share it with the police, or they were interviewed immediately after to see how they were doing after the call. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Sources say China used iPhone hacks to target Uyghur Muslims

TechCrunch Zack Whittaker August 31, 2019

A number of malicious websites used to hack into iPhones over a two-year period were targeting Uyghur Muslims, TechCrunch has learned. Sources familiar with the matter said the websites were part ...

Surveillance Use of technology Zack Whittaker Sources say China used iPhone hacks to target Uyghur Muslims all techcrunch TechCrunch all surveillance all use-of-technology A number of malicious websites used to hack into iPhones over a two-year period were targeting Uyghur Muslims, TechCrunch has learned. Sources familiar with the matter said the websites were part of a state-backed attack — likely China — designed to target the Uyghur community in the country’s Xinjiang state. ... The websites were part of a campaign to target the religious group by infecting an iPhone with malicious code simply by visiting a booby-trapped web page. In gaining unfettered access to the iPhone’s software, an attacker could read a victim’s messages, passwords, and track their location in near-real time. 2019-08-31 00:00:00 +0000

A Holiday in Xinjiang

Diplomat Ruth Ingram February 04, 2019

Yet an alarm somewhere must have sounded within a couple of seconds of us entering the bus station. Out of nowhere the home guard surrounded us, their medieval pole-arms at the ready. Scary though ...

Surveillance Ruth Ingram A Holiday in Xinjiang all diplomat Diplomat all surveillance all Yet an alarm somewhere must have sounded within a couple of seconds of us entering the bus station. Out of nowhere the home guard surrounded us, their medieval pole-arms at the ready. Scary though this was, the idea that 21st century China was protecting its people with relics from the 10th century was, once my heart beat had returned to normal, somewhat comical. One of the guards surreally brandished his boat-hook-tipped staff with a broad smile on his face. The others were made of sterner stuff; they glared at us, brandishing variously a body restrainer, a metal pole decorated with two feet of jagged nails at right angles to each other, a red-tipped spear, and the usual clubs and riot shields. We were surrounded and trapped. This was week two of our holiday to Xinjiang, the Muslim Uyghur region of northwest China. There was a surreal feel about our days in Xinjiang. An innocent wander down a mud-walled alleyway, soaking up antiquity, could be hijacked in an instant by yelling, baton-thrusting young police cadets coming out of nowhere. They would sprint past the tourists, position themselves in formation nearby, advance toward an invisible foe, spears at the ready, and finally stab the air for all they are worth. Regardless of the effect this might have on an unsuspecting foreigner drinking in the evening air, the drills, the whistle-blowing, and the mock stabbings and garottings of each other continue apace. While Uyghur residents’ ID’s are checked everywhere they go, tourists and Han Chinese are waved through with smiles. Uyghurs going to work are ordered off city buses during trips across town while Han Chinese and holiday makers continue their journey uninterrupted. Since then the invading armies have melted into the infrastructure, sitting behind razor wire topped iron cages, manning “convenient police stations” built at 500 meter intervals along every street, or stationed inside parked armed personnel carriers blazing sirens 24/7. Streets and markets are patrolled by lines of weapon-wielding new recruits wearing bullet proof vests and tin helmets, and carrying riot shields and restraining poles. Whenever a whistle blows in loud short bursts, they all run in one direction, huddle behind shields and face the invading army. Of course there is no enemy and no invading army, but the trick is to instill such suspicion, terror, and tension in every member of society that they believe there is, or could be at any moment. “Protected” from invisible threats from supposed Islamists, splittists who are struggling for independence, and Uyghur “terrorists,” which had deterred Han Chinese from coming here before, they now wander around, huge lenses dangling from their necks, posing with the few remaining nan sellers and local craftsmen and waving “victory” salutes with smiling faces. Oblivious to the fact that now at least one-third to half the homes are padlocked, with the owners “gone away” and there are disproportionately more children and elderly people on the streets than is normal, they meander unquestioningly 2019-02-04 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

Whatever technology misses, humans report. Inside a Uighur store near Ürümqi’s grand bazaar, a document on the wall listed 10 Uighur names and phone numbers linking nearby stores together, along wi...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Restricting journalism Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all surveillance all civilian-informants restricting-journalism Whatever technology misses, humans report. Inside a Uighur store near Ürümqi’s grand bazaar, a document on the wall listed 10 Uighur names and phone numbers linking nearby stores together, along with instructions to spread party doctrine, watch for outsiders and monitor acts threatening “social stability.” In a village on the outskirts of Kashgar, posters announced an upcoming disciplinary inspection of local cadres and welcomed villagers to report any suspicious behavior of the cadres. ... For a year and a half, they lived without hope of release. Her father, weak with heart disease, was hospitalized several times while his children were gone — though he was not detained. Then, one day in 2019, they were suddenly let out. “They all kept watching us after that,” she said. “The neighborhood committee, the officials, the public security, they came to our home every day.” Families like theirs, who once had contact with academic colleagues abroad, were under heightened scrutiny. They were warned never to speak to foreigners without the presence of officials. 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

The Missing: The families torn apart by China's campaign of cultural genocide.

ABC Australia Sophie McNeill July 14, 2019

This is Lutfy. He is an Australian citizen but he and his mother, Nadila, have been trapped in China's far-western Xinjiang region and banned from leaving ever since he was born. Lutfy's father Sa...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Sophie McNeill The Missing: The families torn apart by China's campaign of cultural genocide. all abc-australia ABC Australia all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication This is Lutfy. He is an Australian citizen but he and his mother, Nadila, have been trapped in China's far-western Xinjiang region and banned from leaving ever since he was born. Lutfy's father Sadam lives in Australia. He has never met his son and he hasn't seen his wife for two years. He's desperate for the Chinese government to let them leave Xinjiang and join him. Sadam and his family are Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority who have been rounded up, detained and forcibly indoctrinated by the Chinese government. These Uyghurs live in Australia, but all of them are missing someone in Xinjiang. Rukaiya, 4, and Abdulrahman, 5, are missing their mother and their six-year-old brother Imran. Fatimah Abdulghafur is missing her entire family. This is the last photo they took together. Their phones have been disconnected. Yakub Salay, 70, is missing his 42-year-old daughter Mahira. She is a widow with three children. Almas Nizamidin's wife and mother have been arrested. His wife has now been sentenced to seven years in jail. Horigul Yusuf, 53, is missing more than 30 relatives, including her two younger brothers and this younger sister. Isia Wahas believes her only son Faruk is being held in a camp near Urumqi. Yusuf Hussein is missing two brothers, three sisters and his 86-year-old father. Shadiya Aziz is missing her 35-year-old brother. Turshun Mollaisa, 69, is missing his nephew. Yusuf Aziz and Nisa Abraham are both missing family members, including Yusuf's two sons from his first marriage. They are seven and four years old. His ex-wife has been taken to a camp. Shawket Ablikem's wife is trapped in Kashgar. The Chinese authorities have seized her passport. Sharon Hasan's younger sister Sharifa has been missing since 2017. She is afraid for the welfare of her sister's four-year-old daughter. Dolkin Ablat, 44, is missing his four brothers. Elminur, 21, is missing her cousin. He was the assistant imam at the mosque in the city of Ghulja. Islam has effectively been outlawed in Xinjiang. Azmat Omarhoje, 37, is missing his father, stepmother, three brothers and two sisters. He says more than 20 of his nieces and nephews are also missing. 2019-07-14 00:00:00 +0000

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen

Der Spiegel Bernhard Zand July 26, 2018

Just after noon, when it's time for Friday prayers, the square in front of the huge Id Kah Mosque lies empty. There's no muezzin piercing the air, just a gentle buzz on the rare occasion that someo...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Use of technology Bernhard Zand A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all surveillance religious-persecution all use-of-technology Just after noon, when it's time for Friday prayers, the square in front of the huge Id Kah Mosque lies empty. There's no muezzin piercing the air, just a gentle buzz on the rare occasion that someone passes through the metal detector at the entrance to the mosque. Dozens of surveillance cameras overlook the square. 2018-07-26 00:00:00 +0000

Even China’s ‘Model’ Uyghurs Aren’t Safe

Diplomat Kelly Ng March 14, 2019

“All our lives we have lived as ‘model Chinese citizens.’ We studied Mandarin, my mother was a civil servant for decades, and I’d fallen in love with and got married to a Han Chinese man,” lamented...

Internment Destruction of the Family Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Restricting communication Kelly Ng Even China’s ‘Model’ Uyghurs Aren’t Safe all diplomat Diplomat all internment destruction-of-the-family forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language restricting-communication “All our lives we have lived as ‘model Chinese citizens.’ We studied Mandarin, my mother was a civil servant for decades, and I’d fallen in love with and got married to a Han Chinese man,” lamented Isaac, who is now living in exile in Sweden. “And yet it has happened to us. Why?” ... “It doesn’t matter if you are Uyghur and American, Uyghur and a public servant, or a Uyghur [who] speaks Mandarin as your first language. As long as you a Uyghur, you will be targeted.” ... Alfred Uyghur, whose parents were strong proponents of a Mandarin-medium education, also wound up as targets in the crackdown. Alfred lost contact with them three years ago, shortly after he started college education in the United States. He recently found out that his mother had been detained in a camp in 2017, while his father was sentenced to 11 years in jail for unexplained reasons. ... participation in the “Xinjiang Class” – a program that funds middle school-aged students from Xinjiang, mostly ethnic Uyghurs, to attend school in predominantly Han populated cities – does not guarantee that the student or his family will be spared “re-education.” “In other words, otherwise upstanding citizens who have been successful in ‘Chinese’ society are being detained simply because of their ethno-religious identities,” he said. ... In 2017, authorities banned the use of the Uyghur language at all education levels, warning that those who violate the order will be severely punished. ... “When I was selected for Xinjiang Class, my parents were so proud and I was psyched as well. But even though I mastered Mandarin, integrating into the mainstream has been difficult due to various forms of discrimination,” he added. ... “I remember a finance professor discussing how to deal with Xinjiang, referring it to a place with undeveloped people, and suggesting that it be turned into a casino center,” ... Byler, who lectures at the University of Washington’s anthropology department, sees the crackdown as the Chinese government’s attempt to eradicate all unique aspects of the Uyghur identity. “I am not hopeful that the identity will continue to survive. I think children of the future generations, especially, might lose touch with their Uyghur heritage or just see it as backward, or lacking,” he said. 2019-03-14 00:00:00 +0000

Islam Dispossessed: China’s Persecution of Uyghur Imams and Religious Figures

Uyghur Human Rights Project Peter Irwin May 13, 2021

Using primary and secondary sources, we have compiled a dataset consisting of 1,046 cases of Turkic imams and other religious figures from East Turkistan detained for their association with religio...

Religious Persecution Pretexts for Detention Peter Irwin Islam Dispossessed: China’s Persecution of Uyghur Imams and Religious Figures all uyghur-human-rights-project Uyghur Human Rights Project all religious-persecution all pretexts-for-detention Using primary and secondary sources, we have compiled a dataset consisting of 1,046 cases of Turkic imams and other religious figures from East Turkistan detained for their association with religious teaching and community leadership since 2014.1 The total cases in the dataset should not, however, be construed as an estimate of the total number imams detained or imprisoned. The total cases we have reviewed likely represent only the very tip of the iceberg, given severe restrictions on access to information. The dataset shows that the government has targeted mostly male Uyghur religious figures born between 1960 and 1980. However, a sizable minority of Kazakh Islamic clergy of roughly the same demographic group have also been detained, as well as several Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Tatar figures, indicating the breadth of persecution. Up to 57 cases in our dataset (5%) concern individuals over the age of 60. The high rate of prison sentences (versus shorter-term camp detentions) in the dataset offers clues about the target and motivation of Chinese government policy in relation to religious figures. That 41% of the individuals in our dataset have been given prison sentences illustrates the intention of the Chinese government not just to criminalize religious expression or practice, but also to consider imams criminals by virtue of their profession. Grounds for imprisonment in the cases we reviewed include “illegal” religious teaching (often to children), prayer outside a state-approved mosque, the possession of “illegal” religious materials, communication or travel abroad, separatism or extremism, and officiating or preaching at weddings and funerals, as well as other charges that simply target religious affiliation. The dataset includes cases of prison sentences of 15 years or more for “teaching others to pray,” “studying for six months in Egypt,” and “refusing to hand in [a] Quran book to be burned,” as well as a life sentence for “spreading the faith and for organizing people.” Some of those detained were once formally sanctioned by the government to serve as imams, suggesting that the imams’ “criminality” is the result of a policy reversal. Several cases also indicate that the government applied retroactive sentences for alleged violations that took place years prior. Our dataset also indicates a major spike in the sentencing of religious figures in 2017, tracking closely with available government data.3 Of the 304 cases we reviewed that included data on length of sentence, 96% included sentences of at least five years, and 25% included sentences of 20 years or more, including 14 life sentences, often on unclear charges. … In addition to placing harsh restrictions on imams and religious figures, and to destroying the physical spaces where they operate, the Chinese government has pursued an extreme campaign to prohibit nearly every Islamic practice foundational to the Uyghur people. In policy and practice, authorities have prohibited the teaching of religion at all levels of education; banned the use of traditional Islamic names like Muhammad and Medina for Uyghur children; banned long beards for Uyghur men and headscarves for Uyghur women; instituted an “anti-halal” campaign to prevent the labeling of food and other products as halal; criminalized Hajj pilgrimage without government approval; and adopted legislation broadly defining quotidian religious practices as “extremist,” which a group of UN independent experts urged to be repealed in its entirety. 2021-05-13 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur love in a time of interethnic marriage

SupChina Darren Byler August 07, 2019

In May 2019, a young Uyghur graduate student in Europe who I’ll refer to as Nurzat received a WeChat video call from his panic-stricken girlfriend in a small city in southern Xinjiang. The young wo...

Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage Darren Byler Uyghur love in a time of interethnic marriage all supchina SupChina all destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage In May 2019, a young Uyghur graduate student in Europe who I’ll refer to as Nurzat received a WeChat video call from his panic-stricken girlfriend in a small city in southern Xinjiang. The young woman, who I’ll call Adila, told him that she would break up with him if he didn’t come back within the next several months to marry her. She said her parents were forcing her to do this. They thought that the risk of her being chosen for marriage by a Han young man was too high. They needed to find a Uyghur husband for her now, in order to protect her. Adila told Nurzat, “Please don’t blame me for doing this. A lot of Uyghur women are rushing to get married now. Everyone is afraid.” Although historical rates of interethnic marriage between Uyghurs and Han Chinese has been a tiny fraction of one percent of Uyghur marriages, since 2018 there has been a notable rise in articles promoting marriage between Han men and Uyghur women. A recently published marriage guide, “How to win the heart of a Uyghur girl,” assumes that the reader is a Han man looking for a Uyghur woman. The author, Yu Longhe, who describes himself as a Han “volunteer” who works for the People’s Production and Construction Corps, begins by describing his impressions of Uyghur women as both stunningly beautiful and exceptionally caring. In doing so, he echoes a long history of Han erotic fantasies of Uyghur women. He notes, however, that it is important to not be so seduced by a Uyghur woman that one forgets to resolutely fight the three evils of “ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism.” To get started, Yu advocates that the Han young man initiate the action by looking for opportunities to select a young Uyghur woman. After establishing a relationship, it is important to get the support of both sets of parents. The way to do this, he suggests, is by involving “social organizations” (社会组织 shehui zuzhi) and “local neighborhood watch cadres” (当地社区干部 dangdi shequ ganbu). While Yu notes that a marriage between a Han man and Uyghur woman is not a “traditional arranged marriage,” presumably since Han men maintain their agency in selecting a Uyghur woman, he nevertheless argues, “In an ‘ethnic’ love marriage, involving a third party (i.e. the government) is particularly important.” He suggests that “coordinating” between these local work units and social security workers will produce “strong backing and support” that cannot be defeated by “religious extremism.” Despite the stories and images of an increase in marriages between Han men and Uyghur women, no one has yet been able to determine the role of coercion in these marriages and their broader effects on Uyghur and Han society in the region. In order to begin to get some answers to these questions, a North America-based Uyghur collaborator I’ll call Abdulla contacted three of his former classmates, all young Uyghur women in southern Xinjiang who he had known for 10 years, to ask them about their love life. The responses he received from the young women, which were assessed by a North America-based female Uyghur researcher, who we refer to as Tumaris, were revealing not in the way they laid out definitive facts of how the process works, but in how it was reshaping their futures. Their accounts should be read simply as three perspectives from Uyghur single women who are being confronted with a changing reality in small Uyghur-majority cities in northwest China. One of the first young women we contacted is someone I’ll call Gulmira, who now lives in a small city in southern Xinjiang. She said that, when it came to the lives of young Uyghur women, intermarriage was one of their most pressing concerns. She wrote, “Recently there are so many people getting married with the relatives.” “Relatives?” we asked. To which Gulmira responded bluntly, using a term that Uyghurs use to refer to Han state workers, “Comrades. Do you understand what I mean?” She was referring to the more than 1.1 million mostly Han civil servants who have been sent to live in Uyghur homes over the past two years. Continuing, Gulimara wrote that even though “people in the older generation don’t accept (these marriages with ‘comrades’), it has increased a lot. I don’t know if they are (doing it willingly) or not. I’m not in touch very much with those that have gone through with it. I think they must be doing it willingly. It seems like their families wouldn’t force them to do this. There are so many of them (that I personally know).” Gulmira’s responses confirmed something that we heard from many members of the Uyghur community. Because it was seen as deeply shameful in the Uyghur community, both in Xinjiang and around the world, Uyghurs do not openly discuss why the number of marriages between Uyghur women and Han men have increased. Yet as we pressed her further, she began to reveal some of the ways in which pressure, if not coercion, has been exerted on Uyghur women to consider Han partners. “Are you also thinking about (marrying a Han man) too?” we asked. Gulmira responded, “Not now. I’ll delay it as long as I can by buying some time.” Sensing that, in her mind, her eventual marriage to a Han man seemed inevitable, we asked, “Are there activities to date ‘comrades’?” Gulmira rplied, “There are so many of these.” In her message, Gulmira emphasized this by adding an intensifier to the word “many” (Uy: jikku) to make clear that these activities were happening all the time. “OMG, I can’t believe this,” Abdulla said, and then, using the common euphemism for the reeducation camps, asked, “If people say no to dating, will you go to ‘study’?” Gulmira wrote: “Maybe even worse than ‘study.’” She said that her employer regularly organized “dance parties” on Friday evenings for the Uyghur women and Han “comrades” who worked at her firm. She wrote that she and other young women she knew tried to come up with excuses to not attend, ranging from feeling sick to having a date with a boyfriend. She said that the excuses had to be convincing or else her boss would become suspicious. ... Some of these dynamics are also a product of the removal of a significant percentage of young Uyghur men from Uyghur social life. Another young woman who we will call Bahar pointed out that this absence adds to the new social pressure to marry Han men. In a series of text messages, she wrote that because so many young Uyghur men have been interned in her small city in southern Xinjiang, it is difficult for her to find a willing Uyghur marriage partner. Bahar noted that nearly all the Uyghur men who remained outside the camps worked as informants or low-level police officers and had low moral character. Many of them took advantage of the desperation of unmarried Uyghur women. Although Uyghur people often note that forms of patriarchy and male infidelity have been widespread in Uyghur society for decades, Bahar said that these forms of sexism have significantly worsened over the past several years. She wrote, “The cheating is getting worse, because there are fewer and fewer men. Now there are many women who are over 30 who are still not married or who have lost their spouse. This has created a huge imbalance. That is why so many of ‘our’ girls are getting married with these ‘comrades.’” Another one of Abdulla’s classmates, Rizwangul, confirmed that, in her small city, a similar dynamic was happening. But, unlike Bahar, she said she had a prospect that helped stave off her desperation. Rizwangul wrote, “There is a Hui boy chasing after me. He is so nice to me, I think he will cherish me in the future. He is nice to me and has a good personality. I am thinking as long as he does not create sorrows for me and makes me happy, that is good enough.” ... Rizwangul had consigned herself to a “good enough” marriage with a man from another minority ethnic group, which, while not Uyghur, was at least Muslim." Many of the state-approved online testimonials of marriages between Han men and Uyghur women seem to follow the trajectory outlined in the guide “How to win the heart of a Uyghur girl.” A Han security worker chooses a Uyghur woman, initiates contact, works with local authorities to convince the families to agree, and the marriage commences with gifts provided by local authorities. In nearly every published wedding narrative, the presence and support of local cadres and the visiting “relatives” is a major feature. For instance, in this double wedding of twin Uyghur sisters in Yeken to a Han volunteer and local Uyghur young man, the “county civil affairs bureau, town government cadres, the visiting ‘relative’ cadres, and the armed police all came to give their blessings.” In another wedding story, a young Han construction worker from Gansu who had recently joined the People’s Production and Construction Corps spotted a Uyghur young woman working in the cotton fields. With gifts totaling 2,000 yuan ($290) and the backing of the township Party committee, the county-level cooperative, the “relatives” task force, and a religious management committee, the young man successfully married the young woman. In a short speech that repeated the terms “ethnic solidarity” (民族团结 mínzú tuánjié) 10 times, Jiang Tao, deputy secretary of the township party committee, told them they were a “model” for the township. The thoughts of the deputy secretary were echoed in an essay published by the Chinese State Religious Network by an anthropologist named Mou Tao, who had “volunteered” (志愿 zhìyuàn) to work in the Uyghur reeducation system in Khotan prefecture. Drawing on her training at Minzu University in Beijing, she argued that “inter-ethnic marriage was a very important step in achieving national unity” because the marriage was not simply the joining of two people, but a relationship between two families. She posited that the main force keeping Uyghurs apart from Han was the “three evil forces.” In a line of argument that resonates with an influential study from the retired Peking University professor Ma Rong, one of the academic architects along with Hu Lianhe and Hu Angang of the state’s approach to Uyghur reeducation, Mou argued that inter-ethnic marriage should be normalized. She ends the essay with the following policy suggestions: In the future, we must impose strict punishment on irresponsible remarks regarding marriages between young Uyghur and Han men and women and prevent isolation and threats toward those who intermarry. The government must also introduce relevant policies and measures to ensure the regular communication between young Uyghur and Han men and women. In addition to creating a good social atmosphere, appropriate rewards should also be given to the marriage of Uyghurs and Han; and care and preferential policies should be given to the children that come from Uyghur and Han marriages which face more social pressure. This essay appears to encourage the institutionalization of the pressures that confront Adila and many other Uyghur women to marry Han men. Work units, neighborhood watch cadres, and visiting relatives are creating social situations and career-enhancing rewards for young Han men to pursue Uyghur women, while at the same time punishing those that speak badly or strive to prevent these interethnic marriages. In May 2019, Xinjiang authorities announced that the children of mixed-ethnicity marriages in which one parent is Han would receive 20 extra points on college entrance exams, while children in which both parents are ethnic minorities would only receive 15 (cut down from 50 points, a 70 percent decrease). At a time when many people across China think of Uyghur men as potential terrorists and Uyghur women as potential fashion models, a new interethnic sexual politics is being institutionalized across Xinjiang. The exoticization of ethnic minority women by Han sex tourists has long been a feature in Chinese popular culture, but the active pairing of Han men with Uyghur women by state authorities marks a departure. It is one of the first times that minority women have become the sexual target of state institutions. 2019-08-07 00:00:00 +0000

'Some are just psychopaths': Chinese detective in exile reveals extent of torture against Uyghurs

CNN Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson, Zahid Mahmood, Tom Booth October 05, 2021

The raids started after midnight in Xinjiang. Hundreds of police officers armed with rifles went house to house in Uyghur communities in the far western region of China, pulling people from their ...

Internment Internment conditions Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson, Zahid Mahmood, Tom Booth 'Some are just psychopaths': Chinese detective in exile reveals extent of torture against Uyghurs all cnn CNN all internment all internment-conditions The raids started after midnight in Xinjiang. Hundreds of police officers armed with rifles went house to house in Uyghur communities in the far western region of China, pulling people from their homes, handcuffing and hooding them, and threatening to shoot them if they resisted, a former Chinese police detective tells CNN. "We took (them) all forcibly overnight," he said. "If there were hundreds of people in one county in this area, then you had to arrest these hundreds of people." The ex-detective turned whistleblower asked to be identified only as Jiang, to protect his family members who remain in China. In a three-hour interview with CNN, conducted in Europe where he is now in exile, Jiang revealed rare details on what he described as a systematic campaign of torture against ethnic Uyghurs in the region's detention camp system, claims China has denied for years. "Kick them, beat them (until they're) bruised and swollen," Jiang said, recalling how he and his colleagues used to interrogate detainees in police detention centers. "Until they kneel on the floor crying." During his time in Xinjiang, Jiang said every new detainee was beaten during the interrogation process -- including men, women and children as young as 14. The methods included shackling people to a metal or wooden "tiger chair" -- chairs designed to immobilize suspects -- hanging people from the ceiling, sexual violence, electrocutions, and waterboarding. Inmates were often forced to stay awake for days, and denied food and water, he said. "Everyone uses different methods. Some even use a wrecking bar, or iron chains with locks," Jiang said. "Police would step on the suspect's face and tell him to confess." The suspects were accused of terror offenses, said Jiang, but he believes that "none" of the hundreds of prisoners he was involved in arresting had committed a crime. "They are ordinary people," he said. The torture in police detention centers only stopped when the suspects confessed, Jiang said. Then they were usually transferred to another facility, like a prison or an internment camp manned by prison guards. … The first time Jiang was deployed to Xinjiang, he said he was eager to travel there to help defeat a terror threat he was told could threaten his country. After more than 10 years in the police force, he was also keen for a promotion. He said his boss had asked him to take the post, telling him that "separatist forces want to split the motherland. We must kill them all." Jiang said he was deployed "three or four" times from his usual post in mainland China to work in several areas of Xinjiang during the height of China's "Strike Hard" anti-terror campaign. ... But quickly, Jiang became disillusioned with his new job -- and the purpose of the crackdown. "I was surprised when I went for the first time," Jiang said. "There were security checks everywhere. Many restaurants and places are closed. Society was very intense." During the routine overnight operations, Jiang said they would be given lists of names of people to round up, as part of orders to meet official quotas on the numbers of Uyghurs to detain. "It's all planned, and it has a system," Jiang said. "Everyone needs to hit a target." If anyone resisted arrest, the police officers would "hold the gun against his head and say do not move. If you move, you will be killed." He said teams of police officers would also search people's houses and download the data from their computers and phones. Another tactic was to use the area's neighborhood committee to call the local population together for a meeting with the village chief, before detaining them en masse. Describing the time as a "combat period," Jiang said officials treated Xinjiang like a war zone, and police officers were told that Uyghurs were enemies of the state. He said it was common knowledge among police officers that 900,000 Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities were detained in the region in a single year. Jiang said if he had resisted the process, he would have been arrested, too. Inside the police detention centers, the main goal was to extract a confession from detainees, with sexual torture being one of the tactics, Jiang said. "If you want people to confess, you use the electric baton with two sharp tips on top," Jiang said. "We would tie two electrical wires on the tips and set the wires on their genitals while the person is tied up." He admitted he often had to play "bad cop" during interrogations but said he avoided the worst of the violence, unlike some of his colleagues. "Some people see this as a job, some are just psychopaths," he said. One "very common measure" of torture and dehumanization was for guards to order prisoners to rape and abuse the new male inmates, Jiang said. 2021-10-05 00:00:00 +0000

China compels Uighurs to work in shoe factory that supplies Nike

Washington Post Anna Fifield February 29, 2020

LAIXI, China — The workers in standard-issue blue jackets stitch and glue and press together about 8 million pairs of Nikes each year at Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co., a Nike supplier for more than 30...

Internment Forced Labor Restricting journalism Restricting communication Restrictions on movement Anna Fifield China compels Uighurs to work in shoe factory that supplies Nike all washington-post Washington Post all internment all forced-labor restricting-journalism restricting-communication restrictions-on-movement LAIXI, China — The workers in standard-issue blue jackets stitch and glue and press together about 8 million pairs of Nikes each year at Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co., a Nike supplier for more than 30 years and one of the American brand's largest factories. They churn out pair after pair of Shox, with their springy shock absorbers in the heels, and the signature Air Max, plus seven other lines of sports shoes. But hundreds of these workers did not choose to be here: They are ethnic Uighurs from China’s western Xinjiang region, sent here by local authorities in groups of 50 to toil far from home. “We can walk around, but we can’t go back [to Xinjiang] on our own,” said one Uighur woman in broken Mandarin as she browsed the street stalls at the factory gate on a recent afternoon. Nervous about being seen talking to a reporter, she quickly scurried away. The Uighur workers are afraid or unable to interact with anyone in this town, north of Qingdao, beyond the most superficial of transactions at the stalls or in local stores, vendors say. But the catalyst for their arrival here is well understood. “Everyone knows they didn’t come here of their own free will. They were brought here,” said one fruit-seller as she set up her stall. “The Uighurs had to come because they didn’t have an option. The government sent them here,” another vendor told The Washington Post. The Post did not ask for their names, out of concern for their safety and so they could discuss an issue that is highly sensitive in China. (While visiting Laixi, this Post reporter was surrounded by seven police officers, questioned, and ordered to leave town.) ... At the front gate, the Taekwang factory looks like any other in China. Rows of long buildings sit behind a gate where three flags flutter: the company ensign and a Chinese flag, but also a South Korean one, reflecting the parent company’s home base. Inside, the workers’ ideology and behavior are closely monitored. At a purpose-built “psychological dredging office,” officials from Taekwang’s local women’s federation conduct “heart-to-heart” talks and provide psychological consulting to encourage integration, according to photos of the offices published by state media. Along the side, the facility resembles a prison. There are watchtowers with cameras pointed in all directions and barbed-wire fences atop the walls, which feature Communist Party propaganda posters extolling President Xi Jinping’s “China dream.” “All ethnicities are united as one family,” says one placard. There is a special police station equipped with facial-recognition cameras and other high-tech surveillance that workers must pass through when they enter and exit the factory. The Uighurs are segregated from the Han workers, both physically and by language, according to more than a dozen local merchants and workers who spoke to The Post about the situation inside the factory. “They don’t speak Mandarin, and we never have any interaction. We just happen to work in the same factory,” said one middle-aged Han woman as she left work for the day. “We have two cafeterias,” she said. “Chinese workers eat in one and Xinjiang workers go to a separate one. The Uighur workers are allowed to wander around near the compound, but have to return to their dorms later.” The workers live under the watchful eye of their cadre manager in dormitory buildings opposite the police station. 2020-02-29 00:00:00 +0000

Young Uyghur Tour Director Dies Under Questioning by Xinjiang Authorities: Mother

Radio Free Asia Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes June 24, 2019

A young Uyghur woman who worked as the deputy director of a tourist agency in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has died while being questioned in official custody, accordi...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Internment conditions Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes Young Uyghur Tour Director Dies Under Questioning by Xinjiang Authorities: Mother all radio-free-asia Radio Free Asia all internment all pretexts-for-detention internment-conditions A young Uyghur woman who worked as the deputy director of a tourist agency in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has died while being questioned in official custody, according to a recording of her mother that was secreted out of the country by members of the Uyghur exile community. Authorities in the region had targeted the young woman after she returned from a work trip to Dubai, a country blacklisted by authorities for travel by Uyghurs due to the perceived threat of religious extremism, her mother said. Yasin said the authorities claimed her daughter had a medical condition, and because she was so weak, she was “unable to cope with being questioned.” ... “They forcibly took my hand and made me sign some documents,” she said, adding that she was also made to provide fingerprints before receiving a death certificate from the hospital. Despite Eli’s achievements in her studies, the certificate said that she was a “farmer” who “had never been to school,” and claimed she suffered from four different heart conditions, including arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy, Yasin said. “They washed her and took her away for burial while we were locked up in a room and prevented from entering the courtyard. The cadres and police controlled everything. I learned later that they didn’t allow people to enter the house ... They only allowed three or four people to attend the burial, while the rest were officials.” 2019-06-24 00:00:00 +0000

Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang

The New Yorker Raffi Khatchadourian April 05, 2021

Kuytun, like all Chinese cities, is divided into neighborhood units, each overseen by a Party organization called a residential committee. Although Sabit had not lived there in more than a decade, ...

Forced Assimilation Restrictions on movement Civilian Informants In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Flag-raising/Village meeting Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Use of technology Restricting communication Raffi Khatchadourian Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all forced-assimilation all restrictions-on-movement civilian-informants in-home-surveillance-by-relatives flag-raising-village-meeting forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays use-of-technology restricting-communication Kuytun, like all Chinese cities, is divided into neighborhood units, each overseen by a Party organization called a residential committee. Although Sabit had not lived there in more than a decade, she was still registered with the committee that oversaw her old home. The Party official who had come to the camp to pick her up was the committee’s secretary, Zhang Hongchao. He was middle-aged but boyish, with the affect of an ambitious petty bureaucrat, skilled in pleasing people above him and bullying people below. He often wore Army-issue camouflage, and he kept the neighborhood under close watch. To assure Zhang that she had been reëducated, Sabit spoke of her gratitude to the Party—words that poured out automatically, after countless repetitions. He seemed pleased. “We see you don’t have so many problems,” he said. “You’ve been abroad, that’s your problem.” Then he advised her, “Just stay and do something for your country. Don’t think of going abroad for the next ten years.” Sabit understood that this was not a suggestion. With little more than a nod, Zhang could return her to the camp. ... At her uncle’s home, Zhang and his aide stayed for tea, along with “relatives”—members of a cadre. Sabit’s uncle later told her that, during her internment, he and his family had been designated “focus personnel.” Every week, they had to attend reëducation classes and a flag-raising ceremony at their residential-committee center. Cadre members also visited, staying for meals and urging the family to serve drinks—an indication that they did not obey Muslim strictures on alcohol. Initially, they spent the night, until they realized that they could photograph themselves in different clothes and fake an overnight stay. As the officials sat on floor cushions and sipped tea, Zhang and the head of the cadre explained that Sabit was confined to Kuytun. “We’ll monitor you for some time to see how you’ve transformed,” one of the officials said. Sabit asked if she could shop or see friends, and was told, “You need to be cautious about whom you contact, but you’re allowed to have friends.” The sun set, and the officials stayed for dinner. After they left, Sabit’s aunt recorded a voice message for Sabit’s mother and texted it to her in Kazakhstan; a direct call seemed too risky. Kuytun had become an open-air prison. The city was ringed with checkpoints, where Uyghurs and Kazakhs were forced through scanners, even as Han residents passed freely. “We will implement comprehensive, round-the-clock, three-dimensional prevention and control,” Chen Quanguo had proclaimed while Sabit was in captivity. “We will resolutely achieve no blind spots, no gaps, no blank spots.” The technology was deployed to create a digital-age apartheid. [I[t soon became clear that there was nowhere Sabit could walk without being detained. Eventually, police began to recognize her, and, annoyed by the repeated encounters, urged her to stop going out at all. Instead, Sabit laboriously identified convenience stations that she might pass and gave the police notice, so that they could ignore the IJOP alerts. A few times a week, Sabit had to report to the residential-committee center, for a flag-raising ceremony and additional reëducation classes. She hated these visits, but they were her only escape from solitude. Except for her uncle’s family, just about everyone she knew—neighbors, friends, relatives—stayed away from her, fearing that any association would land them in the camps, too. The only people she could safely mix with were other former detainees, who were similarly isolated. ... By January, 2019, Sabit understood that this kind of attention was causing her uncle’s community anxiety. Fearing that she was endangering her relatives, she moved into a hotel. One night, she returned to her family’s home for a meal, and posed with them for a photo. She shared it on social media. Immediately, Zhang texted her about an embroidered portrait that was on the wall. “Who’s in the picture?” he wrote. The portrait showed a bearded man in traditional dress: the Kazakh poet Abai Qunanbaiuly. “I was afraid that this would bring me and my uncle’s family doom,” Sabit recalled. She deleted the photo and sent Zhang a Chinese encyclopedia entry on Qunanbaiuly. “You were quick to delete,” he wrote. “You scared me,” she said. “Just asking,” he said. “Don’t be nervous.” She told him that she was no longer living in her uncle’s home, and planned to move again. She had found an inexpensive rental apartment, owned by an elderly Kazakh woman, in an adjoining community. The Spring Festival was again approaching, and Sabit and the other former detainees were compelled to rehearse for a performance at the residential-committee center. As the festival neared, Zhang told Sabit and the other women to hang chunlian—holiday greetings on red paper—outside their homes, a Han tradition that Sabit had never practiced before. Returning to her apartment, she hung the scrolls beside her front door. Fearful of being disobedient, she photographed them and texted Zhang the evidence. “I have put up the chunlian,” she wrote. “I wish you good luck and happiness.” “Same to you,” he wrote. That night, two men pounded on her door—a police officer and the secretary of the local residential committee. “When did you move?” one asked. “Why didn’t you tell us?” Stunned, Sabit told them that she had informed Zhang. But the men said that this didn’t matter, that she had to leave their community—“tonight.” The men ushered her to a nearby police station, for further questioning. There, Sabit ran into her Kazakh landlady and her husband. As officers escorted them into an armored vehicle, the landlady glared at her with terror and contempt, and screamed, “Just look! Because of you, we’re going to school!” Racked with guilt, Sabit asked an officer if they were really being sent to a camp. He told her that they were only being taken to another police station for questioning. Still, Sabit was aghast that she could provoke such fear, just by existing. “I cried a lot that day,” she recalled. “I was like a virus.” Not knowing where to go, she called Zhang, who told her that his residential-committee center had a dormitory. She moved into it that night with a few of her possessions, and texted him, “Lucky to have you today.” “You can live here,” he told her. She shared a room with two other Kazakh women. Later, one of them told Sabit that Zhang had instructed them to monitor her: he wanted to know what she did, what she said, whom she met—“basically all the details.” 2021-04-05 00:00:00 +0000

Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang

The New Yorker Raffi Khatchadourian April 05, 2021

Sabit was able to glimpse into an interrogation room across from her own. There she saw a young Uyghur man in an orange vest and black trousers, his wrists and ankles locked into a tiger chair. His...

Internment Internment conditions Raffi Khatchadourian Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment all internment-conditions Sabit was able to glimpse into an interrogation room across from her own. There she saw a young Uyghur man in an orange vest and black trousers, his wrists and ankles locked into a tiger chair. His face was dirty and unshaven. His eyes were unfocussed. His head was drooping. Officers dressed in black were screaming at him. Sabit was ushered past, back to her room for questioning. Sabit’s interrogation lasted several hours, as officers recycled the same questions that she had been asked at the airport. While she spoke, she could hear smacks and electric shocks from the Uyghur man’s cell across the hall. With his screams filling the room, she found it hard to focus. The lead interrogator turned to his partner. “Tell them to cut it out,” he said. “It’s affecting our work.” The torture quieted, but only for a time. ... In another cage, the old professor was held captive with the two Uyghur men. At night, the professor slept on a mattress on the floor, and the younger men were handcuffed to the wall, so that they could not recline; in the coming days, Sabit noticed that the young men were unshackled only to eat and use the toilet, and that they never bathed. *** The next day, Sabit was shuttled to a hospital for a medical exam. Her blood was drawn, and a urine sample was taken; she was also given an electrocardiogram, an ultrasound, and a chest X-ray. Back at the station, officers took photographs and fingerprints, and sampled her DNA. She was given an iris scan, and compelled to speak into a microphone, so that her voiceprint could be taken: more data to be uploaded to IJOP. *** From the police station, Sabit and another detainee, a young Uyghur woman, were driven to a compound surrounded by a wall topped with concertina wire. A sign read “Kuytun City Vocational Skills Re-education Training Center Administrative Bureau.” Inside was a three-story building, a former police station that had been hastily repurposed. The women were ushered in and told to face a wall. Sabit tried to survey the place, but the light was dim. Standing beside her, the Uyghur woman began to cry. The detention cells were revamped offices, with walls, doors, and windows reinforced with iron latticework, giving them the appearance of cages. The doors were chained to their frames and could not be opened more than a foot; detainees had to shimmy through. In Sabit’s cell, five bunk beds were crammed into a twelve-by-fifteen-foot space, with three cameras and a microphone hanging from the ceiling. Sabit and the other women had to exchange their clothes for drab uniforms that were accented with fluorescent stripes and a photo-I.D. tag. Male guards patrolled the halls and the compound’s exterior—each officer working a twenty-four-hour shift—while female staff members served as disciplinarians, following the women wherever they went, including the bathroom. When the disciplinarians were not there, the surveillance cameras were; even when showering, the detainees could not escape them. The only language permitted in the building was Mandarin. Some of the older women did not know a word of it, and were consigned to silence, except for a few phrases they had to memorize. Everyone was required to shout “Reporting!” when entering a room, but many of the women forgot, enraging their minders. One disciplinarian, a member of the bingtuan, routinely insulted and humiliated the women. Detainees who angered her were subjected to punishments, which included being locked in a tiny room and shackled to a tiger chair for the night. She often intoned, “If you don’t behave, you’ll stay here for the rest of your life.” Sabit quickly learned that every moment was controlled. The women had to wake at precisely eight each morning, but, except for trips to the washroom and the toilet, they were locked in their cells twenty-four hours a day. They had three minutes to wash their faces and brush their teeth, a minute to urinate. Showers could not exceed five minutes. Some women left soapy because they had misjudged their time. For meals, the women had to line up in their cells to await a food cart, with their backs facing the door. The cups and bowls issued to them were made from cheap plastic, and Sabit, watching the hot food and water soften them, feared that toxins were leeching into her diet. (Later, replacements were introduced.) Sabit’s cell had no table, but the women were assigned stools—painful to use, because they were only about a foot tall. The women squatted on them and put their bowls on the floor. If they ate too slowly, or not enough, they were reprimanded. The elderly women, and people with dental problems, struggled, but neither age nor ailments spared them insults. The detainees were forbidden to sit on their beds during the day, though after lunch they were made to lie down, with eyes shut, for a compulsory nap. At 10 p.m., they were ordered to sleep, but the lights in their cells were never turned off, and they were not allowed to cover their eyes with a blanket or a towel. (The younger women volunteered to take the top bunks, to shield the older ones from the light.) If anyone spoke, everyone in the room would be punished with an ear-splitting reprimand from a blown-out loudspeaker. Any nighttime request to use the bathroom was treated with contempt, and eventually the women stopped asking. Dispirited, uncomfortable, often verbally abused, they masked their pain, because displays of sadness were also punished. “You are not allowed to cry here,” the guards had told them. School taught them how to turn from the cameras, hide their faces, and quietly cry themselves to sleep. ... Then, a month into Sabit’s detention, it was announced that everyone would study Mandarin six days a week—to master the “national language.” After learning of a detainee who was let go after three months, Sabit thought that perhaps she, too, could sail through the lessons and “graduate.” The classroom, fortified with iron meshwork, was adjacent to her cell. There were rows of desks, and a lectern behind a fence at the front. A surveillance camera was mounted in each corner. During classes, two police officers stood guard. The detainees were told that they needed to master three thousand Chinese characters, even though several women, Sabit among them, already knew more than twice that many. No matter how fluent the women were, they were forced to perform the exercises, over and over, until the others caught up. Some of the elderly women who had never been schooled in Mandarin struggled with the lessons. To spare them punishment, Sabit and a few others covertly helped them. The classes, of course, had nothing really to do with language. As a government document made clear, reëducation was intended to sever people from their native cultures: “Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.” Sabit and the other women had to learn Communist songs and sing them loudly before each meal. (If they did not show sufficient zeal, guards threatened to withhold food.) Every morning, they had to stand and proclaim their fealty to the state: Ardently love the Chinese Communist Party! Ardently love the great motherland! Ardently love the Chinese people! Ardently love socialism with Chinese characteristics! They were compelled to watch videos like “The Hundred-Year Dream,” which celebrated China’s economic growth and power. The screenings were followed by discussion groups, in which detainees had to repeat propaganda and profess gratitude to the Party for saving them from criminality. On Saturdays, guest speakers gave presentations on terrorism law. The detainees were obliged to recite seventy-five “manifestations” of religious extremism. It didn’t take great insight, Sabit thought, to recognize the absurdity of the curriculum as a counterterrorism tool. Most of the young women who were rounded up had secular life styles; they frequented bars on weekends and had barely any ties to religion, let alone religious extremism. The elderly women, though more traditional, clearly posed no threat, but their internment would stymie the transmission of cultural knowledge to younger generations. All their work seemed geared toward pageants that were organized for visiting Party dignitaries, who would come to inspect the women’s progress and the camp’s efficacy. During these events—held at first in a room where the guards slept, with beds pushed to one side—the women had to recite maxims of Xi Jinping, sing patriotic anthems, dance, and make a show of Han cultural pride. “You need to have a smile on your face,” guards would say. “You need to show that you are happy.” Sabit was often a featured performer; because of her fluency and her education, the camp could count on her to demonstrate that the program was a success. She would project excitement and positivity, in an exhausting pantomime. Many of the women felt ashamed by the hollow display, but still campaigned to perform. The preparations offered a respite from the language classes, and the pageants gave them a chance to prove their “transformation” and perhaps be set free. At some point during every inspection, the visiting dignitaries would ask, “Do you recognize your mistakes?” In preparation, the detainees wrote out statements of repentance; the guards explained that anyone who did not do so would never leave. One detainee, a member of a Christian sect called Eastern Lightning, invoked a Chinese law that guaranteed freedom of religion, declaring, “I did nothing wrong!” She was taken away, to what the women assumed was a harsher facility—a pretrial detention center or a prison. The logic of these forced admissions was clear: to gain their freedom, the detainees had to tear themselves down. Sabit strove to qualify her answers with words like “potentially,” and to characterize her life overseas as a “lack of patriotism” rather than as a manifestation of Islamic extremism. But, having lived in Shanghai, she found it hard not to seethe; she knew Han urbanites who had left the country for vacations in Malaysia, and who had used WhatsApp and V.P.N.s. Were they also infected? Over and over, Sabit and the women confessed. Yet no one was released, and gradually Sabit’s optimistic delusions collapsed. In February, 2018, China’s annual Spring Festival arrived, and the women were preparing for a pageant, when a camp administrator woke them in the middle of the night and forced them into a classroom to write out their mistakes. When they were done, he gathered their papers, tore them up, and berated the women for being dishonest, then kept them writing until dawn. Sabit wondered if she was losing her grip on herself. Could she be wrong? she thought. Had she betrayed China? And yet the longer she was confined the more convoluted her path to freedom appeared. By then, her minders had instituted a point system: the detainees were told that they had each been assigned a score, and if it was high enough they could win privileges—such as family visits—and even release. Points could be gained by performing well on examinations, or by writing up “thought reports” that demonstrated an ability to regurgitate propaganda. The women could also win points by informing on others. One detainee, Sabit recalled, was “like another camera.” The threat of losing points was constantly dangled over the women. For a minor infraction, the guards might announce that they were docking a point; for a large one, they might say that the penalty was ten points. Yet the women were never told their scores, so they were never sure if the points were real. One day, a woman got into a fight and was brought to a camp official, who furiously reprimanded her, then tore up a paper that, he claimed, recorded her score. “You now have zero points!” he declared. Back in the cell, Sabit and the others consoled her, but also gently pushed for details of what the official had said, hoping to glean some insight into how the system functioned. “We thought, Well, maybe they really are recording our points,” Sabit recalled. “Maybe there is something to it.” In the winter of 2018, new arrivals began flooding into the camp. Word spread that the arrests were driven by quotas—a new kind of arbitrariness. As an official involved with IJOP later told Human Rights Watch, “We began to arrest people randomly: people who argue in the neighborhood, people who street-fight, drunkards, people who are lazy; we would arrest them and accuse them of being extremists.” An officer at the camp told Sabit that the arrests were intended to maintain stability before the Two Sessions, a major political conclave in Beijing. The camp strained to manage the influx. Most of the new arrivals had been transferred from a detention center, which was also overflowing. There were elderly women, some illiterate, some hobbled. One woman, the owner of a grocery, was in custody because her horse-milk supplier had been deemed untrustworthy. Another was an adherent of Falun Gong; she was so terrified that she had attempted suicide by jumping out of a third-floor window. For many of the new arrivals, the reëducation camp was an improvement. At the detention centers, there was not even a pretense of “transformation through education.” Uyghurs and Kazakhs were brought in hooded and shackled. The women spoke of beatings, inedible food, beds stained with urine, shit, and blood. Sabit met two women who had bruises on their wrists and ankles—marks, they told her, from shackles that were never removed. With more women than beds at the camp, the authorities tossed mattresses on the floor, before shuffling the detainees around to find more space. New protocols were introduced. The women had to perform military drills inside their cells, and submit to haircuts. In Kazakh and Uyghur culture, long hair symbolizes good fortune; some of the women had grown their hair since childhood, until it was, as Sabit remembered, “jet black and dense, reaching their heels.” Later, evidence emerged to suggest that the internment system was turning hair into a commodity. (Last year, the United States interdicted a thirteen-ton shipment of hair, which White House officials feared had been partly harvested at the camps.) In Kuytun, the locks were cut with a few brutal chops, as some of the women begged the guards to leave just a little more. Sabit refused to beg, trying to hold on to some pride, but as her hair fell she felt a great shame—as if she had been transformed into a criminal. At night, it was announced, the detainees would help police themselves, with the women serving two-hour shifts. ... The detainees, too, began to buckle. They joked that the state was merely keeping them alive. Some went gray prematurely. Many stopped menstruating—whether from compulsory injections that the camp administered or from stress, Sabit was unsure. Because they could shower only infrequently and were never provided clean underwear, the women often developed gynecological problems. From the poor food, many suffered bad digestion. One elderly woman could not use the bathroom without expelling portions of her large intestine, which she had to stuff back into herself. The woman was sent to a hospital, but an operation could not be performed, it was explained, because she had high blood pressure. She was returned, and spent most of the time moaning in bed. In class one day, a detainee who had lost most of her family to the camps suddenly fell to the floor, unconscious. Her sister, who was also in the class, ran to her, then looked up at the others with alarm. The women tearfully rushed to her aid but were stopped by the guards, who ordered them not to cry. “They started hitting the iron fence with their batons, frightening us,” Sabit recalled. “We had to hold back our sobbing.” Signs of psychological trauma were easy to find. An Uyghur woman, barely educated, had been laboring to memorize Mandarin texts and characters. One evening, she started screaming, yanked off her clothing, and hid under her bed, insisting that no one touch her. Guards rushed in with a doctor and took her away. The camp administrators, however, returned her to the cell, arguing that she had been feigning illness. Afterward, the woman occasionally had convulsions and was sent to the hospital. But she was not released. ... When camp officials announced in July that Sabit and the other women were going to be moved to a new facility, the news seemed ominous. Not knowing where they were going, they feared that their situation would get worse. One night, guards roused the women and told them to pack: a bus was waiting to take them away. On the road, a caravan of police cars escorted them, and officers manned intersections. “A lot of people were crying,” Sabit recalled. “I asked the girl next to me, ‘Why are you crying?’ And she said, ‘I saw a street that I used to walk on, and I started thinking of my previous life.’ ” In the darkness, they approached a massive, isolated complex. One of the buildings was shaped like a gigantic “L,” and surrounded by a wall. As the bus drove alongside one of its wings, the women counted the windows, to estimate how many cells it contained. Sabit was struck by the lifelessness of the structure. Its unlit chambers seemed hollow. Inside, she and the others learned that the building was indeed empty: they were its first occupants. It was summer, but inside the thick concrete walls it felt cold, like a tomb. In the new building, the detainees were divided by ethnicity. With few exceptions, Uyghurs were subjected to harsher measures; some were sentenced, implying that they would be transferred to prison. 2021-04-05 00:00:00 +0000

Unemployment Monitoring and Early Warning: New Trends in Xinjiang’s Coercive Labor Placement Systems

Jamestown Brief Adrian Zenz June 05, 2022

After the successes of the highly mobilizational labor transfer campaigns (2016 -2020), Xinjiang’s current (14th) Five-Year Social and Economic Development Plan (2021-2025) focuses on consolidating...

Internment Forced Labor Adrian Zenz Unemployment Monitoring and Early Warning: New Trends in Xinjiang’s Coercive Labor Placement Systems all jamestown-brief Jamestown Brief all internment all forced-labor After the successes of the highly mobilizational labor transfer campaigns (2016 -2020), Xinjiang’s current (14th) Five-Year Social and Economic Development Plan (2021-2025) focuses on consolidating, maintaining and expanding these outcomes. In short, those who were coercively mobilized into work placements are now effectively prevented from leaving them. Xinjiang’s key regional and local Five-Year Plans (2021-2025) reflect the following significant new developments: A new full employment requirement whereby all persons able to work are to work (previously, this extended to only at least one person per household) Strong focus on preventing people from returning to poverty through decreased income, through an Unemployment Monitoring and Early Warning System” (失业监测预警机制, shiye jiance yujingji). Expanded vocational training, increasing average annual training volumes from 1 million to 1.5 million person-sessions (XUAR government, December 14, 2021). Large-scale promotion of “order-oriented employment skills training” (订单式就业技能培训, dingdan shi jiuye jineng peixun) wherein companies place orders for workers, and the state takes, trains and delivers them to these companies. Xinjiang’s 14th Five-Year Social and Economic Development Plan orders officials to “persist in combining local nearby employment and transfer and [labor] export employment, causing every able-bodied person to achieve stable employment” (NDRC, June 11, 2021). Similarly, the 14th Five-Year Employment Promotion Plan states the need to “diligently cause every single person who is able to work to realize employment” (XUAR government, December 14, 2021). This expansion is concerning, as those who are currently not in full-time employment often have other duties, including familial responsibilities; shifting mothers and working-age persons in caretaking roles into such work runs a high risk of coercion. The Xinjiang’s Women’s Development Plan (2021-2025), which outlines detailed targets for the “development” of the female population, specifies an expansion of rural women’s labor transfers (National Working Committee, January 24). 2022-06-05 00:00:00 +0000

To Temper Unrest in Western China, Officials Offer Money for Intermarriage

New York Times Edward Wong September 02, 2014

Last week, officials in Cherchen County, known as Qiemo in Mandarin, began offering payments of 10,000 renminbi a year, or $1,600, for five years to newly married couples in which one member is Han...

Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage Edward Wong To Temper Unrest in Western China, Officials Offer Money for Intermarriage all new-york-times New York Times all destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage Last week, officials in Cherchen County, known as Qiemo in Mandarin, began offering payments of 10,000 renminbi a year, or $1,600, for five years to newly married couples in which one member is Han and the other is from one of China’s 55 ethnic minorities. Official Chinese news reports this week said the payments were intended to help the couples invest in small businesses and start families. The couples will also get priority consideration for housing or government jobs, as well as other benefits. Their households will receive as much as $3,200 a year in health care benefits. The children of these mixed marriages will have free education from kindergarten through high school. Children attending vocational schools will receive almost $500 a year in tuition subsidies, and those attending university will get an annual tuition subsidy of $800. In the announcement, the county director, Yasen Nasi’er, said that interethnic marriages were “an important step in the harmonious integration and development of all ethnicities.” 2014-09-02 00:00:00 +0000

More than 100 Uyghur graveyards demolished by Chinese authorities, satellite images show

CNN Matt Rivers January 02, 2020

Uyghur poet Aziz Isa Elkun fled China's far western Xinjiang region more than 20 years ago. He's not welcome in the country. He can't even phone his mother. She said it was better if he didn't, be...

Religious Persecution Destruction of Religious Spaces Matt Rivers More than 100 Uyghur graveyards demolished by Chinese authorities, satellite images show all cnn CNN all religious-persecution all destruction-of-religious-spaces Uyghur poet Aziz Isa Elkun fled China's far western Xinjiang region more than 20 years ago. He's not welcome in the country. He can't even phone his mother. She said it was better if he didn't, because every time he did, police would show up at her door. So, when Elkun's father died in 2017, there was no way he could go back to China for the burial. To be closer to his family, he would view his father's grave on Google Earth. "I know exactly where his tomb is," Elkun told CNN in his north London home. "When I was a kid we would go there, pray at the mosque, visit our relatives. The entire community was connected to that graveyard." He "visited" his father like this for nearly two years. But in June, something changed. The satellite photo on Google had been updated and the graveyard that used to be there was now nothing more than a flattened, empty field. "I had no idea what happened," said Elkun. "I was completely in shock." Elkun's story is not unique. China appears to have been destroying traditional Uyghur cemeteries for several years as part of what critics describe as a broader, coordinated campaign to control Islamic beliefs and Muslim minority groups within its borders. In a months' long investigation, working with sources in the Uyghur community and analyzing hundreds of satellite images, CNN has found more than 100 cemeteries that have been destroyed, most in just the last two years. This reporting was backed up by dozens of official Chinese government notices announcing the "relocation" of cemeteries. … CNN shared before and after images with five experts from Canada, the United States and Australia with experience in Uyghur culture or satellite imagery. They included Rian Thum, a respected historian who uses satellite imagery as part of his research into Islam in China. Thum confirmed the majority of the satellite images shared with him were undoubtedly destroyed cemeteries. The other four experts verified the rest of the sites. … Cemeteries are important in every culture, but perhaps more so in Uyghur culture. Cemeteries are central to village life, a place to meet and connect one generation to the last. "It's akin for an American to see Arlington cemetery razed and the tomb of the unknown soldier dug up and paved over," said Thum. "People would come to a shrine or cemetery from all over the Uyghur region for the annual pilgrimage festival... People pray for health and blessings, meet neighbors, share communal feasts and shop at carnival-like markets." Experts and activists said cemeteries that had existed for hundreds of years were wiped out in a matter of months. According to Uyghur activists and documents, the Sultanim Cemetery in the center of southwestern Hotan had existed in one form or another for more than 1,000 years, and was one of the most spiritually significant resting places in the city. According to satellite images, it was completely flattened by April 2019. Some cemeteries were redeveloped quickly with seeming disregard for the spiritual places they once were, the investigation by AFP showed, paved over and seeded with modern buildings. Part of the Sultanim Cemetery appears to now be a parking lot. CNN also found multiple public documents online confirming cemetery relocation in several different cities. The May 2017 notice gave relatives just over two weeks to come and register their loved ones' graves before the removal and relocation work started. "Those graves that have not been registered within the date will be seen as unclaimed graves," the notice said. What happened to the unclaimed graves was not mentioned. Other official reasons for the destruction include wanting to build "civilized" cemeteries to "promote cultural and ideological progress." 2020-01-02 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

At least three hundred thousand more people have received formal prison sentences between 2017 and 2019 than in typical previous years, according to an analysis of government documents, public sent...

Internment Religious Persecution Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment religious-persecution all At least three hundred thousand more people have received formal prison sentences between 2017 and 2019 than in typical previous years, according to an analysis of government documents, public sentencing records, and testimonies conducted by Gene Bunin, the founder of the Xinjiang Victims Database. In 2018, family members of some detainees in Xinjiang learned that their relatives were now serving long prison sentences for offenses such as “propagating extremism” (fourteen years) and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (nineteen years). Firsthand descriptions of criminal trials in Xinjiang are rare. Amirken, the Kazakh hairdresser who married into a prominent religious family, told me that she attended the trial of her brother-in-law, Nurlan Pioner, an imam in the Altai Mountains near Mongolia. For years, Pioner had avoided trouble with authorities. He received training and a certificate from the state-run madrasa in Ürümqi and worked closely with Party officials, who approved his Friday-night sermons and his scholarly work translating religious books from Arabic into Kazakh. Nevertheless, Pioner was detained in June, 2017, and put on trial a year later. His family received a twenty-three-page prewritten judgment of his case. When the proceedings began, two guards with rifles carried Pioner into the courtroom in a chair. The accused was wearing a blue prison uniform that was soiled with urine. He appeared malnourished and was unable to walk; he spoke incoherently. The judge read the prewritten verdict. It said that Pioner was arrested for “gathering a crowd to instigate social disorder; taking advantage of extremism to hold back law enforcement; [and] illegally obtaining materials which propagate [an] extremist ideology.” He was sentenced to seventeen years in prison. According to researchers, Pioner’s case reflected the criminalization of religious practice in Xinjiang. A month after his conviction, Pioner was temporarily released into medical house arrest. While detained, he had developed upper- and lower-limb amyotrophy and lost the ability to control his body. “He had become almost a vegetable,” Amirken recalled. “He couldn’t hear. He couldn’t talk.” Fearing that they, too, would be arrested, Amirken and her family fled to Kazakhstan in January, 2018. Ten months after they left, law-enforcement officers returned Pioner to prison to serve out the rest of his sentence. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’

ChinaFile Joanne Smith Finley December 28, 2018

On my first day in Urumqi, I visited Khantängri mosque. The large forecourt was deserted, apart from the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) flag, erected since my last visit in 2016, and a TV scre...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Joanne Smith Finley ‘Now We Don’t Talk Anymore’ all chinafile ChinaFile all surveillance religious-persecution all On my first day in Urumqi, I visited Khantängri mosque. The large forecourt was deserted, apart from the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) flag, erected since my last visit in 2016, and a TV screen in the corner running digital anti-extremist slogans. A heavy iron barrier obstructed the entrance, while razor wire coiled in rings over the boundary fences. I asked the middle-aged Uighur security guard who manned the door where the worshippers were. “Retired men are wary of going in the mosque because they’ll have their retirement benefits stopped if they do,” he told me. “Government employees can’t go in because they need to earn money, and the businessmen who used to go in are now too scared.” Another man who overheard my enquiries silently beckoned me around the corner into a quiet alleyway, then explained about the “problem,” uttering this word in English. “We all want to go in the mosque! But if we do, they will take us to prison. They check our identity cards.” Far from being freed from “extremist influence,” the 12 mosques I visited over the next three weeks lacked any human presence at all. Eerily empty—apart from the ubiquitous P.R.C. flag—all were covered in razor wire, and entrances were monitored by security guards whose task it was to check ID cards and conduct iris recognition scans on anyone who dared enter. Many mosques had been partially or wholly de-sanctified. Foreign residents of Urumqi described seeing cranes removing crescents from city mosques one day in the spring, then watching as crescents were put back nine or 10 days later, a development that likely reflected local Party in-fighting as political zeal contended with pragmatic concerns around foreign tourism. In the demolished-then-refurbished Kashgar “Old Town,” neighborhood mosques were empty, their ornate doors padlocked, their boundaries decked in razor wire. Residents confirmed that the doors had been permanently closed for over a year. Some mosque walls sported framed copies of the “Regulations on De-extremification” adopted on March 29, 2017, or the “Clauses on Work to Improve Ethnic Unity” of May 3, 2016. At the entrance of Kashgar’s famous Heytgah Mosque (also known as Id Kah Mosque), which formerly overflowed with more than 10,000 of the pious every Friday, I was greeted by a Uighur ticket seller, who charged me 45 renminbi, or about U.S.$6.50, for entry; two Han Chinese riot police with riot shields accompanied her. The Arabic-script greeting that once adorned the door lintel had evidently been ripped off, replaced by a propaganda slogan reading “Love the [Chinese Communist] Party, Love the Country.” Such signs had once read: “Love the Country, Love Religion.” Now, religion was denied even a secondary level of popular allegiance. When I expressed surprise that tourists were admitted and asked when local people were allowed in to pray, the police became immediately threatening, demanding to know my business. Inside, the mosque felt like a ghostly museum or historical site. There were no worshippers. Before the far prayer hall, I found a banner reading: “Ethnic unity is happiness; Splittism [ethnic separatism] and riot are calamity.” A young Uighur man in a traditional embroidered shirt—but with his head uncovered—deferentially ushered a group of Han Chinese tourists inside. When I questioned the propriety of non-believers entering the prayer hall, he shook his head, and replied, “This is just my job. I wouldn’t know about that.” As I walked away, the young man got out his phone, and apparently informed the door police there was a potential troublemaker at large, likely to cover his own back. Shortly afterwards, when I approached an older Uighur man watering the plants in the mosque courtyard, he systematically moved away, foot by foot, until finally giving me a firm shake of his head when I said hello. Seconds later, a police officer appeared at about a 25-foot distance and hung around until I moved away. 2018-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

As China Tracked Muslims, Alibaba Showed Customers How They Could, Too

New York Times Raymond Zhong December 16, 2020

Alibaba’s website for its cloud computing business showed how clients could use its software to detect the faces of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities within images and videos, according to pages ...

Surveillance Use of technology Raymond Zhong As China Tracked Muslims, Alibaba Showed Customers How They Could, Too all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all use-of-technology Alibaba’s website for its cloud computing business showed how clients could use its software to detect the faces of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities within images and videos, according to pages on the site that were discovered by the surveillance industry publication IPVM and shared with The New York Times. The feature was built into Alibaba software that helps web platforms monitor digital content for material related to terrorism, pornography and other red-flag categories, the website said. 2020-12-16 00:00:00 +0000

Western China Region Aims to Track People by Requiring Car Navigation

New York Times Edward Wong February 24, 2017

Officials in China’s largest prefecture, in the far-western region of Xinjiang, are requiring all drivers there to install a Chinese-made satellite navigation system in their vehicles, according to...

Surveillance Use of technology Edward Wong Western China Region Aims to Track People by Requiring Car Navigation all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all use-of-technology Officials in China’s largest prefecture, in the far-western region of Xinjiang, are requiring all drivers there to install a Chinese-made satellite navigation system in their vehicles, according to an official news report this week. Police officials say drivers must install the navigation system by June 30. “The installation rate will reach 100 percent,” said a report on Monday on the website of The Korla Evening Post, a newspaper in the prefecture’s capital, Korla. The report was also posted on the government-managed website of Beidou, the Chinese satellite navigation system. Beidou is China’s version of the Global Positioning System, or GPS. News of the navigation system requirement first appeared in a post on the official microblog of the Bayingol traffic police department on Feb. 4. The post said: “In recent years, the international antiterrorism situation has been grim. Cars are the main means of transport for terrorists and have become a frequently chosen tool in terrorist attacks.” Another post said that on Feb. 19, police officers met to discuss the requirement. After that, a post appeared telling car owners about the order. Since then, all those posts have been deleted from the official microblog account, but cached versions were saved and are viewable online. 2017-02-24 00:00:00 +0000

Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques

IVPM Charles Rollet July 16, 2018

IPVM obtained this tender from the AFP and reviewed it. The most invasive aspect is the mass use of facial recognition technology, as the tender requires: 967 facial recognition cameras to be...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Use of technology Charles Rollet Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques all ivpm IVPM all surveillance religious-persecution all use-of-technology IPVM obtained this tender from the AFP and reviewed it. The most invasive aspect is the mass use of facial recognition technology, as the tender requires: 967 facial recognition cameras to be placed at the entrance of each of the 967 mosques in Moyu County. 清真寺安防子系统在入口处设置,墨玉县 967 个清真寺,需购置摄像机 967 The project includes even more provisions for video-based surveillance and censorship systems specific to mosques, such as a video conferencing system for “unified” sermons to be broadcast in mosques from a “video conferencing hub” in Moyu County’s Ethnic Affairs Commission. Such a system would effectively eliminate the need for any preachers to hold their own sermons. The project Hikvision won adds 840 security cameras for the mosques (in addition to the facial recognition cameras). These are a combination of bullet and dome cameras as well as night-time full color dome cameras. The tender estimates that each of Moyu County’s 967 mosques already has 5 security cameras, or a total of about 4,835 cameras. These existing cameras are to be integrated into the new surveillance system, i.e. the 967 facial recognition cameras + the 840 dome/bullet cameras. 2018-07-16 00:00:00 +0000

China’s Effort to Silence the Sound of Uyghur

Diplomat Rustem Shir May 16, 2019

The CCP’s most pervasive language policy in the region concerns “bilingual” education for ethnic minority students. While the name of this policy may suggest that students maintain their native lan...

Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Rustem Shir China’s Effort to Silence the Sound of Uyghur all diplomat Diplomat all forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language The CCP’s most pervasive language policy in the region concerns “bilingual” education for ethnic minority students. While the name of this policy may suggest that students maintain their native language while adding another language, “bilingual” education in Xinjiang subtracts native language skills en route to Mandarin language assimilation. This mode of education had expanded, by 2014, to schools serving 2 million primary and secondary students, including 480,000 preschool students. The Chinese government is advancing toward their goal to institute “bilingual” education in over 90 percent of ethnic minority primary and secondary schools by 2020. 2019-05-16 00:00:00 +0000

‘Saved’ By State Terror: Gendered Violence And Propaganda In Xinjiang

Living Otherwise Yi Xiaocuo May 24, 2019

The ongoing atrocities targeting Turkic Muslim peoples in Xinjiang are, in many forms, gendered violence. As the “People’s War on Terror” campaign escalates, Han officials and settlers are removing...

Religious Persecution Destruction of the Family Surveillance Forced Assimilation In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Promotion of interethnic marriage Yi Xiaocuo ‘Saved’ By State Terror: Gendered Violence And Propaganda In Xinjiang all living-otherwise Living Otherwise all religious-persecution destruction-of-the-family surveillance forced-assimilation all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives promotion-of-interethnic-marriage The ongoing atrocities targeting Turkic Muslim peoples in Xinjiang are, in many forms, gendered violence. As the “People’s War on Terror” campaign escalates, Han officials and settlers are removing Turkic Muslim men who they perceive as threats to “security” and “safety,” emptying out a clear path for Han settlers to insert their presence onto Uyghur and Kazakh homelands. This comes at the expense of the women who remain. ... In the state-initiated “Becoming Families” campaign, Han cadres enter native peoples’ homes and scan for any signs of Islamic piety, or wield scissors to cut off women’s long dresses on the streets. Since 2017, the state has begun to attack Muslim-Han marriage taboos as well as Muslim halal practices as forms of “religious extremism.” Interethnic marriage was forced upon many Uyghur women, an approach that went even further than simply encouraging them with money and other incentives in 2014 ... the party is now portraying itself as trying to save Uyghur and Kazakh Muslim women from the extremism of Islamic patriarchy. ... In these narratives, Islam-related practices are denounced as religious extremist thought, including but not limited to wearing a veil, teaching their Sino-fied compatriots about Islamic piety and modesty, not smoking and drinking, marrying early, practicing halal, and so on. In one of the videos, a Uyghur woman is shocked and offended by gender-segregated seating norm in Muslim society, calling it a form of religious extremist thought. One of the few men interviewed confesses that he abused his wife because he was affected by religious extremism, and after reeducation he regretted it and finally understood “what love is.” Another young Uyghur woman practices yoga meditation on an Islamic prayer mat, reflecting on her confusion and loss during the time she was plagued by religious extremism. ... One woman says she’s thrilled that reeducation gave her a second life, as though she was transported “back to my innocent childhood years. I am the girl who shakes off the shackles.” Other women express gratitude to the state and condemn their prior life. One confesses, “Seeds [of extremism] had been planted, if I had gone any further, I would have been the next one to set fires and kill people.” Another says, “I felt that a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders, I started to slowly draw myself out of that dark world.” Another one: “I have rid myself of all extremist thought and reinvented myself. I have a feeling of freedom and liberation that I’ve never experienced before.” ... In 2011, Xinjiang governor Zhang Chunxian and the Party Committee promoted a “Beautifying Project” campaign that focused on modernizing ethnic minority women through the industrialization of women’s handicrafts, cosmetics, and accessory products. It was an effort to realize the region’s “Leap Forward Development” (跨越式发展 kuayue shi fa zhan). One aspect of the campaign was to help rural women develop the handicraft industry; another was to “promote women’s suzhi”. Suzhi in Chinese can be roughly translated as “human quality,” measured by education, behavior, or personal refinement. Suzhi discourse has been a key component in China’s campaign of building a civilized society since the 1990s, especially in disciplining rural peasants and stirring desire in middle-class families for social upward mobility. in Xinjiang, the Beautifying Project’s underlying objective is to unveil Muslim women. Accompanied by the slogan “Let your beautiful hair flow and pretty face show” (让美丽的头发飘起来,漂亮的脸蛋露出来 rang meili de toufa piao qilai, piaoliang de liandan luchu lai), the project aimed at cultivating a sense of modernity, patriotism, and devotion to the state among Muslim women. 2019-05-24 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese authorities launch 'anti-halal' crackdown in Xinjiang

Guardian Lily Kuo October 10, 2018

Authorities in Xinjiang have launched a campaign against the “spread of halal”, claiming the growing number of halal products is encouraging religious extremism in the heavily monitored Chinese reg...

Religious Persecution Forced Assimilation Destruction of Language Lily Kuo Chinese authorities launch 'anti-halal' crackdown in Xinjiang all guardian Guardian all religious-persecution forced-assimilation all destruction-of-language Authorities in Xinjiang have launched a campaign against the “spread of halal”, claiming the growing number of halal products is encouraging religious extremism in the heavily monitored Chinese region. The term refers to extending halal labelling – food that adheres to Islamic law – to non-food items to appeal to Muslim consumers. Officials and state media say the growing number of products labelled halal allows Islamic rituals to penetrate secular life in China. The meeting of party officials on Monday called on all government officers and party members in Urumqi to speak Mandarin Chinese at work and in public, and to reaffirm their commitment to the ideology of the Chinese Communist party. Liu Ming, secretary of a party member group, led the attendees in an oath, according to the Wechat statement. A photo shows Liu speaking into a microphone, his fist clenched in the air, pledging: “My belief is Marxism-Leninism. I don’t believe in any religious belief. I must decisively fight against halalification to the end”. The meeting also called on government officers to publish their own essays expressing “their stand against the pan-halal tendency.” One article was titled, “A movement to liberate thought across Xinjiang is underway.” One Uighur cadre wrote an article headlined: “Friend, you don’t have to find a halal restaurant for me.” He wrote, “We ethnic minorities have taken this respect for our eating habits for granted. We have not thought about respecting their eating habits.” He encouraged Uighurs who are also party members to eat with their Han Chinese colleagues rather than solely at halal restaurants. He said: “Changing eating habits has a significant and far-reaching impact for countering extremism!” 2018-10-10 00:00:00 +0000

The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China

Newlines Institute Darren Byler June 08, 2020

As I observed during a research trip to the region in 2018 . . . Whole streets have been abandoned in Uighur towns and villages. Because of the re-education system, it is likely that within a singl...

Internment Restricting communication Darren Byler The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China all newlines-institute Newlines Institute all internment all restricting-communication As I observed during a research trip to the region in 2018 . . . Whole streets have been abandoned in Uighur towns and villages. Because of the re-education system, it is likely that within a single generation Muslim embodied practice and Turkic languages in Northwest China will cease to provide essential ways for Uighurs and Kazakhs to sustain their knowledge systems. 2020-06-08 00:00:00 +0000

The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China

Newlines Institute Darren Byler June 08, 2020

Inside the formal “re-education camps,” detainees were subjected to comprehensive monitoring. The lights inside their cells were extremely bright. They were never turned off. In interviews, former ...

Surveillance Internment Use of technology Darren Byler The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China all newlines-institute Newlines Institute all surveillance internment all use-of-technology Inside the formal “re-education camps,” detainees were subjected to comprehensive monitoring. The lights inside their cells were extremely bright. They were never turned off. In interviews, former detainees who were held in camps across the region told me that at no point during the day or night were detainees permitted to obscure the view of their faces from the cameras. If they covered their eyes with their hand or a blanket they would receive an immediate warning from a guard via the speaker system in the cell. They were living in what analysts of the computer vision company Megvii refer to as a “smart camp” or barracks – a facility that the tech firm Dahua says is supported by technologies such as “computer vision systems, big data analytics and cloud computing.” According to a camp manual, approved by Zhu Hailun, the deputy party secretary of the Uighur region, these camps are to “perfect peripheral isolation, internal separation, protective defenses, safe passageways and other facilities and equipment, and ensure that security instruments, security equipment, video surveillance, one-button alarms and other such devices are in place and functioning.” As the new regional Party Secretary Chen Chuanguo was quoted as saying, the camps should “teach like a school, be managed like the military, and be defended like a prison.” The experiences of my interviewees suggest that “smart prison” face recognition is being used on them in the camps. 2020-06-08 00:00:00 +0000

He Needed a Job. China Gave Him One: Locking Up His Fellow Muslims.

New York Times Austin Ramzy March 02, 2019

Mr. Baimurat immigrated to Kazakhstan in 2009, but returned to Xinjiang a few years later, to be closer to family. After businesses he opened selling fruit and horse meat, a Kazakh specialty, faile...

Surveillance Use of technology Destruction of Language Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Austin Ramzy He Needed a Job. China Gave Him One: Locking Up His Fellow Muslims. all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all use-of-technology destruction-of-language forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays Mr. Baimurat immigrated to Kazakhstan in 2009, but returned to Xinjiang a few years later, to be closer to family. After businesses he opened selling fruit and horse meat, a Kazakh specialty, failed, he joined the police in 2017, he said, earning a good salary — about $700 a month and decent benefits. His tasks included examining travelers’ vehicles and IDs at police checkpoints on major roads. He focused on people on government watch lists, searching their mobile phones for content considered subversive. In particular, officers were told to look for images of the deadly ethnic riots in Urumqi in 2009, Mr. Baimurat said. Within the police force, Mr. Baimurat said, officers like him were scrutinized for signs of political disloyalty. He said he was required to attend regular political indoctrination meetings and memorize quotes by China’s president, Xi Jinping. Minority officers were prohibited from speaking anything but Chinese with each other, he added, and were punished if a word of Kazakh or Uighur slipped out. 2019-03-02 00:00:00 +0000

48 Ways to Get Sent to a Chinese Concentration Camp

Foreign Policy Tanner Greer September 13, 2018

48 Ways to Get Sent to a Chinese Concentration Camp: Owning a tent Telling others not to swear Speaking with someone who has traveled abroad Owning welding equipment Telling others not to sin Hav...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Tanner Greer 48 Ways to Get Sent to a Chinese Concentration Camp all foreign-policy Foreign Policy all internment all pretexts-for-detention 48 Ways to Get Sent to a Chinese Concentration Camp: Owning a tent Telling others not to swear Speaking with someone who has traveled abroad Owning welding equipment Telling others not to sin Having traveled abroad yourself Owning extra food Eating breakfast before the sun comes up Merely knowing someone who has traveled abroad Owning a compass Arguing with an official Publicly stating that China is inferior to some other country Owning multiple knives Sending a petition that complains about local officials Having too many children Abstaining from alcohol Not allowing officials to sleep in your bed, eat your food, and live in your house Having a VPN Abstaining from cigarettes Not having your government ID on your person Having WhatsApp Wailing, publicly grieving, or otherwise acting sad when your parents die Not letting officials take your DNA Watching a video filmed abroad Wearing a scarf in the presence of the Chinese flag Wearing a hijab (if you are under 45) Going to a mosque Praying Fasting Listening to a religious lecture Not letting officials scan your irises Not letting officials download everything you have on your phone Not making voice recordings to give to officialsSpeaking your native language in school Speaking your native language in government work groups Speaking with someone abroad (via Skype, WeChat, etc.) Wearing a shirt with Arabic lettered writing on it Having a full beard Wearing any clothes with religious iconography Not attending mandatory propaganda classes Not attending mandatory flag-raising ceremonies Not attending public struggle sessions Refusing to denounce your family members or yourself in these public struggle sessions Trying to kill yourself when detained by the police Trying to kill yourself when in the education camps Performing a traditional funeral Inviting multiple families to your house without registering with the police department Being related to anyone who has done any of the above 2018-09-13 00:00:00 +0000

Family Disappears Amid China's Detention Of Mostly Ethnic Uyghurs

NPR Emily Feng March 03, 2021

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: I first met Akikat Kaliolla (ph) in the fall of 2019 in his Almaty studio . . . He married the woman of his dreams, a fellow musician. And they'd moved to Kazakhstan together. B...

Destruction of the Family Internment Restricting communication Internment conditions Civilian Informants Emily Feng Family Disappears Amid China's Detention Of Mostly Ethnic Uyghurs all npr NPR all destruction-of-the-family internment all restricting-communication internment-conditions civilian-informants EMILY FENG, BYLINE: I first met Akikat Kaliolla (ph) in the fall of 2019 in his Almaty studio . . . He married the woman of his dreams, a fellow musician. And they'd moved to Kazakhstan together. But he was carrying a heavy burden. He was looking for his family across the border in the neighboring Chinese region of Xinjiang. Both his parents and his two brothers had been detained the year before. His father's situation was especially alarming. FENG: Kaliolla wrote letters to the Kazakh foreign ministry, filmed protest videos. And his advocacy appeared to work. In January 2019, authorities let his mother and his brothers go, though they remained under house arrest. But they were allowed to call Kaliolla in Kazakhstan. Kaliolla recorded that call and uploaded it to social media shortly after. In the call, you can hear the relief in his voice. It's the first time he was able to talk to his family in 10 months. FENG: But as the call goes on, the tone quickly changes. FENG: "Yes. All right. We can speak in Chinese," his mother says a few seconds in to someone who seems to be in the room with her, likely a government official monitoring the call. But Kaliolla keeps asking her, are you out of detention? Did they beat my brothers? FENG: "I'm home now. I'm OK. And your brothers are all right" is all his mother will say. Dozens of other Uyghur and Kazakh people who fled China have told me similar stories of how their family, who remained in China, were forced to contact them and give false reassurances. Kaliolla soon becomes furious. FENG: "I know my father is in prison," he shouts. "The world knows how China detained you unjustly." His mother and brother plead with him, don't say such things. But Kaliolla won't stop. FENG: Kaliolla steps up his advocacy. He meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United Nations officials and protests outside the Chinese Embassy in Almaty. Then, a year and a half passes before Kaliolla's family reaches out to him again, but apparently with certain conditions attached. Here's his mother, Venera Muqutay (ph). MUQUTAY: (Through interpreter) Internet regulators came to our house with an official notice that allowed us to use the Internet and call you again. The official also gave us three scripts to read from. FENG: One script for her, the other two for Kaliolla's brothers. But Kaliolla's mother broke those conditions and called Kaliolla on her own. That's how he knows about the scripts. MUQUTAY: (Through interpreter) I was very scared and under pressure. I was supposed to say, my child, you're very worried about us, but no matter what you do, think twice. If you have a complaint, take it up with China. You must trust the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party. FENG: Advocacy outside China about detentions - that's exactly what Beijing does not like and wants to stop. But Muqutay told Kaliolla everything about her detention and his father's imprisonment and the beatings she heard from her holding cell before they were officially detained. MUQUTAY: (Through interpreter) They ferociously beat your father until he screamed. I yelled, don't hit him, while your older brother shouted, stop, you're going to kill my father. FENG: Her account corroborated what Kaliolla shared with me in 2019 and information smuggled out of Xinjiang by Kaliolla's friends, relatives and other detainees. Kaliolla's elder brother, Muqyiat Kaliolla (ph), also made a request. MUQYIAT KALIOLLA: (Through interpreter) If you cannot contact us, fear the worst. The authorities have threatened us so much recently. They let us talk to you today, but they are likely to finish us off tomorrow. If that happens, know it was not suicide. Don't stop your advocacy. Our lives and the fate of our family are in your hands. FENG: A few weeks after these calls, neighbors told Kaliolla the house his mother and two brothers live in was empty, his calls and texts to them unanswered. A KALIOLLA: (Through interpreter) Friends walking past their house tell me the snow outside has been untrammelled the entire winter. There is no one at home to shovel. FENG: Then, a few months later, he heard that his father was dead, aged 73. Some relatives had been able to attend the funeral. To the best of Kaliolla's knowledge, his father had been in prison for the past three years. Kaliolla still does not know how his father died or when. China's embassy told him to come back to Xinjiang if he wanted answers, but Kaliolla has no plans to return because he fears for his safety there. 2021-03-03 00:00:00 +0000

Financing & Genocide: Development Finance and the Crisis in the Uyghur Region

Other Laura T. Murphy, Kendyl Salcito, and Nyrola Elimä February 15, 2022

Labor transfers are often facilitated through or significantly expedited by coercive land transfer and cooperativization programs. XUAR government programs called “enterprise + cooperative + order ...

Forced Labor Laura T. Murphy, Kendyl Salcito, and Nyrola Elimä Financing & Genocide: Development Finance and the Crisis in the Uyghur Region all other Other all all forced-labor Labor transfers are often facilitated through or significantly expedited by coercive land transfer and cooperativization programs. XUAR government programs called “enterprise + cooperative + order farming” (企业+合作社+订单农业) and “land transfer + x new countryside development strategy” (土地流转+X新农村发展方略) explicitly connect the expropriation of Uyghur lands with “development,” and companies directly benefit. These programs are designed to “establish cooperatives and combine land transfers, livestock care, contract farming, characteristic planting, and surplus labor transfers.” This entails an agreement by which companies determine what crops will be planted in an area to meet their manufacturing needs. The company then sets the price for the harvest of those crops. The state in turn organizes small-scale farmers to transfer their land to a larger cooperative, run by a small group of the most prominent farmers in the area, or sometimes a Han Chinese person. Often one shareholder holds as much as 90 percent of the stake in the cooperative, as can be ascertained from a review of Xinjiang-located farming cooperatives’ shareholders in SAIC filings. The programs are clearly not welcomed by many Uyghur and Kazakh agriculturalists who have worked the land in the Uyghur Region for generations. In April 2020, a Xinjiang State Rural Cooperative Economic Development Center report revealed signs of the indigenous people’s reluctance to transfer their land when they indicated that “[i]n order to make the grassroots cadres and the broad masses of farmers truly realize that land transfer and the development of rural land management at scale are the only way to realize agricultural modernization, [government agencies] have jointly organized many training courses in land contract management law, regulation, and policy for rural cadres, actively guiding farmers to carry out land transfer, speeding up the exchange of land, and organically combine rural land transfer with the exchange and merging of land plots, making the policy well-known, and arousing farmers’ enthusiasm for land transfer.” The farmers are encouraged to change their mindset from passive to active, from “I am wanted to transfer [my land]” to “I want to transfer.” These coercive state-sponsored land appropriation programs directly benefit corporations. Village “work teams” made up of CCP cadres visit the homes of area farmers promising a dividend for their land. Sometimes whole villages are coerced into transferring land. In some cases, the government demolishes an entire village’s homes and forces the residents to move into new cookie-cutter “modern” housing developments, sometimes intentionally located next to a factory. Some of the now landless farmers are then expected to work the land that has just been expropriated from them and are paid wages below the state-determined minimum. Others are “liberated” from the land and “transferred” for work in factories, often far from their homes. Reports from the last ten years of Uyghur dispossession suggest that the government threatens Uyghurs that if they do not transfer their lands for the use of private companies owned by Han people they could be arrested. Government reports describe the transfers as short-term leases, justifying compensation rates at below market value. However, often farmers understand the expropriation to be permanent, particularly as it involves demolition (without adequate compensation) of their family homes and sustained coercion by authorities. Contracts are sometimes written in Mandarin, which many Uyghur farmers cannot read, and “signed” by thumbprint. 2022-02-15 00:00:00 +0000

Uyghur kids recall physical and mental torment at Chinese boarding schools in Xinjiang

NPR Emily Feng February 03, 2022

Before leaving China in December 2019, the Kuçars made one last stop. It was to see the children's mother, Meryem Aimati. Kuçar learned she had been sentenced to a 20-year prison term in her hometo...

Internment Internment conditions Emily Feng Uyghur kids recall physical and mental torment at Chinese boarding schools in Xinjiang all npr NPR all internment all internment-conditions Before leaving China in December 2019, the Kuçars made one last stop. It was to see the children's mother, Meryem Aimati. Kuçar learned she had been sentenced to a 20-year prison term in her hometown of Kucha, but Chinese authorities arranged for her to be transported to a nearby hospital for a last visit with her family. "She was thin to the bone and had lost all her hair," he remembers. "I grabbed her skeletal hand and saw the dark scars the handcuffs had left on her wrists." After 15 minutes, Kuçar was told his visit was over. Despite prohibitions on touching her or even crying, he says, he wrapped Aimati in a bear hug, lifting her off the bed. When he set her down, he noticed she was too weak to stand. 2022-02-03 00:00:00 +0000

'Think of your family': China threatens European citizens over Xinjiang protests

Guardian October 16, 2019

Two days after Abdujelil Emet sat in the public gallery of Germany’s parliament during a hearing on human rights, he received a phone call from his sister for the first time in three years. But the...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication 'Think of your family': China threatens European citizens over Xinjiang protests all guardian Guardian all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication Two days after Abdujelil Emet sat in the public gallery of Germany’s parliament during a hearing on human rights, he received a phone call from his sister for the first time in three years. But the call from Xinjiang, in western China, was anything but a joyous family chat. It was made at the direction of Chinese security officers, part of a campaign by Beijing to silence criticism of policies that have seen more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities detained in internment camps. Emet’s sister began by praising the Communist party and making claims of a much improved life under its guidance before delivering a shock: his brother had died a year earlier. But Emet, 54, was suspicious from the start; he had never given his family his phone number. Amid the heartbreaking news and sloganeering, he could hear a flurry of whispers in the background, and he demanded to speak to the unknown voice. Moments later the phone was handed to a Chinese official who refused to identify himself. By the end of the conversation, the façade constructed by the Chinese security agent was broken and Emet’s sister wept as she begged him to stop his activism. Then the Chinese official took the phone again with a final warning. “You’re living overseas, but you need to think of your family while you’re running around doing your activism work in Germany,” he said. “You need to think of their safety.” 2019-10-16 00:00:00 +0000

‘I Have Revised My Idea of What a Uighur Heroine Should Be’

ChinaFile Zubayra Shamseden April 19, 2019

And attempts to erase Uighur identity go even deeper. State policy now encourages marriage between Han men and Uighur women. I have begun hearing credible, though as yet unverifiable, reports that ...

Destruction of the Family Promotion of interethnic marriage Zubayra Shamseden ‘I Have Revised My Idea of What a Uighur Heroine Should Be’ all chinafile ChinaFile all destruction-of-the-family all promotion-of-interethnic-marriage And attempts to erase Uighur identity go even deeper. State policy now encourages marriage between Han men and Uighur women. I have begun hearing credible, though as yet unverifiable, reports that Chinese officials and local Han residents are abusing their power to make personal demands of Uighur women, especially those whose families and relatives may already be detained. If Uighur women refuse an offer of marriage, what is to stop officials from branding these women, or their families, as “suspicious,” to be taken away without charge or trial, never to be seen again? Under these circumstances, how could a woman dare to refuse an unwanted marriage? 2019-04-19 00:00:00 +0000

From a Chinese Internment Camp to the U.S., a Former Xinjiang Detainee Makes a Rare Escape

Wall Street Journal Chao Deng April 12, 2022

Mr. Turdakun was born in Kizilsu, a mountainous prefecture in Xinjiang bordering Kyrgyzstan where many of the region’s roughly 200,000 ethnic Kyrgyz live. He learned Mandarin in addition to Kyrgyz,...

Internment Internment conditions Pretexts for Detention Chao Deng From a Chinese Internment Camp to the U.S., a Former Xinjiang Detainee Makes a Rare Escape all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all internment all internment-conditions pretexts-for-detention Mr. Turdakun was born in Kizilsu, a mountainous prefecture in Xinjiang bordering Kyrgyzstan where many of the region’s roughly 200,000 ethnic Kyrgyz live. He learned Mandarin in addition to Kyrgyz, studied law in college and worked as a translator for a Chinese export company. He said Chinese authorities detained him in February 2018, accusing him of acting against the country’s interests by marrying a Kyrgyz national and visiting mosques abroad—implying that Mr. Turdakun, a Christian, was a Muslim extremist. Later, authorities also accused him of illegally overstaying his visa in Kyrgyzstan by 30 days on a previous visit, he said. In the internment camp, located in Kizilsu, Mr. Turdakun said, he shared a room a little more than 200 square feet—roughly the size of a one-car garage—with two dozen other detainees and was given unknown injections that caused diarrhea, vomiting and a loss of sensation in the limbs. 2022-04-12 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State

Bloomberg Peter Martin January 24, 2019

Almost all Han I spoke to in Xinjiang shared Cai’s view of the Uighurs as disloyal. They said they approved of Xi’s efforts to modernize the region, painting an optimistic picture of economic oppor...

Surveillance Peter Martin Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State all bloomberg Bloomberg all surveillance all Almost all Han I spoke to in Xinjiang shared Cai’s view of the Uighurs as disloyal. They said they approved of Xi’s efforts to modernize the region, painting an optimistic picture of economic opportunities on a pacified frontier—though it was often difficult to tell whether they were truly speaking their minds, or repeating the official Communist Party line. One afternoon in Hotan, when the police didn’t seem to be following me, I ventured into a coffee shop. A young Han woman came charging toward me through the metal detector at the entrance. When she saw I was a foreigner she burst into nervous laughter. “You scared me to death!” she said. “I thought it was the police inspecting our security arrangements—and our guard isn’t here.” If it had been the police, “we’d all have to go for a study session on security in the community.” Conditions like this would drive businesses and people away from any Western city. In Xinjiang, the police presence is a selling point and source of pride for some newly arrived Han. The state-run China Daily reported that Xinjiang attracted more than 105 million tourists in the first eight months of 2018, almost as much as in all of 2017. A Han man named Tian, who traveled to Xinjiang from Shanghai with his girlfriend, said he wouldn’t have imagined vacationing in the region until recently. “Look around, there are police everywhere,” he said while watching Uighurs wrestle on stage in a bazaar. “It’s true it’s a little inconvenient but there’s a guarantee of our safety. The terrorists and bad people have nowhere to hide.” Many Han had stories about recently graduated friends who headed west to find work. In Hotan, I met a 67-year-old woman named Lu who moved from Gansu province a decade ago in search of a better life. Now her sons operate two liquor stores. “When we first came here, the Uighurs would tell us, ‘This is our place, we don’t want you Han here,’” she said. Now that’s changed, and she credits Xi. “I really like him,” she said. “There are a lot more Han now and it’s very safe.” 2019-01-24 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State

Bloomberg Peter Martin January 24, 2019

The mosques themselves were sparsely attended and I never heard a call to prayer in Xinjiang.

Religious Persecution Peter Martin Inside Xinjiang: A 10-Day Tour of China’s Most Repressed State all bloomberg Bloomberg all religious-persecution all The mosques themselves were sparsely attended and I never heard a call to prayer in Xinjiang. 2019-01-24 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement

Journal of Contemporary China Leibold May 31, 2019

In February 2013, former XUAR party-secretary Zhang Chunxian announced that 200,000 cadres would be rotated into 9000 different grassroot villages and communities (chiefly in rural Southern Xinjian...

Surveillance Leibold Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement all journal-of-contemporary-china Journal of Contemporary China all surveillance all In February 2013, former XUAR party-secretary Zhang Chunxian announced that 200,000 cadres would be rotated into 9000 different grassroot villages and communities (chiefly in rural Southern Xinjiang) in order to ‘aid and assist’ ordinary citizens over the next three years. The programme is officially known as the ‘explore the people’s conditions; benefit the people’s livelihood; and fuse with the people’s sentiments’ (访民情、惠民生、聚民心) in Chinese, or fanghuiju (访惠聚) or the ‘three-peoples’ (三民) campaign for short. Xinjiang’s system of ‘village-based work teams’ (驻村工作队) has now been extended indefinitely, with more than 350,000 cadres rotated in and out of local communities over the last five years, with the majority stationed in the rural and remote villages of Southern Xinjiang. The campaign represents an extraordinary penetration of the Party-state into the daily lives of once isolated Uyghur and Kazakh residents. Each work team comprises five to seven Party cadres, most are Han yet each team is required to have at least one ethnic speaker in Southern Xinjiang, and they are expected (at least initially) to spend an entire year living and working alongside the local residents. The XUAR government promises promotion for those willing to take on this arduous task and warned others that the lack of ‘grassroots experience’ will hinder career advancement. In addition to monitoring local officials, work teams are also tasked with ‘information gathering and intelligence work’ (情报信息工作) through a routine of daily patrols and household visits. They are told to visit the home of each and every family living within their jurisdiction, a task known as ‘entering the households for interviews’ (入户走访). When carrying out these interviews, work teams must ‘say eight things’ related to Party policies, but also ‘ask eight questions’ and ‘check eight things’, in order to uncover each villagers' personal and professional lives During these visits, they are told to look for any potential threats to social stability, such as unregistered knives, chemicals, or other potential weapons, or any suspicious behaviour or unusual views expressed. They are told to pay close attention to any visible manifestations of ‘religious extremism’, and to check for any prohibited materials, such as the ‘three illegal items’ (三非物品)—illegal religious books, posters, maps and manuscripts, and audio-visual products—and offer material rewards for any useful tip-offs or items voluntarily handed over. 2019-05-31 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement

Journal of Contemporary China Leibold May 31, 2019

In contrast, Xinjiang residents who are deemed loyal and willing to comply with Party rule are often handsomely rewarded. These come in the form of material inducements for not only abiding by gove...

Forced Assimilation Civilian Informants Leibold Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement all journal-of-contemporary-china Journal of Contemporary China all forced-assimilation all civilian-informants In contrast, Xinjiang residents who are deemed loyal and willing to comply with Party rule are often handsomely rewarded. These come in the form of material inducements for not only abiding by government policies but also passing on information or actionable intelligence to Party officials. 2019-05-31 00:00:00 +0000

Apple’s longtime supplier accused of using forced labor in China

Washington Post Reed Albergotti December 29, 2020

One of the oldest and most well-known iPhone suppliers has been accused of using forced Muslim labor in its factories, according to documents uncovered by a human rights group, adding new scrutiny ...

Internment Forced Labor Reed Albergotti Apple’s longtime supplier accused of using forced labor in China all washington-post Washington Post all internment all forced-labor One of the oldest and most well-known iPhone suppliers has been accused of using forced Muslim labor in its factories, according to documents uncovered by a human rights group, adding new scrutiny to Apple’s human rights record in China. The documents, discovered by the Tech Transparency Project and shared exclusively with The Washington Post, detail how thousands of Uighur workers from the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang were sent to work for Lens Technology. Lens also supplies Amazon and Tesla, according to its annual report. Lens Technology is one of at least five companies connected to Apple’s supply chain that have now been linked to alleged forced labor from the Xinjiang region, according to human rights groups. 2020-12-29 00:00:00 +0000

Families Of The Disappeared: A Search For Loved Ones Held In China's Xinjiang Region

NPR Rob Schmitz November 12, 2018

Seytoff says his team interviewed Uighurs who said they were asked to fill out a government form to assess their security threat to the Chinese state. Uighurs told Seytoff's team that applicants we...

Surveillance Grading/scoring system Rob Schmitz Families Of The Disappeared: A Search For Loved Ones Held In China's Xinjiang Region all npr NPR all surveillance all grading-scoring-system Seytoff says his team interviewed Uighurs who said they were asked to fill out a government form to assess their security threat to the Chinese state. Uighurs told Seytoff's team that applicants were graded on a 100-point scale. "If you are a Uighur, you automatically lose 10 points," recalls Seytoff. "If you pray? Another 10 points. You've been overseas? Another 10 points. You have relatives overseas? Another 10 points. If you're 50 or below, you're unsafe and you go to a camp." 2018-11-12 00:00:00 +0000

China Undercover

PBS April 07, 2020

NARRATOR: The Chinese authorities also use more direct methods through two programs called Homestay and Becoming Family. Han Chinese are sent into the homes of Muslims like this one. XINJIANG VIDEO...

Destruction of the Family In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Destruction of Language China Undercover all pbs PBS all destruction-of-the-family all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives destruction-of-language NARRATOR: The Chinese authorities also use more direct methods through two programs called Homestay and Becoming Family. Han Chinese are sent into the homes of Muslims like this one. XINJIANG VIDEO BLOG: [Speaking Mandarin] Nowadays, Xinjiang is promoting national unity to become one family. This family are our adopted relatives. NARRATOR: The visitors are described by the authorities as "relatives." In reality, they’re working for the government. SHOLPAN: [Speaking Kazakh] They told us if we had the Koran, we needed to get rid of it. They would often tell us to give up our religion. We never spoke Kazakh in front of the Han Chinese people because we were worried that they might write down something which would get us locked up in a camp. 2020-04-07 00:00:00 +0000

China Undercover

PBS April 07, 2020

NARRATOR: This is Gulzire, a Uyghur refugee living in Germany. Over two years ago, she received a chilling voice message from her sister. GULGINE: [Speaking Uyghur] When I go home, if I disappear,...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication China Undercover all pbs PBS all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication NARRATOR: This is Gulzire, a Uyghur refugee living in Germany. Over two years ago, she received a chilling voice message from her sister. GULGINE: [Speaking Uyghur] When I go home, if I disappear, don’t tell anyone or say anything. There are people listening everywhere. Everyone has someone following them. GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] She repeatedly said things like, "Don’t look for me or you will cause problems for us." I became very scared. NARRATOR: Gulzire’s sister, Gulgine, was living in Malaysia but had decided to go back to Xinjiang when their parents stopped replying to messages. GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] We agreed when she returned home that she would change her profile picture every week. This would let me know that she was safe and well. In January 2018, her profile picture suddenly changed to a dark, half-shaded room. So I started looking for my sister. NARRATOR: A month later, Gulzire was told by a friend in Xinjiang that her sister was "studying"—the code word for being detained. No one knew when Gulgine would be released. GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] The last message she sent was 47 seconds long. I haven’t heard her voice again. I listen to the messages every day. GULGINE: [Speaking Uyghur] If you leave a message, I’ll listen to it from my friend’s phone tomorrow morning. Stay safe, may God protect you sister. GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] It’s as if she’s talking to me. Listening to her voice comforts me. But it also breaks my heart. GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] I’m in such a difficult position. In the 21st century, people can see loved ones in an instant, but I can’t see mine. Sometimes, I even talk to the birds in the sky, saying, "You can fly to my country; maybe you can give greetings to my sister and family." GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] Even if my sister has been released, I can’t say she’s now living freely, as she’ll still be living under surveillance. I believe she’s under extremely heavy surveillance. NARRATOR: Gulzire has heard through a contact in China that her sister, Gulgine, might have been one of those released from detention. GULZIRE: [Speaking Uyghur] If she’d been released and gained some freedom, she’d have found a way to contact me. Neither her profile nor her wall picture have changed. ... SADYRZHAN: [Speaking Uyghur] I haven’t been able to contact my wife for almost two years. NARRATOR: This is Sadyrzhan. Two years ago, his wife, Muyeser, went to visit her parents in China. She never returned. SADYRZHAN: [Speaking Uyghur] Our children have been deprived of a normal childhood without their mother’s love. They're traumatized. NARRATOR: She left behind three children. NARRATOR: He believes she was released from detention but doesn’t know where she is now. The only thing he’s heard is this message she sent to a mutual contact. MUYESER: [Speaking Uyghur] After this message, I’ll delete you from my contacts. Don’t ask questions, we can’t give answers. Sadyrzhan mustn’t look for me, or contact our family. Don’t contact anyone in China. SADYRZHAN: [Speaking Uyghur] The reason she hasn’t called me is because I live abroad. If she did, she’d be incarcerated immediately. In that message she didn’t ask, "How are the children?" I don’t think a mother can forget her three children. NARRATOR: He’s also seen photos of his wife which were posted on Chinese social media. SADYRZHAN: [Speaking Uyghur] When I saw these photos for the first time, my heart ached, as if it had been pierced by a dagger. The old Muyeser, who used to dress like this, wore a headscarf and covered herself modestly, has suddenly transformed into this style. It’s certain that pressure from the Chinese Communist regime has forced Muyeser to forget her Uyghur and Muslim identity. She’s even been forced to give up her motherly love and forget about her children. Of course we miss her. Our hearts are burning. 2020-04-07 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese Government Forces Residents To Install Surveillance App With Awful Security

Vice Joseph Cox April 09, 2018

In Xinjiang, a part of western China that a Muslim minority population calls home, the government forces residents to install an Android app that scans devices for particular files. Now, cybersecur...

Surveillance Use of technology Joseph Cox Chinese Government Forces Residents To Install Surveillance App With Awful Security all vice Vice all surveillance all use-of-technology In Xinjiang, a part of western China that a Muslim minority population calls home, the government forces residents to install an Android app that scans devices for particular files. Now, cybersecurity researchers have found that the so-called JingWang app has horrendous security practices for transferring data, and uncovered more details on what exactly the app does to phones. ... “What we can confirm, based off the audit’s findings, is that the JingWang app is particularly insecure and is built with no safeguards in place to protect the private, personally identifying information of its users—who have been forced by the government to download and use it in the first place,” Adam Lynn, research director at the Open Technology Fund (OTF), the organization that supported the investigation of JingWang by third-party researchers, told Motherboard in an email. OTF is a US government funded program. In 2017, authorities sent a message across WeChat, a hyper-popular chat program in China, to residents in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The message included a QR code for residents to scan and download the JingWang app. ... Reinforcing and building on what Chinese users discovered when the app was launched last year, in its report OTF says JingWang scans for specific files stored on the device, including HTML, text, and images, by comparing the phone’s contents to a list of MD5 hashes. A hash is essentially a digital fingerprint of a piece of data. According to a translation of the JingWang announcement message published by Mashable at the time, it said JingWang would “automatically detect terrorist and illegal religious videos, images, e-books and electronic documents.” Users would be told to delete any offending content with the threat of detention for up to 10 days, Mashable added. It’s not immediately known which specific files JingWang is scanning for. OTF’s public blog post includes a list of the hashes, or the fingerprints of the files—OTF shared a list of some 47,000 hashes from the app with Motherboard. The app also has a screenshot function to capture images of the list of discovered files, OTF adds. OTF’s report says JingWang also sends a device’s phone number, device model, MAC address, unique IMEI number, and metadata of any files found in external storage that it deems dangerous to a remote server. Motherboard found this server, unsurprisingly, is based in China, according to online records. As for handling that data, researchers supported by OTF found JingWang exfiltrated data without any sort of encryption, instead transferring it all in plaintext. The app updates are not digitally signed either, meaning they could be swapped for something else without a device noticing. “The app’s technical insecurity only opens its users up to further attacks by actors aside from the Chinese government. It seem there is zero interest in protecting citizens’ information, only in using it against them,” Lynn said. Of course, it may not be all that surprising an app designed for wide surveillance on a population doesn’t take security all that seriously, and the much broader issue is authorities forcing residents to install a piece of monitoring software in the first place. But the app still highlights China’s pervasive surveillance efforts developed over decades. 2018-04-09 00:00:00 +0000

China’s crackdown on Uyghurs reaches the Arctic

Coda Isobel Cockerell March 15, 2022

During his final month in Xinjiang, before he set off for Europe, Memettursun Omer’s Chinese handlers threatened him. They told him how they “dealt” with people who went to the west on intelligenc...

Surveillance Destruction of the Family Use of technology Civilian Informants Isobel Cockerell China’s crackdown on Uyghurs reaches the Arctic all coda Coda all surveillance destruction-of-the-family all use-of-technology civilian-informants During his final month in Xinjiang, before he set off for Europe, Memettursun Omer’s Chinese handlers threatened him. They told him how they “dealt” with people who went to the west on intelligence missions and then severed contact with the authorities. “Wherever you go, we can always take you back. You have no other way except to work for us,” they said. When they dropped him off at the airport, they said, “Little brother, if you ever start to forget what we told you, just look at the moon. Wherever you can see the moon, we can find you.” It was early 2018. The Chinese agents sent Omer to Dubai, with the hope that he would continue on to Europe to spy on the Uyghur diaspora. He had instructions to infiltrate Uyghur groups and send back information about activists working to draw attention to the human rights crisis in northwest China. Omer said the Chinese agents had spent months grooming, threatening and brainwashing him, and in turn, Omer persuaded his handlers that they’d produced a loyal Chinese citizen, who would be able to do the state’s bidding. … Omer, 31, is one of very few Uyghurs to escape Xinjiang in recent years. He’s fled almost as far as it is possible to go: to Kirkenes, a remote Arctic town at the northernmost tip of Norway, just a few miles away from the Russian border. He arrived in January. … “Close to 100%” of Uyghurs living in Norway face surveillance, intimidation and censorship from the Chinese state, according to Uyghur activists in Norway. They describe a collective sense of unease among Norwegian Uyghurs — a feeling of constantly being watched. “Uyghurs here often say we would like to live free from psychological pressure, just like the Europeans do,” said Bahtiyar Omer, director of a Norwegian Uyghur justice group in Oslo (Bahtiyar Omer and Memettursun Omer are not related). “But it’s really difficult, and we never feel secure.” Last year, his mother in Xinjiang told him that police had been visiting her regularly. She warned him to be careful in Norway. “She told me, ‘The police know everything. They even know what’s happening inside your house.’” He described how police will call Uyghur Norwegians via WhatsApp from inside their relatives’ homes in Xinjiang, and begin pressuring them to hand over information and stop their activism. The calls trigger tremendous anxiety for Uyghurs in Norway, who fear their families will be taken hostage if they don’t respond. “This is just the way the Chinese government tests out different methods and sees who can easily be controlled,” Omer said. The aim is to silence the Uyghurs in Norway. … Merdan left his homeland in 2010 after being brutally tortured in Chinese prisons. He was living in an asylum camp in southern Norway when he got a phone call from a Chinese official who told him to keep silent about what he witnessed in Xinjiang’s prisons. “He said if I told anybody what I experienced it would be dangerous for my family in East Turkestan,” he said. During his early years in Norway, Merdan lived in fear of the officer’s words. But in 2018, as the crisis in Xinjiang deepened, he decided he could no longer remain silent — even if it meant his family would be harmed. … In 2019, he got a video call. His father was sobbing while filming his mother, whose knees were broken and bandaged. “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, maybe we will come to further harm,” Merdan’s father said. “Look at your mother’s situation — it’s all because of you.” Merdan believes that his father meant the Chinese authorities would punish his mother if he carried on with his activism. In 2019 and 2020, his phone rang twice more. A man’s voice introduced himself as an officer with China’s security services. He asked, “Don’t you care about your parents? Don’t you care about your children?” The officer listed the names of Merdan’s children and their Oslo schools. “They threatened me, suggesting ‘maybe I would get into a car accident’ or that ‘thieves might come into my house while I was on night shift,’” he said. The agent told Merdan that he knew about his loans from Norwegian banks, and proceeded to list the amounts. He offered to send Merdan money, indicating that in return, Merdan would spy on other Uyghurs, and stop his activism. Merdan refused. Instead, he installed multiple surveillance cameras around his house in Oslo. … He managed to convince the agents that his father was a prominent activist in Germany, with influence within the World Uyghur Congress, a leading Uyghur human rights organization. The Xinjiang agents hatched a plan that he would infiltrate the group and send intelligence back to his handlers. “They wanted me to go to Germany, and get in with their group, collect phone numbers and addresses, find out which flights they were taking, which restaurants they ate at,” he said. He was instructed to pass back information via regular WeChat video calls. Over and over again, Omer said he was threatened about what would happen if he dropped his handlers. “You need to remember, your older brothers are still here in Xinjiang,” the agent told him. “If you just disappear, we can make them suffer.” They forced him to sign a deposition admitting he was a terrorist. “Wherever you go, we can use this to show you’re a criminal, and bring you back to China.” 2022-03-15 00:00:00 +0000

How I escaped a Chinese internment camp

Insider Fahmida Azim, Anthony Del Col, Josh Adams December 28, 2021

This story won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Illustrated Reporting. Zumrat Dawut is a mother of three from Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang autonomous region in China. She described how the area ...

Internment Destruction of the Family Surveillance Religious Persecution Flag-raising/Village meeting Internment conditions In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Sterilization Fahmida Azim, Anthony Del Col, Josh Adams How I escaped a Chinese internment camp all insider Insider all internment destruction-of-the-family surveillance religious-persecution all flag-raising-village-meeting internment-conditions in-home-surveillance-by-relatives sterilization This story won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Illustrated Reporting. Zumrat Dawut is a mother of three from Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang autonomous region in China. She described how the area turned into a police state, with Chinese authorities actively monitoring Uyghurs and taking anti-Muslim actions. This culminated in 2018, when she was arrested and sent to a detention facility for Uyghur women where she said she endured brutal living conditions and beatings. That was just the beginning of the troubles for Dawut, who with her husband would soon hatch a plan to escape the country. This comic, featuring art by Fahmida Azim, tells Zumrat's story as told to Insider through a series of interviews as well as testimony given to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 2021-12-28 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: new evidence of China's mission to raze the mosques of Xinjiang

Guardian Lily Kuo May 07, 2019

It is one of more than two dozen Islamic religious sites that have been partly or completely demolished in Xinjiang since 2016, according to an investigation by the Guardian and open-source journal...

Religious Persecution Destruction of Religious Spaces Lily Kuo Revealed: new evidence of China's mission to raze the mosques of Xinjiang all guardian Guardian all religious-persecution all destruction-of-religious-spaces It is one of more than two dozen Islamic religious sites that have been partly or completely demolished in Xinjiang since 2016, according to an investigation by the Guardian and open-source journalism site Bellingcat that offers new evidence of large-scale mosque razing in the Chinese territory where rights groups say Muslim minorities suffer severe religious repression. Using satellite imagery, the Guardian and Bellingcat open-source analyst Nick Waters checked the locations of 100 mosques and shrines identified by former residents, researchers, and crowdsourced mapping tools. Out of 91 sites analysed, 31 mosques and two major shrines, including the Imam Asim complex and another site, suffered significant structural damage between 2016 and 2018. Of those, 15 mosques and both shrines appear to have been completely or almost completely razed. The rest of the damaged mosques had gatehouses, domes, and minarets removed. A further nine locations identified by former Xinjiang residents as mosques, but where buildings did not have obvious indicators of being a mosque such as minarets or domes, also appeared to have been destroyed. ... The locations found by the Guardian and Bellingcat corroborate previous reports as well as signal a new escalation in the current security clampdown: the razing of shrines. While closed years ago, major shrines have not been previously reported as demolished. Researchers say the destruction of shrines that were once sites of mass pilgrimages, a key practice for Uighur Muslims, represent a new form of assault on their culture. ... “Many mosques are gone. In the past, in every village like in Yutian county would have had one,” said a Han Chinese restaurant owner in Yutian, who estimated that as much as 80% had been torn down. “Before, mosques were places for Muslims to pray, have social gatherings. In recent years, they were all cancelled. It’s not only in Yutian, but the whole Hotan area, It’s all the same … it’s all been corrected,” he said. Activists say the destruction of these historical sites is a way to assimilate the next generation of Uighurs. According to former residents, most Uighurs in Xinjiang had already stopped going to mosques, which are often equipped with surveillance systems. Most require visitors to register their IDs. Mass shrine festivals like the one at Imam Asim had been stopped for years. 2019-05-07 00:00:00 +0000

Former Muslim leader at China's biggest mosque in Xinjiang incarcerated

Japan Times May 24, 2021

Kashgar, China – A former Muslim leader at China’s largest mosque in the country’s far-western Xinjiang region was incarcerated by Chinese authorities in 2017, accused of having spread extremism, s...

Religious Persecution Internment Former Muslim leader at China's biggest mosque in Xinjiang incarcerated all japan-times Japan Times all religious-persecution internment all Kashgar, China – A former Muslim leader at China’s largest mosque in the country’s far-western Xinjiang region was incarcerated by Chinese authorities in 2017, accused of having spread extremism, sources close to the matter have said. In addition to the person who led prayers in the mosque, other religious leaders have been also detained, the sources said Sunday, amid accusations that the Communist Party-led government has infringed on the human rights of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the region. The former imam at the Id Kah mosque was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the sources said. 2021-05-24 00:00:00 +0000

China Cannot Silence Me

The New Yorker Nyrola Elimä December 21, 2021

The days when no WeChat message from her appears are the most terrifying. Her silence means that she is being visited by the people we call her “relatives.” When my mother is with them, she answers...

Surveillance Forced Assimilation In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Restricting communication Nyrola Elimä China Cannot Silence Me all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all surveillance forced-assimilation all in-home-surveillance-by-relatives restricting-communication The days when no WeChat message from her appears are the most terrifying. Her silence means that she is being visited by the people we call her “relatives.” When my mother is with them, she answers their questions cautiously, as if she were a contestant in a sadistic game show. Each time they visit, my mother painstakingly prepares food for the uninvited visitors, fretting over each meal, making sure it’s neither too Uyghur (which could brand the family as “suspected extremists”) nor too Chinese (which could seem too ingratiating). As they eat, my parents remain quiet as the relatives drone on about their political beliefs and their warm feelings about the government. … Since 2016, more than 1.1 million cadres have visited the homes of 1.6 million people of various ethnic groups in the region, according to state-run Chinese media. These visitors drop in without warning and stay as long as they see fit. Their task is to scrutinize the behavior of Uyghurs and note any signs of “extremism.” Some sure markers, according to the government, are Uyghur people speaking their native language, contacting family abroad, and praying. ... Before going to bed, the relatives carefully inspect every room of the house, and then they sleep with my parents in their small bedroom. As my mother and father lie in their bed, the relatives sleep on a carpet on the floor a few feet away. My mother’s mind races in the eerie quiet; it is too tense and uncomfortable to sleep. When the sun rises, she is already up preparing the relatives’ breakfast. When the visitors finally leave, my mother escorts them to the gate with all the cordiality she can muster. She fears that her fate depends on it. As they walk away, she stands at the edge of our courtyard, waving with feigned gratitude, until they vanish. Once she’s certain that they are gone, she rushes inside, picks up the phone, and sends a message to me in Sweden: “We are fine, we are safe. Don’t worry.” 2021-12-21 00:00:00 +0000

Satellite images reveal China is destroying Muslim graveyards where generations of Uighur families are buried and replacing them with car parks and playgrounds 'to eradicate the ethnic group's identity'

AFP October 09, 2019

This photo taken on September 14, 2019, shows a panda statue in 'Happiness Park', which is located where an enormous Uighur cemetery used to be before local authorities destroyed it in 2018. Renown...

Religious Persecution Destruction of Religious Spaces Satellite images reveal China is destroying Muslim graveyards where generations of Uighur families are buried and replacing them with car parks and playgrounds 'to eradicate the ethnic group's identity' all afp AFP all religious-persecution all destruction-of-religious-spaces This photo taken on September 14, 2019, shows a panda statue in 'Happiness Park', which is located where an enormous Uighur cemetery used to be before local authorities destroyed it in 2018. Renowned Uighur poet Mutellip was buried there. This photo taken on September 14, 2019 shows a sign at the entrance of 'Happiness Park' in Aksu in the region of Xinjiang. Above, people walk past a mosque in Urumqi, the regional capital, on September 11, 2019. Above, a mosque is seen in Urumqi. Uighur men are seen leaving a mosque after prayers in Xinjiang's Hotan. Pictured, a Uyghur woman holds a child in her home on September 12, 2016. 2019-10-09 00:00:00 +0000

Opinion: Dear Olympians: Can anyone help me reach my family?

Washington Post Huji Turdi January 30, 2022

I am a Uyghur living in the United States, and I have not been able to contact my family since March 2017. Whenever I attempt to call anyone back home in Xinjiang, all I get is a busy line, no matt...

Destruction of the Family Internment Pretexts for Detention Restricting communication Civilian Informants Huji Turdi Opinion: Dear Olympians: Can anyone help me reach my family? all washington-post Washington Post all destruction-of-the-family internment all pretexts-for-detention restricting-communication civilian-informants I am a Uyghur living in the United States, and I have not been able to contact my family since March 2017. Whenever I attempt to call anyone back home in Xinjiang, all I get is a busy line, no matter how many times a day or what time of day I call. No one replies to my emails, either. I am not alone. Every Uyghur I know living outside of China has been experiencing the same problems. During my last call to one of my sisters in early 2017, I was asked not to call anymore, because her husband was detained by the authorities for having spoken to me on the phone. I was surprised, because we had always been very careful about what we spoke about; we knew our conversation could be secretly monitored by authorities. I promised not to call for a while. Then, a few weeks later, the news about the internment camps in Xinjiang started coming out. Worried, I broke my promises and called my sisters, nephews, relatives, friends — anyone I knew. Day after day, week after week, month after month, I kept calling at different times of the day, but I could not connect with anyone . . . I learned from international news of the detentions of some of my friends and former neighbors who happened to be prominent Uyghurs. That added to my anxiety about my family . . . I was constantly concerned about the well-being of my four sisters and their families, and my other relatives and friends. But I was still not able to contact anyone. Then one day, about a year ago, one of my sisters left me a WhatsApp message from a telephone number registered in Turkey. I called back, only to find that the call was from a national security police officer, one of the very people who are the primary enforcers of the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs. 2022-01-30 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

“It is the beginning of the spring, which means the number of migrant workers will increase soon . . . During work hours they are managed by their work unit and after work they are monitored by the...

Surveillance Forced Assimilation Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Flag-raising/Village meeting Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance forced-assimilation all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays flag-raising-village-meeting “It is the beginning of the spring, which means the number of migrant workers will increase soon . . . During work hours they are managed by their work unit and after work they are monitored by their residential communities . . . They are required to attend the community flag raising ceremony every Monday, give a “fasheng liangjian” speech to declare their loyalty, showing their voice and showing their sword, express their position, and accept thought transformation faster and better.” The documents also make clear the extent to which authorities try to assess the psychology of people under suspicion, with a keen eye in particular toward loyalty and even fervor. This is exhibited at so-called flag-raising ceremonies: community events in which participants proclaim their loyalty to China and the ruling regime. Documents show that these events are extensively monitored by police and their proxies. Authorities watch not just former detainees but their relatives as well, to confirm they are participating and to determine how passionate they are about doing so. Authorities used participation in these weekly ceremonies as a way to monitor three people, likely Uyghurs, on a community watchlist, according to one of the documents. Participants are asked to perform a vow of loyalty involving the phrase “Voice your opinion, raise your sword” (or “Show your voice, show your sword”). Documents show that the police officers and neighbors doing this monitoring at flag-raising ceremonies are also making recommendations about who should be sent to re-education camps. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

China Is Detaining Muslims in Vast Numbers. The Goal: ‘Transformation.’

New York Times Chris Buckley September 08, 2018

One account published last year described how the authorities in one village arranged for detainees accused of “religious extremism” to be denounced by their relatives at a public rally, and encour...

Destruction of the Family Civilian Informants Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Flag-raising/Village meeting Denunciations Chris Buckley China Is Detaining Muslims in Vast Numbers. The Goal: ‘Transformation.’ all new-york-times New York Times all destruction-of-the-family all civilian-informants forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays flag-raising-village-meeting denunciations One account published last year described how the authorities in one village arranged for detainees accused of “religious extremism” to be denounced by their relatives at a public rally, and encouraged other families to report similar activities. “More and more people are coming forward with information,” Cao Lihai, an editor for a party journal, wrote in the report. “Some parents have personally brought in their children to give themselves up.” 2018-09-08 00:00:00 +0000

‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak

Los Angeles Times Alice Su December 17, 2020

Murals portrayed Uighur women bursting out of black veils into colorful clothing and a giant ax chopping Uighurs holding an East Turkestan flag — a symbol for Xinjiang independence — into pieces.

Alice Su ‘Will they let us live?’ Inside Xinjiang, survivors of China’s internment camps speak all los-angeles-times Los Angeles Times all all Murals portrayed Uighur women bursting out of black veils into colorful clothing and a giant ax chopping Uighurs holding an East Turkestan flag — a symbol for Xinjiang independence — into pieces. 2020-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life

Wall Street Journal Josh Chin, Clément Bürge December 19, 2017

Security checkpoints with identification scanners guard the train station and roads in and out of town. Facial scanners track comings and goings at hotels, shopping malls and banks. Police use hand...

Surveillance Use of technology Josh Chin, Clément Bürge Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all surveillance all use-of-technology Security checkpoints with identification scanners guard the train station and roads in and out of town. Facial scanners track comings and goings at hotels, shopping malls and banks. Police use hand-held devices to search smartphones for encrypted chat apps, politically charged videos and other suspect content. To fill up with gas, drivers must first swipe their ID cards and stare into a camera. [F]or every 100,000 people the police in Xinjiang want to monitor, they use the same amount of surveillance equipment that police in other parts of China would use to monitor millions. [S]mall booths known as “convenience police stations,” marked by flashing lights atop a pole, appear every couple of hundred yards. The police stationed there offer water, cellphone charging and other services, while also taking in feeds from nearby surveillance cameras. ... A description of the device that recently was removed from the company’s website said it can read the files on 90% of smartphones and check findings against a police antiterror database. “Mostly, you’re looking for audio and video,” said Zhang Xuefeng, Meiya Pico’s chief marketing officer, in an interview. Near the Xinjiang University campus in Urumqi, police sat at a wooden table recently, ordering some people walking by to hand over their phones. “You just plug it in and it shows you what’s on the phone,” said one officer, brandishing a device similar to the one on Meiya Pico’s website. He declined to say what content they were checking for. Surveillance in and around Kashgar, where Han Chinese make up less than 7% of the population, is even tighter than in Urumqi. Drivers entering the city are screened intensively. A machine scans each driver’s face. Police officers inspect the engine and the trunk. Passengers must get out and run their bags through X-ray machines. [K]nife salesman Jiang Qiankun says his shop had to pay thousands of dollars for a machine that turns a customer’s ID card number, photo, ethnicity and address into a QR code that it lasers into the blade of any knife it sells. “If someone has a knife, it has to have their ID card information,” he says. 2017-12-19 00:00:00 +0000

Orphaned by the state: How Xinjiang’s gulag tears families apart

The Economist October 17, 2020

As Ms Dawut describes it, ethnic Uyghurs like her were under constant watch. Her children suffered the effects as much as their parents. Every Monday they were not in school she had to take them to...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Flag-raising/Village meeting Orphaned by the state: How Xinjiang’s gulag tears families apart all the-economist The Economist all surveillance all civilian-informants forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays flag-raising-village-meeting As Ms Dawut describes it, ethnic Uyghurs like her were under constant watch. Her children suffered the effects as much as their parents. Every Monday they were not in school she had to take them to the courtyard of her block of flats to watch the raising of China’s flag, whether in freezing winter temperatures or in blazing summer heat. Participants were careful to look cheerful. Not only were the officials watching for signs of dissatisfaction; every family had to keep an eye on ten neighbouring families, and report anything suspicious by putting notes in a box at each ceremony. 2020-10-17 00:00:00 +0000

Chinese Solar Companies Tied to Use of Forced Labor

New York Times Ana Swanson, Chris Buckley January 08, 2021

In a flat, arid expanse of China’s far west Xinjiang region, a solar technology company welcomed laborers from a rural area 650 miles away, preparing to put them to work at GCL-Poly, the world’s se...

Internment Forced Labor Ana Swanson, Chris Buckley Chinese Solar Companies Tied to Use of Forced Labor all new-york-times New York Times all internment all forced-labor In a flat, arid expanse of China’s far west Xinjiang region, a solar technology company welcomed laborers from a rural area 650 miles away, preparing to put them to work at GCL-Poly, the world’s second-largest maker of polysilicon. The workers, members of the region’s Uighur minority, attended a class in etiquette as they prepared for their new lives in the solar industry, which prides itself as a model of clean, responsible growth. GCL-Poly promoted the housing and training it offered its new recruits in photographs and statements to the local news media. But researchers and human rights experts say those positive images may conceal a more troubling reality — the persecution of one of China’s most vulnerable ethnic groups. According to a report by the consultancy Horizon Advisory, Xinjiang’s rising solar energy technology sector is connected to a broad program of assigned labor in China, including methods that fit well-documented patterns of forced labor. Major solar companies including GCL-Poly, East Hope Group, Daqo New Energy, Xinte Energy and Jinko Solar are named in the report as bearing signs of using some forced labor, according to Horizon Advisory, which specializes in Chinese-language research. Though many details remain unclear, those signs include accepting workers transferred with the help of the Chinese government from certain parts of Xinjiang, and having laborers undergo “military-style” training that may be aimed at instilling loyalty to China and the Communist Party. Government announcements and news reports indicate that solar companies often take in assigned workers in batches of dozens or fewer, suggesting that the transfers are a small part of their overall work force. Still, the assertions from Horizon Advisory imply that much of the global solar supply chain may be tainted by an association with forced labor. Such charges could hurt its progressive image and risk product bans from Washington. 2021-01-08 00:00:00 +0000

Mosques disappear as China strives to ‘build a beautiful Xinjiang’

Reuters Cate Cadell May 13, 2021

QIRA, China, May 13 (Reuters) - The Jiaman mosque in the city of Qira, in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, is hidden behind high walls and Communist Party propaganda signs, leaving passe...

Religious Persecution Surveillance Restricting journalism Destruction of Religious Spaces Cate Cadell Mosques disappear as China strives to ‘build a beautiful Xinjiang’ all reuters Reuters all religious-persecution surveillance all restricting-journalism destruction-of-religious-spaces QIRA, China, May 13 (Reuters) - The Jiaman mosque in the city of Qira, in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, is hidden behind high walls and Communist Party propaganda signs, leaving passersby with no indication that it is home to a religious site. In late April, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, two ethnic Uyghur women sat behind a tiny mesh grate, underneath a surveillance camera, inside the compound of what had long been the city's largest place of worship. Reuters could not establish if the place was currently functioning as a mosque. Within minutes of reporters arriving, four men in plain clothes showed up and took up positions around the site, locking gates to nearby residential buildings. The men told the reporters it was illegal to take photos and to leave. "There's no mosque here ... there has never been a mosque at this site," said one of the men in response to a question from Reuters if there was a mosque inside. He declined to identify himself. Minarets on the building's four corners, visible in publicly available satellite images in 2019, have gone. A large blue metal box stood where the mosque's central dome had once been. It was not clear if it was a place of worship at the time the satellite images were taken. … Reuters visited more than two dozen mosques across seven counties in southwest and central Xinjiang on a 12-day visit during Ramadan, which ended on Thursday . . . Most of the mosques that Reuters visited had been partially or completely demolished. … Some functioning mosques have signs saying congregants must register while citizens from outside the area, foreigners and anyone under the age of 18 are banned from going in. Functioning mosques feature surveillance cameras and include Chinese flags and propaganda displays declaring loyalty to the ruling Communist Party. Visiting reporters were almost always followed by plainclothes personnel and warned not to take photographs. A Han woman, who said she had moved to the city of Hotan six years ago from central China, said Muslims who wanted to pray could do so at home. "There are no Muslims like that here anymore," the woman said, referring to those who used to pray at the mosque. She added: "Life in Xinjiang is beautiful." Some state-sanctioned mosques are shown off to visiting journalists and diplomats, like the Jiaman Mosque in Hotan. "Everything is paid for by the party," said a Hotan official at the mosque on a visit arranged for Reuters by the city propaganda department. The official, who went by the nickname "Ade" but declined to give his full name, said men were free to pray at the mosque five times a day, according to Islamic custom. While reporters were there, several dozen men, most of them elderly, came to pray as dusk fell. Afterwards, they broke their fast with food provided by the local government. … In Changji, about 40 km west of the regional capital, Urumqi, green and red minarets of the city's Xinqu Mosque lay broken below a Chinese flag flying over the deserted building's courtyard. Reuters analysed satellite imagery of 10 mosques in Changji city and visited six of them. A total of 31 minarets and 12 green or gold domes had been removed within a period of two months after April 2018, according to dated images. At several mosques, Islamic architecture was replaced with Chinese-style roofing. These included Changji's Tianchi road mosque, whose gold dome and minarets were removed in 2018, according to publicly available satellite images. … Signs outside the Xinqu Mosque, with the crumbling minarets, said a housing development would soon be built on the site. “For ethic unity, build a beautiful Xinjiang,” a sign read. 2021-05-13 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

Under the “Physicals for All” program, citizens were required to go have their faces scanned and voice signatures analyzed, as well as give DNA. Documents describing the program indicate it is part...

Surveillance Use of technology Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance all use-of-technology Under the “Physicals for All” program, citizens were required to go have their faces scanned and voice signatures analyzed, as well as give DNA. Documents describing the program indicate it is part of the policing system. Reports in the database show “Physicals for All” work is routinely conducted through the police “convenience stations,” leading to complaints from citizens about sanitary conditions . . . They also discuss how citizens who fail to submit biometric and biographical information are reported to police, face fines, and are sometimes made to formally renounce their behavior. Some documents about the program focus on migrants or the “ethnic-language people.” 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept Yael Grauer January 29, 2021

“Clearing violent and terrorist audio and video has always been a very important part of stability work. Our community pays a lot of attention to this work. Because the Chinese New Year break is co...

Surveillance Use of technology Yael Grauer Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database all the-intercept The Intercept all surveillance all use-of-technology “Clearing violent and terrorist audio and video has always been a very important part of stability work. Our community pays a lot of attention to this work. Because the Chinese New Year break is coming to an end, people will increasingly come back to work, therefore our community decided to conduct a large scale computer and cellphone inspection for workers who are coming back. We inspect stored information on every household and every person's cellphone and computer. To date, we did not discover violent and terrorist audio and video among the residents in the area. We will continue this work later and will record the results.” Some of the most invasive data in the database comes from “anti-terrorism sword” phone inspection tools. Police at checkpoints, which pervade the city, make people plug their phones into these devices, which come from various manufacturers. They gather personal data from phones, including contacts and text messages, and also check pictures, videos, audio files, and documents against a list of prohibited items. They can display WeChat and SMS text messages. This pattern of frequent police stops is seen in other parts of Ürümqi. Documents discuss police checking people’s phones upwards of three or four times in one night, and how this makes it difficult to stay on the good side of the populace, which is clearly becoming annoyed. The database also helps quantify how broadly phone surveillance was deployed around Ürümqi. For example, in the space of one year and 11 months, Chinese authorities collected close to 11 million SMS messages. In one year and 10 months, they gathered 11.8 million records on phone call duration and parties involved in the call. And in a one-year, 11-month period, they gathered seven million contacts and around 255,000 records on phone hardware. Citizens in Xinjiang are also routinely stopped outside their homes by authorities. The database contains records from more than two million checkpoint stops in Ürümqi (population 3.5 million) and the surrounding area in a two-year period. It includes a list of nearly three dozen categories of people to stop . . . When a person is stopped at a checkpoint, they go through an ID check, typically including processing via facial recognition . . . If a person’s face is displayed with a yellow, orange, or red indicator on a computer, showing the system has deemed them suspicious or criminal, they are questioned and may be arrested. 2021-01-29 00:00:00 +0000

The Uyghur women fighting China's surveillance state

Coda Isobel Cockerell May 01, 2019

In early 2016, police began making routine checks on Atawula’s home. Her husband was regularly called to the police station. The police informed him they were suspicious of his WeChat activity – he...

Destruction of the Family Surveillance Restricting communication Isobel Cockerell The Uyghur women fighting China's surveillance state all coda Coda all destruction-of-the-family surveillance all restricting-communication In early 2016, police began making routine checks on Atawula’s home. Her husband was regularly called to the police station. The police informed him they were suspicious of his WeChat activity – he regularly spoke to friends in Turkey, which they viewed as potentially extremist behaviour. Atawula’s children began to cower in fear at the sight of a police officer. The family decided to move to Turkey to escape the oppressive surveillance. Atawula’s husband, worried for her safety if she was also arrested, decided to send her ahead while he stayed in Xinjiang and waited for the children’s passports. “The day I left, my husband was arrested,” Atawula said. When she arrived in Turkey in June 2016, her phone stopped working – and by the time she had it repaired, all her friends and relatives had deleted her from their WeChat accounts. Unlike almost everyone in the global Uyghur diaspora, Nurjamal Atawula managed to find a way to contact her family after the WeChat blackout. She used one of the oldest means possible: writing a letter. In late 2016, she heard of a woman in Zeytinburnu who regularly traveled back and forth between Turkey and her parents’ village in Xinjiang. She asked the woman to take a letter to her family. The woman agreed. Atawula wrote to her brother and was careful not to include anything border inspection or police might be able to use against him. “When I was writing the letter, I felt I was living in the dark ages,” Atawula said. She gave it to the woman, along with small presents for her children and money she had saved for her family. A month later, she got a reply. The Uyghur woman, who she calls “sister”, smuggled a letter from her brother out of China, hidden in a packet of tissues. Atawula sent a reply with her go-between – but after the third trip, the woman disappeared. Atawula doesn’t know what happened to her. She still writes to her family, but her letters are now kept in a diary, in the hope that one day her children will be able to read them. It has now been more than two years since Atawula received her brother’s letter. She keeps it carefully folded, still in the tissue it came in. In that time, she has only read the words three times, as if by looking at them too much they will lose their power. ... Most Uyghurs in Turkey have been deleted by their families on social media. And many wouldn’t dare try to make contact, for fear Chinese authorities would punish their relatives. It’s just one of the ways Xi Jinping’s government maintains a tightly controlled net of surveillance over the Uyghurs in China, and it has a ripple effect on Uyghurs living all over the world. Others tried to use WeChat to contact their families, but the drip-feed of information became steadily slower. In 2016, findings by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, a research center that monitors methods of information control, showed how the app was censoring its users by tracking their keyword usage. Among keywords that could flag an account are any words relating to Uyghur issues such as “2009 Urumqi riots,” “2012 Kashgar riots,” and anything to do with Islam. ... In Zeytinburnu, seamstress Tursungul Yusuf, 42, remembers how phone calls and messages from relatives in Xinjiang became increasingly terse as 2017 went on. “When we spoke, they’d keep it brief. They’d say “we’re OK, safe.” They’d speak in code – if someone was jailed in the camps, they would say they’d been “admitted to hospital.” I’d say ‘“understood.” We could not talk freely. My older daughter wrote “I am helpless” on her WeChat status. She then sent me one message, “Assalam”, before deleting me.” A kind of WeChat code had developed through emoji: a half-fallen rose meant someone had been arrested. A dark moon, they had gone to the camps. A sun emoji – “I am alive.” A flower – “I have been released.” Messages were becoming more enigmatic by the day. Sometimes, a frantic series of messages parroting CPC propaganda would be followed by a blackout in communication. Washington DC-based Uyghur activist Aydin Anwar recalls that where Uyghurs used to write “inshallah” on social media, they now write “CPC.” On the few occasions she was able to speak with relatives, she said “it sounded like their soul had been taken out of them.” A string of pomegranate images were a common theme: the Party’s symbol of ethnic cohesion, the idea that all minorities and Han Chinese people should live harmoniously alongside one another, “like the seeds of a pomegranate.” By late 2017, most Uyghurs in Turkey had lost contact with their families completely. 2019-05-01 00:00:00 +0000

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen

Der Spiegel Bernhard Zand July 26, 2018

Visitors could once gaze upon one of the best preserved Islamic old cities in central Asia, made almost entirely of mud houses. But the government demolished most of the old buildings and erected a...

Forced Assimilation Bernhard Zand A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen all der-spiegel Der Spiegel all forced-assimilation all Visitors could once gaze upon one of the best preserved Islamic old cities in central Asia, made almost entirely of mud houses. But the government demolished most of the old buildings and erected a picturesque tourist quarter in its stead. 2018-07-26 00:00:00 +0000

China Stresses Investment, Invokes New Zealand Massacre in Defending Treatment of Muslims

Wall Street Journal Josh Chin April 10, 2019

Pedestrians were noticeably sparse in Uighur neighborhoods when the Journal visited in November. “It used to be shoulder-to-shoulder on some streets during the weekend,” one Uighur resident said. “...

Internment Josh Chin China Stresses Investment, Invokes New Zealand Massacre in Defending Treatment of Muslims all wall-street-journal Wall Street Journal all internment all Pedestrians were noticeably sparse in Uighur neighborhoods when the Journal visited in November. “It used to be shoulder-to-shoulder on some streets during the weekend,” one Uighur resident said. “Now the sidewalks feel empty.” 2019-04-10 00:00:00 +0000

Uighur man held after leaking letters from Xinjiang camp inmates, says family

Guardian Lily Kuo August 13, 2019

A Uighur man who leaked letters from inmates at China’s secretive internment camps in Xinjiang has been detained, according to activists and relatives. Abdurahman Memet, 30, a tour guide in Turpan...

Internment Pretexts for Detention Lily Kuo Uighur man held after leaking letters from Xinjiang camp inmates, says family all guardian Guardian all internment all pretexts-for-detention A Uighur man who leaked letters from inmates at China’s secretive internment camps in Xinjiang has been detained, according to activists and relatives. Abdurahman Memet, 30, a tour guide in Turpan, last year received letters from his parents and brother, written from inside detention centres in the far western region where as many as 1.5 million Muslims are believed to be detained in political “re-education” and other camps. In July, the letters were translated and published in the Xinjiang Victims Database, a public repository and watchdog site. The rare documents, among the first from inside a camp, spread quickly online. In less than a week, Memet vanished. 2019-08-13 00:00:00 +0000

Weather Reports: Voices from Xinjiang

The Believer Ben Mauk October 01, 2019

"It’s so hard to communicate—we worry that everything is being listened to. We can’t talk with him directly. I call my cousin’s sister in Ürümqi on WeChat. She calls her parents. They talk to him. ...

Destruction of the Family Restricting communication Ben Mauk Weather Reports: Voices from Xinjiang all the-believer The Believer all destruction-of-the-family all restricting-communication "It’s so hard to communicate—we worry that everything is being listened to. We can’t talk with him directly. I call my cousin’s sister in Ürümqi on WeChat. She calls her parents. They talk to him. That’s how he gets news to us. For almost a year, we haven’t heard his voice. Communication with her is easier, more frequent, because Ürümqi is a more liberal city. Just to be safe, though, we always use codes to talk to each other. I might ask my cousin’s sister, Do you have any news? Meaning about my father. Then I’ll ask, How is the weather? This is how I ask about my father’s condition. If the weather is calm and good, so is he. If it’s cold or hot, windy or rainy, his condition is poor. We’re careful. We never say the word China. We never say Allah kalasa. We don’t use any religious phrases. But we can communicate events using this code. It’s how all of us talk with our relatives in China. Everyone knows about it." "My oldest daughter, Ulnur, is no longer there. The authorities put her in a student dorm in a boarding school. They’re doing it all over the region in order to divide minority students among many schools. There are too many Kazakhs where my parents live. She comes home only on the weekends. Even if she’s sick during the week, she can’t come home; she can’t call anyone. In the fall, the same will happen to Gulnur. She’ll be taken to a boarding school somewhere." 2019-10-01 00:00:00 +0000

Weather Reports: Voices from Xinjiang

The Believer Ben Mauk October 01, 2019

"You see, back when I lived in China, I worked at the Oyman Bulak mosque. My first job was as the muezzin. I made the call to prayer five times a day. Over the next eight years, I eventually worked...

Religious Persecution Ben Mauk Weather Reports: Voices from Xinjiang all the-believer The Believer all religious-persecution all "You see, back when I lived in China, I worked at the Oyman Bulak mosque. My first job was as the muezzin. I made the call to prayer five times a day. Over the next eight years, I eventually worked my way up to imam. The state itself sent me to be trained! That’s what makes all this so unbelievable. It was an official position. I was part of China’s official Islamic Association. The authorities said we could practice Islam and, at first, we could. But in April 2017, the situation changed. They started sending imams to camps. Then they began sending those preaching Islam to camps. Then anyone who knew anything about the Koran. Finally, they began arresting people just for having a Koran at home, or even for praying. When it became clear I would be detained, I decided to flee and join my daughter in Kazakhstan. Up until that moment, I’d always done as I was ordered. You get a lot of orders as an imam in Xinjiang! I would take part in political classes whenever they asked, sometimes for weeks at a time. I always complied. But this time I was in a panic. I left my property, my home, my sheep and cattle." ... "It’s so hard to communicate—we worry that everything is being listened to. We can’t talk with him directly. I call my cousin’s sister in Ürümqi on WeChat. She calls her parents. They talk to him. That’s how he gets news to us. For almost a year, we haven’t heard his voice. Communication with her is easier, more frequent, because Ürümqi is a more liberal city. Just to be safe, though, we always use codes to talk to each other. I might ask my cousin’s sister, Do you have any news? Meaning about my father. Then I’ll ask, How is the weather? This is how I ask about my father’s condition. If the weather is calm and good, so is he. If it’s cold or hot, windy or rainy, his condition is poor. We’re careful. We never say the word China. We never say Allah kalasa. We don’t use any religious phrases. But we can communicate events using this code. It’s how all of us talk with our relatives in China. Everyone knows about it." "My oldest daughter, Ulnur, is no longer there. The authorities put her in a student dorm in a boarding school. They’re doing it all over the region in order to divide minority students among many schools. There are too many Kazakhs where my parents live. She comes home only on the weekends. Even if she’s sick during the week, she can’t come home; she can’t call anyone. In the fall, the same will happen to Gulnur. She’ll be taken to a boarding school somewhere." 2019-10-01 00:00:00 +0000

Overseas Uyghurs struggle to locate relatives in Xinjiang prisons

Reuters Cate Cadell September 21, 2021

When Ziba Murat last saw her mother, retired Uyghur doctor Gulshan Abbas, at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport in 2016, she begged her not to return to Xinjiang, where reports were emerging...

Destruction of the Family Internment Restricting communication Cate Cadell Overseas Uyghurs struggle to locate relatives in Xinjiang prisons all reuters Reuters all destruction-of-the-family internment all restricting-communication When Ziba Murat last saw her mother, retired Uyghur doctor Gulshan Abbas, at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport in 2016, she begged her not to return to Xinjiang, where reports were emerging about the detention of ethnic minorities. "My heart started to beat so fast. I told her not to go," said Murat. "We had already started to hear about the camps being built, but she thought she was safe." Shortly after returning home, Abbas told her daughter that her passport was confiscated, without providing details. Murat said their daily video calls became tense, and at times, Abbas would shake her head and cry for no apparent reason. "I feel so guilty, I think she was trying to send me messages," said Murat in a phone interview with Reuters. Murat said she last spoke to her mother on September 10, 2018. The day after, Abbas stopped picking up her phone. Abbas disappeared six days after her sister, Rushan Abbas, a high profile U.S-based Uyghur activist, spoke on a public panel at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, about the unfolding internment campaign in Xinjiang. Murat and Rushan Abbas believe the events are linked, which Reuters was unable to independently confirm. … Murat says the only official confirmation of her mother's arrest is a one-line statement made by a Chinese Foreign Ministry official at a 2020 media conference in Beijing, who said Abbas had been sentenced on crimes of terrorism and "disrupting social order". Murat said they had earlier received credible information from a non-official source whom she declined to identify that Abbas had been sentenced to 20 years. China has not publicly confirmed the sentence length and China’s foreign ministry and the Xinjiang government did not respond to requests on the sentence length. When Reuters visited the former family home still owned by her mother in Urumqi in May, the door was still sealed shut with police tape that bore the name of a police bureau in Artux, a region near the Kazakh border over 1,000 km (600 miles) from Urumqi. "Report to the community office if you ever return," read a notice on the door. … Murat is one of eight Uyghur people who told Reuters they have spent years searching for information on relatives who were detained and have since been charged and imprisoned in Xinjiang. … For five of the six detained people, relatives said they have received no official information at all on the location of their loved ones or the length of their prison terms. There is no publicly available documentation on the trials or sentencing of any of the detained people on China's judicial websites, according to the relatives and Reuters' checks. 2021-09-21 00:00:00 +0000

China's Uyghur Muslims forced to eat and drink as Ramadan celebrations banned

Telegraph Sophia Yan June 06, 2019

Lined with facial recognition security cameras both inside and out, Id Kah mosque in Kashgar is under the constant watch of patrolling police officers armed with batons and riot shields. ... Wid...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Internment Destruction of the Family Restricting journalism Use of technology Sophia Yan China's Uyghur Muslims forced to eat and drink as Ramadan celebrations banned all telegraph Telegraph all surveillance religious-persecution internment destruction-of-the-family all restricting-journalism use-of-technology Lined with facial recognition security cameras both inside and out, Id Kah mosque in Kashgar is under the constant watch of patrolling police officers armed with batons and riot shields. ... Widespread intimidation - from inside mosques to family homes - mean residents don't dare utter the traditional Islamic greeting, “as-salaam alaikum”, while fasting is also banned, with restaurants forced to stay open. ... Local officials are increasing checks to people’s homes, too, to make sure they aren’t secretly observing the practice, according to a government notice posted online. ... In the corner that remains, Chinese tourists snap photos of Uighur children in the narrow lanes by homes with red signs that deem them “virtuous” households – a government programme that recognises ‘good’ behaviour. ... The Telegraph was followed so tightly that it was impossible to conduct interviews in the open. But in snatches of private conversations, Uighurs raised deep concerns without being prompted. Near one internment camp, our Uighur driver shut off the radio and snuffed out his cigarette, his lively demeanour suddenly subdued. That compound was “much trouble,” he said, making the motion of being handcuffed. Police tracked his vehicle and he never got too close out of fear he’d end up inside. ... Another confided he’d been detained for a few days and that his wife remained imprisoned, now for 18 months, leaving him alone to raise their two young children. “I am worried,” he said. “I don’t know for how much longer [she will be held].” ... At highway checkpoints, Uighurs are stopped for full body and face scans and vehicle searches. To pass, they must swipe their ID cards at turnstiles, prompting personal details to pop up on screens for officers to monitor, creating a digital trail of their movements. ... Now, the ruling Communist Party has launched a propaganda campaign about snuffing out "criminal" and "terrorist" activity. All across Xinjiang – meaning "new frontier" – are bright red banners reminding people to fight illegal, "cult" behaviour, listing hotlines to report suspicious activity. “Love the Party, love the country,” hangs a streamer at one mosque, just above the metal detector. A highway billboard proclaims, “Secretary Xi is linked heart-to-heart with Xinjiang minorities,” referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping. ... A retired Han couple said they finally felt safe enough to visit Xinjiang given the strong police presence. “We’ve been here for a week and we haven’t seen any scuffles,” Zuo Xiaofang, from Shanghai, told the Telegraph. “We heard it used to be a mess here.” ... “Han and Uighur are a united family!” said a Han Chinese barista in the old city, now turned a garish cultural theme park, where many mosques have shuttered, with Islamic features like onion domes or the crescent moon removed. 2019-06-06 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

Otarbai learned that the police had found WhatsApp, a messaging client that is blocked in China, on his phone. Otarbai protested that the app was common in Kazakhstan, where he now lived. The offic...

Religious Persecution Surveillance Use of technology Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all religious-persecution surveillance all use-of-technology Otarbai learned that the police had found WhatsApp, a messaging client that is blocked in China, on his phone. Otarbai protested that the app was common in Kazakhstan, where he now lived. The officers asked if he knew what he had saved in his WhatsApp account. Otarbai immediately understood what they meant. In Koktokay, he’d told the police that he didn’t pray regularly. Now he remembered that there were a few videos of imams preaching and inspirational images related to the practice of praying five times a day. “I know there is some religious instruction,” he told them. “I know it is there.” That fall, in an improvised courtroom inside the camp, Otarbai was convicted and sentenced in a pro-forma process that only vaguely resembled a trial. There was no defense; a representative from his old neighborhood administration read out a verdict stating that he “has been confirmed to have used WhatsApp, and is thus given a seven-year sentence.” 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

The officers took Otarbai to the Tacheng police station. He was surprised to see that the building, which he remembered from his time living in the city, had been outfitted with new metal security ...

Internment Internment conditions Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all internment all internment-conditions The officers took Otarbai to the Tacheng police station. He was surprised to see that the building, which he remembered from his time living in the city, had been outfitted with new metal security doors and a fingerprint scanner. Around 1 A.M., Otarbai was interrogated again. This time, he was secured to the same type of chair he’d seen in the Koktokay police station, which he later learned to call a “tiger chair.” His arms and legs were cuffed. When he asked what he’d done wrong, the officers replied that they were simply following instructions. One officer pointed to a camera mounted on the wall. “They are watching us,” he said. Otarbai’s interrogation ended soon after he acknowledged his phone’s contents, and the police took him to a nearby hospital for a medical checkup. Although he was the only patient there in shackles and handcuffs, he still hoped that he would be freed. Instead, the police took him to Tacheng’s pretrial detention center. He spent the next three months there, sharing crowded jail cells with as many as twenty-two other prisoners. By his own account, Otarbai was a badly behaved detainee. He shouted at guards, demanding his release, which led to beatings. During one encounter, a guard told Otarbai that he would rot in jail, then struck his head with a metal baton, causing him to bleed. “Nobody interrogated me,” he said. “Nobody told me what was happening.” He assumed his detention was a mistake that would soon be corrected. On November 22nd, three months after Otarbai entered the detention center, police officers read aloud a list of prisoners who would be transferred to a “political learning center.” More than two dozen detainees were handcuffed, shackled, hooded, and loaded into police minivans. Otarbai was among them. ... Less than a month after Kokteubai reunited with Aynur, the police summoned him to a meeting. Several hours later, Aynur received a phone call from her husband. He said police officers were taking him to a nearby secondary school that had been turned into a detention camp. He asked her to bring him some warm clothes. A wall topped with barbed wire surrounded the school. At the front gate, Kokteubai waited for Aynur under guard. She brought him socks and underwear and took his phone, then watched him disappear into the facility. Authorities made Aynur sign a document from the county security bureau. “Notice to family of the student-trainee,” the document reads. “In accordance with Article 38 of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Measures to Implement the ‘People’s Republic of China Anti-Terrorism Law,’ our bureau has, from the 6th of September, 2017, started education and training for Nurlan Kokteubai as he is”—the next section of the form was handwritten—“under suspicion of having dealings with individuals suspected of terrorist activities.” The charges baffled Kokteubai. To his knowledge, he had never met a terrorist. On his second day of detention, a member of the camp administration came to see him. Kokteubai asked when he would learn what he was accused of doing. He was surprised to learn that he wouldn’t be questioned at all. “If you hadn’t committed a crime, you wouldn’t have ended up here,” the administrator told him. “So there is something you are here for.” ... In November, 2017, Otarbai, the truck driver, rode in a police minibus to a former retirement home that had been converted into a detention center, with high walls and watchtowers—the Tacheng Regional Vocational Skills, Education, and Training Center. During a medical exam, he learned that he had lost nearly sixty pounds during his three months in police detention. In the next three months, he shared small cells with a revolving cast of other detainees. Koksebek, the herder, didn’t speak Chinese, and found it difficult to recite the national anthem and other patriotic songs that detainees were forced to learn. As punishment, he did stints in solitary confinement. Otarbai spent hours in their cell teaching Koksebek the songs by heart, one syllable at a time. “I can say he taught me Chinese,” Koksebek said. Every morning, guards delivered meagre rations of vegetables and rice. The students received meat rarely, and Koksebek was concerned that it was not halal. For several hours each day, they watched state-produced news broadcasts, documentaries, and speeches by President Xi Jinping. Video cameras kept them under constant surveillance. In time, Otarbai learned the stories of his cellmates. Some had downloaded WhatsApp, like he had. Others had bought property in foreign countries. They shared stories and gossip while completing exercises in their Chinese workbooks or watching TV. The detainees were never allowed outside. “Of course, you are bored,” Otarbai said. “But they wouldn’t leave us alone.” In a series of separate interviews in Kazakhstan, the three men spoke about their detentions, describing the Tacheng camp in detail. The retirement home’s dormitory bedrooms had been transformed into prison cells with triple-locking metal doors and surveillance cameras. Each room had eight barracks-style bunks, but there were often not enough beds for everyone. Seituly preferred to sleep on the floor to warm himself against the underfloor heating. “The light is always on,” Otarbai said. “You can’t see your own shadow.” Each day, guards woke the detainees around 6:30 A.M. Beijing time—two hours ahead of their local time zone. “We would sing the Chinese Red songs every morning, every day,” Otarbai said. In November, when Otarbai arrived, the camp was mostly empty. By the next month, when Koksebek joined him, the adjacent rooms began to fill. Daily classes began. Detainees spent ten hours in a classroom: four hours each in the morning and afternoon, and two hours of review at night. “After breakfast, we would go to classes, and then we would study until the evening,” Otarbai said. Iron bars divided the classroom: students on one side and teachers on the other, flanked by rifle-wielding guards. Once the students were in the room, the door was locked. Each classroom accommodated eighty to ninety students. “Old people with vision problems would sit at the front,” Otarbai recalled. “The youngest ones—as young as eighteen—would sit at the back.” Students were divided into different classes. Koksebek, who had a second-grade education, was in the lowest level, where he learned basic Chinese words and numbers. For high-school and college graduates, like Otarbai and Seituly, classes focussed on political indoctrination and, to an obsessive degree, they said, the dangers of Islam. “ ‘Religion is like an opium,’ they tell us,” Seituly recalled. “They talk about jihadists. They say that if someone doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol, they might be having extremist thoughts.” Although it was forbidden to talk with classmates, Otarbai recognized prominent local people in his class, including imams, intellectuals, and former mayors. “There were a lot of influential people,” he said. Just as he was at the pretrial detention center, Otarbai was a surly prisoner, demanding his release and better treatment for him and his cellmates. As punishment, he frequently spent time in solitary confinement, in a squalid cell too small to lie down in. During one interrogation, guards forced him to strip, drenched him in water, and beat him. Another time, he was shocked with an electric prod. ... Former detainees described striking similarities in the design of the camps. Door-locking systems, furniture, color-coded uniforms, and classroom layouts were often virtually identical from camp to camp. Several detainees in Tacheng, and at other camps, described two yellow lines that were painted on the floors of hallways inside the buildings, to direct inmates and guards around the compound. One day in March, the three Kazakh men and their cellmates were ordered to line up in the hall. Rumors circulated that those staying behind would be freed, and those being transferred would be imprisoned permanently. “They took us outside, four hundred of us, group by group,” Seituly recalled. In the yard, the men were ordered to squat as policemen and guard dogs circled them. The police placed hoods over the prisoners’ heads and led them, in pairs, to waiting buses. “They had rifles and were yelling at us. Then they put hoods on us. Like the Second World War. Like the fascists dealing with the Jews,” Seituly said. “We thought they were going to shoot us there.” The men were driven to a newly built camp a few miles away. ... “You aren’t allowed to sing in Kazakh or Uighur, but you can in Mongolian, Chinese, or English,” he explained. ... A few days later, a camp administrator visited Aynur. The official said that Kokteubai was in the hospital. He’d had a cardiac event. She was ordered to go to the camp hospital to take care of him as he recovered, but cameras monitored them throughout her visit. “If I attempted to talk to him, a voice would come over the loudspeaker and tell us to stop,” she said. This was the third time that Kokteubai had been hospitalized for heart problems during his detention. In April of 2018, seven months after his detention began, Kokteubai was released, likely owing to poor health. When he left the camp, he could barely walk. The authorities made Aynur sign a paper pledging to be responsible for her husband’s continuing education. He began attending classes in Akkoi Farm with his wife. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

The New Yorker Ben Mauk February 26, 2021

While Aynur’s husband was detained, Akkoi Farm officials required her to attend Chinese-language classes for four hours every day. For months, she heard nothing from her husband. Communist Party ca...

Surveillance Destruction of Language In-home Surveillance by 'Relatives' Ben Mauk Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State all the-new-yorker The New Yorker all surveillance all destruction-of-language in-home-surveillance-by-relatives While Aynur’s husband was detained, Akkoi Farm officials required her to attend Chinese-language classes for four hours every day. For months, she heard nothing from her husband. Communist Party cadres showed up unannounced at the house where she was living and stayed for days at a time. As many as four strangers might appear, eating meals with Aynur and her relatives. When one group left, it was replaced by another. “They would interrogate us, mainly me, asking me what I was doing, why we went to Kazakhstan—they would ask about everything,” she said. After several weeks, the round-the-clock surveillance stopped, but cadres who called themselves Aynur’s “older siblings” continued to visit each week. ... Sholpan Amirken, a hairdresser from northern Xinjiang who married into a prominent religious family, told me that after several of her husband’s relatives were detained in 2017, a male Han cadre came to stay at her house. He advised Amirken and her husband, both of whom are Kazakh, to dispose of books written in Arabic, so she burned them. He also ordered her to take down wall ornaments with Kazakh phrases—“May Allah Bless You,” “May the Roof of Your House Be High”—along with embroideries of mosques. The cadre visited for days or weeks at a time, she said, always bringing luggage and sleeping in the main house. Amirken was nervous around the cadre, who came even when her husband, a long-haul truck driver, like Otarbai, was away. She began to sleep in a guest house. “We considered him a spy,” she said. In time, though, Amirken began to sense that some of the cadres had been pressured into the arrangement. “They have to make video calls from the house and report that they are there,” she said. “They are also doing it unwillingly.” Her cadre was far from the worst. Others, she said, “were very pleased with their jobs.” She had heard that some cadres threatened people with detention in the camps. 2021-02-26 00:00:00 +0000

Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement

Journal of Contemporary China Leibold May 31, 2019

During one door-to-door sweep in Turpan in 2014, village-based work teams were instructed to root out individuals who instruct on religion, keep beards, wear full face veils or possess religious kn...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Leibold Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic Sorting, Coercion, and Inducement all journal-of-contemporary-china Journal of Contemporary China all surveillance religious-persecution all During one door-to-door sweep in Turpan in 2014, village-based work teams were instructed to root out individuals who instruct on religion, keep beards, wear full face veils or possess religious knowledge without official credentials. ‘You should set a time to visit them’, a local Party memo states, ‘and, if necessary, adopt forceful methods to get them to change in order to fully achieve the “three complete covers” of Party cells, stability maintenance work, and stability maintenance responsibility’ . . . In some cases, work teams are provided with a list of ‘extremist religious behaviour’ to assist them in their investigative work. One such 2014 list contains 75 items, which includes obvious signs such as advocating sharia law or inciting holy war, but also ‘unusual behaviour’ and ‘symptoms of religious extremism’. These less obvious signs include things like having a distorted view of Xinjiang history; wearing a veil, jilbab, or long beard; abstaining from alcohol and smoking; refusing to allow ones children to learn Mandarin or vilifying bilingual education, and also more prosaic actions like amassing a large quantity of food at home; pray together outside of mosque; and purchasing dumbbells, boxing gloves or other strengthening equipment without an obvious reason. 2019-05-31 00:00:00 +0000

‘They Have My Sister’: As Uyghurs Speak Out, China Targets Their Families

New York Times Austin Ramzy July 27, 2021

At first they took away her father. Then they pressed her to return home from Japan. Last year, at age 30, Mihriay Erkin, the scientist, died in Xinjiang, under mysterious circumstances. The govern...

Destruction of the Family Internment Restricting communication Austin Ramzy ‘They Have My Sister’: As Uyghurs Speak Out, China Targets Their Families all new-york-times New York Times all destruction-of-the-family internment all restricting-communication At first they took away her father. Then they pressed her to return home from Japan. Last year, at age 30, Mihriay Erkin, the scientist, died in Xinjiang, under mysterious circumstances. The government confirmed Ms. Erkin’s death but attributed it to an illness. Her uncle, Abduweli Ayup, the activist, believes she died in state custody. Mr. Ayup says his niece was only the latest in his family to come under pressure from the authorities. His two siblings had already been detained and imprisoned. All three were targeted in retaliation for his efforts to expose the plight of the Uyghurs, he said. ... The Communist Party has long treated the relatives of dissidents as guilty by association and used them to pressure and punish outspoken family members. With the courts under the control of the authorities, there is little recourse to challenge such prosecutions. ... But with the Uyghurs, the authorities seem to be applying this tactic with unusual, and increasing severity, placing some Uyghur activists’ relatives in prison for decades, or longer. Dolkun Isa, the German-based president of the World Uyghur Congress, a Uyghur rights group, said he believes his older brother is in detention. He learned in late May that his younger brother, Hushtar, had been sentenced to life in prison. “It was connected to my activism, surely,” Mr. Isa said. Radio Free Asia, a United States-funded broadcaster, says that more than 50 relatives of journalists on staff have been detained in Xinjiang, with some held in detention camps and others sentenced to prison. The journalists all work for the broadcaster’s Uyghur language service, which has in the past several years stood out for its reporting on the crackdown, exposing the existence of camps and publishing the first accounts of deaths and forced sterilizations. The sister of Rushan Abbas, a Uyghur American activist, was sentenced in December to 20 years in prison for terrorism. The sister, Gulshan Abbas, and her aunt had been detained in 2018, days after Rushan Abbas spoke at an event in Washington denouncing the crackdown and widespread detention in Xinjiang. 2021-07-27 00:00:00 +0000

How China Turned a City Into a Prison

New York Times Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy April 10, 2019

This piece of land in southern Kashgar was empty in August 2016. ... Now this is a re-education camp with a capacity of roughly 20,000 people. The government says it is a vocational training center...

Internment Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy How China Turned a City Into a Prison all new-york-times New York Times all internment all This piece of land in southern Kashgar was empty in August 2016. ... Now this is a re-education camp with a capacity of roughly 20,000 people. The government says it is a vocational training center. A recent satellite image shows the camp occupies more than 195,000 square meters. 2019-04-10 00:00:00 +0000

How China Turned a City Into a Prison

New York Times Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy April 10, 2019

The very architecture of Kashgar has been altered to make the city easier to control. The Old City, a maze-like area of mudbrick homes, has mostly been demolished. The government said it was for s...

Forced Assimilation Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy How China Turned a City Into a Prison all new-york-times New York Times all forced-assimilation all The very architecture of Kashgar has been altered to make the city easier to control. The Old City, a maze-like area of mudbrick homes, has mostly been demolished. The government said it was for safety and sanitation. But the rebuilding has also created wider streets that are easier to monitor and patrol. Some areas are still undergoing demolition and reconstruction. 2019-04-10 00:00:00 +0000

How China Turned a City Into a Prison

New York Times Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy April 10, 2019

The intimidation works. We visited one of the few mosques in the city that remain open, the famed Id Kah mosque. Only a few dozen men came for the main prayers on a Friday, the main Islamic day of ...

Religious Persecution Surveillance Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy How China Turned a City Into a Prison all new-york-times New York Times all religious-persecution surveillance all The intimidation works. We visited one of the few mosques in the city that remain open, the famed Id Kah mosque. Only a few dozen men came for the main prayers on a Friday, the main Islamic day of worship. A few years ago, thousands of worshipers gathered. At the mosque, worshipers register and go through a security check. Inside, they pray under surveillance cameras that the police can monitor. 2019-04-10 00:00:00 +0000

How China Turned a City Into a Prison

New York Times Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy April 10, 2019

This is Kashgar, an ancient town in northwest China. Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other Muslims from this region have been detained in camps, drawing international condemnation. But outside...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, Austin Ramzy How China Turned a City Into a Prison all new-york-times New York Times all surveillance all civilian-informants This is Kashgar, an ancient town in northwest China. Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other Muslims from this region have been detained in camps, drawing international condemnation. But outside the camps, Uighurs live in a virtual cage. China has built a vast net of controls that shows the Communist Party’s vision of automated authoritarianism. Neighbors become informants. Children are interrogated. Mosques are monitored. 2019-04-10 00:00:00 +0000

Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains

Associated Press Dake Kang October 10, 2021

City centers now bustle with life again, with Uyghur and Han children screeching as they chase each other across streets. Some Uyghurs even approach me and ask for my contact — something that never...

Surveillance Religious Persecution Forced Assimilation Restricting communication Destruction of Language Dake Kang Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains all associated-press Associated Press all surveillance religious-persecution forced-assimilation all restricting-communication destruction-of-language City centers now bustle with life again, with Uyghur and Han children screeching as they chase each other across streets. Some Uyghurs even approach me and ask for my contact — something that never happened on previous visits. But in rural villages and quiet suburbs, many houses sit empty and padlocked. In one Kashgar neighborhood, the words “Empty House” is spray-painted on every third or fourth residence. In a village an hour’s drive away, I spot dozens of “Empty House” notices on a half-hour walk, red lettering on yellow slips fluttering in the wind on door upon door. Control is also tighter deep in the countryside, away from the bazaars that the government is eager for visitors to see. In one village we stop in, an elderly Uyghur man in a square skullcap answers just one question – “We don’t have the coronavirus here, everything is good” – before a local Han Chinese cadre demands to know what we are doing. He tells the villagers in Uyghur, “If he asks you anything, just say you don’t know anything.” Behind him, a drunk Uyghur man was yelling. Alcohol is forbidden for practicing Muslims, especially in the holy month of Ramadan. “I’ve been drinking alcohol, I’m a little drunk, but that’s no problem. We can drink as we want now!” he shouted. “We can do what we want! Things are great now!” At a nearby store, I notice liquor bottles lining the shelves. In another town, my colleague and I encounter a drunk Uyghur man, passed out by a trash bin in broad daylight. Though many Uyghurs in big cities like Urumqi have long indulged in drinking, such sights were once unimaginable in the pious rural areas of southern Xinjiang. On a government sponsored tour, officials took us to meet Mamatjan Ahat, a truck driver, who declared he was back to drinking and smoking because he had recanted religion and extremism after a stint at one of Xinjiang’s infamous “training centers”. “It made me more open-minded,” Ahat told reporters, as officials listened in. Controls on religious activity have slackened, but remain tightly bound by the state. For example, the authorities have allowed some mosques to reopen, though hours are strictly limited. Small groups of elderly worshippers trickle in and out. Xinjiang’s unique brand of state-controlled Islam is most on display at the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, a government school for imams. Here, young Uyghur men chant verses from the Quran and pray five times a day. They get scholarships and opportunities to study in Egypt, officials say as they walk us around. Tens of thousands have graduated, and recently they’ve opened a new campus – albeit one with a police station installed at the entrance. “Religious freedom is enshrined in China’s constitution,” said a student, Omar Adilabdulla, as officials watch him speak. “It’s totally free.” As he speaks, I crack open a textbook on another student’s desk. A good Chinese Muslim has to learn Mandarin, it says, China’s main language. “Arabic is not the only language that compiles Allah’s classics,” the lesson said. “To learn Chinese is our responsibility and obligation, because we are all Chinese.” As I flip through the book, I spot other lessons. “We must be grateful to the Party and the government for creating peace,” reads one chapter. “We must strive to build a socialist Xinjiang with Chinese characteristics,” says another. “Amen!” Uyghur is still spoken everywhere, but its use in public spaces is slowly fading. In some cities, entire blocks, freshly constructed, have signs only in Chinese, not Uyghur. In bookstores, Uyghur language tomes are relegated to sections labeled “ethnic minority language books”. The government boasts that nearly a thousand Uyghur titles are published a year, but none are by Perhat Tursun, a lyrical modernist author, or Yalqun Rozi, a textbook editor and firebrand commentator. They, like most prominent Uyghur intellectuals, have been imprisoned. On the shelves instead: Xi Jinping thought, biographies of Mao, lectures on socialist values, and Mandarin-Uyghur dictionaries. Many Uyghurs still struggle with Mandarin, from young men to elderly grandmothers. In recent years, the government has made Mandarin the mandatory standard in schools. On the state tour, a headmaster tells us that the Uyghur language continues to be protected, pointing to their minority language classes. But all other classes are in Chinese, and a sign at one school urges students to “Speak Mandarin, use standard writing.” 2021-10-10 00:00:00 +0000

Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century

Fair Observer Sean R. Roberts December 17, 2018

The lack of trust cultivated by this situation has led people to take all steps possible to avoid talking about the camps and the fear they evoke. If one is to discuss this with anybody, it must be...

Surveillance Civilian Informants Sean R. Roberts Fear and Loathing in Xinjiang: Ethnic Cleansing in the 21st Century all fair-observer Fair Observer all surveillance all civilian-informants The lack of trust cultivated by this situation has led people to take all steps possible to avoid talking about the camps and the fear they evoke. If one is to discuss this with anybody, it must be a very trusted person and in complete privacy where nobody else can hear. Thus, one cannot compare notes about the fear each is encountering, and all of these feelings must be bottled up and self-absorbed. They cannot demonstrate any attachments to the social life they once lived — the bonds of family, friends, neighbors and ethnic identity must all be forsaken. This, in effect, is breaking down the social fabric of Uighur society, which is at the center of their cultural identity. 2018-12-17 00:00:00 +0000

Exporting persecution: Uyghur diaspora haunted by anxiety, guilt as family held in Chinese camps

Globe and Mail Nathan Vanderklippe August 12, 2018

In Mississauga, one Uyghur man said that two of his nieces, one of them only 15, were “abducted” for 15 days of indoctrination in March before being allowed back to regular school studies. He showe...

Internment Forced Patriotic/Propoganda Displays Nathan Vanderklippe Exporting persecution: Uyghur diaspora haunted by anxiety, guilt as family held in Chinese camps all globe-and-mail Globe and Mail all internment all forced-patriotic-propaganda-displays