Detainees Are Trickling Out of Xinjiang’s CampsJanuary 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 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.