Cruel Treatments

U.S. Steps Up China Pressure Over Surveillance of Uyghurs

U.S. Steps Up China Pressure Over Surveillance of Uyghurs

U.S. Steps Up China Pressure Over Surveillance of Uyghurs

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(Bloomberg) — The Biden administration ratcheted up pressure on Beijing over its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, as U.S. lawmakers passed a bill targeting companies that rely on forced labor from the Xinjiang region of China.

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The administration on Thursday added 34 entities in China, including 11 research institutes within the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, to its banned entity list, saying they are part of a network that misuses biometric surveillance technology to track and repress ethnic and religious minorities. American companies need a license to do business with those on the Commerce Department’s entity list.

Later in the day, the Treasury Department announced that U.S. investors would be prohibited from investing in eight Chinese technology companies, including DJI Technology Co. Ltd., Cloudwalk Technology Co. LT-A and Yitu Limited.

“Today’s action highlights how private firms in China’s defense and surveillance technology sectors are actively cooperating with the government’s efforts to repress members of ethnic and religious minority groups,” Brian Nelson, an undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement accompanying the Treasury list.

To see a full list of the entities impacted by the U.S. click here

A U.S. official said China had a documented history of exploiting DNA collection and biometric facial recognition for mass surveillance of all residents ages 12 to 65 of Xinjiang, a predominantly Muslim region, enabling mass detention and unlawful persecution.

The wave of penalties arrived before Senate approval on Thursday of legislation that would ban goods made in Xinjiang from being shipped to the U.S. unless companies can prove that they’ve not been made with forced labor. The bill, which now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature, had broad bipartisan support in the normally polarized Congress.

Human rights has emerged as a key irritant in already tense U.S.-China relations alongside Beijing’s tightening control over Hong Kong, incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and more aggressive posture in the South China Sea. The U.S. has sought to build up its alliances in the Indo-Pacific region as a bulwark to China and recently announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

About 1.5 million Turkic Muslims, primarily ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs, have been detained in “re-education camps” in Xinjiang since 2017. Chinese officials have described the camps as “vocational educational institutions” that provide “de-extremization” programming.

Chinese officials repeatedly reject charges that forced labor is used in Xinjiang and call the U.S. legislation interference in the nation’s domestic affairs. On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the U.S. at a regular news briefing in Beijing of “over stretching the concept of national security” to abuse its export control measures.

“We urge the U.S. to correct its wrongdoing,” he said. “And we will take all necessary measures to uphold the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese institutions and companies.”

Thursday’s actions follow the U.S. government’s action on Dec. 10 placing investment restrictions on SenseTime Group Inc., China’s largest artificial intelligence firm. SenseTime then withdrew its planned initial public offering in Hong Kong.

SenseTime is considering reopening orders for its IPO as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Commerce list didn’t include any major biotech names. Shares in some of China’s biggest health care firms, including Wuxi Biologics, rebounded in Hong Kong on Friday, recovering losses after the Financial Times reported the U.S. might sanction unidentified biotech companies.

(Updates with market rebound and Chinese Foreign Ministry comment.)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics: Australia joins US diplomatic boycott

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics: Australia joins US diplomatic boycott

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics: Australia joins US diplomatic boycott

 
 
·2 min read
 
 
People protest next to 'boycott Beijing 2022' signs
 
Protesters have called for a boycott of the event

Australia has said it will join the US in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was in response to “human rights abuses” in China’s Xinjiang province and “many other issues that Australia has consistently raised”.

Athletes would still attend, he added.

China has condemned the US announcement and threatened to retaliate, without giving further details.

On Monday, the US said it would not send diplomats to the Games in Beijing over concerns about China’s human rights record.

Mr Morrison said it was “no surprise” that Australia had joined the boycott, given relations with China had deteriorated in recent years.

“I’m doing it because it’s in Australia’s national interest,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s the right thing to do.”

He accused China of rejecting opportunities to improve relations, insisting Australia remained open to bilateral talks.

The Chinese embassy in Australia responded by saying: “Mountains cannot stop the river from flowing into the sea. Australia’s success at the Beijing Winter Olympics depends on the performance of Australian athletes, not on the attendance of Australian officials, and the political posturing by some Australian politicians.”

It added that the blame for the current state of China-Australia relations “lies squarely on the Australian side”.

Meanwhile at a media briefing on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the US of violating “political neutrality in sport” and said the proposed boycott was “based on lies and rumours”.

Tensions are high between the two countries. The US has accused China of genocide in its repression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang – an allegation China has strongly denied.

Relations are also strained over China’s suppression of political freedoms in Hong Kong, and because of concerns for the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who was not seen for weeks after she accused a top government official of assault.

Canberra has increasingly come to view China as a security threat amid allegations that Beijing has interfered in Australian politics and society.

It has also raised concerns over two Australian citizens who remain imprisoned in China.

Pro-democracy writer Yang Hengjun has denied charges of espionage and allegedly faced torture since his arrest in January 2019. Journalist Cheng Lei has been held without charge since August last year.

Other countries – including Canada and Japan – are also said to be considering diplomatic boycotts of the Games. New Zealand has confirmed it will not send officials due to Covid concerns.

The Australian Olympic Committee said it supported its government’s move but was keen to ensure safety for its approximately 40 athletes.

More on the Australia-China row:

Opinion: Who ordered the Uyghur genocide? Look no further than China’s leader.

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Opinion: Who ordered the Uyghur genocide? Look no further than China’s leader.

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Demonstrators protest the Chinese Communist Party near the Chinese Embassy in London in October. (Matt Dunham/AP)

Evidence has grown over the past few years that China has carried out a genocide against Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim peoples of Xinjiang region in the country’s far northwest. Eyewitnessessatellite photos and government records have contributed to a grotesque picture of a people’s identity being eradicated. We now know that China built an archipelago of concentration camps, tried to repress the Uyghur birthrate and dispatched workers into forced labor. But who should be held to account?

China’s top leadership gave the orders, according to a new analysis from Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, who has led the way in exposing the genocide. He points to comments and actions of China’s leader Xi Jinping and, secondly, his handpicked Xinjiang regional party boss, Chen Quanguo. In 2014, when the measures were first being contemplated, Mr. Xi declared, “Those who should be seized should be seized, and those who should be sentenced should be sentenced.” Mr. Chen later followed with “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

Mr. Zenz’s conclusions are based on a cache of internal documents known as the Xinjiang Papers. They were first disclosed in the New York Times, which received 403 pages of previously secret documents from a “member of the Chinese political establishment,” and published a story Nov. 16, 2019. The Times published the full text of one document, but not the cache in its entirety, in order to protect the source from possible detection.

Then, in mid-September, digital files of the Xinjiang Papers were leaked to the Uyghur Tribunal, an independent fact-finding effort based in London, which has held three rounds of hearings this year and is planning to release a report next week. (The Times says it was not the source of this leak.) In the two years since the first disclosures, much more has become known about the nature and scope of the repression. Mr. Zenz authenticated and analyzed the documents for the tribunal and concluded the genocide was a deliberate policy choice, encouraged by Mr. Xi and others. In a Nov. 27 statement to the tribunal, Mr. Zenz said “linkages between statements and mandates made by Xi and other central government figures and policies that were implemented after 2016 are far more extensive, detailed and significant than previously understood.”

The genocide plans took shape after an outdoor market attack in southern Xinjiang in May 2014 in which 31 people were killed, which China blamed on Uyghur separatists. Mr. Xi declared that religious extremism is a “poison” and a “powerful psychedelic drug” and vowed to wipe it out. Key decisions followed: to build high-security reeducation camps in which more than 1 million Uyghurs were incarcerated; to push the Uyghur population into coerced labor; and to launch a campaign to suppress the birthrate of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. These were the pillars of the genocide.

The Uyghur genocide raises urgent questions about who must bear responsibility for potential crimes against humanity. The Xinjiang Papers show Mr. Xi and his cohorts ordered the destruction of language, culture, traditions, hopes and dreams of an entire people.

Leaked papers link Xinjiang crackdown with China leadership

Leaked papers link Xinjiang crackdown with China leadership

Leaked papers link Xinjiang crackdown with China leadership

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Secret documents urge population control, mass round-ups and punishment of Uyghurs

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a billboard in Yarkent County in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Chinese president Xi Jinping argued in a speech that ‘population proportion’ was a foundation for peace in Xinjiang, new documents have revealed. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP
 

Excerpts from previously unpublished documents directly linking China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang province to speeches by the Chinese leadership in 2014 have been put online.

The documents – including three speeches by Chinese president Xi Jinping in April 2014 – cover security, population control and the need to punish the Uyghur population. Some are marked top secret. They were leaked to the Uyghur Tribunal – an independent people’s tribunal based in the UK.

 

In the documents, the highest levels of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) leadership call for Uyghur re-education and relocation to rectify an imbalance in the Uyghur and Han population in Xinjiang.

 
A camera is mounted on a watchtower at a high-security facility in Xinjiang, China, believed to be a re-education camp where Uyghurs are detained.
‘There’s cameras everywhere’: testimonies detail far-reaching surveillance of Uyghurs in China
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Dr Adrian Zenz, the German academic who was asked by the tribunal to authenticate the documents, said the top secret and confidential papers are significant because they show multiple links between the demands of the Chinese leadership of 2014 and what subsequently happened in Xinjiang, including mass internment in re-education camps, coercive labour transfers and optimising the ethnic population by increasing Han population shares.

Zenz alleges that the documents show the leadership’s long-term intent to commit cultural genocide with the specific purpose of safeguarding the rule of the CCP.

The documents were handed in full in digital form to the tribunal in September, but have not been published in full in order to protect the source of the leak.

Instead transcripts from some of the documents, lengthy quotations, summary and analysis have been published. The original documents were peer reviewed by Dr James Millward, professor of inter-societal history at Georgetown University Washington, and Dr David Tobin, lecturer in east Asian studies at the University of Sheffield. Some have been redacted to remove reception stamps. The leak covers 11 documents and 300 unique pages. They range from April 2014 to May 2018.

Zenz said some of the documents were drawn upon by the New York Times in a report in 2019, but that the leak also comprises previously unseen information.

In late 2016, just before the implementation of a set of unprecedented measures in Xinjiang, the leaders’ statements were handed to Xinjiang’s cadres as crucial study material, preparing them to implement the measures.

In one 2014 speech covered by the leak, Xi argues that the belt and road initiative, his signature foreign policy project, requires a stable domestic security environment. He asserts that the entire country’s national security and the achievement of China’s major goals in the 21st century will be in jeopardy if the situation in southern Xinjiang is not brought under control.

 
A vendor selling naan bread waits for customers on a street under surveillance cameras in Shule county, Xinjiang
Chinese effort to gather ‘micro clues’ on Uyghurs laid bare in report
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The speech was delivered weeks after Xi called for “all-out efforts” to bring to justice assailants who murdered 31 people and wounded more than 140 with knives and machetes in a bloody killing in the south-western city of Kunming on 1 March. Beijing blamed Xinjiang separatists for the attack.

In the speech Xi demands that the region engage in an all-out battle to “prevent Xinjiang’s violent terrorist activities from spreading to the rest of China”, argues that “stability across Xinjiang and even across the whole country depends on southern Xinjiang”, and calls for “a crushing blow to buy us time”.

He notes that since violent acts had already spread to other regions of China, “therefore we propose that Xinjiang is currently in … a painful period of interventionary treatment”. Religious extremists, he says, are “devils who will kill without blinking an eye”.

He also warns religious extremism is “a powerful psychedelic drug”, and calls for reform through education, as opposed to a practice of arrest and release – a reference to re-education and detention camps.

In another document, Xinjiang’s party secretary, Chen Quanguo, personally commands officials to “round up all who should be rounded up” and says the region’s vocational re-education facilities should be “unswervingly operated for a long time”.

In one of Xi’s speeches, he argues that “population proportion and population security are important foundations for long-term peace and stability”. This statement was later quoted verbatim by a senior Xinjiang official in July 2020, who then argued that southern Xinjiang’s Han population share was “too low”.

Other classified documents lament “severe imbalances in the distribution of the ethnic population” and a “severely mono-ethnic” population structure (an over-concentration of Uyghurs) in southern Xinjiang. They mandate that by 2022, 300,000 settlers (mostly Han from eastern China) are to be moved to regions in southern Xinjiang administered by the Xinjiang Construction and Production Corps, also known as “bingtuan”, a paramilitary entity, with the explicitly stated aim of increasing Han population shares in the region.

Xi himself ordered the abolishment of preferential birth control policies for ethnic groups in southern Xinjiang that had previously allowed them to have more children than the Han. He demanded that birth control policies in the Uyghur heartland were to be made “equal for all ethnic groups”.

The fresh leak was first mentioned at a special session of the UK-based tribunal on Saturday.

Government reports indicate that in February 2017, just weeks prior to the start of an internment campaign, leading cadres in prefectures and counties were subjected to an intensified study schedule of two of Xi’s speeches for at least two hours every week.

Zenz has been denounced by defenders of Beijing as a Christian fundamentalist determined to destroy Chinese communism. The Chinese government has imposed sanctions against him. It has always maintained that political, economic and religious freedoms in the Xinjiang region are “fully guaranteed”.

Zenz claims the new material shows that top Chinese leaders viewed the achievement of “stability maintenance” and related goals such as religious “de-extremification” in Xinjiang to be a matter of China’s national security, crucial to achieving primary long-term political goals.

 This article was amended on 30 November 2021 to clarify that the documents were leaked to the Uyghur Tribunal, which asked Dr Adrian Zenz to authenticate them; also Dr James Millward and Dr David Tobin peer reviewed the original documents, not the transcripts as an earlier version said. A reference to sanctions against Zenz was clarified.

Activists and researchers are calling on 82 retailers to commit to sourcing cotton outside of China to take a stand against accusations of forced Uyghur labor

Activists and researchers are calling on 82 retailers to commit to sourcing cotton outside of China to take a stand against accusations of forced Uyghur labor

Activists and researchers are calling on 82 retailers to commit to sourcing cotton outside of China to take a stand against accusations of forced Uyghur labor

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·5 min read
Uyghur flag
 
Activists are calling on companies to “fully extricate their supply chains from the Uyghur Region.”Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • China has been accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.

  • Activists are pushing companies to “fully extricate their supply chains from the Uyghur Region,” meaning Xinjiang.

  • Researchers say that cotton from that region of China is still ending up in stores.

Activists are calling on 82 major apparel and retail companies around the world to commit to sourcing cotton outside of China. In a letter to “apparel industry leaders,” the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region cited a study that ties international cotton sales to accusations of brutal treatment of China’s Muslim minority.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic Muslim minority ethnic group mostly congregated in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a massive autonomous region along the northwestern border of the People’s Republic of China. Since 2014, accusations of widespread human rights abuses against the Uyghur people have been raised.

Beijing has been accused of implementing tactics like government surveillanceforced sterilization, and re-education camps, in a campaign that’s been described as “ethnic cleansing.” The Chinese government has denied these accusations.

In 2020, the United States banned the import of certain Xinjiang products, including cotton, over concerns about forced labor in the region.

China’s International Press Center did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

“In the Uyghur region, the Chinese government has set up a system of hundreds of internment camps,” Laura Murphy, a professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at the Helena Kennedy Center for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University, told Insider. “Every decision any Uyghur person might make in that region is dominated by the knowledge that at any point they could be sent to one of these internment camps.”

Murphy added that “it’s also against the law for them to refuse participation in a government program.”

Under President Joe Biden’s administration, the US Treasury Department has sanctioned two high-level Chinese officials over allegations of “genocide and human rights violations” against the Uyghurs. Human Rights Watch has said that China could be detaining as many as 1 million Uyghurs. For its part, the US government has also warned that companies with supply chain ties to Xinjiang “run a high risk of violating US law.”

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied committing genocide against the Uyghurs.

“These basic facts show that there has never been so-called genocide, forced labour, or religious oppression in Xinjiang,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the UN Human Rights Council in February, according to Reuters. “Such inflammatory accusations are fabricated out of ignorance and prejudice, they are simply malicious and politically driven hype and couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Murphy spearheaded the report “Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains.” In her research, she initially identified five Chinese companies selling cotton yarn or fabric that was sourced from the Xinjiang region. She then tracked shipments from those five companies, which largely went to apparel manufacturers in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, China, and Mexico. The study then looked into which global companies had ties to those intermediaries, through shipping records, finding that Xinjiang-sourced cotton “circumvents certain supply standards and import bans to end up on clothing racks around the world.”

On Tuesday, the Coalition sent an open letter to 82 top retailers and brands that have not yet signed a “call to action” demanding that companies “fully extricate their supply chains from the Uyghur Region.” Several brands, including ASOS, Eileen Fisher, the Marks and Spencer Group, and Reformation, have signed onto that pledge.

Insider reached out to all 82 companies who received the letter on November 22. The brands that received the letter included retail and e-commerce giants like Amazon, Carrefour, Costco, Home Depot, Ikea, Jo Ann Stores, Kmart, Kohl’s, L.L. Bean, Macy’s, Patagonia, Sears, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair. Most of the recipients were apparel brands, including American Eagle Outfitters, Brooks Brothers, Chico’s, Duluth Trading, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Gap Inc., Guess, Hanes, Hugo Boss, Land’s End, Levi Strauss, Lilly Pulitzer, Lucky Brand, Madewell, Marco Polo, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Uniqlo, and Vineyard Vines.

Most did not immediately reply. JCPenney declined to comment.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” a Nike spokesperson said in a statement sent to Insider. “Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”

Spokespersons for C&A, Everlane, Lacoste, L.L. Bean, and Tesco said that their companies’ ethical codes for suppliers strictly prohibit the use of forced labor. The L.L. Bean spokesperson said that the company exited Xinjiang in August 2020, and that it has removed “all Chinese cotton from our assortment.”

Lacoste said that it has only used cotton originating from the US, Australia, Turkey, and Peru for its 2020 production. An Everlane spokesperson told Insider that “our analysis and records indicate that none of our raw materials, yarns, and fabrics produced in the manufacturing units called out in your report (and otherwise) originate from the XUAR.”

Timothy Voit, the vice president of strategic and international sales at textile-manufacturing company Thomaston Mills, told Insider: “We don’t source anything from China. We do specify the origin of cotton to be used in any of our products anywhere in our supply chain to exclude the possibility of forced labor from Xinjiang or Xinjiang.”

Murphy told Insider that given the sheer enormity of Xinjiang’s cotton output, the burden of keeping the fabric off clothing racks should fall on governmental bodies and international corporations, not consumers.

“It is a wake-up call that we need to be much more attentive to where our products come from,” Murphy said. “Because otherwise we’re complicit in both forced labor and a pretty radical discriminatory global system where the worst consequences fall upon the most marginalized among us.”

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China’s crimes against the Uyghurs

China's crimes against the Uyghurs

China’s crimes against the Uyghurs

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·6 min read
 
 

As the Beijing Olympics approach, all eyes are turning toward China – but something terrifying is happening there that the government does not want the world to see. We are confronted with a potentially genocidal state hosting the Olympics.

Right now, millions of people in the Xinjiang region of northwest China are being persecuted on the basis of their identity – because they are Uyghur, a Muslim minority group. The Chinese government is going to great lengths to use primarily non-lethal means to slowly destroy the Uyghur community, which totals approximately 12 million people. China’s actions are so alarming that we at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are gravely concerned that the Chinese government may be committing genocide. It is critical to underscore that genocide is a rare occurrence, and to invoke its name is to put forth an urgent, clarion call for action.

 

Mass atrocity perpetrators often go to great lengths to conceal and deny their crimes. The Chinese government has been exemplary at this. They have restricted independent monitors from accessing the millions of people they are persecuting and the vast network of detention centers and prisons that have held between 1 million to 3 million people. They harass and threaten Uyghurs who speak out – including those living in the United States.

But information has gotten out from whistleblowers and survivors. That information likely only scratches the surface of the true extent of the horrors.

The Chinese government has for decades tried to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people, giving disingenuous rationales for doing so – like fighting terrorism and preventing separatism. Recently, surfaced information signals that the Chinese government’s conduct has escalated beyond a policy of forced assimilation. Since 2017, their attacks have intensified with new tactics used to repress, eradicate the Uyghur culture, and – it increasingly appears – to destroy the Uyghur people over time.

Every aspect of Uyghurs’ lives is monitored – either through surveillance (including facial recognition technology, integrated into the networks of surveillance cameras, to look exclusively for Uyghurs) that tracks their movements and communication, or through Han Chinese party officials who are physically moved into Uyghur homes to monitor them. These practices are not out of an Orwellian novel. This is the lived experience of millions of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

The intrusive and omnipresent surveillance is a pipeline to mass detention. Uyghurs have been detained often without legal justification or due process for acts as mundane as donating to a mosque or having a religious marriage. In detention they face torture, sexual violence – and for many women, both in and out of detention, forced sterilization and forced IUD implantation.

We have seen a deepening assault on Uyghur female reproductive capacity through these practices as well as the separation of the sexes through mass detention and forcible transfer, and the transfer of children. China has had family planning policies across the country that have violated women’s rights for decades. Today, there are worrying allegations that an increase in these practices in Xinjiang is specifically and disproportionately impacting Uyghurs. There has already been a dramatic reduction in births (186,400 fewer births in 2019 than the year before), and when seen in the context of the broader persecution of Uyghurs and an environment where genocidal ideologies can take root, this reduction raises grave concerns for us about the potential commission of genocide.

In Xinjiang, genocide may look different from what the world has grown to expect. When most think of genocide, they think of the mass killings of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust and in more recent times of Rwanda. While outright killings are typical of genocide, the crime may be perpetrated through less obvious but no less devastating acts.

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the crime of Genocide, to which China is a signatory, recognizes this. It refers to an intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group through specific acts, most of which do not involve mass killing. These other acts include causing serious bodily or mental harm, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

We know that perpetrators of mass atrocities evolve their tactics to advance their goals, including where mass killing may not, for an array of reasons, be a useful strategy or an employable tactic. China appears to be adopting those other tactics today.

One of the many tragedies of this situation is that once a determination or expression of grave concern is made, that means that we have failed to prevent and protect. There is – and has been – ample evidence that crimes against humanity are being committed. Many of these crimes were evident long before allegations of genocide arose, and they should have been met with urgency and focus. Otherwise, how else will we prevent genocide and fulfill the 1945 promise of “never again.”

The scale of the crimes against Uyghurs is daunting, and we know that confronting the crimes of a powerful perpetrator will be difficult. That is precisely why a coordinated, global response is needed. This is all the more urgent because we are concerned that China is exporting the same tools of repression that it is using against the Uyghurs to other countries. China is essentially creating a blueprint for how to slowly destroy a people – one that if not stopped, others may try to replicate.

A recent United States Holocaust Memorial Museum report makes clear, the onus is on the Chinese government to stop these conscience-shocking crimes, and to prove that to the world by allowing independent monitors in and holding perpetrators accountable. Given the Chinese government’s refusal to date to do so, others should come together to make sure there is swift, global, coordinated action to press China to end the crimes and quash impunity.

Companies need to make sure they’re not enabling, or profiting from, genocide or crimes against humanity. And the United Nations and governments around the world – led by the United States and the European Union – should redouble their efforts to collect information about what is happening in Xinjiang, coordinate strategies regarding sanctions, and protect Uyghurs outside China.

In 1936, Nazi Germany hosted the Berlin Olympics. While Germany’s mass killing of Europe’s Jews did not begin until 1941, the regime’s systematic and comprehensive persecution of its Jewish population was well underway. A boycott was debated, but ultimately the Olympic Games went on. Germany scored a propaganda victory, giving Germans an international showcase to be proud of and convincing many foreign observers that perhaps the Nazis were not all that bad after all. This history and our knowledge of the current crimes in Xinjiang should help inform our public debate today about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Regardless of what happens, we cannot allow China to use the spectacle of the Olympic Games to obscure its ongoing persecution of the Uyghurs. The future of a people may depend on it.

Naomi Kikoler is the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, which recently released a the report ” released a report, “To Make Us Slowly Disappear”: The Chinese Government’s Assault on the Uyghurs.”

This piece has been updated.

Letter: China is persecuting Uyghurs

Letter: China is persecuting Uyghurs

Letter: China is persecuting Uyghurs

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The Herald-Times
 
Typing on a keyboard
 

Do you know a Uyghur (wee-gur)? Several families who fled China live in central Indiana after requesting asylum in the United States. China is systematically eradicating anyone practicing religion or cultural practices, including Turkish ancestry, Muslim, Christian, to exploit the cotton producing and mineral rich region in northwest China.

A new report by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial highlights labor camps, rape, sterilization and removal of Uyghur children. People participating in ethnic or religious activities are sent to prison camps along with their families, where hard labor and starvation result in survival rate under 50% at one year. Over 2 million of the 12 million Uyghurs are in camps. To hide this genocide, China locked down all communications into and out of this region. 

This Chinese persecution of Uyghurs continues in the U.S., trying to trace and imprison refugees’ family members back home. What can you do? Learn about this issue. Google: “Uyghur: To make us slowly disappear.” Write your congressman, asking for stronger measures. Investigate sources for the products you buy. Most cotton used in China’s exported clothing, as well as many precious metals, come from the Uyghur region. Please pray for these people in unbelievably ugly and harsh conditions.

The United Nations Is Giving the Names of Uyghur Dissidents to China | Opinion

The United Nations Is Giving the Names of Uyghur Dissidents to China | Opinion

The United Nations Is Giving the Names of Uyghur Dissidents to China | Opinion

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What Is The ‘One China’ Policy? U.S.-Taiwan Relations Explained

The Chinese government’s violent oppression of the primarily Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang is no longer a secret. From forced sterilization of Uyghur women to the internment of millions in prison camps to the eradication and destruction of religious institutions, the Chinese Communist Party’s actions against the Uyghurs have been deemed worthy of the name genocide to many in the human rights community.

Many—but not all. The United Nations, the very institution created to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,” is assisting China in its violent efforts to wipe out the Uyghurs by helping the CCP cover its tracks. These were the findings of a recent report in Le Monde about the efforts of UN human rights officer-turned whistleblower Emma Reilly. Reilly claims that prior to every UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in recent years, China has requested the names of Uyghur and other Chinese dissidents who were scheduled to speak. And despite this being explicitly forbidden by the UN’s own rules, the UN, according to Reilly, has made it a practice to share this information with Chinese authorities, who use it to harass the dissidents’ families who are still based in China.

It’s one thing for China to try to cover up its genocide; China boasts a long history of reprisals against human rights activists, Uyghurs included. But it’s quite another thing for the body charged with protecting human rights to lend them a hand.

 

Reilly says she first discovered the practice in 2013, when China’s Geneva delegation requested confirmation that certain “anti-government Chinese separatists” were set to speak at the Human Rights Council. Listed individuals included, among others, Dolkun Isa, current president of the World Uyghur Congress.

Le Monde reports that Reilly suggested that the request be rejected, just as the UN had rejected Turkish demands regarding Kurdish activists. But leaked emails appear to show Reilly’s superior, Eric Tistounet, head of the Human Rights Council Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), advising staffers that the names be shared with China because the meeting was public, and delaying sharing the names would merely “exacerbate the Chinese mistrust against us.”

The UN in fact confirmed Reilly’s allegations in 2017, when the OHCHR acknowledged that it confirms attendees’ names with Chinese authorities who “regularly ask the UN Human Rights Office… whether particular NGO delegates are attending the forthcoming session.” So too, did a 2019 UN tribunal confirm “the practice of providing names of human rights defenders to the Chinese delegation.”

But while the UN has at times acknowledged this indefensible practice, it has simultaneously provided contradictory statements denying it. When asked about the allegations in March 2017, Tistounet dismissed them as “extreme right-wing” propaganda—a mere month after the OHCHR’s admission that it did currently confirm Uyghur activists’ names with China. Two months later, in a letter sent to UN Watch, the OHCHR asserted that it “does not confirm the names of individual activists accredited to attend UN Human Rights Council sessions to any State, and has not done so since at least 2015.”

Uyghur protest
Members of the Muslim Uighur minority hold placards as they demonstrate to ask for news of their relatives and to express their concern about the ratification of an extradition treaty between China and Turkey at Uskudar square in Istanbul on February 26, 2021. – Chinese parliament ratified on December 26, 2020 an extradition treaty signed in 2017 with Ankara, a text that Beijing wants to use in particular to speed up the return of certain Muslim Uighurs suspected of “terrorism” and who are refugees in Turkey.YASIN AKGUL / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Then, in an August 2017 letter to Human Rights Watch, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein acknowledged that the UN “often receives communications from… China” with a list of individuals who the Chinese claim “represent possible threats to the United Nations.” Once UN security services determine the allegations are baseless, wrote Al Hussein, China is informed that its concerns are unfounded, and “no other information is transmitted to the State.” A UN judge, however, rejected Al Hussein’s assertions in 2020, stating that in 2017, the “OHCHR misrepresented the practice of giving names to a Member State’s delegation to ‘Human Rights Watch.'”

Alarmingly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is aware of the allegations; in 2018, his office ordered Al Hussein to “resolve” the dispute with Reilly, Le Monde revealed. And yet, since objecting to the practice in 2013, Reilly says she has been ostracized and “publicly defamed,” her career “left in tatters.” And despite being recognized as a whistleblower in 2020, she was fired the day after the Le Monde story’s publication.

What Reilly’s reports reveal is that the UN is more concerned with appeasing China than with combatting the Chinese-led Uyghur genocide. China, meanwhile, continues to retaliate against Uyghur activists. In a 2019 witness statement regarding the OHCHR sharing his name with China, a Uyghur dissident, Dolkun Isa, revealed that he didn’t know where his 90-year-old father was, or if he was even alive. His mother died in a Chinese detention center in 2018, aged 78.

Shockingly, world leaders are also aware of the practice. In 2019, UN Watch Executive Director, Hillel Neuer, sent letters to the Geneva delegations of the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, and Sweden, detailing instances of Chinese dissidents’ names (some of whom are citizens of Western nations) being shared by the UN. Citing China’s history of retaliating against human rights activists, Neuer explained that “providing China or any other government with names of dissidents accredited to attend UN sessions in advance of the sessions is harmful and potentially life-threatening to dissidents and their families, particularly family members still in China.”

Not one country responded to Neuer.

Dutch parliament too, is well-aware. In a January 2019 letter to Dutch lawmakers, Foreign Minister Stef Blok noted both the OHCHR and UN Ethics Office’s admissions that the UN hands Chinese authorities “lists of names” of Chinese dissidents set to speak at the UNHRC. World leaders, however, have refused to confront this abomination.

For years and with total impunity, UN officials have aided China in covering up one of the greatest human rights atrocities of our generation. It’s high time for world leaders to press the UN for answers and bring those responsible for such an abject betrayal of the UN’s guiding principles to justice. History won’t judge them kindly for turning a blind eye.

TURNING GHOSTS INTO HUMANS: SURVEILLANCE AS AN INSTRUMENT OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING IN XINJIANG

TURNING GHOSTS INTO HUMANS: SURVEILLANCE AS AN INSTRUMENT OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING IN XINJIANG

TURNING GHOSTS INTO HUMANS: SURVEILLANCE AS AN INSTRUMENT OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING IN XINJIANG

NOVEMBER 2, 2021
clarke2

Wrists and ankles strapped into a restraining “tiger chair,” a man is used as a subject with which to “train” artificial intelligence-assisted facial recognition technology to detect states of emotion. Minute changes in facial expression are analyzed by the facial recognition technology to determine whether the test subject possesses a “negative mindset” or a heightened state of anxiety, allegedly indicating a potential for anti-social behavior. This is not a vision from a dystopic television series.

On the contrary, this is a lived reality in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the far north-west of China, where the Chinese state, in concert with a number of China’s major surveillance technology companies, has striven to perfect new means of monitoring the region’s Uyghur population. Researchers estimate that, between 2016 and 2019, up to one million people in the region had been detained without trial in a system of “re-education” camps. In addition, between 2017 and 2020, 533,000 people were formally prosecuted for a variety of “crimes” under broad definitions of “extremism” and “terrorism.”

 

 

Outside of the camps, the region’s Turkic Muslim populations are also subjected to a dense network of high-technology surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring, which severely limit all forms of personal freedom and enhance the state’s hold over society. This intense surveillance has led some to describe Xinjiang as a 21st-century police state.

Why did China launch this campaign of repression?

Control of the region’s Uyghur population is only part of the objective. The manner in which the system of pervasive surveillance intersects with the Chinese Communist Party’s practices of ideological re-education in Xinjiang demonstrates that China has embarked on a program of mass social reengineering to “remake” Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims into pliable citizens. Xu Guixiang, a spokesman for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government, asserted on May 25, 2021 that the re-education system was required in order to “remove extremist thoughts” from Uyghur minds and “transform” them from “ghosts” into “humans.”

This statement serves as a reminder that surveillance is but a means to an end — the protection or management of either the population at large or a specific segment thereof. Indeed, as James C. Scott has argued, a characteristic objective of the modern state has been “to reduce the chaotic, disorderly, constantly changing social reality beneath it to something more closely resembling the administrative grid of its observations,” rendering citizens and the spaces which they inhabit more transparent to the “gaze” of the state and thus more responsive to central manipulation and control.

Surveillance is therefore central to a state’s capacity for “social sorting.” Simply, social sorting comprises the “identification and ordering of individuals in order to ‘put them in their place’ within local, national and global ‘institutional orders.’” Such a process also enables the state to ascribe to individuals or communities particular penalties, constraints, or sanctions according to their categorization.

The surveillance apparatus erected in Xinjiang has played just such a role by enhancing the state’s control over the Uyghur population and other Turkic Muslims, and its ability to identify those suspected of aberrant behavior and funnel them into the re-education system for “transformation.” From the use of facial recognition and iris scanners at checkpoints, train stations, and mosques to the collection of biometric data for passports to mandatory apps to “cleanse” smartphones of “subversive” material, the surveillance apparatus collects massive amounts of data on ordinary citizens. The data collected is then aggregated by an app security personnel use, the Integrated Joint Operations Platform, to report “on activities or circumstances deemed suspicious” and to prompt “investigations of people the system flags as problematic.”

How the Party Talks About Its Surveillance Apparatus

A closer examination of the legislative and discursive architecture that has been built around the surveillance apparatus reveals how precisely the authorities in China decide who is problematic or, more often, “untrustworthy.”

First, in December 2015, the National People’s Congress passed China’s first national “anti-terrorism” law, providing an expansive and ambiguous definition of terrorism:

Any advocacy or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage, or threat, aims to create social panic, undermine public safety, infringe on personal and property rights, or coerce a state organ or an international organization, in order to achieve political, ideological, or other objectives.

Second, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government announced in March 2017 its so-called “de-extremification” regulations that revealed the state’s objective to categorize and punish those it defines as “deviant” and “abnormal.” These regulations not only define “extremification” as “speech and actions under the influence of extremism, that imbue radical religious ideology, and reject and interfere with normal production and livelihood” but also explicitly identify fifteen “primary expressions” of “extremist thinking.” These include “wearing, or compelling others to wear, gowns with face coverings, or to bear symbols of extremification,” “spreading religious fanaticism through irregular beards or name selection,” and “failing to perform the legal formalities in marrying or divorcing by religious methods.” The regional government subsequently expanded the list in 2017 to include another 60 signs of “extremism” including “suddenly quitting smoking or drinking, abnormal communication with neighbors, and men having long beards or wearing short-legged pants.”

Together, these measures amount to what Joanne Smith Finley calls a criminalization of “all religious behaviors, not just violent ones,” leading “to highly intrusive forms of religious policing” that violate and humiliate Uyghurs. Such legislation demonstrates that, for the Chinese Communist Party, everyday markers and practices of the Uyghur identity, such as religion and language, are inherently extremist. Meanwhile, the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China’s White Paper of Aug. 16, 2019, on “Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang” highlighted the core objective of the Chinese Communist Party to define and regulate Uyghur values, beliefs, and loyalties so that they become “useful” subjects for maintaining the regime’s political security.

Extremism and Re-education

While defining “terrorism and extremism” as “common enemies of human society,” with Xinjiang as the “main battlefield of China’s fight against terrorism and de-extremization,” the White Paper also asserted that the state must not only deal with “terrorist crimes in accordance with the law” but also “educate and rescue” those infected with religious extremism in order to treat “both symptoms and the root causes” of religious extremism. Through education and training, the document asserts, the “training centers” will promote development and increase the people’s overall income and help Xinjiang “achieve social stability and enduring peace.”

However, it is a 52-gigabyte internal police dataset from the Urumqi Public Security Bureau in the region’s capital, obtained by the Intercept and analyzed in detail by Darren Byler, that perhaps best demonstrates both the granular nature of everyday surveillance in Xinjiang and how it intersects with state-defined notions of ideological deviancy and extremism that mark individuals for re-education.

Beginning in 2013, the Urumqi Public Security Bureau began experimenting with mobile scanning devices that integrated 3G mobile technology, smart phones, and virtual private network-enabled databases “to allow rapid individual identity authentication.” By 2017, this technology had been upgraded to allow police in Urumqi to scan and read identification cards, “instantly linking ID numbers, issuers, and photos” of the individual being checked to the Integrated Joint Operations Platform. These “social incident reports” — some 250 million rows of data in the files obtained by the Intercept — “list the geolocation, date, and time of the encounter, the precinct, name, ID number, gender, ethnicity and phone number of the suspect. They describe the reason why the individual was flagged and if they warrant further investigation.” The Public Security Bureau used this data to monitor Urumqi’s Uyghur (and Kazakh) population, subjecting them to regular security checks, household searches, monitoring of familial and community relationships, and mosque attendance.

Crucially, the data from the Urumqi Public Security Bureau files also demonstrate that the authorities trained the technology to identify and aggregate actionable intelligence based on ideologically defined criteria. The Urumqi Public Security Bureau’s hand-held mobile scanning devices were armed with a “digital forensics” tool — referred to as a “Anti-Terrorism Sword” — that permitted Public Security Bureau personnel to access “private social media, email and instant messaging applications to assess the phone owner’s digital history and social network.”

All of these data points have been used to flag an individual for further investigation or detention. A weekly report of one Public Security Bureau precinct in Urumqi in February 2018 notes that it detained 669 people on such a basis and subsequently sent 184 to re-education. This makes it clear that the monitoring of everyday life in Uyghur neighborhoods is geared toward identifying and responding to what the Chinese Communist Party has defined as key markers of ideological deviancy. The surveillance apparatus, and its accompanying processes of “social sorting,” are therefore fundamental to the Chinese Communist Party’s project of not only controlling but remaking Xinjiang’s Uyghur population into “productive” and pliable citizens.

A Trend with Global Origins and Global Implications

Yet, it is important to also recognize that the Chinese Communist Party’s implementation of this surveillance-enabled form of what it calls counter-terrorism has not taken place in a vacuum. Rather, it is part of the globalization of “countering violent extremism” strategies and discourses that “aim to reduce violent extremism by using methods beyond the use of military force and the coercion available under criminal law” to “prevent the emergence of violent extremism before it has fully emerged in a region, community, or an individual, by addressing the underlying factors that give rise to it.”

What is unique about the Chinese manifestation of this countering violent extremism mania is how the surveillance technologies noted above have enabled the Chinese Communist Party to undertake mass social sorting in pursuit of the ideological goal of breaking what it perceives to be the integral link between markers of Turkic Muslim religious and cultural identity, on the one hand, and extremism on the other.

There are a number of important implications flowing from Beijing’s use of this technology-heavy surveillance apparatus, not only for its governance of Xinjiang, but also for China as a whole and the global spread and normalization of such surveillance. With respect to the governance of Xinjiang and the People’s Republic of China, the system erected in Xinjiang potentially sets China on the path to becoming what Xiao Qiang calls a “responsive tyranny,” in which digital technologies empower the state to act preemptively and to identify and quash opposition in advance on the basis of clues gleaned from its many channels of mass information collection.

This technologically enabled system of surveillance and control also intersects with global dynamics in a number of key ways. First, states around the world are increasingly deploying specific technological innovations, such as DNA sequencing, metadata analysis, facial recognition technology, machine learning, and “automatic gait recognition” in the name of public safety and, especially, counter-terrorism. As Sheena Greitens has documented, the spread of Chinese surveillance and technology platforms to over 100 countries — of all regime types — is “not solely driven by China or Chinese companies, but by recipient demand.” This trend arguably makes it both easier for the Chinese state to construct a justificatory narrative around its system of control, and for the state’s various security apparatuses and bureaucracies to engage with, and learn from, international partners.

Second, the Chinese state’s engagement with, and prioritization of, surveillance technologies has resulted in the increased direct involvement of a number of Chinese technology companies in the provision of both technology and components to the security state in Xinjiang. Chinese video surveillance companies Dahua, Hikvision, YituMegvii, SenseTime, Yixin Science and Technology Co. Ltd., and voice recognition firm iFlytek, for instance, have been heavily involved in providing not only hardware for the surveillance apparatus but in developing and marketing new instruments of surveillance for the state such as ethnicity analytics software that distinguishes Uyghurs from others.

The system of pervasive surveillance, combined with the practices of re-education in Xinjiang, represent an extreme example of the deeply dystopic potentialities of modern ideologies and technologies of social control. The international community should guard against the spread and normalization of such a surveillance-industrial complex through appeals to counter-terrorism imperatives because, as the case of Xinjiang demonstrates, it constitutes an insidious assault on basic norms of human rights.

Can the United States Do Anything?

One way in which the Biden administration can push back against the normalization of surveillance for social control is by undertaking a concerted effort to track the interconnections between the surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang and Chinese and foreign technology companies. Two potential types of pressures could be leveraged by the U.S. government here: (1) limiting the ability of Chinese companies and entities to access components from U.S.-based companies and, (2) publicly reporting the supply chain connections between Chinese and U.S. companies.

In October 2019, the Trump administration, via the U.S. Department of Commerce, began to undertake the first of these by adding a number of major Chinese technology companies implicated in the surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang — such as video surveillance companies Dahua, Hikvision, Megvii, Yitu, Sensetime, and voice recognition firm iFlytek — to the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List. This was a means of limiting their ability to obtain components from U.S. technology giants such as Intel and Nvidia that have been crucial to the development of China’s surveillance state.

Restricting implicated Chinese companies’ access to U.S. technology, however, is an imperfect solution as such companies have simply sourced supply chain alternatives or are investing heavily to boost their own research and development capabilities to fill the gaps. The Biden administration should undertake a systematic tracking and reporting of supply chain connections between Chinese companies on the Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List and U.S. technology companies. Publishing this information will increase the prospect of reputational risk for U.S. companies by making public their conscious or unconscious complicity in Xinjiang’s surveillance state.

One of the central controversies regarding the Chinese Communist Party’s systematic repression of the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims concerns the question of intent. Has it cynically manipulated the global prioritization of counter-terrorism as a cover to eliminate the very possibility of future resistance to the party-state in Xinjiang? Or does it seek the ultimate dissolution of the Turkic Muslim other?

Scholars will continue to parse the evidence regarding the Chinese Communist Party’s ultimate intent for some time to come, but it is now beyond question that technology-enabled surveillance has made possible the mass social sorting — the identification, categorization, and ascription of sanction to individuals — which is central to the “reeducation and transformation” system. As such, it stands not only as an example of the scope of the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions for social control but also as a warning to other societies as to the deeply dystopic potentialities of the surveillance-industrial complex.

 

 

Michael Clarke, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Centre for Defence Research, Australian Defence College and a visiting fellow at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney. He is the author of Xinjiang and China’s Rise in Central Asia: A History (Routledge, 2011) and is editor of Terrorism and Counterterrorism in China: Domestic and Foreign Policy Dimensions (Oxford University Press, 2018), and The Xinjiang Emergency: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of China’s Mass Detention of Uyghurs (Manchester University Press, February, 2022).

Photo by Michael Wong

Watched,judged,detained

Watched,judged,detained

Watched,judged,detained

Leaked Chinese government records reveal detailed surveillance reports on Uyghur families and Beijing’s justification for mass detentions

By Ivan Watson and Ben Westcott

Read the original artical

Hong Kong (CNN) — Rozinsa Mamattohti couldn’t sleep or eat for days after she read the detailed records the Chinese government had been keeping on her entire family.

She and her relatives, most of whom live in China’s western Xinjiang region, aren’t dissidents or extremists or well-known. But in a spreadsheet kept by local officials, her entire family’s lives are recorded at length along with their jobs, their religious activity, their trustworthiness and their level of cooperation with the authorities. And this spreadsheet could determine if Mamattohti’s sister remains behind razor wire in a government detention center.

Her family’s records, and hundreds of government reports like them, have been leaked to journalists by a patchwork of exiled Uyghur activists.

The document reveals for the first time the system used by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to justify the indefinite detention on trivial grounds of not only Mamattohti’s family but hundreds — and possibly millions — of other citizens in heavily fortified internment centers across Xinjiang.

It is the third major leak of sensitive Chinese government documents in as many months, and together the information paints an increasingly alarming picture of what appears to be a strategic campaign by Beijing to strip Muslim-majority Uyghurs of their cultural and religious identity and suppress behavior considered to be unpatriotic.

The Chinese government has claimed it is running a mass deradicalization program targeting potential extremists, but these official records, verified by a team of experts, show people can be sent to a detention facility for simply “wearing a veil” or growing “a long beard.”

For Mamattohti’s sister, 34-year-old Patem, the crime for which she was detained, according to the document, was a “violation of family planning policy,” or put simply, having too many children. Under the countrywide policy, which rarely if ever is cause for imprisonment, rural families in Xinjiang are limited to three children. Patem had four.

It was the first time since 2016 that Mamattohti had received any concrete news of what had happened to her family.

“I never imagined that my younger sister would be in prison,” Mamattohti told CNN, through tears, in her house in Istanbul. She said she first saw the leaked records when they were informally circulated on social media among Uyghurs overseas. “As I was reading their names I couldn’t hold myself together, I was devastated.”

The leak exposes what appears to be a detailed and far-reaching system of state surveillance in the region, run by the local government in Xinjiang, designed to target Chinese citizens for peacefully practicing their culture or religion.

CNN has only been able to independently verify some of the records contained in the document. But a team of experts, led by Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington DC, say they are confident that it is an authentic Chinese government document.

The leaked document is a 137-page PDF file, likely generated from an Excel spreadsheet or Word table. Zenz pointed to the use of similar terminology and language in this document, which he refers to as the Karakax List, and other records leaked from Xinjiang.

He said the records showed that Beijing was detaining Uyghur citizens for actions that in many cases did not “remotely resemble a crime.”

“The contents of this document are really significant to all of us because it shows us the paranoid mindset of a regime that’s controlling the up-and-coming super power of this globe,” Zenz told CNN.

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A redacted version of part of a Chinese government PDF document which was leaked to CNN, showing records of detainees in Xinjiang.

CNN sent a copy of the document to both the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local government in Xinjiang, to see if they could verify its authenticity. There was no response.

Speaking in Germany on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that he would gladly welcome any international diplomats or media to visit Xinjiang to see the truth for themselves.

“(Those who have come) have not seen any concentration camps or persecution in Xinjiang. However, what they have seen is that all ethnic groups are able to live peacefully and harmoniously … Their religious freedom is totally protected and they can practice their religion without any restrictions,” he said.

“The so-called concentration camps with so-called 1 million people are 100% rumors. It is completely fake news. I do not understand why these people are still lying while having the facts. I can only say that these people are deeply prejudiced against China.”

A previous attempt by CNN to visit the detention centers in Xinjiang was blocked by local government authorities.

The document: Family, neighbors, religion

China’s vast western region of Xinjiang has for centuries been home to a large population of predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Uyghur. Until recently, there were many more Uyghur citizens in Xinjiang than Han Chinese, the ethnic majority in the rest of the country.

Since 2016, evidence has emerged that the Chinese government has been operating huge, fortified centers to detain its Uyghur citizens. As many as two million people may have been taken to the camps, according to the US State Department.

Former detainees and activists say the facilities are actually designed for the purposes of re-education — places where inmates are forcibly taught Mandarin and instructed in Communist Party propaganda. Some testimonies from former detainees describe over-crowded cells, torture and even the deaths of fellow detainees.

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