China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers for Uighurs (#GotBitcoin?)
China has retroactively changed the law to legitimize its detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs amid an international outcry over human rights abuses against the ethnic minority. China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers for Uighurs
China has retroactively changed the law to legitimize its detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs in a campaign that has sparked an international outcry over human rights abuses against the ethnic minority.
The amended counterterrorism regulations, adopted Tuesday in the northwest Xinjiang region where most Uighurs live, say that authorities can use “vocational skills training centers” to “deradicalize” people suspected of extremism. The previous rules made no reference to vocational centers.
The new rules appear to mark the first time China has acknowledged its use of vocational centers to detain Xinjiang residents for “transformation through education.” Senior Chinese officials have maintained—including before a United Nations panel in August—that the centers taught vocational skills to petty criminals. It had disputed reports the centers were used for “political re-education.”
The new regulations “establish a much more direct link between re-education and vocational skills training,” said Adrian Zenz, a researcher on the Xinjiang camps at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany.
Criticism is growing over China’s mass detention of Uighurs. A U.S. Congressional report released on Wednesday warned of a “dire human rights situation” in China, particularly the country’s mass internment of Uighurs and other minorities. The U.N. panel in August found that Uighurs were being held for extended periods without charge or trial “under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.”
The U.S. State Department is considering sanctions against China over the issue.
The Xinjiang Communist Party Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.
China began the mass detentions about two years ago as part of a drive to snuff out an occasionally violent Uighur separatist movement that Beijing says has links to foreign jihadists. Some Uighurs have joined Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Rights groups and Uighur activists abroad say unrest in Xinjiang is driven mainly by heavy-handed policing, tight restrictions on religious activities and one of the world’s most intensive electronic surveillance systems. They say China paints a broad brush to define extremists, including people engaged in religious activities.
The campaign has swept up elderly Uighurs in poor health and residents with no criminal record, say family members interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Some people have died in the camps, these people have said. China has declined to say how many people are in the centers. Human rights groups estimate that up to one million have been detained.
The amendments also appear partly aimed at reining in the worst excesses of the re-education campaign. A new rules say education-center operators are responsible for running them safely, with a goal of reintegrating the detainees into society—though no mechanism is laid out for holding officials accountable for breaches.
Human rights activists said the revision was a retroactive attempt to legally justify the camps.
“If there is a claim this is lawful, however thin a claim, I’m afraid that can only encourage more detentions and an expansion of these centers,” said Eva Pils, an expert in Chinese law and human rights at King’s College London.
Maya Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong, said the detentions were arbitrary and without due process. “Xinjiang’s regional government is not empowered under China’s constitution to legalize detention in the political education centers,” she said.
Mr. Zenz, the researcher, said the newly detailed explanation of how to carry out re-education suggests the Chinese government plans to stay the course, despite the international backlash.
“Overall, this clearly strengthens the legal basis for the type of re-education that has essentially been admitted by the state, indicating that the state is determined to proceed with the current campaign,” he said.
China Supersizes Detention Camps In Xinjiang Despite International Criticism
Satellite Imagery Shows Footprint Of 28 Internment Centers Has Increased Significantly Since 2016: Report
Chinese authorities aggressively expanded the scale of internment camps in Xinjiang this year, according to a new study, even as China’s program of mass detentions of Muslims in the region started to draw international scrutiny.
An examination of satellite imagery released Thursday by intelligence analysts from an Australian security think tank mapped the expansion of 28 detention camps in the restive frontier region. Their analysis found that total floor area of these facilities grew more than 465% from early 2016, with the greatest growth occurring in the three months ended this September.
The report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which provides research for Australia’s military, adds new details to a growing body of evidence about one of China’s largest suppression campaigns in recent years. It shows that the building of detention facilities accelerated at a time when former detainees or their family members began to speak out and international media, including The Wall Street Journal, reported details of the program.
U.S. officials and United Nations experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of people, mainly from the largely Muslim Uighur ethnic group, may have been incarcerated in the detention centers.
Uighurs living outside China have reported disappearances of family members, with some saying relatives have died in detention or soon after their release.
While Chinese officials denied the existence of the mass detention program as recently as this summer, in recent weeks, Xinjiang’s governor and other officials have portrayed the detention centers as well-equipped vocational schools that are part of a program to eradicate the extremist violence that buffeted Xinjiang for years.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the Australian report’s findings but denied that people were being “detained” in the Xinjiang camps. At a routine news briefing Thursday, Lu Kang described the facilities as “training centers” that support local development and help maintain social stability.
China’s human rights record comes up for review next week by a U.N. panel in Geneva. Ahead of that hearing, the U.S. government, as well as other countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and the U.K. have all raised questions about the situation in Xinjiang. Britain’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told British lawmakers on Tuesday that he raised Xinjiang with his Chinese counterpart after British diplomats visited the region in August and found that reports on detentions there are “broadly accurate.”
The Australian think tank likened the rapid expansion of detention centers in Xinjiang to China’s island-building project in disputed areas of the South China Sea. “The Chinese state has changed the facts on the ground in Xinjiang so dramatically that it has allowed little time for other countries to meaningfully react,” its report said.
The report analyzed satellite data and cross-referenced findings with construction-tender documents, as well as evidence collected from other official sources, activists, academics and nongovernment organizations. While German researcher Adrian Zenz has estimated that Xinjiang may have as many as 1,200 facilities, the Australian researchers focused on a sample of 28 camps.
As of the end of September, those facilities sprawled over an area more than 40 times as large as the Los Angeles Coliseum, the researchers said, covering almost 700 acres.
One facility in Hotan, a city in southern Xinjiang, expanded by more than 2,469%, from 1.7 acres in early 2016 to almost 43 acres, the report said. Another facility in Shule County had more than doubled in size since March, the report said.
Satellite imagery of all 28 facilities showed high-security features resembling prisons, with significant fencing to restrict the movement of people inside, watchtowers, and strategic barricades with only a small number of entry points. These camps, the report concluded, are “punitive in nature and more akin to prison camps than what the Chinese authorities call ‘transformation through education centres.’”
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