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 (#GotBitcoin?)
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.’”
Document Shows Chinese Officials’ Calculations in Waging Xinjiang Campaign
Spreadsheet lists detailed information on 311 individuals detained in one county.
A spreadsheet compiled by Chinese authorities responsible for tracking ethnic-minority Muslims catalogs detailed personal information—including whether they regularly pray at a mosque, possess a passport or have friends or relatives in trouble with the law.
The 137-page document, a copy of which was shown to The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations, holds records from one county in Xinjiang, a northwestern region where human-rights groups say as many as a million people have been detained in re-education camps in recent years.
Xinjiang, on the doorstep of Central Asia, is home to millions of Turkic-speaking Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.
Officials in Xinjiang describe the camps as vocational-training schools. In December, the region’s governor said all students had successfully “graduated.” The spreadsheet appears aimed at helping decide who would stay in custody and who would be let go, often for “management and control” at home.
Entry No. 114, describing a 37-year-old man, reads: “Five family members applied for a passport; had expectations to travel.” It also says the man “bears a grudge over his older brother’s paralysis and wants to take revenge on society. Strong religious atmosphere in the family.”
Focused on 311 individuals detained in Karakax (pronounced Kara-CASH)—a county on the lip of a vast desert basin near the oasis town of Hotan—the document provides rare insight into the calculations of Chinese officials waging what they characterize as a campaign against extremism in Xinjiang.
The document offers detailed information on each listed person, including which camps they were sent to and why.
It couldn’t be determined who produced the document, which is undated. In a paper released Monday, Adrian Zenz, a leading researcher on Xinjiang, said he was able to match names and identification numbers in the spreadsheet with other caches of data. It also uses terminology common in other government documents from the region.
China’s Foreign Ministry and the government of Xinjiang didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The spreadsheet was shown to media outlets by Asiye Abdulaheb, a Uighur woman who says she once worked for the government in Xinjiang and now lives in the Netherlands. She said the document was smuggled out of China months earlier and that she wanted to use it to draw attention to the situation of Uighurs in the country.
Ms. Abdulaheb was also the source of a set of documents that came to be known as the China Cables, which detailed the operations of internment camps in Xinjiang and were published last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
China’s Foreign Ministry rejected those reports and reiterated that Xinjiang’s efforts to combat terrorism were successful and that the Chinese government protects the freedom of religious belief of all its people.
Mr. Zenz is a senior fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Prior to his current position, Mr. Zenz had done groundbreaking, empirical work on ethnic policy in Xinjiang as an independent, self-funded scholar.
“The Chinese Communist Party has codified its intrinsic fear of religiosity and ethnic difference into a sophisticated set of internally-consistent, quasi-scientific criteria for internment and release,” Mr. Zenz wrote in the new paper published in the Journal of Political Risk.
In addition to the 311 primary subjects of the spreadsheet, the document also includes notes on their relatives, friends and neighbors, whose behavior is scrutinized by neighborhood-level Communist Party cadres.
In total, the document names 2,802 adults, of which 656 or 23.4% were described as having been interned or imprisoned at some point.
The document indicates that officials decided whether to send local residents to camps in part based on a so-called “three-circle” analysis: a collation of detailed information on the person’s family, social and religious circles.
Party cadres visited homes to determine how often individuals and their families prayed, which holidays they observed and where they obtained their religious knowledge. Among the behaviors that can count against an individual: using software to circumvent internet censorship, and having more children than allowed by family-planning rules.
Abduweli Ayup, a Norway-based Uighur activist who has been verifying names and details in the document, said it shows that a large proportion of the people were sent for re-education for reasons like having too many children or applying for a passport, rather than for extremism.
“This document is really important because it tells us the reality,” he said. “In the document, there are only three cases related to separatism.”
China’s government disputes the accounts of human-rights groups about the number of people held in re-education centers. It says that the centers provide job training aimed at integrating Uighurs into the economy and weakening the appeal of separatism, which they say is influenced by radical Islam.
Over the years, some Turkic-speaking Uighurs have engaged in a sporadically violent separatist movement.
In 2013, a sport-utility vehicle police later said was driven by people from Xinjiang plowed through crowds of tourists at Tiananmen Square and burst into flames in front of Beijing’s Forbidden City.
Five people died, including a family of three inside the vehicle. The following year, a mass knife attack by Uighurs at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming left 33 dead and dozens more injured.
Former camp detainees describe being subjected to political indoctrination, forced to learn Mandarin Chinese and told to abandon many traditional Islamic practices, in what Uighur activists say is a broad effort to eradicate their cultural identity.
China rejects allegations that Muslims have been mistreated and says its policies in Xinjiang have ensured the region has remained terrorism-free for the past three years.
The spreadsheet provides insight into new control mechanisms local authorities have begun to use as Xinjiang’s management of its 14 million Muslims enters a new, less heavy-handed phase.
More than 85% of the people documented in the Karakax list were ultimately recommended for release, usually after a minimum one year of re-education. The document indicated that government monitoring would continue after detainees left the razor-wire ringed re-education facilities.
Most individuals are described as being recommended for release into community “management and control,” or for assignment to work in industrial parks. The case entries rarely mention skills or knowledge obtained in the re-education facilities and contain no references to judicial process or review.
In Karakax, also known as Moyu, or “Black Jade,” the streets were bustling on a recent winter morning, but signs pointed to the continued heavy presence of the state.
Residents swiped ID cards to enter apartment complexes and shopping malls. In outlying neighborhoods, tattered signs with residents’ full names and national ID numbers were pasted to doorways.
Several homes were abandoned. One resident said many of his neighbors now work and live at factories. “They can come home once a week,” he said.
The document listed four main re-education centers in Karakax. The largest, the No.1 Training Center, is in the south of the county, at the edge of a large industrial park with textile factories and other businesses. Another, located inside a former high school, has been featured in state media propaganda videos, showing trainees learning skills such as cooking and oil painting.
One such video, published by the state-run China News Service in March, profiled Arapat Yusup, one of the 311 individuals listed in the leaked spreadsheet. In his undated case notes, the 22-year-old is listed as being sent for re-education for being an “untrustworthy” person born in the 1990s.
The video showed Mr. Yusup in a computer room with dozens of other young men, all dressed in identical red uniforms, learning how to use e-commerce websites to purchase goods online. A voice-over said he had been influenced by religious extremism before being sent to the center.
“I was in touch with certain people but didn’t know where they came from or whether they were good or bad,” Mr. Yusup said in the video. “Without realizing, I was infected by extreme thoughts and gradually learned their bad habits.”
Mr. Yusup’s case file entry says he was a model student in the re-education center and notes “great changes” in his thinking. He was recommended for release, returning home for “management and control.”
Mr. Yusup couldn’t be reached for comment.
Home to more than 600,000 residents, about 98% of whom are Uighur, Karakax was the site of China’s last officially-recorded terrorist attack in Xinjiang. Four assailants were shot dead after setting off explosives outside the county’s Communist Party office, killing one, on Dec. 28, 2016.
The 311 primary individuals in the spreadsheet are listed as living in the central neighborhood of Bositan, a mix of high-rise apartment complexes and squat older dwellings painted bright blue.
Local officials ripped down street signs, address plates and posters as Journal reporters tried to photograph them, frustrating efforts to locate residents listed in the documents. Days later, some neighborhoods were stripped of all road signs and addresses. China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,China Acknowledges Re-Education Centers,
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