Ethnic Uyghurs held in political “re-education camps” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being sent to jail in Shandong province, prison officials have confirmed, as new details emerge of the system authorities use to transfer detainees out of the region.
In October last year, RFA’s Uyghur Service reported that authorities in the XUAR had begun covertly sending detainees to prisons in Heilongjiang province and other parts of China to address an “overflow” in overcrowded camps, where up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017.
And last month, RFA spoke to officials in both Shaanxi province and neighboring Gansu province, who confirmed that Uyghur and other Muslim detainees from the XUAR had been sent to prisons there, although they were unable to provide specific numbers or dates for when they had been transferred.
As global condemnation over the camp network has grown, including calls for international observers to be allowed into the XUAR to investigate the situation there, reports suggest that authorities may be transferring detainees to other parts of China as part of a bid to obfuscate the scale of detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region.
After receiving information from an RFA listener who said that Uyghurs were also being relocated from the XUAR to detention centers in Shandong province on China’s eastern coast, RFA contacted a provincial prison official who confirmed the claim.