The director of an online magazine that monitors religious freedom in China has vowed to continue his organization’s work documenting the oppression of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), despite the arrest and interrogation of dozens of its contributors in recent months.
Bitter Winter, a website launched in May 2018 by the Italian research center CESNUR, routinely publishes articles by scholars on the state of religion in China, as well as testimonies from victims of religious persecution, and photos and video documenting human rights violations submitted by citizen journalists from inside the country.
In August 2018, China banned Bitter Winter and since then, the organization has said that at least 45 of its contributors have faced arrest and interrogation based on charges of “divulging state secrets” or “involvement in infiltration by foreign forces” for filming incidents of, or gathering news about, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of religious freedom and violation of human rights.
Some of the reporters, according to Bitter Winter, have been sent to for mandatory indoctrination at political “re-education camps,” where authorities are believed to have detained up to 1.1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas throughout the XUAR since April 2017.
At least one contributor, from the XUAR, was arrested at the end of September 2018 after filming one of the camps and producing an investigative report into the camp network. His whereabouts are unknown.