China’s decision to effectively expel a BuzzFeed journalist who won a human rights award for her reporting on the mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslims in “re-education” camps has refocused attention on an unfolding human rights crisis in its northwestern region of Xinjiang, a press freedom group has said.
The decision by China’s foreign ministry not to renew the visa of BuzzFeed’s China bureau chief, Megha Rajagopalan, came after she carried out extensive investigative reporting into heavy surveillance measures in Xinjiang, and the use of huge camps to detain Uyghurs and other minority groups for “re-education,” the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement.
Rajagopalan wrote via her Twitter account: “In May, China’s Foreign Ministry declined to issue me a new journalist visa,” she said. “They say this is a process thing; we are not totally clear why.”
The young son of two ethnic Uyghurs languishing in a political “re-education camp” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has drowned, according to official sources, highlighting how a policy of mass detentions in the region has left children to fend for themselves.
A Uyghur living in exile who is from Makit (in Chinese, Maigaiti) county, in the XUAR’s Kashgar (Kashi) prefecture, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that a 10-year-old boy had drowned in the area’s Zerepshan River.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing fear of government reprisal, said the boy’s parents had formerly worked at the loan department of a local bank before being detained at a county re-education camp, without providing details of when they were taken into custody, what offenses they were alleged to have committed, or what their names were.
Chinese police are regularly using handheld devices to scan the contents of people’s smartphones, according to recent media reports.
Government procurement documents cited by Reuters showed that police stations in almost every Chinese province have been acquiring special data-extraction devices for smartphones since the beginning of 2016.
The scanners, generally hand-held or desktop devices that can break into smartphones and extract and analyze contact lists, photos, videos, social media posts and email, appear to have been rolled out in the northwestern region of Xinjiang initially, Reuters said.
Sources in the region confirmed their use in recent interviews with RFA.
“I ran into a police patrol when I went to fill up at a gas station, who told me to take out my smartphone for checking,” a resident of the regional capital Urumqi surnamed Hao told RFA.
Extrajudicial Detention & Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty in Xinjiang
Note: On August 10 & 13, 2018, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will review China’s implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. China signed and ratified the Convention in 1981. The release below is based on a submission to the Committee from CHRD and a partner NGO, Equal Rights Initiative, highlighting major concerns over extrajudicial detention, including Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in re-education camps and China’s failure to implement Article 5 (a)(b)(d) of the Convention.
(Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders & Equal Rights Initiative – August 3, 2018) – The number of Xinjiang residents, especially ethnic Uyghurs, who are either detained in re-education camps or forced to attend day/evening “education sessions” for “de-radicalization” and indoctrination purposes in Xinjiang, may have possibly reached as high as a combined total of two to three million by June 2018, according to interviews conducted and data gathered by two NGOs, CHRD and Equal Rights Initiative.
Our findings show that, in the villages of Southern Xinjiang, about 660,000 rural residents of ethnic Uyghur background may have been taken away from their homes and detained in re-education camps, while another up to 1.3 million may have been forced to attend mandatory day or evening re-education sessions in locations in their villages or town centers, amounting to a total of about 2 million South Xinjiang villagers in these two types of “re-education” programs. The total number for Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR or Xinjiang) as a whole, including other ethnic minorities and city residents, is certainly higher.
A prominent Muslim poet has been visited and threatened by police after tweeting about the mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s political “re-education camps.”
Cui Haoxin, a member of the Hui Muslim ethnic group known by his pen-name An Ran, received a visit from the local state security police after he sent and retweeted posts from his Twitter account about the detentions.
“Chinese police raided my home and warned me not to use my social media account, such as Twitter and Facebook,” Cui wrote in a blog post about the Aug. 16 visit. “Five policemen went into my home and talked with me for two hours. The threat is real!”
“Recently a meeting of the U.N. discussed re-education camps that hold several million Muslims in China,” he wrote. The U.N. has estimated the numbers detained at around one million. “Today this discussion happens between Chinese police and me.”
Students read from their textbooks in a classroom at a bilingual middle school for ethnic-Uighur Muslim and Han Chinese students in Hotan, 13 October 2006, in China’s far northwest Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Central Asia. In its long history of minority education, China has engaged its more than 50 or so minority groups in bilingual education, with an officially proclaimed aim to produce bilinguals with a strong competence in Putonghua (standard Chinese) as well as their native languages in an effort to help assimilate into mainstream society. However, modification of its educational policies to achieve seperate and distinct regional objectives often result in exclusionary practices of China’s educational policy, which aims to achieve universal education for all students yet at the same time contain regional ethnic resistance against the ruling Communist government and maintain national unity. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have detained a prominent ethnic Uyghur philanthropist, his brother, and two of the brother’s business partners, according to a family member, who said they were targeted for their perceived ties to a Uyghur education fund.
Ablimit Hoshur Halis Haji, 65, his younger brother Abdureshit Hoshur Haji, and the brother’s business partners—Weli Haji and another man—were taken into custody from their homes in the XUAR capital Urumqi around two and a half months ago by a unit of the State Security forces, known as the Guobao, Halis Haji’s half-brother Erkin Molla Esya recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service.
Esya, a Canadian citizen, said Halis Haji’s detention was directly linked to his establishment in 1994 of the Halis Foundation, a charitable organization whose goal was to help elite Uyghur students attain higher education and financial aid for study abroad.
The regime in China is responsible for a long list of awful abuses against minorities in the country, according to a new United Nations human rights report. More than one million Uighurs are estimated to be detained in camps. On Monday, China responded with denials and lies during a meeting of the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination in Geneva.
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Police in central China’s Henan province have arrested a Chinese landlord who rented his home to three ethnic Uyghurs without approval from the police, charging him with violating “safety precautions” under a provision of China’s Counter-Terrorism Law.
The landlord, a Han Chinese identified by the surname Zhao in a police notice obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service, had rented his home in Zhenping county’s Shifosi village to three Uyghur bread-sellers, and was turned in to police by an area resident.
“On Aug. 8, 2018, at 8:40 p.m., our police station received a report from a civilian revealing that someone in Shifosi village had privately rented out his house to some Xinjiang Uyghurs,” the notice reads.
“This act is identified as a violation of Article 91 of the Counter-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China,” the notice said.
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China is compiling a global registry of its ethnic minorities who have fled persecution, threatening to detain the families of those who don’t comply. The message: Nowhere is safe.
A major human rights crisis is unfolding in northwestern China, according to the United Nations, which said last week that there were credible reports that the Chinese government is holding one million or more ethnic minorities in secretive detention camps.
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For immediate release
August 14, 2018 11:05 am EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920
The just-concluded United Nations review of China’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has demonstrated that it is increasingly difficult for the Chinese government to deflect international attention to its ongoing human rights violations against Uyghurs. The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) condemns its continued attempts, in the face of abundant evidence, to conceal the extent of the repression.
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