China has built 380 concentration camps in the Xinjiang region. The network of camps in the far west of the country, used to detain Uighurs and people from other Muslim minorities, includes 14 that are still under construction, according to the latest satellite images obtained by the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy (ASPI). English). Beijing insists there are no human rights violations in Xinjiang
In total, the ASPI has identified 380 detention centers established across the region since 2017, from the lowest security “re-education” camps to fortified prisons. This represents more than 100 previous investigations, and the institute believes it has now identified most of the detention centers in the region.
“The evidence contained in this database shows that, despite statements by Chinese officials about detainees who formed in the camps, the significant investment in building new detention facilities continued throughout 2019 and 2020,” said the ASPI investigator , Nathan Ruser, The Guardian.
The information has been made public, including the coordinates of the individual fields, in a database that can be accessed online, the Xinjiang Data Project.
The camps were identified using survivor accounts, other projects to locate concentration centers, and satellite imagery.
ASPI said night imagery was particularly useful, as it looked for areas that had recently been lit outside of cities – these were often the locations of newly constructed detention centers, with daytime images giving a clear picture of the buildings.
Many are also close to industrial parks. There are widespread reports that prisoners in some concentration camps have been used to carry out forced labor.
“The camps are also often co-located with factory complexes, which may suggest the nature of a facility and highlight the direct conduct between arbitrary detention in Xinjiang and forced labor,” the report says.
How does the The Guardian, Beijing insists that there are no human rights violations in Xinjiang. The Chinese authorities initially denied the existence of concentration camps, later describing them as “professional training and re-education programs” aimed at alleviating poverty and combating terrorist threats.
Last year, a senior Chinese official said that most of the people detained in the camps “had returned to society”. However, China has not allowed journalists, human rights groups or diplomats independent access to concentration camps, and visitors to the region face close surveillance.
Most of the information about the camps, and a wider government campaign against Muslim minorities in the region, comes from survivors who fled abroad, leaked Chinese government documents, and satellite images that confirmed the location and existence of the camps.
People have been the target of “offenses” as trivial as having a Koran or refraining from eating pork. The abuses reported include detailed arbitrary detentions, torture and medical negligence in the detention camps and coercive birth control.