China has secretly built dozens of new prisons and large internment camps over the more than 3 years, dramatically intensifying its crusade against Muslim minorities even when it publicly claimed that all detainees had been released. The structure of these specially built high-security camps, some capable of housing tens of thousands more, signals a radical shift from the country’s use of public buildings, such as schools and retirement homes, to vast and permanent infrastructure. for mass detention.
As a component of the top in-depth investigation into China’s internment camp formula ever publicly conducted for satellite imagery, along with dozens of interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News has known more than 260 structures built since 2017 with the characteristics of fortified detention centers. . There is at least one at most in each county in the western region of Xinjiang. Meanwhile, research shows that China has established an expanding formula for stopping and imprisoning thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities, in what is already the largest detention of ethnic and devout minorities since World War II.
Prohibited services, many of which have been built or expanded componently in the following year, are part of the government’s unprecedented crusade to detain en masse more than one million people, which began beyond 2016. That year, Chen Quanguo, the official leading region and head of the Communist Party, whom the United States recently sanctioned for human rights violations, also placed Muslim minorities, more than a population component of approximately 25 million in the region, under constant surveillance through facial recognition cameras, cell phone tracking, checkpoints. and an authoritarian human police. They are also victims of many other abuses, ranging from sterilization to forced labour.
To stop thousands of people in a short period of time, the government has rebuilt old schools and other constructions. Then, as the number of inmates increased, in 2018, the government began building new amenities with much larger security measures and more permanent architectural features, such as heavy concrete walls and watchtowers, according to BuzzFeed News analysis. Prisons take years to build, but some of these new complexes have taken less than six months, according to old satellite data. The government also added more factories in camps and prisons during this era, suggesting the expansion of forced labour in the region. Construction was still underway this month.
“People live horrified in these places,” said Zhenishan Berdibek, 49, who was detained in a camp in the Tacheng region for much of 2018. “Some of the younger ones were not as tolerant as we were: they cried and shouted and shouted But Berdibek, a cancer survivor, could not locate the energy. As I watched the young women be led into solitary confinement, “I lost hope,” he said. “I sought to die inside the camp.”
BuzzFeed News has known 268 newly built complexes when crossing hidden spaces on Baidu Maps, a widely used Google Maps-type tool in China, with photographs from external satellite knowledge providers. These compounds contained several detention centers.
Ninety-two of these establishments have been known or verified as detention centres through other sources, such as public procurement, educational documents or, in 19 cases, visits through journalists.
176 additional installations were created through satellite imagery alone. Photographs show thick walls on the perimeter and sometimes barbed rope fences that create pens and hallways in the courtyards. Many communities in the domain are fortified, however, the amenities known through BuzzFeed News have much heavier fortifications. In 121 of these complexes, they also exhibit watchtowers, occasionally built on the perimeter wall.
In response to a detailed list of questions about this article, as well as a list of GPS coordinates of the amenities known in this article, the Chinese Consulate in New York stated that “the challenge with respect to Xinjiang has nothing to do with human rights, faith or ethnicity, but on the fight against violent terrorism and separatism”. , adding that it was an ‘unfounded lie’ that a million Uighurs were arrested in the region. Xinjiang has established vocational and school education centers to eliminate excessive thoughts, the state of conscience of the law through education, improve professional skills and create employment opportunities for them, so that those affected by excessive and violent concepts can return to society as soon as possible,” the consulate added. Array claiming that human rights were protected in the centres and that “the apprentices have freedom of movement.” But he also compared his program to the “mandatory systems for terrorist criminals” he said are underway in other countries, adding the US and the United Kingdom.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Baidu responded to repeated requests for comment.
The new amenities are scattered in all the populated spaces of the region and several are giant enough to house at least 10,000 prisoners, depending on their length and architectural characteristics. (One of the hounds of this story is an authorized architect).
Unlike early sites, the new amenities seem more permanent and resemble prisons, as in the structure of high-security prisons in other parts of China. Maximum fortified compounds offer a small area between buildings, small courtyards with concrete walls, a heavy masonry structure, and long networks of corridors with cells on each side. Their plans are cavernous, leaving little soft grass inside the buildings. BuzzFeed News was able to see how the rooms were being built in some high-security amenities by examining the structure of old satellite photographs and adding photographs of homeless buildings.
With at least tens of thousands of inmates crammed into government structures who moved to camps in late 2017, the government began structuring the new larger amenities in spring 2018. Several were completed in October 2018, with other amenities built up to 2019 and the structure of more direct care even now.
The government said its camps are schools and vocational centers where detainees are “deradicalized.” The government’s internal policy literature in Xinjiang uses the term “concentration” or “concentration” to describe “education schools.”
The government says its crusade is fighting extremism in the region. But most of those who end up in those establishments are by no means extremist.
Downloading WhatsApp, which is banned in China, maintaining ties with a circle of relatives abroad, praying and visiting a foreign online page are crimes for which Muslims have been sent to camps, according to leaked documents and interviews with former detainees. Since the government does not consider detention camps to be a component of the formula of unscrupulous justice and none of these behaviors is a crime under Chinese law, no detainee has been officially arrested or charged with a crime, let alone a day’s death in court.
Compounds known through BuzzFeed News probably come with extrajudicial internment camps, which detain other people who are not suspected of any crime as well as criminals. Both types of services have security features that are very similar. Xinjiang’s crime population increased dramatically, the government’s campaign increased dramatically: in 2017, the region recorded 21% of all arrests in China, compared to less than 2% of the national population, an increase eight times that of last year, according to New York Analysis of the Data Times. Since courts controlled through the Chinese Communist Party have a conviction rate of more than 99%, the overwhelming majority of those arrests likely resulted in convictions.
Detainees in the camps told BuzzFeed News that they had been subjected to torture, starvation, overcrowding, isolation, forced labor and a number of other abuses. They said they had been subjected to brainwashing systems aimed at Communist Party propaganda and had been forced to speak only in Chinese. Some former detainees reported being forced to paint without pay in the factories.
The government seriously restricts the movement of journalists and independent researchers in the region, and strongly censors the Internet and its own national media. Muslim minorities can be punished for their social media posts. But satellite photographs collected from independent suppliers remain beyond the scope of Chinese government censorship.
Other kinds of evidence have also occasionally leaked out. In September, a drone video emerged showing hundreds of blindfolded men with their heads shaven and their arms tied behind their backs, wearing vests that say “Kashgar Detention Center.” Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who has done extensive satellite imagery analysis of the detention and prison systems in Xinjiang, said the video shows a prisoner transfer that took place in April 2019 — months after the government first said the system was for vocational training. Previous analyses, including by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in November 2018, identified several dozen early camps.
“The internment and assimilation program in Xinjiang has the general logic of colonial genocides in North America, the formalized racism of apartheid, the industrial-scale internment of German concentration camps, and the penetration of the police state into North Korean life,” Rian Thum said. , an expert in the history of Islam in China at the University of Nottingham.
The crusade has caused serious damage to many teams of Muslim minorities, but especially to Uighurs, who are by far Xinjiang’s most populous ethnic minority organization and have no connection to any other country. The Chinese government has strongly sanctioned expressions of the culture of the Turkish minority, from training in Kazakh and Uighur to the practice of open-air Islam in state-controlled mosques. This, combined with forced sterilizations, has led some critics to say that the crusade is described as genocide under foreign law. Trump’s management would talk about whether to officially call it genocide, and a spokesman for Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said Tuesday that Biden supports the label.
“These are other nonviolent people in concentration camps,” said Abduweli Ayup, a Uighur linguist who imprisoned and exiled from Xinjiang after opening kindergartens that taught young Uighurs in their own language. “They are businessmen, academics and engineers. They’re our musicians. They’re doctors. They are merchants, restorers, masters who have used Uigh textbooks.
“These are the pillars of our society. Without them, we exist.
The Chinese flag looks like a razor rope in a residential complex in Yangisar, south of Kashgar, in western Xinjiang, on June 4, 2019.
The position of Muslim minorities, especially Uighurs, in China has been strained since the Communist Party came to force in 1949. But situations deteriorated temporarily from 2016, when the government introduced a rigorous surveillance and surveillance formula as a means for Muslims in a formula of developing internment camps for “transformation through education.” Chen, the leader of the party in the region, called on officials to “bring together all those who are arrested.”
Miles were. Tursunay Ziyawudun, who stopped one of them in March 2018. When he arrived at the camp gates, he saw many others around him cutting off jewelry, shoelaces and belts. They were “processing,” he said, to enter the camp through a security checkpoint.
Tursenay Ziyawudun in an undated photo.
At first, the government converted schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other public buildings into internment camps. There were also other older detention centers: BuzzFeed News, known as 47 built before 2017 that were used to lock other people in the area.
Some detention centres aim to release detainees after several months; In others, inmates can be sentenced to sentences, said Adrian Zenz, a leading abuse investigator in Xinjiang. Three former detainees interviewed through BuzzFeed News said they were held for months without tax, much longer than the law allows, before being transferred to internment camps. Arrests accelerated in 2017, and the number of detainees in the camps increased until detainees lived in the most sensitive way to each other.
BuzzFeed News interviewed 28 former inmates in the area, many of whom described being handcuffed and blindfolded, as did the men shown in the video. Many spoke an interpreter. They are part of a small minority of former detainees who have been released and left the country; however, they have described a brutal formula that they have noticed growing and replacing with their own eyes.
Most remembered being regularly moved from camp to camp, a tactic many said aimed to combat overcrowding in the first generation of makeshift facilities. At the beginning of the campaign, many people arrived every day. New masses of prisoners seemed to come and go.
Some former inmates described sleeping in combination in a double bed, or even sleeping in shifts when there is not enough room for all inmates. Almost all reported receiving meager amounts of rice, steamed bread rolls and porridge, and little or no meat or other proteins.
Orynbek Koksybek at the Human Rights Initiative where he works in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 27 February 2020.
Orynbek Koksebek, a 40-year-old Kazakh, was first arrested in early crusade in 2017. At first he slept in a room with seven other men, and each had a bed for him. But after a few months, he began to realize the arrival of more and more people. “One day I saw a pregnant woman in chains,” she says. “Another woman had a baby in her arms, she was breastfeeding.”
In February 2018, there were 15 men in his room, he said.
“Some of us had to have percentages of blankets or sleeping on the floor,” he said. “We were later told that some of us would be convicted or transferred to other camps.”
Camp officials forced detainees to memorize Communist Party propaganda and Chinese characters in classrooms. But some former inmates said their amenities were too full for that; instead, they had to sit on plastic stools next to their beds and look at the textbooks, sitting with their backs perfectly directly as the cameras looked at them. Camp guards told them there were too many people to have compatibility in the classroom.
For Koksebek, claustrophobia is unbearable.
“There’s a window in our room, but it’s so high I couldn’t see much more than a corner of the sky,” he said. “I used to need to be a bird to have the freedom to fly.”
Shufu camp in Xinjiang, detected by satellite on April 26, 2020.
On a cold, cloudy December morning, Shohrat Zakir, governor of the region and top official at the time, offered a rare press convention at the Chinese State Council Information Office, located in a gated complex in central Beijing. The workplace is one of the few government agencies in China that informs local and foreign journalists, and Zakir sat down with four other officials on a long podium at the front of the small room. Officials seized the opportunity to promote the region’s economic expansion and said China’s crusade against terrorism in Xinjiang has been a success, calling the U.S. government a hypocrite for its denunciation of China’s human rights violations. But it was Zakir who appeared on the front page of foreign newspapers.
Among those arrested in the camps as “apprentices,” Zakir painted a pink painting. All of them “graduated and discovered a solid job with the help of the government, took a step forward in their quality of life and live a satisfied life,” he said.
Even when reporters wrote their comments, about 4,000 miles away in Xinjiang, the structure ends in a huge high-security complex near Shufu’s Uighur Heart County, just south of a winding river passing through a field dotted with cattle farms. through Chinese standards, with a population of approximately 300,000 people. It has a main street with a post office, a lottery ticket dealer and restaurants that promote steamed buns and noodle soup with meat. The camp is built on farmland less than 20 minutes’ drive away.
Before staff began the structure last March, the land below the Shufu site also cultivated land covered with green vegetation. In August, staff built a thick perimeter enclosure, with watchtowers in the corners and in the middle of walls rising to about 6 meters, or more than 19 feet, according to satellite images. Then there are the buildings in perspective, arranged in U-shaped groups, with two five-story structures next to one or two floors forming the base of the U.October, two rows of barbed rope fences gave the impression on both main sides composed of concrete walls, their visual shadow in satellite images.
Just outside the walls, on the west side of the enclosure, two guard buildings were built, prominent through the narrow walled corridors leading from them to the wall that would allow guards to access the watchtowers and the most sensitive of patrol walls. . In front of the entrance, a series of buildings supplied an area for criminal offices and police buildings. In total, BuzzFeed News estimates that there is room for about 10,500 criminals in this complex, which would help provide a long-term solution to overcrowding.
Ruser tested satellite photographs of the complex and said it was a newly built detention camp. “The vast majority of camps have watchtowers, internal fences and a strong front or leave the outside wall,” he said.
Unlike the old changed camps, new prisons and camps like this have superior security, with doors up to 4 stories and thicker walls along their borders, with additional layers of barbed cording in every aspect of the main walls. These features recommend that they be able to retain much larger teams of others in long-term detention.
The camps would likely involve not only cells where inmates sleep, but also classrooms, clinics, canteens, separate showers, isolation rooms, police buildings, administrative offices and small reception centers, ex-inmates told BuzzFeed News. Many complexes also involve factories, which stand out for their blue metal ceilings and metal frames, visual in satellite images taken from their construction. Police buildings, in addition to guards and administrative staff, are regularly located near the entrances of the complex.
The places of those camps and prisons in Xinjiang are readily available. However, hidden card portions in Baidu in China allow satellite images to be used to locate and analyze them.
Satellite maps, such as Google Earth, consist of a grid of elongated tiles. In Baidu, the Chinese search giant that has a map service similar to Google’s, BuzzFeed News discovered that spaces containing camps, military bases, or other politically sensitive amenities were covered with soft gray mosaics. These “mask” tiles gave the impression when zooming in on the location. These have a different look at the darker gray watermark tiles that appear when Baidu can’t carry something. The mosaics of “mask” were also provided in other places where the camps had been visited and verified through journalists, have since been removed.
BuzzFeed News has known the compounds of other satellite maps, provided through Google Earth, Planet Labs and Sentinel Hub of the European Space Agency, which do not hide those photographs. For some places where high-resolution photographs were not available to the public, Planet Labs used its own satellite to take new photographs and then provided them to BuzzFeed News. Click here to learn more about how this survey was conducted.
The photographs showed the facilities under structure for an era of several months. The main points of the photographs give a concept of length and scale: counting the number of windows on the facades of buildings, for example, shows the number of floors they contain.
Often, these complexes were built next to an older prison, sharing car parks, administrative facilities and police barracks with the former establishment, satellite photographs show.
BuzzFeed News discovered 50 other enclosures that were used for internment in the past, but which lost some protective features, adding barbed rope fences in the enclosures used to create oblong enclosures, enclosed passages between buildings and watchtowers, a small number of which were demolished.
Ruser and other experts said this did not recommend that the Chinese government withdraw from its campaign. Many of those services are likely to still serve as low-security camps, he said. The much larger trend in Xinjiang, he said, is the government’s largest use of prisons and higher-security detention facilities.
In response to the questions, the Chinese consulate in New York echoed Zakir’s December statement. “All the apprentices who took courses in spoken and written Chinese, adding laws, professional skills and de-dynamicization have finished their education and have received a solid job in society. And they live a general life,” he said.
Nurlan Kokteubai at his home in Shonzhy, Kazakhstan, 26 February 2020.
All detainees interviewed through BuzzFeed News were released too long ago to have spent time in one of the establishments with the new logo; many said that before leaving China forever, they were de facto under space or the city, they couldn’t do it. venture beyond the borders of their villages without getting permission from a police officer. Many, especially the less informed, had no idea what type of facility they were being held in or even why they had been arrested in the first place. They said they drew informed conclusions in weekly interrogation sessions, during which police asked about movements that made them “unreliable.”
A Kazakh elder named Nurlan Kokteubai identified the camp he had been taken to as soon as he arrived in September 2017. Not long ago, it was a university.
“My daughter went to that school, ” he said. “I’d taken him there before.
The main front of the former third school of Qapqal Xibe, where Kokteubai’s daughter went to school.
Smiles appear on Kokteubai’s deeply wrinkled face when she talks about her daughter, born in 1992. He then moved to Kazakhstan, where many Kazakhs from China emigrated due to the Kazakh government’s resettlement policy for others of Kazakh origin. There, she and her husband campaigned tirelessly for Kokteubai’s posting on YouTube videos and lengthy letters to human rights groups. He believes his eventual release in March 2018 due to his campaign. Inside the camp, instead of study rooms where academics like their daughter may have studied math or history, Kokteubai saw overcrowded dormitories with up to 40 or 50 men sleeping all in very few bunk beds.
Although the complex itself is not new, it had many updated features, such as overhead walls and barbed laces around the complex. And the camp was now dotted with CCTV cameras, which a guard told him could film items up to two hundred yards away.
Another novelty: when you entered the portal, you received a huge red plaque. “Let’s be informed of the spirit of the 19th Communist Party Congress,” he says.
Like Kokteubai, several former detainees interviewed through BuzzFeed News said that after their arrival, they identified the amenities in which they were detained because they had been crossed or driven by them, or even visited them in their past incarnations. But those remodeled amenities were never intended to space the prisoners and were giant enough to involve all the Muslim minorities that the Chinese government intended to stop.
In early 2019, staff began clearing the land to expand a camp south of ‘rumi’ in the city called Dabancheng, which had become notorious after the BBC and Reuters visited him last year. The Dabancheng camp was already one of the largest detention centres in the region, capable in October 2018 of housing up to 32,500 others, according to architectural research through BuzzFeed News. Since the expansion, it can now accommodate another 10,000 people. By November last year, some other separate complex, with another 10,000 people, had been completed, with a total capacity of more than 40,000 people, comparable to the length of the city of Niagara Falls.
“These services have characteristics consistent with the out-of-court detention centers in the Xinjiang region that CSIS has discussed in the past,” said Amy Lehr, director of the human rights program at csiS expert group based in Washington DC, after reviewing the 3 fields discussed. in this article.
Dabancheng’s camp, Ruser said, “is the city’s main catch-up camp. It is 2 km (1.2 miles) long and expanded late last year through a kilometer more with a new facility in the other aspect of the road to In comparison, the camp has an approximate duration of the duration of Central Park.
Kokteubai never knew precisely why he was in custody. Because it is of Kazakh origin, it was still able to settle in Kazakhstan. On the day of his release, he hoped to feel joy, relief, something. Instead, he felt nothing at all.
“I felt neither satisfied nor sad. I couldn’t feel anything,” he said. “Even when I discovered my favorites in Kazakhstan, they asked me why I wasn’t happy to see them back after all this time.”
“It’s something I can’t explain, ” he said. “It’s like my emotions died while I was there.” ●
Alison Killing produced this report with a grant and more help from the Open Technology Fund.
China has accumulated so many Muslims in Xinjiang that there is enough area to receive them.
Then the government building.
This new resort in Shufu County can accommodate ten thousand people. There are many more.