Uighur researchers say China running more camps than known

A police officer checks the identity card of a man as security forces keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 November 2019

Uighur researchers say China running more camps than known

  • Rights advocates have generally estimated that China is detaining more than one million Uighurs and members of other predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnicities

ARLINGTON, United States: Uighur activists said Tuesday they have documented nearly 500 camps and prisons run by China to detain members of the ethnic group, alleging that Beijing could be holding far more than the commonly cited figure of one million people.
The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, a Washington-based group that seeks independence for the mostly Muslim region known to China as Xinjiang, gave the geographic coordinates of 182 suspected “concentration camps” where Uighurs are allegedly pressured to renounce their culture.
Researching imagery from Google Earth, the group said it also spotted 209 suspected prisons and 74 suspected labor camps for which it would share details later.
“In large part these have not been previously identified, so we could be talking about far greater numbers” of people detained, said Kyle Olbert, the director of operations for the movement.
“If anything, we are concerned that there may be more facilities that we have not been able to identify,” he told a news conference in suburban Washington.
Anders Corr, an analyst who formerly worked in US intelligence and who advised the group, said that around 40 percent of the sites had not been previously reported.
Rights advocates have generally estimated that China is detaining more than one million Uighurs and members of other predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnicities.
But Randall Schriver, the top Pentagon official for Asia, said in May that the figure was “likely closer to three million citizens” — an extraordinary number in a region of some 20 million people.
Olbert said that archive imagery from alleged camp sites showed consistent patterns — steel and concrete construction over the past four years along with security perimeters.
He said that the group tried to verify the nature of each site with on-the-ground accounts but declined to give greater detail, citing the need to protect sources.

Activists and witnesses say China is using torture to forcibly integrate Uighurs into the Han majority, including pressuring Muslims to give up tenets of their faith such as praying and abstaining from pork and alcohol.
Olbert described China’s policy as “genocide by incarceration,” fearing that Uighurs would be held indefinitely.
“It’s like boiling a frog. If they were to kill 10,000 people a day, the world might take notice,” he said.
“But if they were just to keep everyone imprisoned and let them die off naturally, perhaps the world might not notice. I think that’s what China is banking on,” he said.
China has justified its policy after first denying the camps, saying that it is providing vocational training and coaxing Muslims away from extremism. Hundreds died in 2009 riots in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi that largely targeted Han Chinese.
The United States has likened China’s treatment of Uighurs to Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, but an increasingly strong Beijing has faced limited criticism outside the West.
China last month secured a statement at the United Nations by nations including Russia, Pakistan and Egypt — which have all faced criticism of their own records — that praised Beijing’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.”
The Uighur activist group said it periodically added data including on the destruction of cemeteries in Xinjiang, which was documented in an investigation last month by AFP using satellite imagery.
The movement said it had unsuccessfully asked the State Department for satellite data in hopes of improving its information sources.
US lawmakers have also spoken out increasingly on Xinjiang.
In a recent letter, Representative Jim McGovern and Senator Marco Rubio, who head the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, urged customs authorities to take “aggressive action” to ban imports of goods from Xinjiang made with forced labor.
 


Concern over new Sydney cluster as Australia coronavirus cases surge

Updated 23 min 41 sec ago

Concern over new Sydney cluster as Australia coronavirus cases surge

  • New South Wales police assistant commissioner Tony Cooke slams ‘moronic behavior of people at dance parties’

SYDNEY: Sydney residents were warned Monday to put the brakes on partying as a new coronavirus cluster emerged at a city pub on the heels of a major outbreak in Melbourne.
Three pubs in Sydney and its surrounds were closed after being linked to outbreaks or failing to comply with social distancing requirements, while other events were under investigation with Australia on edge over a resurgence of the virus.
The new cluster emerged after Melbourne entered a six-week lockdown on Thursday, and surrounding Victoria state was sealed off from the rest of the country in an effort to contain the virus.
Authorities reported 177 new infections in and around Melbourne Monday, marking a week of triple-digit increases.
New South Wales police assistant commissioner Tony Cooke on Monday slammed the “moronic behavior of people at dance parties,” after local media published footage of large private get-togethers in Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs.
City residents are allowed a maximum of 20 visitors to their homes under restrictions which have been gradually eased in recent weeks as the number of infections dwindled.
At least 21 infections have now been linked to a growing cluster at Sydney’s Crossroads Hotel — a popular drinking spot on a major traffic route — raising concern the virus could be spreading in the state.
A dozen military personnel who visited the pub while poised to deploy on an anti-virus mission were on Monday in isolation at an army base in rural New South Wales.
The state’s police minister David Elliott warned that if the situation was not brought under control, pubs could be closed again.
“If we have to close hotels and clubs again, the patrons will have to take some of the ownership of that,” he told a press conference Monday.
“I will, however, work to my dying breath to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”