Uighur activists on Tuesday said that 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 1 million people.
The Washington-based East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, a group that seeks independence for the Xinjiang region, 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, movement director of operations Kyle Olbert said.
“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 Washington.
Anders Corr, an analyst who formerly worked in US intelligence and who advised the group, said that about 40 percent of the sites had not been previously reported.
Rights advocates have generally estimated that China is detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and members of other predominantly Muslim ethnicities, but US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver in May said that the figure was “likely closer to 3 million citizens” — an extraordinary number in a region of about 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.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the allegations were “baseless.”
“East Turkestan organizations outside China have long conducted activities harming China’s national security,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said at a regular media briefing in Beijing yesterday.
He said it was “clear for all to see” that China’s policies in Xinjiang had promoted “ethnic unity and social harmony.”
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, 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,” Olbert said.
China has justified its policy after first denying the existence of the camps, saying it is providing vocational training and coaxing Muslims away from extremism.
The US has likened China’s treatment of Uighurs to Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, but Beijing has faced limited criticism outside the West.
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, was arrested on Sunday and is being held in lieu of US$1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center over a mass shooting at the California church that left one dead and five wounded. Local police suspect the shooting was politically motivated after they found notes in
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy