Satellite Images Reveal Suspected Detention Sites In China's Xinjiang Region

Satellite Images Reveal Suspected Detention Sites In China's Xinjiang Region

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted near unanimously to pass legislation to restrict imports of goods made using forced labor from China, as lawmakers look to address the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang region.

"A further 30 percent of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28 percent have been damaged or altered in some way", according to ASPI.

Nathan Ruser, a researcher at ASPI, said: "The evidence in this database shows that despite Chinese officials' claims about detainees graduating from the camps, significant investment in the construction of new detention facilities has continued throughout 2019 and 2020".

The ASPI project captures the vast scale of both individual detention camps, and the entire network of internment facilities, mostly thrown up in the last half-decade.

At least 70 facilities appeared to have lesser security by the removal of internal fencing or perimeter walls, the report said.

"Camps are also often co-located with factory complexes, which can suggest the nature of a facility and highlight the direct pipeline between arbitrary detention in Xinjiang and forced labor", the report said. Human-rights groups have said at least a million people have been incarcerated every year.

"90% of de-securitized camps are lower security facilities", it said.

The researcher's efforts to find as numerous detention facilities in Xinjiang as possible has spanned over two years and involved eyewitness accounts, media reports, scouring satellite images and official construction tender documents.

These included eight camps that showed signs of decommissioning and had possibly been closed. However, it acknowledged that the "growth of camps is slowing over time".

"Despite claims from Xinjiang authorities that all detainees have been released, we found over 60 detention facilities that have been expanded since July 2019, in the months leading up to and since that claim".

The report said that this had brought the number of mosques in the province to its "lowest. since the Cultural Revolution, when fewer than 3,000 mosques remained".

"Xinjiang's total number of mosques is more than 10 times the number in the USA, and the average number of mosques per Muslim person is higher than in some Muslim countries", Wang told a regular press briefing.

In response to the report, China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called it "nothing but slanderous rumors" during a press conference on Friday, and said the ASPI had received foreign funds to "support its concoction of lies against China".

"The Chinese government has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region... in order to render those indigenous cultural traditions subservient to the "Chinese nation", said the ASPI report.

Beijing recently published a white paper defending its policies in Xinjiang, where it says training programmes, work schemes and better education mean life has improved.

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