A deeply disturbing video, posted anonymously on Youtube by the channel War on Fear, shows dozens of mostly Uyghur men being transferred to what experts believe to be a detention camp in the northwestern province of Xinjiang in China. With their heads freshly shaved, the prisoners are all blindfolded and shackled, while Chinese state police patrol and move them from the train station.
The YouTube account War on Fear aims to bring awareness and fight fear to the dangers of hi-tech surveillance by governments, and this particular video has been deemed by the majority of experts as being authentic. Nathan Ruser, a satellite analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, took to Twitter to explain how he worked through the authenticity of the video.
By looking at the details of the planting of bushes and shadows from the sun in the video, Ruser determined that the video footage was shot in either April or August of 2018, at a train station west to the city of Korla. Ruser also determined that the prisoners were most likely being taken from a prison in Korla to the detention camps in Kashgar.
4 days ago a video showing 3-400 detainees handcuffed & blindfolded at a train station in Xinjiang was uploaded to YouTube (https://t.co/GpEaZ7YkIK)
In this thread I'll share how I've verified that this video was filmed at 库尔勒西站 (41.8202, 86.0176) on or around August 18th. pic.twitter.com/hr5xd8nahM
— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) September 21, 2019
China’s campaign and persecution of the minority Uyghur population has been deemed by many as a severe mishandling of human rights, bordering on if not already fully a cultural genocide. Claiming to be part of a campaign against dangerous foreign influences and the growth of terrorism and extremism within the state, China has been detaining, imprisoning, and even executing huge numbers of Uyghur Muslims, most of whom come from the ancient province of Xinjiang in the northeast of modern day China.
Around one million people are said to be detained in these detention camps by the Chinese state, the largest mass incarceration since the Holocaust. In 2017 alone, although Xinjiang only accounts for 2% of China’s population, at least 21% of arrests in the year were from the province, highlighting a severely dangerous situation in which China is acting with full impunity when it comes to the abuses towards Uyghur Muslims.
The detention camps that many Uyghurs are being sent to are named by China as “re-education camps”, where potential “terrorists” or “extremists” are forced to give up any connection or belief towards Islam, openly commit towards loyalty to the Chinese Communist state, and stop speaking their local language in turn for Mandarin Chinese. There have been numerous reports of Uyghur children being taken away from parents, mass arrests for something as simple as having a beard or fasting during Ramadan, indefinite imprisonment, physical and psychological torture, and even death.
As China continues to move with impunity while the majority of world governments, including most of so-called Muslim-led heads of state, turn a blind eye to the suffering of Uyghur Muslims, it becomes imperative for not only Muslim communities around the world but for all who care about upholding human rights to come together and raise awareness about one of the most horrifying instances of human rights abuses in modern human history.