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China

Mass arbitrary detentions in Xinjiang

16 Oct 2018

Background

During 2017 and 2018 there have been reports of the widespread detention of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other ethnic groups in political re-education camps1 in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The strength of the evidence leaves no doubt that mass detentions are taking place in XUAR which violate domestic and international law.

The information in this briefing has been compiled by CSW from interviews and data provided by witnesses and family members of victims of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance in XUAR. This information is consistent with other publicly available reports based on the following sources:

  • Public recruitment notices
  • Government procurement and construction bids
  • Chinese state media
  • Eyewitness testimony from former re-education camps employees, detainees and visitors
  • Uyghur diaspora
  • Testimony from legal proceedings (Kazakhstan)
  • Academic research2
  • Reports by non-governmental organisations (NGOs)3
  • International media4
  • Google Maps images

Summary of findings

Over one million individuals are believed to have been detained without charge in political re-education camps since 2017. Recent estimates are as high as three million.

Reasons for detention in the camps include:

  • Having the messaging service WhatsApp on one’s phone
  • Having relatives living abroad
  • Accessing religious materials online
  • Having visited certain ‘sensitive’ countries
  • Communal religious activities
  • Behaviour indicating ‘wrong thinking’ or ‘religious extremism’

Sometimes no reason is given at all.

Read the Mass arbitrary detentions in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region report in full.

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