China Expanded 380 Uyghur Detention Camps: Think Tank

Even as China claims that all “trainees from vocational centres in Xinjiang had graduated” by late 2019, an Australian think tank has revealed that there has been an increase in the number of detention centres in the region.

Citing the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report, Al Jazeera said that more than 380 “suspected detention facilities” have been found in the region.

“The findings of this research contradict Chinese officials’ claims that all “trainees” from so-called vocational skills training centres had “graduated” by late 2019,” lead researcher Nathan Ruser wrote in an article.

“Instead, available evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities,” Ruser added.

The researchers used satellite imagery, witness accounts, media reports and official construction tender documents to classify the detention facilities into four tiers depending on the existence of security features such as high perimeter walls, watchtowers and internal fencing, Al Jazeera reported.

According to the findings, at least 61 detention centres have had new construction and expansion work in the year to July 2020.

ASPI further reported 14 more facilities that are under construction and around 70 had fencing or boundary walls removed, indicating either the buildings have been closed or the purpose have been changed.

The think tank researchers have noted several centres that have been expanded had higher security facilities, others have been built close to industrial parks, suggesting those who had been charged might also have been sent to “walled factory compounds for forced labour assignments”, Al Jazeera said.

Recently, the US had imposed restrictions on import of certain products originating from Xinjiang autonomous region in China citing concerns on illegal and inhumane forced labour in the region.

China has been criticised globally for cracking down on the Uyghurs by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination. (ANI)

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