The Chinese government has been building new, more secure detainment camps for Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, according to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
At least 61 detention sites have seen new construction or expansions since July of 2019, and at least 14 facilities are still under construction, per the ASPI report. About half of the new facilities are “high-security”, says the ASPI. The institute also found that many of the lower-security facilities are being scaled down or potentially decommissioned. (RELATED: Chinese Billionaire Gets 18 Year Prison Sentence After Allegedly Criticizing Xi Jinping’s Handling Of COVID-19)
The ASPI report theorizes that the downsizing of lower-security facilities could be a sign that more detainees are being moved to higher-level camps on more serious charges. “Whilst not conclusive, this fits with reporting and survivor testimony that suggests a significant number of detainees that have not shown satisfactory progress in political indoctrination camps have been transferred to higher security facilities,” it states.
THREAD. Today, after months/years of work, @ASPI_ICPC and I are able to launch the Xinjiang Data Project. It currently has the largest dataset of detention facilities (380+) and nearly 1000 significant cultural sites mapped out. Check it out: https://t.co/oDkMSYcYze pic.twitter.com/4SKq5Lo3kf
— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) September 24, 2020
These findings contradict claims by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that they have been scaling back their “re-education” system, the BBC reports. In response to the ASPI releasing their findings, Beijing has banned two of their scholars from entering the country, according to Chinese state media.
The CCP has maintained that it is simply running a “re-education program” to curtail poverty and religious extremism in and around Xinjiang, per the BBC. Alternatively, some American officials like Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli have called the facilities “concentration camps”, and the Trump administration has imposed targeted sanctions against the CCP in response to what the AP has called a “demographic genocide”.
China began detaining Uyghurs in 2017, according to Human Rights Watch. There are roughly 11 million members of the religious minority in the country, according to the London School of Economics. Multiple human rights groups claim there are at least one million detainees in the camps, per the BBC.