Uighur Muslims were arrested in China after being flagged by a computer program as taking part in allegedly suspicious activity, CBS News reported.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), a United States-based non-profit organization, reported the arrest of over 2,000 residents of the Aksu prefecture, in mid-Western Xinjiang, China, in a report Wednesday, according to CBS News.
Citizens were marked through a program, called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform, which accumulated data from various security systems throughout Xinjiang, CBS News reported. Chinese officials would then review the data and decide whether or not to send the person in question to camps, according to CBS News.
As @HRW reveals an internal detention list that shows how Beijing is using predictive big-data analysis to intensify its persecution of Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims, a Chinese government spokesman says it is “not worth refuting” (because he can’t). https://t.co/YLbg9LQY5O pic.twitter.com/VSNU5ZVspv
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) December 9, 2020
The listed reason for detainment for many people was simply that the Integrated Joint Operations Platform had flagged them, CBS News reported. Around 10% of detainees were being held for extremism or terrorism, according to the list, CBS News reported.
HRW believes their research proves that many flagged citizens were taking part in legal activity, such as phone calls aboard ro family, per CBS News.
HRW said the arrests proved that “China’s brutal repression of Xinjiang’s Turkic Muslims is being turbocharged by technology,” per CBS News. (RELATED: REPORT: Chinese Tech Giant Tested Facial Recognition Software To Alert Authorities To Uighurs)
Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said the report wasn’t “worth refuting,” in a statement Wednesday, CBS News reported.
The arrests follow a spike in surveillance technology in Xinjiang allegedly aimed at preventing terrorism, these measures include facial recognition, iris scanners, and DNA collection, according to CBS News.
At this point, HRW refuses to publish the list in its entirety due to safety concerns for their anonymous source, according to CBS News.