China’s secret internment camps
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China’s secret internment camps


These are satellite images from the deserts
of western China. Look closely, and you’ll see these huge complexes
being built. From the sky, they sort of look like factories
or even schools. But look even closer: this line is one facility’s
perimeter wall. And these shadows? They’re cast by the watchtowers along the
wall. This compound isn’t a school or a factory. It’s an internment camp. Inside these camps, the Chinese government
is detaining as many as 1 million Uighurs, China’s mostly Muslim minority. China doesn’t want the world to know any of
this. But the story of these camps is also the story
of how we know about them – and China’s efforts to cover them up. As soon as we began to document the re-education
centers, there was Chinese government officials deleting what
we were finding. Uighurs mainly live here, in the Xinjiang
province of northwestern China. That puts them closer to the capitals of Kyrgyzstan
and Uzbekistan than to Beijing. And Uighurs are also closer culturally to
those Turkic groups than they are to the Han Chinese, China’s ethnic majority. The Uighurs speak a Turkic language. Their
culture is different. They have particular styles of music, a whole a whole rich history that is unique to them. This is Sigal Samuel, a reporter at Vox. I’ve been reporting on the Uighur crisis in
China for about a year now. China has been concerned for decades
about the possibility of Uighur separatism. Uighurs have actually had their own independent
nation, two separate times in the last century. In 1933, they established the Islamic Republic
of East Turkistan here in Kashgar. But it crumbled less than a year later when
it was taken over by Chinese forces. Then, in 1944, the Soviet Union backed the
creation of the East Turkestan Republic, based here. But when China became Communist in 1949, the
Soviet Union turned on East Turkestan, and helped China take it over again. Part of why the Xinjiang region is so important
to China is that it’s rich with energy resources. And as China’s economy grew, so did its
need for energy. Today Xinjiang accounts for nearly 40% of
China’s coal reserves. And over 20% of the country’s oil and gas. It also accounts for 20% of China’s potential
for wind energy. China needs resources, it needs
energy. It needs the geographical location, the area
on which Xinjiang sits. That’s where Uighurs are. That’s where they’re living. And so China really wants to have a solid
sense of control over that area. As far back as the 1950s, China saw an opportunity
to dilute the influence of the potentially rebellious Uighurs, and started encouraging
the migration of Han Chinese, into Xinjiang. And it worked. In 1945, Uighurs made up over 80% of the population, compared to just 6% Han Chinese. By 2008, Xinjiang was 46% Uighur compared
to 39% Han Chinese. But over the years, as Xinjiang developed
economically, Uighurs were left behind, working mostly low-wage jobs in agriculture
while the Han held higher-paying jobs. Finally, in 2009, a Uighur protest against
discrimination at the hands of the Han and the Chinese government erupted in violence. “Bloody riots broke out, pitting ethnic
Uighur Muslims against the dominant Han Chinese.” One of the worst riots took place in the provincial
capital of Urumqi. About 200 people were killed and hundreds
injured during the unrest. That was sort of an inflection point. After that, the Chinese really started to crack
down harder on the Uighurs. And by 2013, Xinjiang had become even more
important to China. The country launched the “Belt and Road”
initiative, a trillion-dollar investment in things like fiber optic cables, train lines,
and gas pipelines meant to boost the country’s economic and political influence around the
world by making it easier to trade with China. If you plot these projects on a map you’ll
see a lot of them pass through Xinjiang, making the province arguably the most important corridor
for the whole project. China would need to ensure that Xinjiang remained
securely in its hands. The Uighurs came to be perceived
and painted more as a threat, as a separatist threat, as an extremist threat. In 2016 and 2017, the country enacted a series
of “de-extremification” policies aimed at Muslims, like banning long beards. And Xinjiang was effectively turned into a
hi-tech police state. So this kind of thing is happening
all over the country, but in Xinjiang it’s been just increased by orders of magnitude. We’re talking about Uighurs
having to hand over their phones at checkpoints. We’re even talking about QR codes being
installed on the outside of their homes. But the most brutal part of this crackdown
was hidden to the world at first. In this image you see the opening of this
facility. The signage, it says “De-extremification reeducation center.” Around 2017, China started building
these internment camps, these large scale places to detain Uighurs.
China says that these camps are necessary because the Uighurs are a terrorist threat. A separatist threat. People who are infected with extremist thinking. But it wasn’t until Uighurs who had been
detained told their stories, that the picture from inside the camps came into clearer focus. They’re forced to memorize and
recite Communist Party propaganda every day. They’re often forced to criticize their own
Islamic beliefs and to criticize the beliefs of their fellow detainees. “We had to sing songs hailing the Communist
Party. We had to repeat in Chinese, ‘long live
[Chinese president] Xi Jinping! There have been reports of death,
of torture. “Three guards surrounded me and abused
me. “Each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake.” So there’s this atmosphere of
just trying to uproot what you believe in. At first, China denied the existence of
these camps… But activists and academics fought back. A lot of people around the world are scouring the Internet for evidence of China’s internment camps for Uighurs. In terms of the strategies and tools
that I’ve used and others have used to uncover evidence of these camps, it’s quite simply
a computer and knowledge of Chinese and thinking about what ways whats words, especially government
websites, would use. People have unearthed government
documents… “And then we had growing visual evidence. We’re looking at satellite images.” We could actually trace the creation and expansion of the reeducation camp. It was a matter of, I think luck or chance I uncovered this image. And until then, we didn’t have
that piece of visual evidence that said this is what it is. And this is what the Chinese government’s
calling it. Tim isn’t alone. There’s a whole network of “web sleuths”
around the world using basic internet tools to document what China doesn’t want the world to see. And they’ve gotten China to change their
story, at least a little. China was denying that these re education centers exist, until journalists and academics and others started to really
amass a body of evidence that was so convincing that China couldn’t just deny it anymore. China took a different approach and started
admitting that these facilities exist, but carefully painted them as training schools
for potential criminals or terrorists. In the meantime, the camps are still there
and growing. This camp, one of China’s largest, was as
big as the nearby city of Dabancheng in 2017. But by 2018, the camp had expanded to twice the
size. From China’s perspective they think it’s worth
it. They want to make sure Xinjiang is an area of the country that they have total control
over. And if that comes with a high human cost and
even a reputational blow on the international stage, China so far seems willing to do that
anyway.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “China’s secret internment camps

  1. 1. Over 1 million people detained in those camps? Judging by the size of those camps shown in the video, roughly 1000 people can be held in their maximum capacities (assuming the most cruel and minimum living space). Are you suggesting there are over 1000 of those camps existing, and nobody else but you, VOX, noticed?
    2. Xinjiang has been part of China over one thousand years ago. It is LEGITIMATELY part of China, long before American Indians being massacred and expelled from the now so-called "The United States of America".
    3. All races in China EXCEPT "Han" are treated extremely well. These so-called "minority groups" has much larger chances in getting into good universities and receiving better educations.
    4. NO APOLOGIES for dealing with terrorists attacks that killed more than 200 people.
    5. Some of the facts just WRONG. A Uygur grandpa featured in an official documentary, the bite of China, has beard.
    6. If anybody has a look at the "De-extremization Bill", it only regulates against those who interfere with OTHER PEOPLE's religions, ways of living, rights and so on. In other words, you can practise your religions anyway you want, just don't force other people to do the same. How is that wrong in any sense? Especially when compared to US that invaded Iraq?

    Suggest everybody to come to China and have a look, before believing and supporting this type of videos.

  2. When all they did was protect their family and community from gov cruelty, media and gov there use it as license to call them as terrorist and do a modern day holocaust… smh

  3. 感谢外媒让我知道共产党又做了一件好事儿,天天人权人权的,人NMLGB权,在昆明火车站疯狂砍人的时候怎么没考虑其他百姓的人权

  4. if this true,why only Americans say that ,why Americans don’t save them like what they did in Iraq??sent some army,come to China!don’t tell fakes 😂😂

  5. hmm.. after the fact that most Islamic countries have PRAISED how these camps worked? To re-educate those who have somehow engaged in terrorist attacks? Bro, those extremists were NOT killed or even jailed for life (which shall have been done in some countries, yes, talking about you U.S., you've got HR), but instead being offered a chance to change. OK, talking about the re-education, as I heard that "long live Xijinping: from the video… omfg, jeez I just couldn't hold up laughing… For my 20+ years of life in the mainland China (and now I live in Canada), I have NEVER heard of anyone saying that. Vox, bro, seriously, you taught them to do that huh? Nevertheless, this video is such a shame

  6. 0:27 This compound isn't a school or a factory.
    It's called a freaking JAIL. I guess the U.S. has never seen it because the criminal rate is zero.
    Love how creative Vox is when they are about about Russia and China.

  7. I feel like this issue barely receives any NEWS around the world! It’s happening right under our noses and it’s so terrible.

  8. Ha! You know what? youtube just deleted my comments about the terror-attacks happened in this area which might be the reason of these re-education camps. Well Done! Keep brainwashing ppl to hate China Youtube.

  9. Because the East Asian ethnic breeding base has really fallen sharply, it is a biological strategy to protect this race.

  10. nobody can prove anything about china …. no hard evidence.. the control china has on its people is perfect . they have madebsupercomputers just to analyze what they are doing .

  11. 帝国主义亡我之心不死,我辈必当砥砺前行。
    The imperialism of my heart is not dead, and my generation must be on the move.
    极易被煽动的人
    Very easy to be shaken

  12. Wow Pakistani must watch this your Chinese brother how's dealing with Muslims… Next turn yours bcoz china entered in Pakistan Indians Muslims are living better life Than Pakistani bcoz they don't feel ashamed when they show their passport at airport ..

  13. USA and UK please take them ! They need human rights for putting their boom. I’m guessing Whitehouse is a good choice. !!!!!

  14. 美国和英国应该帮助这些可怜的人,并把这一百万穆斯林接到美国或英国。The United States and Britain should help these poor people and bring the one million Muslims to the United States or Britain😄

  15. As a Chinese person, this does not surprise me at all. It's the Holocaust in 2019 and no one will stop it, because it's not a threat to them. Nobody cares because it's a million miles away. When it's on your door step it will be too little, too late.

  16. See the hypocrisy. Supporting Kashmir since people are denied rights but China itself detaining and eradicating all Muslims from its country. Chameleon 100%

  17. Muslims around the world are turning a blind eye to these poor people's plight. It's all money driven policy of China. Shame on OIC

  18. Show this to Pakistan. They keep promoting themselves as they are the brand ambassidors for Islam and Muslims across the world. This China is the best friend for Pakistan.

  19. One interesting thing to know is Uyghurs are genetically very close to Jews, because a great proportion of modern were descendants of Khazarian who converted into Jewish. Even China successfully wipe out their culture, Uyghurs can easily pick up something new to make sure they have enough differences to mess with China anyway. There are a lot of examples of weaker nations adopting other foreign cultures against culture conversion from oppressors this way.

  20. This is why you should not immigrate illegally. It could construed as invasion.

    I do not support internment. If a country wants to deny pupils live in their countries, simply deport them back.

  21. These people are terroist and liars,we people would not say Long live Xi. Its very funny. And I didnt saw much eveidence on this video to support his opinion

  22. Thats because most people, like Muslims, are told "what" to think instead of "how" to think. So China has the right idea by teaching people how to think.

  23. Just imagine what those muslims would make you do if they had control over the world. There wouldn't be re education camps they would cut your head off in the street.

  24. Vox why are you calling these building internment camps? Call them what they are! They are concentration camps ! Why is it that people of the world are so touchy-feely about the words concentration camps? If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck and it must be a duck.

  25. Isn’t this what India trying to do in Kashmir now by relocating Hindus to Muslim areas and isn’t this what Israel did to Palestinian territories by building walled settlements

  26. Long-term extreme religious beliefs have deprived them of the ability to survive in modern society, even in the national language. Without special re-education, they will become more and more separated from society. Rest countries are always blaming China while their own countries are constantly attacked by terrorism.

  27. You know, every time some genocide occurs the world, despite knowing what was happening while it was happening the world waits until it is over and then says, "Never again." At what point does someone, somewhere, actually do something about it before the number of dead reaches the millions? I'm looking at you U.N. But, once again, nothing will be done because the U.N. is toothless and corrupt to it's core. Nothing except for, "Never again." that is.

  28. Somehow everything about terrorism form this poor ethnic minority was forgotten. What about the time they came with knives to a civilian railway station and started simply murdering everyone they could see?

  29. Please keep focusing on this. I'm ashamed of being a han Chinese. Sincerely apologize to the people who have been detained and tortured. CCP and Xi's regime must end.

  30. I'm surprised youtube let this video stay up google loves china more then America they long for the control they have in china

  31. When dictators are going to learn that religion suppression actually increases religious extremism? If the Uighurs were properly integrated into Chinese society, these would never be needed. Same thing with the Tibetans.

  32. Basically Han-China knows what Islamic culture does to the west and are definitely not willing to go through the same. I'll not blame this pragmatically approach.

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