China has set up nearly 400 internment camps in Xinjiang, with building on dozens going on over the past two years, even as Chinese authorities said their “re-education” system was Lethargy, Found an Australian research center.

The network of camps in the far west of China, used to detain Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, includes 14 camps still under construction, according to the most recent satellite imagery obtained by the Ministry of Defense. Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

In total, ASPI has identified 380 detention centers that have been established across the region since 2017, ranging from lower security re-education camps to fortified prisons.

This is more than 100% of what previous investigations revealed, and researchers believe they have now identified most of the detention centers in the area.

Immigration offices in the border city of Khurgas, Xinjiang / Kazakhstan.

Immigration offices in the border city of Khurgas, Xinjiang / Kazakhstan. Photo: ASPI

“The evidence in this database shows that despite claims by Chinese officials that detainees have graduated from the camps, significant investment in building new detention facilities continued throughout 2019 and 2020,” said Nathan Rosser, a researcher at the US Institute of Political Science.

The information, including the coordinates of the individual camps, was made public in an online database, and Xinjiang Data Project.

The camps have been identified using survivor accounts, other projects that track detention centers, and satellite imagery.

The institute said the night images were particularly useful, as they were looking for newly lit areas outside of cities; These were often the sites of newly built detention centers, with daytime photos giving a clear picture of the building.

Researchers have identified more than 380 suspected detention centers in Xinjiang

There are also many of them near industrial complexes; There were widespread reports of prisoners being used in some concentration camps as forced labor.

Camps are often also in a common location with factory complexes, which may indicate the nature of the facility and highlight the direct line between arbitrary detention in Xinjiang And forced labor. “

Satellite images of the new facility near Kashgar in January 2020.

Satellite imagery of the new facility near Kashgar in January 2020. Image: ASPI

Beijing insists that there are no human rights violations In Xinjiang. The Chinese authorities initially denied the existence of concentration camps, and later described them as vocational training and rehabilitation programs aimed at alleviating poverty and combating the threats of terrorism.

A senior official claimed last year that most people Camp Detained “Returned to Society”. However, China has not allowed independent access to the camps for journalists, human rights groups, or diplomats, and visitors to the area face close surveillance.

Most of the information about the camps, and the government’s broader campaign against Muslim minorities in the region, came from Survivors who fled abroad, Leaked Chinese government documents, And But not everyone gets to fulfill their dreams Which confirmed the location and existence of the camps.

People have been targeted with petty “crimes” such as possessing the Qur’an or abstaining from eating pork. Reported violations include detailed arbitrary arrests, torture And medical neglect in concentration camps and forced contraception.

Uyghur families have been forced to make Han Chinese officials live in their homes as “relatives,” as part of a comprehensive surveillance system, which also sees people being monitored online and through an extensive network of CCTV cameras in public places.

ASPI captures the broad scope of both individual concentration camps, and the entire network of internment facilities, which has mostly been established in the last half decade. A map created from the ASPI database shows an arc of campsites across populated parts of the area, although the Research Center indicated that the rate of growth in detention facilities was slowing.

The largest documented camp in the area, Dabancheng, is located outside the regional capital, Urumqi. New construction work there spanned over a kilometer in 2019 – and in total it now includes nearly 100 buildings.

A new detention center has opened in the much smaller historic Silk Road city in Kashgar, which opened recently in January of this year, and houses 13 five-story residential buildings spread over 25 hectares (60 acres), enclosed by a 14-meter-high wall and watch – the towers According to the report.

Timelapse footage shows the development of a suspected internment camp in Xinjiang, China – video

The American Campground has divided the camps into four different categories, reflecting immunization levels and inmate control.

About half of the 60 newly expanded facilities enjoy higher security, indicating a shift in the nature of the central government’s campaign against minorities in Xinjiang.

The report also found that about 70 camps appeared to have loosened security controls, with internal fences and surrounding walls removed. Eight may have been decommissioned entirely. The report said these were mostly low security installations.

The apparent shift in focus to higher security detention centers is commensurate with reports and survivor testimonies stating that “a large number of detainees who did not show satisfactory progress in the political indoctrination camps were transferred to higher security facilities, which were expanded to accommodate them,” according to the report.

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