MESOPOTAMIA NEWS EXCLUSIV :  Uighur repression ‘turbocharged by technology,’ confidential documents show

Researchers uncover new details on how apps and tech companies like Zapya, Huawei and Megvii contribute to China’s surveillance and mass internment program in Xinjiang.

By Scilla Alecci  December 14, 2020 – International Consortium of Investigative Journalists | 1710 Rhode Island Ave NW, 11th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036

A new list of Uighur detainees believed to be leaked from Xinijang suggests that China continues to use sophisticated data collection technology to identify and arbitrarily detain members of the Muslim minority, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.

The group obtained a list of 2,000 detainees in Xinjiangs’s Aksu prefecture who were flagged by the Integrated Joint Operations Platform, a policing program that aggregates data about people in the region from a variety of sources, and flags those it deems to be a potential threat.

“The Aksu List provides further insights into how China’s brutal repression of Xinjiang’s Turkic Muslims is being turbocharged by technology,” HRW researcher Maya Wang said in a statement. “The Chinese government owes answers to the families of those on the list: why were they detained, and where are they now?”

The researchers found that the program flagged people as suspicious for practicing Islam, using peer-to-peer file sharing applications such as Zapya, travelling or being young, that is, “born after the 1980s.”

Such findings seem to match the Chinese surveillance and mass internment program revealed in classified government documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last year.

The China Cables investigation detailed China’s plan to control, detain and indoctrinate Uighurs, using prison-like structures and highly sophisticated mass-surveillance technology.

One bulletin showed how officials closely monitored Zapya, one of the apps identified in the HRW report, on some Uighurs’ phones and flagged its users for further investigation.