Chinese YouTube journalist Guanguan has filmed fresh evidence of detention facilities for Uighurs and posted the video on YouTube. The detention facilities filmed from outside show high walls, barbed wires, guard towers and police checkpoints.
Posing as a casual tourist in a region which has nothing of interest for tourists, Guanguan secretly filmed the detention centres in Xinjiang region–home to the minority Muslim Uighurs, who have been made to work as forced labourers in detention centres or re-education centres.
Guanguan titled his video, 'In Search of Concentration Camps in XinJiang – A Documentary on Urban/Rural China' and posted it here:
He carried a hidden camera in his backpack as he visited eight cities in the region and filmed almost 18 camps. He edited a 19-minute film and posted it on YouTube which has been picked up by the international media. He posted his video on October 5 with a commentary in Chinese. Since then, the video has garnered 630,634 views, 28,000 likes and 1,300 dislikes.
In his commentary on the video, Guanguan says that he was inspired by a Buzzfeed article that showed concentration camps through satellite imagery. He decided to verify the satellite imagery by visiting the locations physically, and rode a cab along the route provided by Buzzfeed.
In his note on the YouTube video he writes: "The Chinese government has in recent years established many concentration camps in Xinjiang, or in their term, “vocational re-education and training centers for imprisoning local ethnic minorities and dissidents. Unlike regular imprisonment or detention, people are held here without any prior court trial. The period of their imprisonment is no longer determined by courts but becomes endless".
Kashgar old town in Xinjiang region (Photo: Simina Mistrenau/DPA/IANS)
Beijing has been roundly criticised by human rights organisations and Western governments for human rights abuse against the Uighurs. The communist government has, however, denied the existence of concentration camps to incarcerate the Muslim minority.
The on-ground video made by the Chinese citizen journalist has corroborated the existence and the flourishing of such concentation camps, some of which are huge facilities with perimeter walls running 1,000 feet long.
In his video, Guanguan says: "Due to the Chinese government's regulations, it is very difficult for foreign journalists to gain access to Xinjiang to conduct interviews. I was thinking, while foreign journalists can't go to Xinjiang, I can still go there".
The video by Guanguan is expected to provide more fuel to human rights organisations including UN organisations, which have been asking for physical inspections and visits to Xinjiang. Even Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said that Beijing should allow a high-level visit from the UN to Xinjiang to verify the allegations of abuse against the Uighurs.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has negated the situation in Xinjiang. foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: "I want to stress that Xinjiang-related issues are in essence about countering violent terrorism, radicalization and separatism, not about human rights or religion. In the face of the grave and complex counterterrorism situation, Xinjiang has taken a host of decisive, robust and effective deradicalization measures. As a result, Xinjiang has seen no violent terrorist case for five years in a row".