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New report details 380 detention facilities in China targeting ethnic Uyghurs for ‘re-education’

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) today released a report detailing the construction of 380 detention facilities in Xinjiang, China that has been in construction since 2017, complete with full-color satellite maps and 3D models detailing features of the facilities meant to detain China’s ethnic minority Uyghur population.

“ASPI researchers have identified and mapped over 380 sites in the detention network across Xinjiang, counting only re-education camps, detention centres and prisons that were newly built or significantly expanded since 2017,” says the project’s website.

Previously, Chinese authorities denied that the facilities were meant for punitive punishment of detainees, but said the sites were reeducation centers meant to teach detainees vocational skills. Last year, the communist authorities also claimed that most detainees had returned home.

“Currently, most people who have received training have already returned to society, returned home,” said Xinjiang’s communist party Vice Chairman, Alken Tuniaz, according to Reuters.

But the ASPI’s Xinjiang Data Project says that, in fact, persecution of the Uyghur population is accelerating.

“Available evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees in Xinjiang’s vast ‘re-education’ network are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities, including newly built or expanded prisons, or sent to walled factory compounds for forced labour assignments,” says the report.

Experts say at least a million Uyghurs have been detained since the communist crackdown and ethnic cleansing of the ethnic group began in earnest in 2017.

The ASPI report confirms suspicions that China is taking a harder line against any groups or individuals seen as a possible danger to the communist party’s domestic hegemony.

Using satellite imagery analysis, the ASPI group has reconstructed 3D models of an example of each tier of detention facilities from lowest security (tier 1) to highest security (tier 4) and includes detailed photos the GPS coordinates.

The last two years have seen significant additions to the prison system, say ASPI researchers.

“At least 61 detention sites have seen construction and expansion between July 2019 and July 2020. This includes at least 14 facilities still under construction in 2020, according to the latest satellite imagery available,” says the project.

“Of these new and expanded sites, about 50% are higher security facilities, which may suggest a shift in usage from the lower-security, ‘re-education centres’ toward higher-security prison-style facilities,” the researchers added.

The facilities have been used for forced labor, execution, torture and the operation of a $10 billion forced organ harvesting program that benefits the top communists in China, say critics.

“For far too long, Chinese officials have not been held accountable for committing atrocities that likely constitute crimes against humanity,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in July, after the passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which he authored.

The Act imposed sanctions on communist officials who are complicit in “grave human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”   

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