Dec 14, 2019

China destroying documents after leaks about Uighur Muslims

A Chinese detention facility in Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux, Xinjiang region. Photo: Ng Han Guan/AP

The Xinjiang regional government in China's far west is deleting data, destroying documents and tightening controls on information, AP scoops.

Why it matters: That's in response to leaks of classified papers on mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.

Crisis meetings began after the N.Y. Times last month published "The Xinjiang Papers," a cache of internal speeches by top leaders, including Xi Jinping.

  • They continued after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published secret guidelines for operating detention centers, and instructions on how to use technology to target people.
  • "The China Cables" was written by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, now Axios' China reporter.

Xinjiang had mandated stricter controls on information before the news reports, then pressure rose, according to Uighurs outside Xinjiang.

  • State offices were told to throw away computers, and put camp information in databases disconnected from the internet, in restricted-access rooms.
  • Some university teachers were ordered to clean out sensitive data on their computers, phones and cloud storage, and delete work-related social media groups.

In some cases, the state appears to be confiscating evidence of detentions.

  • One Uighur, who had been detained in Xinjiang years before, said his ex-wife called him two weeks ago and begged him to send his release papers to her.
  • She said eight officers had come to her home to search for the papers, and threatened she'd be jailed for life if she couldn't produce them.

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China separating Uighur children from families to re-educate them

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

About a half-million Uighur children have been separated from their families and placed in boarding schools as part of China's effort to eradicate the Uighur identity, The New York Times reports.

The big picture per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Forced family separation is a tried-and-true method that governments have used to permanently eradicate minority identities and culture. The New York Times reveals for the first time the true scale — and the genocidal intent — of China's intergenerational family separation policies in Xinjiang, a province with a large population of Uighurs.

Go deeperArrowDec 28, 2019

U.S. commission says China may be guilty of "crimes against humanity"

Protesters at the Hague during a visit from Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Photo: Pierre Crom/Getty Images

In its annual report released today, the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) said that there is a "strong argument" that China has committed "crimes against humanity" in its northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Why it matters: A growing number of voices, in and out of government, are saying that China's mass detention camps clearly violate international law.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Mike Pompeo supports Mesut Özil's comments on Uighur persecution

Arsenal soccer player Mesut Özil. Photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has tweeted his support for soccer star Mesut Özil after the Arsenal player criticized China’s mass detention of Uighur Muslims.

Driving the news: The comments come after Özil's London-based soccer club distanced itself from Özil's comments, with the team putting out a statement that it does not interfere in politics. Chinese broadcaster CCTV then pulled a match between Arsenal and Manchester City in light of the criticism.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019