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The faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps

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  1. sp00ky

    Thousands of photographs from the heart of China’s highly secretive system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang, as well as a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape, are among a huge cache of data hacked from police computer servers in the region.

    The documents provide some of the strongest evidence to date for a policy targeting almost any expression of Uyghur identity, culture or Islamic faith - and of a chain of command running all the way up to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.

    With the threat of physical force again visible in the background, this woman’s photo highlights the widespread use of “guilt by association”.

    Documents describe her son as having “strong religious leanings” because he doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke. As a result, he was jailed for 10 years on terrorism charges.

    A set of internal police protocols describes the routine use of armed officers in all areas of the camps, the positioning of machine guns and sniper rifles in the watchtowers, and the existence of a shoot-to-kill policy for those trying to escape.

    Blindfolds, handcuffs and shackles are mandatory for any “student” being transferred between facilities or even to hospital.

    They paint a picture of relentless internment in both camps and prisons, with row upon row documenting the prejudicial prying of Chinese officials sent deep into Uyghur society - backed with big data surveillance tools – to arbitrarily detain at will.

    There are countless examples of people being punished retrospectively for “crimes” that took place years or even decades ago - with one man jailed for 10 years in 2017 for having “studied Islamic scripture with his grandmother” for a few days in 2010.

    Many hundreds are shown to have been targeted for their mobile phone use - mostly for listening to “illegal lectures” or having encrypted apps installed.

    Others are punished with up to a decade in prison for not using their devices enough, with well over a hundred instances of “phone has run out of credit” being listed as a sign that the user is trying to evade the constant digital surveillance.

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