February 21, 2019

China's Hidden Camps

“On 12 July 2015 a satellite swung over the rolling deserts and oasis cities of China’s vast far west.

One of the images it captured that day just shows a patch of empty, untouched, ashen-grey sand.

It seems an unlikely place to start an investigation into one of the most pressing human rights concerns of our age.

But less than three years later, on 22 April 2018, a satellite photo of that same piece of desert showed something new.

A massive, highly secure compound had materialised.

It is enclosed with a 2km-long exterior wall punctuated by 16 guard towers.

The first reports that China was operating a system of internment camps for Muslims in Xinjiang began to emerge last year.

The satellite photograph was discovered by researchers looking for evidence of that system on the global mapping software, Google Earth.

It places the site just outside the small town of Dabancheng, about an hour’s drive from the provincial capital, Urumqi.”

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