The Xinjiang region of China is populated with approximately 10 million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim population who are considered a threat by Chinese authorities. Over the past year, thousands of people from this demographic have been removed from their homes and sent to re-education camps in China. Their crimes include: Having extremist thoughts, praying, traveling, and studying abroad. Given no privacy, Uighurs are monitored closely. Cutting edge digital surveillance systems monitor what they are reading, who they are talking to, and where they are going. They are not allowed to contact family abroad. When Chinese authorities detect any behavior out of the ordinary, they detain the Uighur person and give them no trial. Tens of thousands of cameras track their every move in the city. Facial recognition scans are required before they enter certain areas in the city.
Recently promoted in 2016, Chen Quanguo, a Chinese Communist Party official, is the leader of the far-left police state in Xinjiang. Chen and other authorities have taken a “strike hard” approach to terror after a series of attack in 2013 and 2014 killed dozens. In the fight against terror, Chen has hired thousands of new police; however, his brutal police state tactics are spreading fear, abuse, and oppression. Uighur people are being profiled like never before and forced into political re-education camps. More than a dozen Uighur escapees have spoken out to media sources to document the oppression.
Rukiye Turdush, a Uighur activist in Canada sums it up well: “So much hate and desire for revenge are building up. How does terrorism spread? When people have nowhere to run.”
The Xinjiang detention centers are called “vocational training” centers. The Uighurs who are captured are forced to study Mandarin law, ethnic unity, de-radicalization, and patriotism. Religious extremism is spotted inside the camps. The way they behave, dress and profess the Communist Party’s good deeds are all scrutinized. According to the Associated Press, some of the centers are considered jails and some are guarded heavily by police soldiers with rifles. The oppression doesn’t stop with the indoctrination camps. Families are harassed by the state if their sons and daughters travel and study Islamic teachings abroad. Egyptian authorities have worked with Chinese authorities, deporting targets in Egypt and sending them back to Xinjiang. When they return, they are questioned and viewed as terror suspects.
“We were mice, and the police were cats,” harkened a student from Urumqi, Xinjiang’s regional capital.
GPS trackers are now a requirement for all vehicles so police can monitor residents’ travel in real time. Tens of thousands of cameras and voice recognition systems are used to their full potential. Facial recognition scanners, made by China Electronics Technology Group, are used throughout the city. Mandatory “health checks,” implemented in May 2017, are used to draw DNA samples from practically everyone in the region. The AP was told by authorities that Xinjiang invested in $8.7 million in DNA scanners to track and analyze all suspicious targets.
In southern Xinjiang, the police state has expanded to 1,130 police depots with flashing lights and foot patrols every five hundred meters. On every other block, police officers conduct checkpoints and stop cars to check identification. They even check drivers’ phones for religious content. The city is additionally guarded by forty armored vehicles. According to researchers, Xinjiang hires 40 times more police per capita than the heavily guarded Guangdong Province.
“Xinjiang has very likely exceeded the level of police density seen in East Germany just before its collapse,” says researcher Adrian Zenz. “What we’ve seen in the last 12 to 14 months is unprecedented.”
The madness doesn’t end. Thousands have been sent to indoctrination camps due to a sickly grading scale. Documents obtained by the AP show that Uighur residents in the regional capital are graded on a 100 point scale. This scale is used to classify residents as “trusted,” “ordinary” or “not trusted.” Residents may be docked ten points for being of Uighur ethnicity, for praying daily, or for having a religious education.
This is the kind of police state that privacy experts and civil liberty activists warn against in the United States. Secretive FISA courts, massive NSA surveillance, GPS tracking, roadside checkpoints, forced DNA collection, biometric scans and databases and the loss of the writ of habeas corpus, are all tools of an expanding police state. If certain ethnicities and beliefs become targeted, then these tools will go into action in the United States. We cannot let that happen to ourselves. We must hold accountable and curb police state tactics already in place. We must also stop terror at the border before it infiltrates our land and provokes our government to expand its police state tactics in American cities. (For more articles on protecting civil liberties, check out PrivacyWatch.News.)