A Chinese man has gone viral for his bravery in investigating the alleged Uyghur concentration camps in Xinjiang since foreign journalists are not allowed to conduct interviews in the region.
The investigation: The man, who goes by Guanguan on YouTube, created a 20-minute documentary that shows some of the locations of the alleged Uyghur concentration camps across Xinjiang.
- Guanguan visited several places in Xinjiang, including Fukang, Kazakh Autonomous County, Yunqi, Urumqi (Wulumuqi) and the outskirts of Korla (Kuerle), where the camps are located. About 1.8 million Uyghurs and other minorities are allegedly held without trials in these camps, which the government claims to be re-education and vocational training schools.
- The documentary shows that most of these compounds share similar features, such as watchtowers and razor-wire walls; however, the compound in Korla appears to be a military complex with barracks and army trucks.
- During his investigation, Guanguan noted that he could not give comments while filming in the locations, because he could “end up in a concentration camp if he were stopped by a police and the footage were discovered.”
- He also noted that some of the locations he visited were not listed on any online maps, such as those on Baidu, a prominent search engine in China.
His method: Guanguan reportedly read a lot of international reports about the camps, and the one in particular that he used as a guide during his investigation was from BuzzFeed, Radio Free Asia (RFA) Uyghur Service Director, Alim Seytoff, said in a video about Guanguan.
- “In the past couple of years BuzzFeed has been also at the forefront to report on the camps,” Seytoff said. “He traveled from mainland China to Qumul, to Turfan, to Urumchi, to Korla – these major cities, and outskirts of major cities, using the BuzzFeed report as a guide to locate the camps.”
- Seytoff then noted that Guanguan managed “to find nearly 20 concentration camps throughout his travels,” and he even discovered some camps that were not mentioned in the BuzzFeed article.
- Alison Killing, an architect and geospatial analyst who helped with the BuzzFeed report, applauded Guanguan’s bravery in investigating the alleged camps.
- “The first thing that should be said is just how brave that guy was to head off to Xinjiang and to go and look for those camps,” Killing told RFA in November. “It’s really useful to have that ground-level imagery that helps us to corroborate what we’re seeing in the satellite images and helps us to confirm that what we thought we were looking at from above really is vast.”
- Killing, along with BuzzFeed reporter Megha Rajagopalan and programmer Christo Buschek, won a Pulitzer Prize for their stories that exposed “a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims.”
Other details: An independent, non-government report by more than 50 international experts in genocide, international law and Xinjiang claimed the Chinese government “bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide against the Uyghur in breach of the (UN) Genocide Convention,” CNN reported in March.
- China reportedly denied all the assertions by international media about the camps and declared that the purpose of these establishments is to “reeducate” the Uyghur people to Chinese values].
Last week, the independent Uyghur Tribunal in London released their judgment that said in part: “On the basis of evidence heard in public, the tribunal is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide.”