drone footage
September 23, 2019

Drone footage posted anonymously on YouTube last week appears to shed some light on how China is treating its ethnic minority prisoners, The Guardian reports.

The video reportedly shows Uighur or other ethnic and religious minorities wearing blue and yellow uniforms with clean shaven heads, blindfolds, and handcuffs sitting on the ground before being led away by police. The video has not been officially verified, but Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's international cyber policy center, reportedly used landmarks and the position of the sun to determine its legitimacy. He told The Guardian he believes it was likely shot at a train station in the Xinjiang province, where there is a large population of Uighurs, in August 2018. Ruser added that the prisoners were possibly being transferred to a region where the crackdown against the Uighurs, who are a Muslim minority, has been particularly strong.

In total, China has reportedly placed as many as two million Uighurs in "re-education" camps, citing "extremist behavior" as their reason for doing so. While Chinese authorities have been taking diplomats and even some journalists on tours of Xinjiang to showcase what they say is an exemplary anti-terrorism campaign, Ruser noted that the drone footage "counters the propaganda offensive China is trying to show."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China for its treatment of Uighurs and other minority groups Sunday. "I want to make clear that China's repressive campaign in Xinjiang is not about terrorism," he said. "It's about China's attempt to erase its own citizens." Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

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