Drone footage ‘irrefutable proof’ of Uighur brutality, analyst says
Foreign Minister Marise Payne says a video believed to show hundreds of blindfolded and shackled Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang Province is “deeply disturbing”, and vowed to continue to raise concerns with Beijing over its treatment of Muslim minority groups.
The aerial footage, which analysts say was taken above a train station near a city called Korla, shows up to 400 detainees being forced to sit in rows and then taken away under heavy guard to waiting buses.
Senator Payne suggested the Australian government believed the video was authentic.
“I am aware of the deeply disturbing video that has been published online,” she said.
“I have previously raised Australia’s concerns about reports of mass detentions of Uighurs and other Muslim peoples in Xinjiang.
“We have consistently called for China to cease the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and other Muslim groups.
“We have raised these concerns — and we will continue to raise them — both bilaterally and in relevant international meetings.”
The video, which has received hundreds of thousands of hits since being posed on YouTube earlier this month, was taken by a DJI consumer drone on or around August 18 last year, according to analysis by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Nathan Ruser.
“This is irrefutable proof of how intense and how harsh the crackdown has been in Xinjiang,” Mr Ruser told The Australian.
“It shows what we’ve heard reports of for a long time, of prison transfers by train, and detainees being transferred from one part of Xinjiang to an entirely different part, and we’ve also heard reports of them doing transfers from mainland China proper as part of those train transfers.”
Mr Ruser has worked extensively analysing the treatment of Uighurs in China through the use of satellite imagery, which shows a dramatic expansion in extrajudicial “re-education camps” in Xinjiang since 2016.
“What we are seeing in Xinjiang is the wholesale elimination of a culture through re-education and interment in a network of about 150 to 180 camps throughout Xinjiang, which focus on various levels of detention,” he said.
“And we’ve also seen the elimination of culturally significant and historical sites such as shrines and mosques and other Uighur historical sites, the destruction of cemeteries, and the complete razing of residential neighbourhoods.”
An estimated 1 to 1.5 million people from ethnic and religious minorities are currently being held in a network of network of prisons, detention centres and so-called “re-education camps” in Xinjiang.
In July, Australia was among 22 countries to issue a joint statement condemning China’s mass detention of minorities in Xinjiang, expressing concern about “credible reports of arbitrary detention … as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.”
The Chinese government has restricted access to Xinjiang in recent years, amid growing surveillance of citizens and heavy security.
It says the camps are “vocational training centres” aimed at fighting terrorism and combating Islamic extremism.