New undercover footage from inside China has revealed the extent of Beijing’s cover-up of its human rights abuses against the Uighur community. Recent footage has surfaced on social media showing Uighur people being bussed out of their region to work as forced labour in factories across the country during the coronavirus pandemic. This follows similarly chilling drone footage that showed huge masses of Uighurs rounded up, bound and blindfolded as they wait to be loaded onto a train and taken away.
The unprecedented government-run crackdown of Uighurs has been described by experts and human rights groups as an extension of China’s mass surveillance system.
Since 2016, as many as a one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been held in alleged concentration camps, which are referred to by the Chinese Communist Party as “vocational training centers” or “re-education” facilities.
In footage, filmed last year, dozens of Uyghur men — their heads freshly shaved —are seen blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs during a mass transfer at a train station in the north-west region of China.
Recent clips, including dozens of Chinese TikTok videos, show Uyghurs being transported to work in involuntary labor schemes during the COVID-19 outbreak
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In January, videos began to surface on Douyin — a version of TikTok only available to Chinese users — revealed crowds of people being packed onto trains, buses and airplanes.
Channel 4 reporter Lindsey Hilsum claimed that this signals a new phase in China’s campaign “to forcibly assimilate its Muslim minority”.
She said that Beijing were trying to disperse the Uighurs around China to its eastern manufacturing belt and “away from their families”.
One clip, shown on Channel 4 News, showed a man telling the camera that his wife and children are starving.
Vicky Xu, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, added: “What is troubling is that they call these Uighurs ‘batches’.
“They say they have 500 workers available to be hired in 15 day, that they can be delivered in a week or two weeks and they can withstand hardship.”
Earlier this week, the US State Department announced sanctions against Chinese tech employees for involvement in the persecution of the Uighur community.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters: “The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith.”