Satellite photos show China working in overdrive expanding internment camp for Uighurs

Satellite before and after photos show dramatic expansion of Chinese internment camp for Uighurs

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Maps showing expansion of camps. (screenshot from @joshchin Twitter)

Maps showing expansion of camps. (screenshot from @joshchin Twitter)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Satellite images were posted in a Wall Street Journal article on Aug. 17 of before and after satellite images showing an internment camp in Xinjiang holding ethnic Uighurs dramatically increasing in size. 

In the first photo of a re-education camp in Shule County, near Kashgar, China, taken in April 17 of last year, five detainee buildings can be clearly seen. In the next photo of the map on the right, taken on Aug. 15, four more detainee dorms can be seen, the site has been greatly expanded, 11 guard towers added, a new parking lot built, and a large field has been cleared for construction.

Most ominously of all, dorm rooms have been added for construction workers, indicating many more structures are in the works. 

A German researcher told the Wall Street Journal that authorities in Xinjiang have set up 1,300 so-called "transformation through education" centers supposedly to battle "extremism" since 2014. Thus, the camp pictured is just one of 1,300 similar detention centers across Xinjiang. 

A grim picture of the harsh treatment of the Uighurs inside the camps has started to emerge, as many inmates have started to come forward with their experiences, including six who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. A man from Turpan named Ablikim described to the newspaper being bound to a chair by his ankles and hands handcuffed behind his back for nine hours.

Ablikim, as well as other former inmates, said that they were told not to pray, have a copy of the Quran, fast during Ramadan, and many were force to eat pork, which is forbidden by Islam. Another former inmate told the paper, "They said we should give thanks not to Allah, but to Xi Jinping."

At a U.N. meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Aug. 10, vice-chairwoman Gay McDougall said "There are estimates that upwards of a million people are being held in so-called counter-extremism centers and another 2 million have been forced into so-called re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination."

When confronted by the U.N. committee over the matter, Chinese official, Hu Lianhe of the United Front Work Department told the panel that "there is no arbitrary detention ... there are no such things as re-education centers," reported AP. Acknowledging the camps in Xinjiang for the first time, Hu said they provided convicted criminals with skills to reintegrate themselves at "vocational education and employment training centers."