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“Ideological Transformation”: Records of Mass Detention from Qaraqash, Hotan

Uyghur Human Rights Project, February 18, 2020

UHRP – In 2019, low-level government officials from Bostan subdistrict, Qaraqash county, Hotan prefecture compiled information about Uyghur internees under their jurisdiction. The details of 311 of those internees have come to light in a leaked spreadsheet the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls the Qaraqash Document.

UHRP’s report “Ideological Transformation”: Records of Mass Detention from Qaraqash, Hotan describes and analyzes this document, which contains in-depth information about the familial and social circles of internees from eight Qaraqash neighborhoods. The purpose of the data is to evaluate whether internees should remain in detention or be released.

“The Qaraqash Document demonstrates local implementation of the ‘no mercy’ policies targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples. We know from other leaked documents that these brutal actions originate from China’s senior political leadership. The reasons for detention in this spreadsheet are absurd and arbitrary. It shows that the campaign to round up innocent Uyghurs has plunged ordinary residents of Hotan into a kind of hellish madness. Legitimate actions such as applying for a passport, praying, or having a relative abroad are all recorded in black and white as a reason to throw people into camps,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. He added, “the meticulous investigation of individuals’ behaviors and thoughts are proof of the aim of constructing a “no rights zone” for Uyghurs. Not only was any expression of Uyghurs’ distinct identity and faith a reason for detention, but officials created details files on their friends and relatives, looking for guilt by association in a very literal sense. The Qaraqash Document shows the bureaucratic systems required to achieve this political terror targeting ethnic and religious identity.”

Mr. Kanat added: “The mounting hard evidence of a human rights catastrophe in East Turkistan demands a proportionate response. The People’s Republic of China is responsible for mass and egregious violations of the fundamental rights of millions of Uyghurs and Turkic peoples. The Chinese government’s accountability for these abuses should not be a matter of debate. The issue at hand is how governments and multilateral organizations are going to end the Uyghur nightmare.”

UHRP’s report provides confirmation of the veracity of eyewitness and survivor testimony, especially the reasons for detention, the systematic reliance on guilt by association to deprive individuals of their liberty, and the sorting of detainees into “standard,” “strict,” and “maximum” detention protocols. There is no reference to any kind of judicial process for the judgments. These are arbitrary judgments recorded by local officials, who exert tremendous power over residents and their entire families.

The report also confirms local implementation of key features of the intensive and brutal Uyghur crisis, particularly the regular use of the Integrated Joint Operations Platform for surveillance and control, the “Becoming Family” program as a tool for identifying Uyghurs who should be detained, and the identification and harsh punishment of “two-faced” officials – those who are deemed to have betrayed the Party after having been appointed to serve it, and the continuing “management” of detainees even after release from “re-education,” through work assignments or intrusive monitoring by local officials on an ongoing basis.

The Qaraqash Document contains an alarming message. The Chinese government can mobilize immense human and technological resources to leverage a form of granular repression that demands loyalty to power. Uyghurs are the victims; some Uyghurs, almost certainly, are among the bureaucrats filling up these case records. Victims and persecutors are neighbors. To read the document is to witness the dismantling of the smallest units of Uyghur society in family and personal relationships. The document tells us that the Chinese government is creating a new organization of Uyghur society: that of jailer and jailed.

The Chinese government is perfecting an art of repression that will not stop at East Turkistan. The communication of the template that is contemporary East Turkistan to Beijing’s rising number of allies indicates the development of an international toolbox for systematic repression. Such a pattern has terminal implications for international human rights standards.

UHRP calls in the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations Security Council to act on the growing body of conclusive evidence of mass atrocities against Uyghurs and other Muslims by the Chinese government. The Chinese government’s own records reveal that its policies violate international human rights standards on a massive scale, policies that are systematically implemented through the official bureaucracy of the state. For the United Nations to fail to act will signal abandonment of its reason for being, the core principle of upholding human dignity.

Executive Director, Omer Kanat and Senior Program Officer for Research and Advocacy, Dr. Elise Anderson will present findings from the Qaraqash Document along with Dr. Adrian Zenz and Mr. Abduweli Ayup at an event co-hosted with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, DC, on February 18, 2020. For details of the event see this link.

The report, “Ideological Transformation”: Records of Mass Detention from Qaraqash, Hotan, can downloaded here.