Uyghur heartland in China has highest detention rate in the world: leaked data

Uyghur heartland in China has highest detention rate in the world: leaked data
2 min read
16 May, 2022
Data accessed and partially verified by the Associated Press reveals that nearly one in 25 people in the Konasheher region have been imprisoned by Beijing on terrorism-related charges.
Millions of Uyghurs are believed to be detained by Chinese authorities [Getty]

Leaked data reviewed by the Associated Press revealed that almost one in 25 people in the Uyghur heartland in western China have been imprisoned on 'terrorism-related charges' - the highest known incarceration rate in the world. 

China has detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs on trumped-up charges of terrorism.

A list accessed and partially verified by the AP revealed the names of more than 10,000 Uyghurs who have been detained by Chinese authorities in Konasheher alone, one of several regions in southern Xinjiang

China has embarked on a massive campaign of repression against the Muslim minority, which international governments and NGOs have said amounts to genocide.

"Over the last 8 or 9 years, legal authority for [Xinjiang], including local and national law, have greatly expanded the definition of extremism, to include many outward displays of religion, and also begun to conflate extremism and terrorism," tweeted Jeremy Daum, a Senior Research Scholar in Law and Senior Fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center who was quoted in an AP article. 

"The result is that much public religious study and ritual, and even online posts, can now be called spreading extremism, and thus linked to terrorism," he added. 

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This is the biggest list to have so far emerged highlighting the scale of detention of Uyghurs in western China. There are an estimated one million Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims detained in camps.

It confirms longstanding claims by Uyghur rights groups and families that China is using detention as a weapon of repression against the country’s Muslim minority.  

China claims the prisoners are being provided with education, however, rights groups have accused the Chinese government of committing horrific abuses against the detainees, including torture, rape, and forced sterilisation.

The United States has formally accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghurs, as have the parliaments of Canada and the United Kingdom and numerous human rights groups.