Uygur Muslim activists and rights group say they have documented nearly 500 camps and prisons run by China to detain members of their ethnic group, accusing Beijing of holding far more than the commonly cited figure of one million people, The Independent reported.
The East Turkestan National Awakening Movement, a Washington-based group gave the geographic coordinates of 182 suspected “concentration camps” where Uygurs are allegedly pressured to renounce their culture.
Researching imagery from Google Earth, the group said it also spotted 209 suspected prisons and 74 suspected labor camps for which it would share details later.
“In large part, these have not been previously identified, so we could be talking about far greater numbers” of people detained, Kyle Olbert, the director of operations for the movement, said on Tuesday.
“If anything, we are concerned that there may be more facilities that we have not been able to identify,” he said in suburban Washington.
Randall Schriver, the top US Defence Department official for Asia, told a briefing in May that the Pentagon estimates the number of Muslims detained in China to be “closer to three million citizens”.
In a release, ETNAM pointed to this estimate adding: “We believe the number is much higher when prisons and labor camps are also considered.”
The group said it would release coordinates for those in due course.
Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims
In its 117-page report, “‘Eradicating Ideological Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims,” Human Rights Watch presented new evidence of the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.
Chinese authorities impose restrictions on Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, especially during Ramadan.
Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of a heavy-handed rule in Xinjiang, including violent police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people.