Chinese Prisons Filling with Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang

JB Shreve
September 9, 2019 3 mins to read
Reading Time: 2 minutes
critical issues and trends humanitarian concerns
Critical Issues & Trends – Humanitarian Concerns – Takes frequent looks at humanitarian concerns around the world that you should be aware of. (Matthew 25:40)

An incredible report on mass incarcerations taking place in China was published by the New York Times at the end of August but went almost unnoticed in the rest of the mainstream media. Chinese prisons are overflowing with a crackdown on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

I have previously written, and I am regularly updating, on the atrocities being committed against the Uighur Muslims in China.

That fact sheet and backgrounder is looking specifically at the concentration camps in China. They are devoted to “reeducating” the Uighur people. The August report from the New York Times looks specifically at the prison situation in the same area of China.

chinese prisons

In Xinjiang province where Uighurs and Kazakhs represent over half the local population, 230,000 were sent to prison between 2017 and 2018. This was far more than previously recorded numbers from earlier years in the province. A larger share of those sentences in Xinjiang was for five years or more compared to other provinces and areas of China.

Some highlights from the New York Times Report:

  • Xinjiang accounted for less than 2% of China’s population but 21% of arrests in 2017, a sharp increase in its share of arrests from a decade ago.
  • During 2017 alone, Xinjiang courts sentenced almost 87,000 defendants, 10 times more than the previous year, to prison terms of five years or longer. Arrests increased eightfold; prosecutions fivefold.
  • The rates in Xinjiang, which has 24.5 million residents, far outpace comparable Chinese provinces. By contrast, Inner Mongolia, a northeast region of China that has roughly the same size population, including a large ethnic minority, sentenced 33,000 people last year.
  • One in five arrests in China in 2017 took place in Xinjiang.

Unlike the concentration camps, a prison sentence in China requires a court process. But the numbers being pushed through the Chinese court system in Xinjiang don’t make sense. Experts suggest China is either holding mass trials among the Uighurs or judges are giving blank documents to the authorities so they can simply fill in the blanks.

Many of those being held in the concentration camps are eventually moved on to the Chinese prisons. The number of prisoners originating from the camps is not clear.


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