AP Exclusive: Digital police state shackles Chinese minority, by Gerry Shih

Here is what it’s like to live in a police state. From Gerry Shih at apnews.com:

KORLA, China (AP) — Nobody knows what happened to the Uighur student after he returned to China from Egypt and was taken away by police.

Not his village neighbors in China’s far west, who haven’t seen him in months. Not his former classmates, who fear Chinese authorities beat him to death.

Not his mother, who lives in a two-story house at the far end of a country road, alone behind walls bleached by the desert sun. She opened the door one afternoon for an unexpected visit by Associated Press reporters, who showed her a picture of a handsome young man posing in a park, one arm in the wind.

“Yes, that’s him,” she said as tears began streaming down her face. “This is the first time I’ve heard anything of him in seven months. What happened?”

“Is he dead or alive?”

The student’s friends think he joined the thousands — possibly tens of thousands — of people, rights groups and academics estimate, who have been spirited without trial into secretive detention camps for alleged political crimes that range from having extremist thoughts to merely traveling or studying abroad. The mass disappearances, beginning the past year, are part of a sweeping effort by Chinese authorities to use detentions and data-driven surveillance to impose a digital police state in the region of Xinjiang and over its Uighurs, a 10-million strong, Turkic-speaking Muslim minority that China says has been influenced by Islamic extremism.

Along with the detention camps, unprecedented levels of police blanket Xinjiang’s streets. Cutting-edge digital surveillance systems track where Uighurs go, what they read, who they talk to and what they say. And under an opaque system that treats practically all Uighurs as potential terror suspects, Uighurs who contact family abroad risk questioning or detention.

To continue reading: AP Exclusive: Digital police state shackles Chinese minority

 

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