Detention Camp Construction is Booming in Xinjiang

Shawn Zhang
Jun 19, 2018 · 4 min read

Satellite imageries suggest China is expanding detention camps in Xinjiang at an unprecedented pace. The time of detention camp booming coincides with the escalation of China's war against "terrorism, separatism, extremism", which is reported to be targeting Uyghur and Kazakh minorities. It's unclear whether these detention camps serve as "re-education camps".

Most detention camps in the imageries below are detention center 看守所, which is under prefecture or county's jurisdiction. Detention center 看守所 is different from state or provincial prison 监狱. While China's legal system is crippled, formal trial is still required to send people into prisons. But in detention center, inadequate or flawed legal procedures can hardly protect the human rights of detainees. Public Security Bureau administers detention centers. Local police has the authority to detain anyone without trial for an almost indefinite period of time.

The mass construction of detention camps is probably an indication of the rapid deterioration of human rights situation in Xinjiang.

Dabancheng 达坂城:

3 years ago

Yining/Ghulja 伊宁:

2 years ago

Kargilik叶城:

3 years ago

Karakax 墨玉:

4 years ago

Yarkant 叶城:

3 years ago

Lop 洛浦:

2 years ago

Kuytun 奎屯:

6 years ago

Makit 麦盖提:

5 years ago

Hotan 和田:

2 years ago

Hotan 和田:

3 years ago

Bay (Baicheng) 拜城

7 years ago

Shanshan鄯善:

3 years ago:

Qapqal 察布查尔:

3 years ago

Kuqa 库车:

2 years ago

Xayar 沙雅:

4 years ago

Korla 库尔勒

4 years ago

Aksu 阿克苏

3 years ago

Note: How do I verify these are detention centers rather than something else?

All detention centers 看守所 share some very similar structures and appearances, which make them markedly different from other buildings. Some locations of detention centers are already known, searchable on the internet. Like Urumqi №1 detention center (43°47'46.5"N 87°33'36.4"E), Urumqi №3 detention center (43°49'31.3"N 87°37'44.3"E). I also searched some detention centers outside Xinjiang. So I get a general idea about how a detention center looks like. Then I search satellite imageries of Xinjiang cities one by one and find these detention centers.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store