A drone video appearing to show hundreds of blindfolded men being led from a train in China has raised new concerns over the ongoing crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs in the far western region of Xinjiang.
Their heads are shaved and their hands bound behind their backs. All of the men are wearing black blindfolds over their eyes and they are being watched over by dozens of police officers in SWAT uniforms.
For the last two-and-a-half years, China has been detaining hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in what Beijing alternately describes as "voluntary de-radicalization camps" and "vocational training centres".
Former detainees have described them as closer to internment camps, however, and allegations of abuse are rampant, including in firsthand accounts given to CNN describing torture and forced political re-education under the threat of violence.
Ruser said that information in the video itself, including data from the drone camera and visible landmarks that could be compared to open source satellite photos, indicated that it had been recorded in Kuresi Station, near the city of Korla in central Xinjiang.
A US official also told reporters on September 24 that Washington believes the video to be authentic. "Let's not talk about the validity of any particular evidence. It's the summary evidence, it's the bulk of evidence," State Department official David Stilwell said.
Amanzhan Seiit, a Muslim ethnic Kazakh, said he was detained in China in 2018, but was never told what for. After several weeks in one camp, he said he was moved to another in a fashion exactly the same as shown in the video.
Beijing has had a long and fractious history with Xinjiang, a massive, nominally autonomous region in the far west of the country that is home to approximately 22 million of the about 1.4 billion people living in China.
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Speaking to reporters in July, Shohrat Zakir, Xinjiang's governor and the region's highest-ranking ethnic Uyghur official, said that most detainees have been released, adding that the camps have been "hugely positive" for the region.
"If there still skeptics, whether they are journalists, officials or religious figures, we welcome them to visit anywhere in Xinjiang or go to any vocational training center of their choice - anytime," he said.