News Investigation Reveals Vast Infrastructure for Long-Term Detention and Incarceration in China

Jan. 6, 2021

Using publicly available satellite images and interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News correspondents and Pulitzer Center grantees Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing, and Christo Buschek have written a series of investigative articles detailing the extent to which China has invested in and built large-scale infrastructure to sustain internment camps aimed at detaining Muslim minorities.

The full, interactive pieces are available on the BuzzFeed News website:

A piece on how the reporters used satellite maps to find detention camps:
Blanked-Out Spots On China's Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang's Camps

This project, Built to Last, was supported by the Pulitzer Center, the Open Technology Fund, and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism.

China has secretly built scores of massive new prison and internment camps in the past three years, dramatically escalating its campaign against Muslim minorities even as it publicly claimed the detainees had all been set free. The construction of these purpose-built, high-security camps—some capable of housing tens of thousands of people—signals a radical shift away from the country’s previous makeshift use of public buildings, like schools and retirement homes, to a vast and permanent infrastructure for mass detention.

In the most extensive investigation of China’s internment camp system ever done using publicly available satellite images, coupled with dozens of interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News identified more than 260 structures built since 2017 and bearing the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds. During that time, the investigation shows, China has established a sprawling system to detain and incarcerate hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities, in what is already the largest-scale detention of ethnic and religious minorities since World War II.

View the Full Series

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