Amid the mounting accusation of large-scale human rights violations and persecution of Uyghurs by China, another shocking claim has emerged where China is said to be detaining women belonging to Muslim ethnic groups for using WhatsApp.
A new book titled “In The Camps: China’s High-Tech Penal Colony” has claimed that these women are detained for months for cyber ‘pre-crimes’ like using WhatsApp and a school Gmail account. Such ‘violaters’ are labelled as ‘pre-criminals’ by the authorities, the book says.
As per a report by Business Insider, the book cites the case of Vera Zhou, a student at the University of Washington, who was detained by the Chinese authorities after she used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to log into her school Gmail account and submit her homework.
The book adds that Zhou was then sent for a ‘re-education’ class and was made a wear a uniform with neon green stripes. She even spent her Thanksgiving, Christmas and 2018 new year in that cell.
After spending six months in that cell, Zhou was released by the authorities but under a set of conditions. One of these conditions was to stay within her local neighbourhood while another was to report regularly to a ‘social stability worker’.
According to the book, not just Zhou but 11 other Muslim women were also identified by the authorities as extremist ‘pre-criminals’.
Notably, under China’s internet security law, network operators are required to share users’ personal data with the authorities.
The book adds that another woman was arrested for downloading WhatsApp while another was detained after she allowed several other users to use her ID to set up their SIM cards. All three women were victims of China’s high-tech surveillance system, wrote the author of the book Darren Byler.
China has been rebuked for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Multiple reports suggest that Beijing sends the ethnic minorities to mass detention camps and interferes in their religious activities. Moreover, it subjects them to abuse including forced labour.
Despite mounting evidence, Beijing has vehemently denied that it is engaging in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.