For this article it is recommended that you also go to the direct link - There is included supplementary audio and pictures that emphasize the impact of Kashgar - The surveillance prison.
「This is Kashgar, an ancient town in northwest China. Hundred of thousands of Uighurs and other Muslims from this region have been detained in camps, drawing international condemnation. But outside the camps, Uighurs live in a virtual cage. China has built a vast net of controls that shows the Communist's Party's vision of automated authoritarianism. Neighbors become informants. Children are interrogated. Mosques are monitored.」
China truly has turned this city into a surveillance prison.
「We visited Kashgar several times to see what life is like. We couldn't interview residents - that would have been too risky for them, because we were constantly followed by the police. But the restrictions were everywhere.」
Because surveillance is everywhere, you have to self-censor yourself. Anything you say or do could lead to trouble.
「Every 100 yards or so, the police stand at checkpoints with guns, shields, and clubs. Many are Uighurs. The surveillance couldn't work without them.」
Instead of CCTV cameras and technology, they have something even worse - actual people. They are human like yourself - but they have the power and authority to detain you for whatever wrongdoing they think you committed.
「Muslim minorities line up, stone-faces, to swipe their official identity cards. At big checkpoints, they lift their chins while a machine takes their photos, and wait to be notified if they can go on.」
These people have their photos taken to be put into the surveillance database.
「The police sometimes takes Uighurs' phones and check to make sure they have installed compulsory software that monitors calls and messages.」
While smartphones in developed countries are useful and convenient, in this city it is used for mass surveilance and control. Literally EVERYTHING you do is monitored. The police has your location from cell tower triangulation. You are forced to install literal spyware that monitor what you say audibly or electronically. And if you somehow don't have the spyware, they may force install it for you or if you refuse then you will be detained, taken away to a re-education camp, or maybe something even worse.
「In Kashgar, we kept bumping into familar faces. They were our police minders in plainclothes. Every so often, a police officer in uniform stopped us, searched our phones for pictures and deleted any they said were sensitive.」
Not only are you constantly surveilled by technology, you are constantly surveilled physically by real people to keep you in check for anything they don't like.
「Sometimes their choices made no sense. One erased this picture of a camel, though I was able to restore it. "In China there are no whys," he said.」
You have no say in anything and there is nothing you can do unless you want to suffer. You are powerless. Only those in power have a say in what you can and can not do.
「For Uighurs, the surveillance is even more pervasive. Neighborhood monitors are assigned to watch over groups of families, as in this photo. An army of millions of police and official monitors can question Uighurs and search their homes. They grade residents for reliability. A low grade brings more visits, maybe detention.」
So there are specific people just to watch over a group of people. Like master and slave but indirectly. If you do not do what they want you to do - increased punishment.
「This is Dilnur. She fled Kashgar to Turkey three years ago and has lost touch with her family in Xinjiang. But she remembers the searches: "They don't care if it's morning or night, they would come in every time they want."」
Truly authoritarian - They have no regards to those under them.
「Surveillance cameras are everywhere. In streets, doorways, shops, mosques. Look at this stretch of street. We counted 20 cameras.」
If you have nothing to hide then its okay to be watched by cameras right? /s
「In this little shop, dozens of locals come every day to buy samsa, a baked pastry filled with mince. Here too, and in nearly every shop, cameras are watching.」
Your transactions and actions are monitored not only digitally but even physically.
「The cameras and checkpoints suck up oceans of information about people. But who is viewing all these images? Chinese companies are earning a fortune selling this surveillance technology. They make it sound like a sci-fi miracle allowing the police to track people with laser precision.」
Surveillance capitalism at its worse - These corporations are purposely profitting off people that are looked as nothing but data points. Truly sickening.
「But spend time in Xinjiang and you see that the surveillance state acts more like a sledgehammer - sweeping, indiscriminate; as much about intimidation as monitoring. The intimidation works. We visited one of the few mosques in the city that remain open, the famed Id Kah mosque. Only a few dozen men came for the main prayer on a Friday, the main Islamic day of worship. A few years ago, thousands of worshipers gathered. At the mosque, worshipers register and go through a security check. Inside, they pray under surveillance cameras that the police can monitor.」
The once famed mosque that used to gather thousands has quickly dwindled to a few dozen. Could this be because of mass surveillance and the fact that the people are too scared to even attend anymore? And the few that still do attend - Have they been brainwashed into wanting to be monitored by the police or do they silence themselves and suffer quietly?
「Children are interrogated. "In the kindergarten, they would ask little children, "Do your parents read the Quran?" Dilnur told us. "My daughter had a classmate who said, "My mom teaches me the Quran." The next day, they are gone.」
Just imagine - Just because you are taught a certain thing or a certain way - You are gotten rid of no questions asked.
「The very architecture of Kashgar has been altered to make the city easier to control.」
Altering land structures for better mass surveilance would normally be unthinkable - But it has happened.
「The Old City, a maze-like area of mudbrick homes, has mostly been demolished. The government said it was for safety and santitation. But the rebuilding has also created wider streets that are easier to monitor and patrol.」
Naturally the government will lie under the guise of 'safety' to fool the public when they actually have more corrupted plans at work.
「The piece of land in southern Kashgar was empty in August 2016. Now this is a re-education camp with a capacity of roughly 20,000 people. The government says it is a vocational training center. A recent satellite image shows the camp occupies more than 195,000 square meters. This camp is not the only one growing. These 13 camps in Kashgar have all jumped in size, reaching 1 million square meters last year.」
The time to build the camp in under 3 years is shockingly fast. Now any belief and values that you hold that the authoritarian government doesn't like - You will be 're-educated' or effectively brainwashed by propaganda.
「Tourists have been returning. But many Uighurs still live in corrosive fear. A careless comment, a vengeful neighbor, a frightened child - all could lead to questioning, searches, and maybe time in an indoctrination camp.」
That fear is very real for them. They might as well not even be humans - but puppets and dolls to be controlled.
I hope this article shakes you up a bit into whats actually happening in the real world. This is real news - Not your silly gossipping celebrity sites, sports and entertainment, or local car crashes and murders. In order to prevent surveillance capitalism like this - We must spread awareness and inspire people to change their mindset of the world.