New book reveals how China detains Muslim women for using WhatsApp
A new book titled “In The Camps: China’s High-Tech Penal Colony” has made these revelations, which indicated that China has been detaining women belonging to Muslim ethnic groups for months for cyber ‘pre-crimes’ such as accessing messaging app WhatsApp and a school Gmail account. The Chinese authorities label such “violators” as pre-criminals.
The book has cited the case of Vera Zhou, student at the University of Washington, who was recently detained for using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to open her school Gmail account and submit homework in China’s Xinjiang, according to a report published by Business Insider.
Zhou was then informed that she was being sent for a ‘re-education’ class. She was also made to wear a uniform which had neon green stripes on the sleeves and pants.
Zhou even spent her Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018 New Year in that cell.
Zhou was released under a set of conditions after spending six months at the camp. The conditions required her to stay within her local neighbourhood and she had to report regularly to a “social stability worker”.
Even after being released, Zhou said she felt as if she was still stuck in a digital prison. One day, while walking beyond her neighbourhood’s border, Zhou’s face was immediately identified as a Muslim pre-criminal on a nearby monitor.
More than 1 million Uyghurs and people from other Muslim groups have been held in camps in China, according to rights groups. Activists accuse Chinese authorities of imposing forced labour on those placed in these camps.
The book, released on Tuesday, noted that along with Zhou, 11 other Muslim women, were identified by police as extremist “pre-criminals” under China’s internet security law.
According to the law, internet network operators have to share personal data with Chinese authorities. Zhou, who is also a permanent US resident, finally returned to Seattle in 2019.
However, the surveillance technology also followed her to the US. The book said one woman was arrested for downloading WhatsApp while another woman was detained for allowing several customers to use her ID to set up their SIM cards.
According to author Darren Byler, all three women, including Zhou, were victims of China’s high-tech surveillance system.
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