Muslim Women in China Detained Over Using WhatsApp and GMail

Oddly enough, this crackdown usually targets the Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

A book extract from "In The Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony" reveals that Chinese authorities kept women from China's Muslim ethnic groups for months in a cell after accusing them of different internet "pre-crimes," according to the author.

After being detained for downloading a virtual private network (VPN) in order to access her school homework and email accounts while visiting her father and boyfriend in Xinjiang, China, Vera Zhou, a US permanent resident and student at the University of Washington, claims she was detained for no other reason.

According to Zhou's letter to the US Department of Education, he would be sent to a "re-education class." "I was asked to change into their uniform, which included bright green stripes on the sleeves and bottoms of the trousers. From the outside, the door was securely closed."

In addition, she stated, "I was there from October 2017 until March 2018." "I was in that cell for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year's Eve of 2018."

The Uighurs and the Hui are the two most significant Muslim ethnic groups in China, and both are subjected to intensive surveillance by the Chinese authorities. According to some estimates, more over one million Uighurs have been taken to "re-education" camps and prisons like Zhou's, where former prisoners have described horrifying experiences with torture and medical experimentation.

According to the book, Zhou was detained together with 11 other Muslim women who had been designated by police as radical "pre-criminals" as a result of China's internet security law, which took effect on Tuesday. Chinese authorities must get personal data from internet service providers under the terms of a legislation that went into effect in 2017.

One lady said that she was detained because she had downloaded WhatsApp in order to communicate with coworkers in Kazakhstan. According to another lady who sold iPhones, she enabled many customers to use her ID to set up their SIM cards at the same time.

According to the author of "In the Camps," Darren Byler, all three were victims of China's high-tech monitoring apparatus, which was designed to target Muslim minority.

The conditions of Zhou's release from the camp, which followed a six-month stint at the facility, included the need that she remain in her area and report to a "social stability worker" on a regular basis.

Zhou said that one day, as she and her companions were on their way to the movies, her ID and face were checked at a checkpoint, causing an alarm to sound. Another day, she made the mistake of wandering outside her neighborhood's boundaries, and her face was soon highlighted by a yellow square on a nearby monitor, which recognized her as a Muslim pre-criminal, prompting her to seek help.

Soon after, Zhou discovered that, despite the fact that her physical imprisonment had ended, she was still trapped in a digital jail.

The monitoring technology that had made her incarceration possible had, however, made its way to the United States by the time she was eventually free to return home in 2019.

Earlier this year, Insider's Ben Gilbert reported that Amazon, which has its headquarters in Seattle, had purchased 1,500 thermal imaging cameras from a Chinese company that the United States had blacklisted over allegations that the company assisted the Chinese government in "detaining and monitoring the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities."

The device is meant to remotely monitor employee temperature as a method of avoiding the transmission of the coronavirus among employees. Despite Dahua's position with the United States government, private firms are lawfully permitted to acquire items from companies on the government's blacklist.

Rena Lunak, a spokesperson for Amazon, acknowledged in an earlier email conversation with Business Insider that the company is introducing "the usage of thermal imagers from different manufacturers for temperature screening in order to provide a more streamlined experience for our staff."

"However, none of this equipment is network-connected, and no personally identifiable information will be displayed, collected, or kept," she continued.

Krees De Guia

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