New data coming out of Australia reveals that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is operating around 400 internment camps in the Xinjiang province. 

The camps, which are believed to hold millions of religious minorities for the purposes of re-education and forced labour, were identified by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) using satellite imagery. 

“The evidence in this database shows that despite Chinese officials’ claims about detainees graduating from the camps, significant investment in the construction of new detention facilities has continued throughout 2019 and 2020,” said ASPI researcher Nathan Ruser.

Full reports and an interactive map of the mass detainment camps can be found at The Xinjiang Data Project

The location of the facilities were determined using survivor testimonies and other sources. 

“Camps are also often co-located with factory complexes, which can suggest the nature of a facility and highlight the direct pipeline between arbitrary detention in Xinjiang and forced labour,” wrote an ASPI report. 

On Thursday, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis questioned whether the Liberal government was taking the proper precautions to not buy personal protective equipment (PPE) from China which has been created through the use of slave labour. 

“Many concerns have been raised about how Uyghur Muslims in China, who face horrific repression (the largest detention of a minority since the Holocaust according to many experts), are being forced to participate in slave labour including the production of PPE,” said Genuis in the House of Commons. 

“When we’ve previously asked the government what safeguards are in place to ensure that slave labour is not part of the supply chain for our government procured PPE, we were told by the minister that there’s a process by companies to self-certify, in other words, they tell us everything is fine and we believe them.” 

Genuis has been a vocal advocate for Uyghur rights in the past. Before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued parliament in August, he was a member of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. 

“We need to pass tough new legislation to ensure that we are not importing or buying products that have slave labour in them and also that Canadian entities are not invested in security companies that are facilitating this genocide,” Genuis told True North in August.

The question of forced Uyghur labour has also muddled Huawei’s bid for access to Canada’s 5G network.

According to a 2019 ASPI report, the tech giant is complicit in the repression of Uyghur minorities through its involvement in surveillance and policing.

“Huawei is providing Xinjiang’s police with technical expertise, support and digital services to ensure ‘Xinjiang’s social stability and long-term security’,” wrote the report.

As reported exclusively by True North, Uyghur rights groups have urged the Canadian government to reconsider its relationship with the Chinese tech company over its involvement in human rights violations.

 “A company that has been linked with gross human rights violations against the Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic ethnic groups shouldn’t be given such an important role within the Canadian infrastructure,” Program & Advocacy Manager of the World Uyghur Congress Zumretay Arking told True North. 

“Inviting a company that works closely with one of the most authoritarian regimes would be inviting these repressive policies and allow it to be embedded in the backbone of Canada’s future communication infrastructure and network.”

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