China Allegedly Sending Facebook Users To ‘Re-Education Camps’

People watch policemen drilling at their barracks on Septermber 7, 2005 in Beijing, China.
Guang Niu / Getty Images

A Chinese blogger has claimed that people caught with Facebook on their phones during random searches will be sent to “re-education centers,” The Sun reported.

The blogger, known only as Kasim, claims that police in Xinjiang are routinely seizing citizens’ phones and searching them for Facebook, WhatsApp, or Twitter. In addition, they are also reportedly installing mandatory spyware on the phones to limit what apps citizens can use.

Kasim, who is reportedly a native of Xinjiang, shared online what he said were photos secretly taken inside the area, which is restricted to outsiders. Kasim said he risked his life to take and share the photos of two of the facilities, which he called “concentration camps.” He claims he was able to post the images online by using special software that bypassed government firewalls.

Kasim also reportedly said that living in the communist nation was “like Nazi Germany” and likened the Chinese Communist Party to ISIS, The Sun reported.

“If you [have] got Twitter or Facebook in your phone, you will be sentenced to 15 years in concentration camps.”

The police allegedly carry equipment that allows them to connect with citizens’ phones and scan everything on the device, including every photo ever taken and any contact ever made. They reportedly remove any apps not made in China.

“If they catch you with any of these apps, or in contact with someone abroad — even someone from China who has now left the country — they accuse you of hating communism, of hating China,” he said.

“China doesn’t want you to know what’s happening outside of China, so they’ve built a firewall.”

Images shared by another user purportedly showed police on a train checking passengers’ phones. Meanwhile, Kasim also alleged that police target individuals who do not look Chinese or speak the language.

“If you are not looking Chinese on the outside then you are a terrorist on the [inside]. They can put you to death without any reason,” he said.

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As shocking as this may seem to American citizens, police checking phones is a common practice in China. At least that is what Maya Wang, a senior researcher from Human Rights Watch, told The Sun.

“There have been several testimonies from people who have been detained in these political re-education facilities for using Whatsapp,” she said. Wang could not speak about the death penalty, saying the situation in Xinjiang was “particularly opaque.”

The Sun reported that political re-education facilities are legal in Xinjiang and they are used as “counter-terrorism measures.”

Lijan Zhao from the Chinese Embassy called Kasim’s use of the term “concentration camps” extreme “propaganda,” reiterating that the facilities are educational centers to combat terror.