An alarming new report has revealed that Chinese border guards are forcibly installing a surveillance app on smartphones owned by tourists who are visiting the Xinjiang region which is home to Uighur Muslims who are suffering from intense persecution and surveillance by Chinese authorities.
According to Motherboard which collaborated with The Guardian, The New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung and German public broadcaster NDR, Chinese border guards posted at Irkeshtam port at the border between Kyrgyzstan and China are forcibly side-loading a surveillance app on devices owned by tourists who are entering the restive Xinjiang region.
Xinjiang has been in the news in the past few years because of an intense crackdown launched by Chinese law enforcement authorities on minority Uighur Muslims which has left the minority community isolated from the rest of the world and fighting for its rights.
The Uighur population is being constantly monitored by China using facial recognition software, smartphone tracking and other methods and hundreds and thousands of them have been forcibly shifted to "re-education camps" in order to deradicalize them. Uighurs are also prevented from wearing religious symbols, are not allowed to celebrate their festivals, are not allowed to sport long beards, and are prohibited from naming their children "Mohammed".
"Open or even private displays of religious affiliation – including growing an “abnormal” beard, wearing a veil or headscarf, regular prayer, fasting or avoidance of alcohol – are categorized as “signs of extremism” in some locations.
"Any of these can land you in one of Xinjiang’s internment camps, which the government calls “transformation-through-education centres” and are reportedly arbitrarily detaining up to 1 million people," says Amnesty International.