• Orion Intel

ASPI's Xinjiang Detention Project



High security detention centre in Onsu (Wensu) county, Aksu prefecture, Xinjiang
High security detention centre in Onsu (Wensu) county, Aksu prefecture, Xinjiang

In August 2020 I worked with ASPI on their Xinjiang Detention project where I helped them recreate detention facilities in Xinjiang.


The Xinjiang Data Project brings together rigorous, empirical research on the human rights situation for Uyghurs and other non-Han nationalities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in western China. It focuses on a core set of topics including mass internment camps, surveillance and emerging technologies, forced labour and supply chains, the ‘re-education’ campaign, deliberate cultural destruction and other human rights issues.


Drawing on open source data including satellite imagery, Chinese government documents, official statistics and a range of authoritative reports and academic studies, the Xinjiang Data Project documents the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing program of human rights abuses and tech-enhanced authoritarianism in Xinjiang, and explores its global implications.


ASPI researchers Identified and mapped over 380 sites in this network across Xinjiang, counting only re-education camps, detention centres and prisons that were newly built or significantly expanded since 2017.


These facilities were categorized into four distinct tiers–from lowest security (Tier 1) to highest security (Tier 4)–based on security features (including high perimeter walls, watchtowers, internal fencing, and other features and usage patterns) visible from satellite imagery analysis.



Work on this project included recreating buildings, Processing facilities, Watchtowers and fencing to scale from satellite imagery at 4 detention facilities located in Xinjiang.


Overview of a prison facility in Mekit county,Kashgar
Overview of a prison facility in Mekit county,Kashgar

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