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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
BREAKING: We at ICIJ have obtained a NEW trove of highly classified Chinese govt documents, including the operations manual for China's concentration camps. I served as ICIJ’s lead reporter for the China Cables, with 17 media partners from 14 countries.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian
The China Cables represent the first leak of a classified Chinese government document revealing the inner workings of the detention camps, as well as the first leak of classified government documents unveiling the predictive policing system in Xinjiang.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
The leak features classified intelligence briefings that reveal, in the government’s own words, how Xinjiang police essentially take orders from a massive “cybernetic brain” known as IJOP, which flags entire categories of people for investigation & detention.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
These secret intelligence briefings reveal the scope and ambition of the government’s AI-powered policing platform, which purports to predict crimes based on computer-generated findings alone. The result? Arrest by algorithm.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
Details about the detention camp how-to manual: It was approved by Zhu Hailun, Xinjiang’s deputy party secretary and disseminated in November 2017. It was issued by the Xinjiang Political and Legal Affairs Commission.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
It presents a master plan for managing mass internment, including details on how to “prevent escapes.” This proves, in the Chinese government’s very own words, that detainees are held in the camps against their own will.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
The manual’s written style combines standard Chinese bureaucratese with Orwellian doublespeak, blandly prescribing the secure management of toilet breaks and combat training for guards, while referring to inmates as “students” and listing the requirements to “graduate.”
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
The manual reveals a points-based behavior-control system within the camps. Points are tabulated by assessing the inmates’ “ideological transformation, study and training, and compliance with discipline,” the manual says.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
The camps have 3 security zones: ”very strict,” “strict,” and “general management.” Detainees are sorted into zones based on background and points. They are moved to lower-security zones as their scores improve; or punished for low scores by being placed in higher-security zones.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @BethanyAllenEbr
The manual also includes a creepy section on “manner education,” directing camp personnel to provide instruction to detainees in such areas as “etiquette,” “obedience,” “friendship behaviors” and the “regular change of clothes.”
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @dtbyler
Why do Chinese authorities think that normal adults need help making friends and dressing themselves? Xinjiang expert said this stems from a prevalent belief among Han Chinese that Uighurs are “backwards”--aka the colonial narrative of the savage “other.”
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @dtbyler @jmulvenon
Now on to the “Integrated Joint Operations Platform”-- the “cybernetic brain” behind many detentions in Xinjiang. said IJOP isn’t just “pre-crime,” it’s a “machine-learning, artificial intelligence, command and control” platform that substitutes AI for human judgment.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @dtbyler @jmulvenon
The China Cables provide inside details about what all the mass surveillance and data collection is FOR. It is fed into IJOP, which learns from the data and uses it to produce lists of names, sometimes 1000s at a time, for police to detain.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @dtbyler @jmulvenon
For example, in a seven-day period in June 2017, IJOP flagged 24,412 names as “suspicious.” In that week alone, Xinjiang security officials rounded up 15,683 of those people and placed them in internment camps.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @dtbyler @jmulvenon
And the rest of that particular intelligence briefing was dedicated to analyzing why police hadn’t been able to detain even more of the original list. (Some reasons included: the person was dead, they could not be located, or they were a govt official).
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Replying to @dtbyler @jmulvenon
IJOP generates a sense of an omniscient, omnipresent state that can peer into the most intimate aspects of daily life. As neighbors disappear based on the workings of unknown algorithms, Xinjiang ethnic minorities live in a perpetual state of terror.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
The seeming randomness of investigations resulting from IJOP isn’t a bug but a feature, said , an expert in China’s surveillance state. “That's how state terror works,” Hoffman said. “Part of the fear that this instills is that you don't know when you're not OK.”
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Ominously, one of the leaked intelligence briefings points to the role of China’s embassies and consulates in collecting information for IJOP, which is then used to generate names for investigation and detention.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Information provided by Chinese embassies was one way that Chinese authorities were able to locate Uighurs abroad and press local governments to deport them; and it’s also one way that Xinjiang officials located (and detained) Uighurs who had previously lived abroad.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
Let me just re-emphasize that point: China’s embassies and visa consular offices abroad have played a clear role in the global Uighur dragnet, and in the detentions of Uighurs inside China who had previously lived abroad.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
You may have heard that people of non-Chinese nationality are in the camps. The China Cables reveal that was the result of an *explicit* directive, not collateral damage. The Chinese govt told police to detain people BECAUSE of their foreign citizenship. Huge diplomatic scandal.
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
ICIJ also obtained a Uighur-language court judgment, which shows how one Uighur man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for telling his co-workers to pray and not to watch porn, and sharing other normal Islamic teachings. (Pornography is illegal in China anyway!)
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
A personal note: China Cables was the most meaningful project I have ever worked on. And what a privilege to work together with such a dedicated group of journalists from around the world. Many thanks to the incomparable and courageous team at .
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B. Allen-Ebrahimian Nov 24
To everyone whose lives and families have been shattered by China’s concentration camps, our hearts go out to you. So many people around the world are doing everything they can to help. Don’t give up. You’re not alone. END.
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