China detains Muslim women for using WhatsApp, Gmail

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: Oct 13, 2021, 02:15 PM IST

Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang (file photo) Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

Chinese authorities held women from China's Muslim ethnic groups in a cell for months after accusing them of different internet "pre-crimes," according to an excerpt from the book "In The Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony."

For months, China has detained women from Muslim ethnic groups for cyber'pre-crimes' such as using the messaging app WhatsApp and a school Gmail account.

The Chinese government classifies such "violators" as pre-criminals.

These findings were presented in a new book named "In The Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony."

According to a Business Insider story, the book referenced the instance of Vera Zhou, a University of Washington student, who was recently jailed for using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to enter her school Gmail account and complete assignments in China's Xinjiang. 

Zhou even spent her Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018 New Year in that cell.

Zhou was freed from the camp after six months under strict restrictions that required her to stay in her area and report to a "social stability worker" on a regular basis. 

The Uyghurs and Hui are the two most populous Muslim ethnic groups in China, and they are closely monitored by the Chinese government.

More than a million Uyghurs are thought to have been transported to "re-education" camps and prisons like Zhou's, where former prisoners describe horrible torture and medical experimentation.

According to the book, Zhou was detained together with 11 other Muslim women designated by authorities as radical "pre-criminals" under China's internet security law.

The rule, which went into effect in 2017, requires internet service providers to disclose personal information with Chinese authorities. 

Also Read: Uyghur Turks should live in peace as equal citizens of China: Erdogan

According to one lady, she was detained for installing WhatsApp in order to communicate with coworkers in Kazakhstan.

Another lady who sold iPhones said that she let numerous clients use her ID to activate their SIM cards.

Also Read: Human rights activists call on China to release Uyghur scholar

According to "In the Camps" author Darren Byler, these women were victims of China's high-tech monitoring apparatus that targets Muslim minority.

Also Read: China imposes 'population optimisation strategy' to shrink Uyghurs in Xinjiang

(With inputs from agencies)