Christchurch terror attack used to justify mass surveillance of Muslims in China

Chinese officials have used the Christchurch terror attack as justification for the mass surveillance of Muslims in the country.

For a number of years the Chinese government has struggled to manage the northwestern province of Xinjiang where the largely-Muslim Uighur people, who call the region home, live alongside the ethnic majority Han Chinese.

The government has put as many as one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minority groups into re-education camps and razed whole neighbourhoods in the region's capital in the name of security and redevelopment.

The regional government has installed digital cameras at over 300 mosques in the city of Urumqi as a way to combat terror attacks in the region.

In comments to the Wall Street Journal, the Xinjiang information office said the Christchurch terror attack provides evidence that surveillance of these religious centres is warranted.

"The recent mass shooting in New Zealand that harmed so many innocent lives is a strong warning," a statement said.

"The goal of improving security at mosques is to protect the ability of the Muslim community to hold normal, orderly religious activities."

However, local residents say the cameras are intended to help police identify Muslims in the community as just visiting a mosque is enough to get you sent to a camp without trial, according to those who have been detained.

The comments come after a Muslim women's network in New Zealand asked for a $2.1m donation for Christchurch victims - from a Chinese delegation - to be returned and instead given to Muslim communities in Xinjiang.

"Many in the Muslim community wish instead to address the plight of Uighur Muslims and take a stand against Islamophobia," a petition from the Khadija Leadership Network to parliament read.

The petition calls the Uighur camps "the Auschwitz of contemporary times", and accused the New Zealand Government of turning a blind eye to injustice because of our historical links and business ties to China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern broached the issue of Uighur human rights on a recent visit to China but refused to reveal the details of her discussions.

"I raised the issue directly with the Premier and with the President. You can't do much more than that.

"At the same time, simply I'm referring back to the United Nations response because it is a comprehensive one, it discusses a range of responses and expectations."


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