According to a new report by the NGO Safeguard Defenders, China has created an elaborate police network to spy on and intimidate Uyghur Muslims living in Turkey. This report follows other recent bombshell publications by the NGO detailing China’s Iron Curtain-esque policies preventing millions of its own citizens from leaving its borders, its international ring of covert police stations, and its network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent. Safeguard Defenders compiled the new report from 93 surveys and 17 interviews of Uyghurs living in Turkey. Below are some of its key findings.
How the CCP Organized Its Surveillance Regime
The elaborate spy network involves police stations and family members in Uyghur cities in China, as well as Uyghur informants in Turkey. Local police in China collect information on the Uyghurs living in Turkey from their families in China. The police then set up files on the Uyghurs living in Turkey, often with the help of Uyghur informants there. Chinese local police then work with the Chinese embassy in Ankara and the Chinese consulate in Istanbul to obtain more information on their targets. China then engages the target via direct contact, through the Chinese embassy in Ankara or the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, or via family.
Coercion for the Sake of the CCP
Chinese police use coercive tactics on Uyghurs living in Turkey to further the CCP. The CCP leverages Uyghurs’ “financial difficulties,” concerns about passport renewals, and family ties in China to get Uyghurs in Turkey to spy on fellow Uyghurs, to refrain from speaking out against China’s persecution of Uyghurs, and to participate in Chinese propaganda.
The CCP’s Pressure on Family
China’s tactic of choice is engaging the target via family. The CCP has significant emotional leverage with this approach, given that most of the Uyghurs in Turkey surveyed (75 out of 93) claimed they had up until that point lost contact with their families for at least several years. Chinese police re-establish family ties to collect information on what the Uyghurs in Turkey are saying to their family, and to also use the family to convey threatening messages such as “Do not post anything about the government” and “Don’t circulate lies about our country, don’t participate in illegal activities.” All 17 of the Uyghurs interviewed stated that they Chinese authorities threatened to harm their families in China if they did not comply. Six of the 17 stated that the CCP offered to reunite them with their families if they did comply.
The CCP’s Political and Other Pressure
Out of the 17 Uyghurs in Turkey interviewed, eight admitted to being pressured by the CCP to engage in pro-CCP propaganda, including attending pro-CCP events at the Chinese consulate or embassy, or writing pro-CCP articles in Turkish newspapers. Twelve of the 17 interviewees admitted to being pressured to cease criticizing the CCP, often with the threat of harm being done to their family in China if they did not comply. Twelve of the 17 interviewees also admitted to facing pressure from the CCP to inform on fellow Uyghurs in Turkey. Five of the 17 stated the CCP offered them financial incentives if they cooperated.
Safeguard Defenders has once again illustrated the extent to which the CCP persecutes its own citizens, and that the CCP’s long arm of power to do so extends far beyond China’s borders.
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