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Study finds Xinjiang to be one of the most heavily policed regions in the world

The Uyghur Human Rights Project published a report identifying the various police forces used in China’s far-western Xinjiang to carry out what it said were “atrocity crimes” against the 11-million strong Muslim ethnic minority, calling it “one of the most heavily policed regions in the world,”

UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat said, “This explainer is a critical step in accurately identifying perpetrators. By identifying how Uyghurs are policed and controlled, the human rights community is better equipped to seek justice and remediation.”

The report, titled “Policing East Turkistan: Mapping Police and Security Forces in the Uyghur Region,” was released by the Washington-based organization and uses the geographical term Uyghurs prefer for their homeland.

Police officers stand at the outer entrance of the Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang region, April 23, 2021. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The U.S. government and several Western parliaments have declared the Chinese government’s actions toward the Uyghurs as genocide or crimes against humanity.

The report outlined several different agencies with different duties and command structures, all under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP.
One such agency, the People’s Armed Police, or PAP, has more “mobile detachments” than any other region in China.

There are regional police able to address threats to the CCP’s authority, but they are not adept in dealing with common crimes, the explainer said. 

The report said that there were more police in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or XUAR, per population than elsewhere in the country, with 2.3 times more People’s Armed Police and other “security-related positions” than the national average as of 2017.

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Auxiliary police and police officers patrol the snow-covered border region in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Xinjiang region, Oct. 7, 2021. (China Daily via Reuters)

Ben Carrdus, the researcher who wrote the explainer, said, “It’s very difficult to know who is who. The uniforms can be very similar. They have similar duties, but they have different command structures. It’s all very confusing.” The explainer aims to clarify the roles of different police forces in Xinjiang.

Additional reporting by RFA Uyghur. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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