Hikvision Cameras Used to Catch Uyghurs Featured in Xinjiang Police Files

Published Jun 14, 2022 15:30 PM
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Xinjiang police used Hikvision cameras to catch Uyghurs for traveling abroad as part of the region's feared IJOP "anti-terrorism" platform, internal documents examined by IPVM reveal.

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The documents are from the Xinjiang Police Files, which made global headlines for revealing abuses against Uyghurs.

Xinjiang police screen all 23 million Xinjiang residents for "terrorism" with facial recognition and license plate cameras, flagging those with ties overseas for "immediate arrest", the files show.

This marks the latest evidence of Hikvision's extensive Xinjiang involvement. Hikvision did not respond to our our comment requests. Axios also covered this news.

Xinjiang Police Files Background

On May 24, the Xinjiang Police Files were published online, containing tens of thousands of leaked files from Xinjiang authorities. There are numerous types of documents, e.g. internal police PowerPoints, mugshots, camp security guidelines, speech transcripts, etc:

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Some of the most prominent revelations include that authorities issued a 'shoot-to-kill' order for anyone trying to escape Xinjiang's camps and haunting mugshots of Uyghurs prior to being sent for 're-education', including children and the elderly:

The files were hacked by an anonymous source and passed to Xinjiang expert Dr. Adrian Zenz. The Victims Of Communism Memorial Foundation, where Zenz works, published the files in full. Independent media and officials in the US, UK, and Germany, have confirmed the files are genuine; PRC state media called the files a "basin of dirty water" and the PRC ambassador to the UK tweeted they are "fabricated" (without evidence.)

Shufu County "Police Work Report" PowerPoint Examined

One of the PowerPoints published by the Xinjiang Police Files is a Police Work Report for the Big Data Enhanced Social Prevention and Control System in Kona Sheher, Shufu County, Xinjiang:

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"Hikvision Device" Catches Vehicle

The PowerPoint contains a slide titled "Controlled Vehicle Alarm" showing a VMS alarming at a vehicle's license plate. Cameras in the system are specified to be Hikvision, with each camera recorded under the term 海康设备ID which means "Hikvision Device ID":

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In Chinese, 海康, or Hai Kang, is a common abbreviation for Hikvision whose full name is 海康威视/Hai Kang Wei Shi. The fact that this VMS uses the term "Hikvision Device ID" indicates Hikvision devices are used system-wide, implying Hikvision may have played a larger role than just as a third-party supplier. However, Hikvision did not respond to IPVM's comment request on this point.

Uyghur Owner Flagged By IJOP "Backflow Prevention" Program

The vehicle's owner, who has a Uyghur name, has been flagged by border authorities as part of an intelligence program called "防回流、打派遣", or "Backflow Prevention":

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'Backflow Prevention' is used to screen Xinjiang residents who have traveled/settled abroad for 'terrorism' and is under the scope of the Integrated Joint Operations Platform, according to a previously-leaked Xinjiang authorities memo. The IJOP, a mass surveillance/predictive policing platform, has been condemned by Human Rights Watch as "algorithms of repression" which "targets Xinjiang's Muslims."

The Intercept covered Backflow Prevention in a separate 2021 investigation, noting that "applying for asylum abroad can result in being classified as a terrorist, as part of an initiative to prevent the 'backflow' of foreign ideas":

Chinese authorities’ fear of outside influence on citizens of Xinjiang is connected to an initiative called “backflow prevention,” or fanghuiliu. The idea is to prevent the “backflow” of extremism or other malign ideas from abroad.

Xi Jinping praised the Backflow Prevention program in a 2020 speech calling for immigration authorities to "resolutely take the initiative".

Flagged For "Immediate Arrest"

The screenshot notes that the Uyghur car owner has been flagged for "immediate arrest":

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The screenshot notes that this happened in August 2018, in the middle of the PRC's Xinjiang crackdown which began in late 2016 under Party Secretary Chen Quanguo.

"Anti-Terrorism" Platform Analyzes 23 Million Xinjiang Residents

In comments added to the slide, Shufu County police note that the police's "anti-terrorism big data platform" analyzes facial recognition and license plate data for Xinjiang's 23 million residents - the region's entire population - pushing alarms to the nearest convenience police station whenever "high-risk" people or vehicles "pop up":

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Relying on the anti-terrorism big data platform, the data of 23 million people in Xinjiang is entered and analyzed. At the same time, all high-risk and key personnel, related vehicles and second-hand vehicles in Xinjiang are controlled, using public security monitoring, structured processing of vehicle camera and facial expressions. Recognition technology, pushes the face data and vehicle information collected in monitoring to a large database for comparison and collision, and automatically pops up warnings at the convenience police station when the persons under control and associated vehicles are found, and the police at the police station advance according to the warning information Set up the card to intercept, achieve the purpose of key investigation and investigation, and grasp the initiative of disposal to the maximum extent. [emphasis added]

Hikvision Camera Used To Catch Another Uyghur For Traveling

A separate PowerPoint - another "Work Report" for a separate Xinjiang police station in Kashgar - also features a "Hikvision Device" flagging a car:

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The car's owner was also flagged by Xinjiang border authorities thanks to the Backflow Prevention program, with police noting that "[terrorist] suspicion can't be ruled out":

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The screenshot confirms the car's owner is a Uyghur man:

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The slide contains the same text featured in the Shufu County PowerPoint about Xinjiang's "anti-terrorism big data platform" analyzing facial recognition and license plate data for all of Xinjiang's 23 million residents.

Traveling Abroad Common Reason For Detention

Uyghurs in the PRC are often targeted for traveling abroad over PRC fears of overseas radicalization. The Xinjiang Victims Database includes 602 victims detained for reasons "related to going abroad", e.g. this man:

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The concentration camp victim interviewed by IPVM, Ovalbek Turdakun, said travel abroad was also the reason he was detained:

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Travel abroad, it was the reason, it was there on that sheet of paper which they gave me. It may be just simply because of that reason that I went to Turkey or Kyrgyzstan before because China doesn't like Turkey. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey all have ended up on the blacklist of China. To go to blacklisted locations before it wasn't a problem but then it's different [emphasis added]

Because of this targeting of Uyghurs with overseas ties, many Uyghurs outside the PRC have had relatives detained/disappeared, e.g. when the Xinjiang Police Files were released, Uyghurs in Australia spent days searching through mugshots hoping to find loved ones.

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