lørdag 11. mai 2019

The Uyghur women fighting China's surveillance state

Xinjiang, northwest China, is in a state of surveillance lockdown. One million ethnic Uyghurs are now in concentration camps. Every message, word and movement is monitored for its extremist potential. But in Istanbul, 3000 miles away, a community of Uyghur women who have escaped a life of repression are fighting back – via smartphone.

Nurjamal Atawula remembers the first time she got a smartphone. It was 2011, and she was living in Hotan, an oasis town in Xinjiang, northwest China. She loved to take pictures of her children and exchange strings of emoji with her husband while he was out. In 2013, Atawula downloaded WeChat, the Chinese social messaging app. Not long after, rumors circulated among her friends: the government could track your location through your phone. At first, she didn’t believe them.