Videos purportedly showing hundreds of prisoners in China with their heads shaved, their hands bound behind their back and blindfolds over their faces that were posted online earlier this week appears to be authentic.
The footage shows the men sitting in lines on the floor or being moved by guards at a station in the city of Korla in Xinjian, northwest China.
A European security source told Sky News that they have examined the footage and that they “believe it to be genuine.”
“It shows up to 600 prisoners being moved; they’re shackled together, have shaved heads, are blindfolded and have their hands behind their backs. This is typical of the way the Chinese move this type of prisoner,” the source added.
The footage starts with images of the alleged detainees next at a train station. The camera then pulls back to show lines of what appear to be large blue containers or cabins in the distance. The alleged detainees are seen wearing purple bibs and black blindfolds, sitting in lines on the ground surrounded by guards.
It was not immediately clear when or how the footage was taken. The security source told Sky News they believe the images were taken earlier this year.
The account that posted the footage, called War on Fear, wrote: “The people of today’s society always live under the supervision of the government with high technology. Now we use technology to show the modern society of Xingjian. People lose their freedom. No hope for future.”
Fox News has not independently verified the footage.
Human rights organizations have accused China of holding up to 1 million people – mostly ethnic Uighurs – at sprawling detention centers in Xinjiang province. Beijing has denied the accusations and has said these facilities are vocational training centers where Uighurs, Kazakhs, and others receive free skills education.
However, in February, Turkey called China’s treatment of Uighurs “a great cause of shame for humanity.”
Earlier this week, five human rights organizations urged United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to condemn the Chinese government’s detention of Uighurs and to call for the immediate closure of government detention camps.
In a letter to the U.N. chief released Tuesday, the organizations said these actions would be an important contribution to addressing “one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time.”
It was signed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Uyghur Conference.
In the letter, they said he had not only refrained from publicly criticizing China but had praised its “Belt and Road” initiative in which Xinjiang is a centerpiece, “despite the human rights concerns it has raised.”
“The public silence over the mass detention in Xinjiang in the context of such a glowing commentary sends a distressing message of abandonment to the millions of Turkic Muslims who live in constant fear for themselves and their families,” the rights groups said.
Guterres strongly rejected claims that he hasn’t condemned Beijing, saying he has spoken out forcefully.
“I don’t think anyone has been more persistent and more clear in talking to the Chinese authorities in relation to this issue than myself,” he told reporters Wednesday. “It is absolutely not true that I’ve only done discreet diplomacy.”
Guterres said he told the Chinese “that it is very important to act in a way that each community feels that their identity is respected and that they belong, at the same time, to the society as a whole.”
“There couldn’t be a more clear message,” he said. “So, if there is an area where I believe I’ve been doing publicly much more than many other leaders around the world (it) is this.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.