What Happened: Demolished Uyghur Cemeteries- Empty Lots, Green Spaces, and a Parking Lot

GEOINT analysis shows variations in the level of development occurring in demolished Uyghur cemeteries.

What is NGA Tearline?

NGA is partnering with expert private groups to grow public-facing, authoritative open source intelligence on various strategic and humanitarian intelligence topics that tend to be under-reported within long-form format.

This authoritative open source content will be cited for internal purposes and it will grow public trust by increasing transparency around shared public-private interest in various strategic and humanitarian intelligence topics that are fit for public consumption.

Learn more about NGA Tearline.

The following report was authored by RAND Corporation’s Katherine Pfrommer

Read the Report

Analysis of 48 Uyghur cemeteries in Xinjiang indicates that while many were repurposed for the reasons cited by the Chinese government, fully a third were demolished with no further development on the site.

As reported in numerous media outlets, the Chinese government has demolished at least 48 and possibly over 100 Uyghur grave sites in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Official spokespersons for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs say the destruction of grave sites were required to meet the demand of city planning including infrastructure development such as roads, ecological parks, and high-rise buildings. However, the targeted demolition of local cemeteries may be part of the Chinese governments efforts to eradicate Uyghur cultural traditions and their broader group identity.

The objective of this research is to revisit demolished cemeteries to determine how these areas have been changed and modified to align with stated government goals. The findings of this report indicate within this dataset of demolished sites most are located in Hotan and Shayar counties, which is the site of almost all new cemetery plots built over previous cemetery areas. Almost 50 percent of all demolished cemetery areas were eventually expanded beyond the original plot and usually redeveloped to some degree.

Read more of this intelligence report on Tearline