Yesterday, BuzzFeed’s Beijing bureau chief, Megha Rajagopalan, tweeted:
It is bittersweet to leave Beijing after spending six wonderful and eye-opening years as a journalist there. In May, China’s Foreign Ministry declined to issue me a new journalist visa. They say this is a process thing, we are not totally clear why.
She joins at least five other foreign correspondents who have been expelled from China or had unexplained visa denials since 2012. The last one was Ursula Gauthier, who was reporting from Beijing for French newspaper L’Obs. In November 2015, she wrote an article (in French) about the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. In December 2015, her visa renewal application was refused.
So there’s good reason to believe that the reason for Megha Rajagopalan’s visa difficulties is her Xinjiang reporting. She is the journalist who first made the world aware of the mass internment camps in Xinjiang with a piece published in October 2017 — This is what a 21st-century police state really looks like — and she has continued to report on the repression of Uyghurs, most recently in July.
I wish Megha luck in her current job: She’ll be staying at BuzzFeed “focusing on technology and human rights,” so no doubt she’ll be reporting on China in the future.
I also want to make clear that though I can't do it from inside China anymore, I'm not going to stop reporting on and speaking about state surveillance, repression and incarceration of millions of Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
— Megha Rajagopalan (@meghara) August 22, 2018
The news of her visa refusal also came on the same day that my colleague Lucas finished our new explainer on the Xinjiang camps:
China’s re-education camps for a million Muslims: What everyone needs to know is a roundup of what we know about the situation in Xinjiang. It includes links to all the important articles and online sources about the camps, a timeline of events, and media reports.
Also on Xinjiang, there are two new reports to read:
- China’s mass internment camps have no clear end in sight (Foreign Policy – paywall) by Rian Thum, a scholar of China and its relations with the Muslim world, who has done much to raise awareness about the camps.
- The NBA is running a training camp in the middle of one of the world’s worst humanitarian atrocities (Slate): The American NBA — basketball is hugely popular in China — continues to run a training camp in Xinjiang, a decision that Isaac Stone Fish writes will effectively “whitewash a network of concentration camps.”