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Interview: ‘Video is a Very Stark Reminder of How Manicured Choreographed Access to Xinjiang [Has Been]’

Video footage appearing to show authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) transferring hundreds of Uyghur inmates to detention centers surfaced last week on a newly created Youtube account. But clues within the video would be key to finding out approximately when and exactly where the video was shot.

RFA’s Mandarin Service interviewed Nathan Ruser, a researcher with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s international cyber policy center who has previously identified detention sites in the XUAR. Over the weekend he said in a series of posts on Twitter he used landmarks and other clues in the footage to verify the video, and believes it was taken northwest of the city of Korla (Kuerle in Chinese) in August 2018. In this interview with RFA, he explains how he was able to use satellite imagery to put a date and time on this video, as well as the video’s significance vis-à-vis the situation in Xinjiang, which he says is a human rights emergency.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

RFA: Why is this video important to understand the Xinjiang situation?

Ruser: The situation in Xinjiang is very opaque. There’s a very strong PR campaign being undertaken by Xinjiang authorities and the Chinese authorities more broadly to present the situation in Xinjiang through its own terms. Through ones of progress and the upholding of human rights. This PR campaign doesn’t really hold up to any scrutiny cause the evidence of human rights abuses is very clear with any sort of analysis, but this video is a very stark reminder of how manicured and how choreographed the access to Xinjiang that is given by the Chinese authorities [has been].

RFA: How were you able to find the location by just looking at the video itself?

Ruser: Essentially what you’re looking for is areas on the ground in satellite imagery that matches perfectly what you see in the video. This video was lucky because it showed in Chinese characters Bayinguo in the corner which allowed me to narrow down where to look and after that it was just sort of scouring the train lines along [Bayin’gholin Mongol (Bayinguoleng Menggu) Autonomous Prefecture] looking for a suitable candidate, like a train station that perfectly matched the features that we were seeing in the video. Essentially when you are trying to geolocate a video it’s very much you’re searching and it’s not quite right until you have it and then it’s perfect. And that was exactly the case here. It was every feature that you’re looking for matched up pretty much perfectly with the satellite imagery, so once you sort of realized it was northwest of Bayingol and just looked through the train stations there and once you found the right one it was sort of very self-evident that was exactly where it was filmed. What was especially useful was that sort of orange and white striped pavement that the detainees are sitting on, which, yeah basically clinched the location.

RFA: The many details helped you confirm the location?

Ruser: Yeah, essentially, you’re looking for sort of like, tens of details that match up and once you’ve found them there are like 50, 100 details that you can like, look into and they all sort of match up perfectly. [For example,] however many sort of train lines, however many train tracks are parallel to each other, to the number of trees, and all of that sort of stuff, and that sort of helps you verify the video and [you can] be very confident that what you’re seeing did actually occur in this location at about this time, because all these details would be impossible to fake.

RFA: Can you explain how you were able to estimate when the video was taken?

Ruser: So essentially when you’re looking at an object that goes straight up, such as a telegraph pole, the shadow it casts is basically a sundial. So by looking at the angle and the length of that shadow you can work out almost precisely where the sun was in the sky at the moment of time that that video was filmed and basically there’s only two times in the year where that sun would be in that exact place. So using that you can, yeah, narrow down the date pretty confidently within two times a year, and then to work out which year it’s in takes matching changes in the landscape that you can see to what year fits with them.

RFA: Does that tell you the time during day that the video was taken as well? Or is it only the date?

Ruser: It does tell you the time of the day as well, so this was at about in the first half hour after midday.

RFA: What time during the year was it?

Ruser: I believe it was about August 20 within a few days but it’s also possible it was within about April 21.

RFA: Which year?

Ruser: I believe it was 2018. Prior to 2018 there were bushes that weren’t planted and in 2019 the car park was paved.

RFA: Because this was drone footage in a railroad station, do you think the person who obtained the video was somehow connected to the authorities, given his access?

Ruser: Any answer to that would be pure speculation, so I can’t say with any confidence. In the video you can actually see what looks to be the drone operators on the ground, next to the detainees, filming, and I don’t suspect it was them. Someone did mention to me that it looks like they were using a particular configuration of Linux, which was specifically designed for hacking, but I don’t know about that myself, that’s just what I’ve heard.

RFA: Do you consider this kind of video to be rare?

Ruser: I think the timing of the video also goes to show that there was a lot of thought going into leaking it. The fact that it was leaked the week before the UN general assembly, where there was purportedly going to be a fair bit of pressure to be placed on China about Xinjiang and human rights there. So I think that it’s a very unique video and the only other sort of organization that’s gotten anything close to that is Bitter Winter as far as real footage from the ground in Xinjiang.

(Bitter Winter is a website launched by the Italian research center CESNUR that focuses on religion in China and routinely publishes photos and video documenting human rights violations submitted by citizen journalists from inside China.)

RFA: Some critics might ask why this is outrageous. Authorities move detainees everywhere else in the country, so why is this particular case any different?

Ruser: What’s outrageous is sort of, the contextual information which goes to show how little it takes to be detained and sent to a detention center in Xinjiang, which isn’t sort of based on fair trial or due process. It seems to be based on local authority quotas, where something as mundane as receiving wire transfers from overseas or having taught a particular class in a particular language seems to be sufficient to get you sent to one of these extremely high detention centers.

RFA: So it is more about the context, not the actual video itself?

Ruser: Yeah, the video is a shocking visual that really sharply undercuts China’s PR campaign, but what makes it specifically noteworthy is the contextual information around it and how these detainees could well be sentenced without due process for something as little as, sort of exhibiting Uyghur culture.

Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036. https://www.rfa.org


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India News Brief

5 July, 2020

Single Day Spike in COVID-19 Cases in India:21,771 Cases
India Set to Overtake Russia as 3rd Worst Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic

Total COVID Cases: 648,318 Death Toll: 18,655

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases: 192,990 Total Deaths: 8,376

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 34,686  Total Deaths: 1,906

Madhya Pradesh: Total  Positive Cases: 14,297 Total Deaths: 593

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 20,488 Total Deaths: 717

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 94,695 Total Deaths: 2,923

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 19,256 Total Deaths: 443

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 25,797 Total Deaths: 749

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 1,02,721 Total Deaths: 1,385

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 16,934 Total Deaths: 206

Telengana: Total Positive Cases:20,762 Total Deaths: 283

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 19,710 Total Deaths: 293

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 5,937 .Total Deaths: 157

Jammu and Kashmir: 8,019 Total Deaths: 119

The West Bengal Government Allows 50 People at Marriage Functions and Funerals during the current phase of COVID-19 Lockdown from 1 July to 31 July.
According to Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, morning walks will be allowed from 5.30 a.m to 8.30 a.m provided social distancing and other norms.
The new guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 30 June: Schools, colleges, educational institutions, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places, and even metro services will continue to remain shut until July 31

India Reports 18,522 New Cases and 418 Deaths in 24 Hours 

COVID-19: Highlights 

Schools May Reopen in August According to Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokriyal.

Religious Places Visit: No Touching of Deity, No no Sparkling of Holy Water No Prasada in Temples Wearing Mask Thermal Screening is a must 

Shopping Malls Visit: Elderly People With 65 Years of Age and Children Below 10 Years Are Advised to Stay at Home.

Restaurant and food courts in malls to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity with a mandatory distance of six feet between tables. No common prayer mats, physical offerings like prasad, or sprinkling of holy water, in places of worship. Age and health-based restrictions on stepping out of home. Masks to be mandatory, and the Aarogya Setu app 'recommended' for all.

Use of masks, thermal screening, social distancing and sanitisation, the guidelines  require people above 65 years of age, specially  people with comorbidities, pregnant woman, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. Masks are mandatory at all times, including inside restaurants

15 Day Amarnath Yarra Starts from 22 July

Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Indian Health Ministry 

Lockdown extends till June 30

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed..

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

COVID-19: Delhi Death Toll Rises to 82 in Last 24 Hours

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines


When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.












The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:



Our COVID-19 Stories

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