Authorities are monitoring a content sharing app, and anyone who uses it has their cellphone suspended automatically.
In August last year, police officers broke into an Uyghur household, claiming a youth, Aman, had used an app called Zapya. It is one of the apps monitored by authorities in China, and bypassing the firewall to use it leads to automatic suspension of cell phone connection.
His mother, Elna, explained that her son’s phone was suspended after the first breach. But the officers claimed that there had been a second and a third breach as well. It is on the last violation that a person is directly arrested. And so, they took Aman away for detention.
Meanwhile, an investigation found that his phone was indeed suspended when the police picked him up. However, this did not secure his release, and he was kept in a “transformation through education” camp for three months.
Elna tried several times to get her son released, and in June this year, she was told it could be done only if he named other “extremists.” This made her upset as Aman had already been locked up for a year without a proper trial and his future was still uncertain.
It is an instant messaging app that allows users to assemble, chat, and transfer content. However, Bitter Winter has previously reported about a document, entitled, Public Notice Urging Criminal Offenders to Surrender, as per which using apps like Zapya is a crime. Since then, many youths like Aman have been detained.
Commentators say that CCP monitors several Internet platforms closely and apps like Zapya make them nervous because of their instant connectivity feature. The authorities are also wary that minorities like Uyghurs may use such apps to obtain information of any kind.
Offenders are convicted and sentenced under the Chinese counter-terrorism law, which is questioned by human rights activists around the world. They insist that the CCP is effectively using counter-terrorism as a bogey to eliminate an ethnic and religious minority.
(All names used here are pseudonyms.)
Reported by Li Zaili