China has demolished more than 100 Uighur graveyards in what human rights groups described as an escalation of the communist regime’s campaign to destroy the Muslim minority’s culture.
Hundreds of satellite images analyzed by CNN showed burial sites in western Xinjiang province have been wiped out, with some turned into car parks and playgrounds.
The US broadcaster found the majority of the cemeteries, where generations of Uighurs had been buried, were destroyed over the last two years.
Aziz Isa Elkun, a Uighur poet who fled the region more than 20 years ago and now lives in London, said he had “visited” his father’s grave on Google Earth for nearly two years after he died. But one day an updated satellite image showed the cemetery had been replaced with a field.
“I had no idea what happened,” he told CNN. “I was completely in shock.”
China did not deny destroying the cemeteries, and at least one official notice said one of the burial sites been relocated “to meet the demand of city planning and promote construction.”