YouTube blocked a channel reporting human rights abuses in Xinjiang

YouTube blocked a channel reporting human rights abuses in Xinjiang

Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights allegedly violated the platform's rules on disclosure of personal information. The managers announce that they will move their videos to Odysee

(photo: Unsplash) YouTube has blocked the contents of a channel that denounces human rights abuses against the Muslim minority of Uyghurs by China in the western province of Xinjiang. Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights publishes the testimonies of family members of people detained in Chinese internment camps in Xinjiang, but has been repeatedly suspended for disclosing personal information, in violation of YouTube policies.

Since 2017 Atajurt has almost uploaded 11,000 videos for a total of over 120 million views. Thousands of these show people talking on camera about relatives they say have disappeared without a trace. People show their ID cards which prove they are related to the missing residents.

On June 15, the channel was blocked for violating YouTube guidelines, according to a screenshot seen by Reuters , after twelve of his videos were reported for violating his "cyberbullying and harassment" policy. Content appears to have broken the platform's rule against viewing personal information.

YouTube reportedly asked Atajurt to cut or hide ID cards in videos, but the channel admin he said he did not want to do so out of concern that such action would damage his credibility. The channel was restored three days later, most of the videos are back available following appeals, but some are still blocked.

The managers of Atajurt have in the meantime decided to make a copy of the videos and then leave YouTube. According to reports from Reuters, they will move to the smaller blockchain-based video platform Odysee. Nearly a thousand videos have already migrated from YouTube.

Google told MIT Technology Review that it welcomes "responsible efforts to document important human rights cases around the world," but added that YouTube has " strict policies that prohibit harassment [..] including doxxing ", which is why it does not allow the disclosure of sensitive personal data.

The United Nations and rights groups estimate that in recent years Xinjiang has been more than one million Uighurs detained in persecution, a fact that China disputes. Atajurt had previously been praised by several organizations including Human Rights Watch for helping to expose human rights violations in the province.

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