YouTube removes videos exposing China's abuse of Uyghurs, citing policy violation: report


A human rights group that gained popularity on YouTube largely because of its videos exposing China’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims had several of its videos removed from the platform, with YouTube citing unrelated policy violations, according to a report. 

Reuters reported that the YouTube channel Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights, which is based in Kazakhstan, also had its channel temporarily blocked by YouTube. The activist who runs the channel, Serikzhan Bilash, has been called a “well-known rights activist” by the group Human Rights Watch.

According to Reuters, 12 of Bilash’s videos were removed this year by YouTube amid an apparent campaign by groups who deny China is committing genocide to mass-report the Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights videos. The channel was completely blocked this month and only restored after inquiries from Reuters.  

YouTube eventually removed the block on the channel, according to the report, but has not reinstated all of the videos it took down, citing policies that ban personal information in its videos that could result in harassment. Bilash’s channel has those testifying about Chinese human rights abuses show their government-issued IDs, the report said, which the platform bans due to the possibility the personal information could lead to harassment. 

Detail of the YouTube logo outside the YouTube Space studios in London, taken on June 4, 2019. YouTube temporarily blocked the channel of a Kazakh human rights group that opposes the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China last month. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Detail of the YouTube logo outside the YouTube Space studios in London, taken on June 4, 2019. YouTube temporarily blocked the channel of a Kazakh human rights group that opposes the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China last month. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images via Getty Images)

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But Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights maintains that those IDs are critical to its credibility to prove the people in the videos are in fact related to individuals subject to Chinese government abuse. 

“The people giving the testimonies are talking about their loved ones,” Bilash told Reuters. 

“I never trusted YouTube,” he also said. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) marked its 100th anniversary on Thursday with fanfare and propaganda. The anniversary of the party that controls China’s authoritarian regime was met with derision by many across the world – members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives introduced resolutions condemning the party for 100 years of human rights abuses. 

“The House of Representatives condemns the Chinese Communist Party for 100 years of gross violations of human rights, including repression, torture, mass imprisonment, and genocide,” the House resolution said. It added that the House “looks forward to the day that the Chinese Communist Party no longer exists.”

“Our harassment policy clearly prohibits content revealing someone’s personally identifiable information (PII), including their government identification or phone numbers. We enforce our policies equally for everyone, and removed the violative videos uploaded by Atajurt Kazakh and terminated their channel,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News. “However, we recognize the important human rights work by Atajurt Kazakh and that the intention of these videos was not to maliciously reveal PII. Upon careful review of their appeal, we reinstated the channel and are working with Atajurt Kazakh to explain our policies so they can make the best decisions for their channel.”

According to YouTube, it allows videos with educational or documentary content but the Atajurt videos did not meet that standard – the company did not elaborate as to why. 

YouTube did not address questions about whether the Chinese government contacted it regarding the videos; whether it is concerned about abuse of its reporting feature to silence human rights groups; and whether it agrees with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China is committing genocide. 

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The Atajurt group is moving its videos to a new platform called Odysee in light of YouTube’s actions against it, Reuters reported. It will continue posting its videos on YouTube, Bilash told Reuters, but Odysee “is safe” for its content. 

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report. 

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