Many nights in the past few months, Shawn Zhang has come home from work at a student legal-aid program and pulled up satellite imagery of a place 10,000 kilometres away.
He is looking for re-education camps in Xinjiang, the Chinese region where, scholars estimate, hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim people have been forced to undergo political indoctrination. What Mr. Zhang has found has given the Chinese-born University of British Columbia law student, 28, an important role in documenting a system that Chinese authorities call “vocational skills training,” but critics liken to military prisons.
Some of the most revealing details lie in the shadows, which show features that would otherwise be invisible in overhead images. There, in silhouette, lie the barbed-wire-topped fences and guard towers that surround the re-education centres.