Indian journalist Megha Rajagopalan and two of her colleagues won a Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting Friday for their investigative series that exposed prisons and mass internment camps secretly built by China to detain thousands of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
According to Tribune India, in 2017, Rajagopalan visited an internment camp not long after China began detaining Muslims in Xinjiang in 2017. At the time, China denied that such camps existed, and in response to Rajagopalan’s visit, the government revoked her visa and ejected her from the country.
From London, Rajagopalan partnered with Alison Killing, a licensed architect with a specialty in forensic analysis of architecture and satellite images of buildings, and Christo Buschek, a programmer who builds tools tailored for data journalists, reports Tribune India.
According to India TV News, Rajagopalan, Killing, and Buschek, built a database of about 50,000 possible sites comparing censored Chinese images with uncensored mapping software. This allowed them to identify 260 detention camps, some of which were capable of holding more than 10,000 people and many of which contained factories where prisoners were forced into labor, reports Tribune India.
Since she was barred from China, Rajagopalan went to its neighboring country Kazakhstan, where many Chinese Muslims had fled for refuge, reports Tribune India. She located and interviewed two dozen former detainees of the Xinjiang camps.
“I’m so grateful they stood up and were willing to talk to us. It takes so much unbelievable courage to do that,” Rajagopalan said.
The series was published on Buzzfeed News and provided proof of Beijing’s violation of’ human rights, reports India TV News, which some U.S. and other Western officials have called a “genocide.”
“The blazing Xinjiang stories shine desperately needed light on one of the worst human rights abuses of our time,” said editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News Mark Schoofs, reports Tribune India.
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