World’s Largest Drone Maker Expands in US Amid Rights Abuse Allegations

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March 14, 2024 | Voice of America

On March 5, the day of DJI’s official store opening in New York, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), a Washington research and advocacy group, released a report titled Surveillance Tech Series: DJI’s Links to Human Rights Abuses in East Turkistan.

The report accuses DJI of being involved in mass surveillance and rights violations against Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and other Muslim communities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which the group calls East Turkistan.

“DJI is directly involved in mass surveillance schemes in East Turkistan and has supplied public security agencies with tools to surveil and target Uyghurs, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz people,” the UHRP report said. “Xinjiang public security departments entered into seven procurement orders with DJI that were worth nearly US$300,000 between 2019 and 2022.”

The report stated that DJI sells drones to Xinjiang’s paramilitary organization, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which the U.S. government sanctioned because of its “connection with serious rights abuses against ethnic minorities” in Xinjiang.

“Other documents show tenders worth US$47,000 for DJI drones for the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps,” the UHRP report stated.

The report also said that a DJI drone captured footage of dozens of individuals, seemingly Uyghur prisoners, blindfolded and shackled at a train station in southern Xinjiang. The video, first released on YouTube in 2019, garnered widespread media attention.

“It’s unethical to support a company that knowingly engages in egregious rights violations,” Nuzigum Setiwaldi, the report’s author, told Voice of America.

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