New UHRP Report on DJI Drones Documents Complicity in Uyghur Genocide

DJI 2024 (1)

For immediate release
March 5, 2024, 7:00 a.m. EST
Contact: Omer Kanat, +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin, +1 (646) 906-7722

A new briefing from the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) highlights the active involvement of DJI, the prominent Chinese drone manufacturer, in ongoing atrocities in East Turkistan. UHRP urges governments to enforce broad-ranging human rights sanctions targeting DJI and other firms supplying the surveillance system in the Uyghur Region.

“It is quite shocking that DJI products are in the hands of 80% of drone users. If you go to any online retailer, anyone can see for themselves that these products are everywhere,” said UHRP Executive Director, Omer Kanat. “But DJI is complicit in crimes against humanity against Uyghurs. If you buy or sell DJI products, you are dealing with a Chinese company that is profiting from massive human rights atrocities.”

DJI has long been involved in mass surveillance activities in East Turkistan. DJI has profited from contracts to equip regional police agencies, including a 2017 contract to train the Xinjiang Forest Police Department on how to use drones for “stability maintenance, counter-terrorism, and conservation purposes.” 

Xinjiang public security departments entered into seven procurement orders between 2019 and 2022, including the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or Bingtuan, a state agency currently under multilateral Global Magnitsky sanctions for its far-reaching role in the atrocities against Uyghurs.

DJI is the world’s largest drone maker, dominating the global market and accounting for 70% of sales. With annual revenue reaching billions of dollars, its reach extends across 43 countries, including major markets like the US, UK, and Australia. Known for its camera drones, DJI’s customers range from photographers and filmmakers to police agencies and military forces.

“DJI’s substantial presence in the global market is an ethical disaster,” said report author Nuzigum Setiwaldi. The company’s involvement in facilitating human rights violations demands urgent action from governments, businesses, and consumers. By imposing sanctions and ceasing to support DJI’s products, states, the private sector, and civil society can hold the company accountable and uphold the principles of human rights and ethical business conduct.

In the United States, DJI’s dominance is striking, with its drones accounting for over half of all drone sales and nearly 80 percent of the consumer drone market. Public safety agencies, like police and fire departments, rely heavily on DJI products. In 2020, 90 percent of drones used by such agencies in the US were supplied by DJI. Similarly, police forces in the UK and Australia use a substantial number of DJI drones in their operations.

Despite its private ownership, DJI has attracted investments from Chinese state-owned enterprises, leading to its classification as a “Chinese military company” by the US Department of Defense. This designation underscores the threat DJI’s operations pose to domestic security in the US and elsewhere.

Multiple governments have imposed trade restrictions on DJI. However, these measures have not deterred government agencies, businesses, and consumers from continuing to procure DJI drones. Despite marketing itself as a company dedicated to “saving lives and benefiting society,” DJI’s complicity in facilitating genocide is well documented. UHRP calls for comprehensive sanctions, including procurement bans, export bans, and investment bans. Retailers should end all sales of DJI products.

Read more:

Hikvision and Dahua Facilitating Genocidal Crimes in East Turkistan: UHRP Releases Two New Reports, October 17, 2023

UHRP Demands the UN Global Compact Expel Genocide-Enabling Chinese Tech Companies Hikvision and Dahua, February 7, 2024

US Sanctions DJI And 4 Video Surveillance Manufacturers, IPVM, December 16, 2021

Mapping China’s Tech Giants – DJI, ASPI, June 2021