Amazon faces questions over contract with company that manufactured ID technology to persecute Uighur minorities

Friday, February 12
Ciarán Mather

Amazon has come under fire for its contract with a security tech company based in China that allegedly created software to specifically identify people of Uighur descent.

According to a Reuters report, Dahua sold 1,500 thermal imaging cameras to Amazon in a deal estimated to be worth close to $10 million (around €8,260,025).

The issue was raised by two US politicians, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in a letter addressed to Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos. 

News about the Dahua security company was first broken yesterday by The Los Angeles Times, who added that the company is currently on the US Department of Commerce's list of companies who have 'ties to human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China's campaign of repression.'

The paper also reported that Dahua product support documents appear to suggest that the company’s technology can sort passers-by by race, issue 'real-time warnings for non-local Uighurs,' and track 'Uighurs with hidden terrorist inclinations.'

The two senators cited in their letter to Mr. Bezos: 'If these allegations against Dahua are true, it would mean that Amazon willfully ignored guidance from the United States government and purchased equipment from an entity-listed company that is complicit in China’s atrocities against the Uighur people.'

 'While buying equipment from Dahua Technology is not illegal, it does raise several questions for you, as the chief executive of Amazon,' it added.

Following this, Dahua issued a statement that it will not provide the ID features or applications in the software products in the future and it will conduct an internal review into the issues raised.

The company also denied the use of the ID technology on Uighurs, adding that it 'does not provide products and services for ethnicity detection' in China.

Uighurs are a mostly Muslim, Turkic ethnic group, who have a history of being oppressed in China.

Many Uighur Muslims have been incarcerated in work camps in Xinjiang, China, with many alleging that forced sterilisation and abortions are being carried out on Uighur women.

China has also recently come under fire for banning a BBC investigation on the widespread reports of systemic rape of Uighur women conducted by Chinese soldiers.

It comes just days after another BBC News report that detailed a formal legal opinion piece, which said that there is 'a credible case' that Uighur Muslims are the victims of a genocide being conducted by the Chinese government.