According to Reuters, YouTube removed numerous videos from a human rights organization’s channel that were seeking to record human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang province for breaching its anti-harassment policy.
On June 15th, Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights announced that the Google-owned video platform had completely blocked its channel, claiming that the organisation had gotten too many strikes for films in which people presented identity cards proving they were linked to missing Xinjiang citizens.
This appears to have violated YouTube’s rule against showing personal information, resulting in the removal of the videos. According to Reuters, the channel was restored three days later.
YouTube allegedly requested Atajurt to remove or conceal the IDs in the videos, but the channel’s administrator stated that they did not wish to do so due to concerns that doing so would harm the channel’s reputation.
Organizations such as Human Rights Watch have lauded Atajurt for his role in exposing human rights crimes. Atajurt, according to MIT Technology Review, provides testimony from family members of those held in Chinese detention camps in Xinjiang.
Most of the videos that were deleted were restored after appeals, but others remained inaccessible, and Atajurt, according to Reuters, is backing up its recordings on the blockchain-based video network Odysee.
On Sunday, Google did not respond quickly to a request for comment, but told MIT Technology Review that it supports “responsible initiatives to chronicle significant human rights issues throughout the world.” YouTube has “strict standards that prevent harassment… including doxing,” which is why it does not allow the publication of personally identifying information.
According to an Amnesty International study released on June 10th, the Chinese government engaged in state-organized persecution, including torture, of individuals in Xinjiang province in western China, particularly Uyghurs and Kazakhs.
The United Nations estimates that at least one million Uyghurs are being imprisoned in Chinese detention camps, an allegation that China denies.