Stuff Circuit’s latest documentary, Deleted, investigates China’s persecution of Uyghurs and reveals how all of us – including the New Zealand government – are compromised.
There’s growing international awareness of mass-scale human rights violations of Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in Xinjiang, north-western China: intensive surveillance, extra-judicial detentions, forced labour.
Deleted is centred around New Zealand’s role: telling the stories of Uyghur New Zealanders and their fight to find out what’s happened to missing family members, while also investigating our own connections to those very same human rights abuses.
“The scale and horror of what’s happening to Uyghurs is becoming increasingly apparent,” says producer Lousia Cleave, “and hearing accounts from the Uyghur community here about their friends and family who have disappeared is heartbreaking.”
“So we wondered: what New Zealand connections are there? Can we be comfortable with our position in what is now being described as a genocide? So we did some digging.”
The resulting Stuff Circuit investigation establishes relationships between New Zealand businesses and a Chinese company singled out for playing a leading role in the human rights violations of Uyghurs.
“What’s more”, says Cleave, “there are government links too.”
New Zealand is economically dependent on China – our biggest trading partner – and while our government says it’s concerned about the situation facing Uyghurs, Stuff Circuit’s documentary exposes how its actions don’t back up those words.
Because of the difficulties in reporting from Xinjiang, Stuff Circuit had to come up with an innovative way to tell the story.
Director/editor Toby Longbottom says the result is a new creative direction for the team.
“This was one of the most visually challenging projects we’ve worked on and it was important to find a way to tell this vital story in a way people could connect with.”
“We’re pleased with the result,” says Longbottom. “It’s a story that needed to be told and we’re glad we’ve found a unique way to do that.”
Deleted was funded with support from NZ On Air. Visit www.stuff.co.nz/deleted to watch the documentary and explore interactive content.