Megha Rajagopalan, Pulitzer Prize 2021 for her investigation of Uyghur re-education camps in China

Megha Rajagopalan, journalist for the BuzzFeed news site, has just received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his report [article en anglais] on the re-education camps of Uyghurs, Muslims in China. One of her many investigations, we should say, since it’s a subject she has been working on for years.

Today, Megha Rajagopalan is based in London, England, but this 30-something American of Indian origin has long been the head of the BuzzFeed offices in Beijing. In 2017, as rumors circulated of repression against Chinese Muslims, she was the first to enter a camp in the Xinjiang region. She makes an edifying report of it, proving the forced labor and the impossibility of speaking to which the thousands of internees are subjected.

The authorities’ response is radical: his visa is revoked, without the possibility of renewal, and Megha Rajagopalan must leave the territory. “If I can no longer work from inside China, she wrote at the time on her Twitter account, I will not, however, stop investigating and dealing with the subject of repression, and the incarceration of millions of citizens of the Uyghur ethnic minority“.

Two years later, with the help of an architect, Alison Killing, and a computer programmer Christo Buschek, and from her new offices in London, she sifts through hundreds of satellite images: we see it months later month the progress of the construction of large rectangular buildings, camps, built there, quite recently. This is confirmed by the testimonies she obtains from those who managed to get out. In short, painstaking, long-term work, which is more innovative in terms of form, and which earned him this Pulitzer.

For four days, Megha Rajagopalan has received congratulations from all over the world. But oddly enough, what makes the most noise is the message his father sent him. An SMS whose content she posted on Twitter. “Congratulations. Your mother just told me. Good job”. No exclamation mark, no emoticon, no outpouring of pride. A tweet shared 43 times more than the one in which she announced her Pulitzer: 143,000 likes and thousands of comments, mainly from Indians who recognized the tone of their own fathers, distant, cold, forbidding themselves to be emotion facing a Pulitzer. It doesn’t look like much, but this micro-event is worth it number of press articles in India (article in English). Without wanting to, Megha Rajagopalan opened two debates, one on the fate of the Uyghurs, the other on the lack of affect of Indian parents for their offspring. In the end, maybe that’s what journalism is: the power to talk about both.

We would like to give thanks to the writer of this post for this incredible material

Megha Rajagopalan, Pulitzer Prize 2021 for her investigation of Uyghur re-education camps in China

Hank Gilbert