Indian-origin journalist wins Pulitzer Prize for exposing China’s Uighur internment
Rajagopalan and her colleagues used satellite imagery and 3D architectural simulations to expose China persecution of Uighur
Indian-origin journalist Megha Rajagopalan has won the Pulitzer Prize, USA's highest honour in journalism for a series of innovative articles exposing China’s mass detention camps for Uighur Muslims and other minority ethnicities.
The 2021 awardees that were announced by the Pulitzer Board on Friday had Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News win the coveted prize in the International Reporting Category.
The Prize was conferred on the trio for a series of clear and compelling stories that used satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims.
Rajagopalan and her colleagues used satellite imagery and 3D architectural simulations to buttress her interviews with two dozen former prisoners from the detention camps where as many as a million Muslims from Uighur and other minority ethnicities were interned.
"I'm in complete shock, I did not expect this," she said.
According to the publication, she and her colleagues, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek, identified 260 detention camps after building a voluminous database of about 50,000 possible sites comparing censored Chinese images with uncensored mapping software.
Rajagopalan, who had previously reported from China but was barred from there for the story, travelled to neighbouring Kazakhstan to interview former detainees who had fled there, BuzzFeed said.
"Throughout her reporting, Rajagopalan had to endure harassment from the Chinese government," the publication said.
The series of stories provided proof of Beijing's violation of Uighurs' human rights, which some US and other Western officials have called a ‘genocide’.
Another journalist of Indian-origin, Neil Bedi, won a Pulitzer in the Local Reporting Category for resourceful, creative reporting that exposed how a powerful and politically connected sheriff built a secretive intelligence operation that harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren.
Bedi shared his prize with an editor at the Tampa Bay Times, Kathleen McGrory.
In recognition of the proliferation of citizen journalism in the digital age Pulitzer Prizes were also awarded to the Minneapolis Star Tribune for their coverage of George Floyd’s killing by police and its aftermath.
Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded the viral video of Floyd’s death, received a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize for her courage in filming the killing of George Floyd, the African-American who died in police custody in Minneapolis last year.
The video clip made on her smartphone went viral and set off prolonged nationwide protests against police brutality and led to measures in many states and cities to reform policing.
This is the 105th year of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded by a board at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in New York recognising the outstanding work.