Leveraging Blockchain-Based Archival Solutions for Sensitive Documentation: a Xinjiang Case Study


Victoria Lemieux, Remy Hellstern, Daniel Park, Guldana Salimjan

Date of Publication


This exploratory research surveys scholarly literature on decentralized storage solutions, including theories and works of archival science, and similar applications in humanitarian contexts, to illustrate the necessity of these systems in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. Xinjiang has recently shifted into the spotlight of the international press for allegations of abuse and forced labor, coercive cultural assimilation, and the creation of a police state. The leadership of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) justifies the existence of these training facilities and expansive surveillance networks as part of the PRC-backed efforts to de-radicalize ethnic groups in the region. However, many governments and scholars rebuke these justifications, arguing that these centers are state-run facilities that house extrajudicially detained individuals based on their ethnic identity and religious belief. This paper aims at limiting the plausible deniability of violations conducive to cultural genocide, thus improving the prospects for deterrence and accountability through decentralized evidence management. The technological sophistication of the regime in Xinjiang is outpacing centralized systems and rendering storage solutions hosting evidence of these violations obsolete. This jeopardizes the prospect of truth and reconciliation in the future and allows the party to craft and disseminate their narrative globally with little resistance. Major findings focus on how decentralized systems can improve the streamlining and hosting of evidence regarding human rights violations occurring as well as advancing the study of cryptographic management of evidence regarding the treatment of vulnerable communities in low-rights regions.

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We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

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