Megha Rajagopalan is an award-winning international correspondent for BuzzFeed News, based in London. A journalist of India origin she has now won the US’ top journalism award, the Pulitzer Prize, for innovative investigative reports harnessing satellite technology that exposed China’s mass detention camps for Muslim Uighurs and other minority ethnicites.
She has been a staff correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in China and Thailand as well as in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and before that she was a political correspondent for Reuters in China. She has reported from 23 countries in Asia and the Middle East on stories ranging from the North Korean nuclear crisis to the peace process in Afghanistan. Her work has been translated into 7 languages, been taught in classrooms at Columbia and NYU, and was anthologized in 2018’s What Future: The Year’s Best Writing on What’s Next for People, Technology, and the Planet.
Rajagopalan was the first journalist to find and visit an internment camp for Uighur Muslims in China’s far west — work for which she won the Human Rights Press Award in 2018. In 2019, she won a Mirror Award for an investigation uncovering the links between Facebook and religious violence in Sri Lanka. Previously she was a Fulbright fellow in Beijing and a research fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington DC.
She has spoken about her work at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Oslo Freedom Forum, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, SXSW, and other forums. Rajagopalan also appears regularly on TV and radio programs including on NPR, BBC World News, CBS News, and CNN. In her spare time, she volunteers as a career mentor for the Coalition for Women in Journalism and Report For America. She was selected as an Asia 21 Young Leader in 2019. She speaks Tamil and Mandarin Chinese.
Megha 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 ethnicites 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 Kazhakstan 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”.