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Teen who went viral with TikTok hair tutorial tells ITV News people need to know about China threat to Uighur Muslims

TikTok users have used inventive methods to raise awareness. Credit: TikTok/Pavan Shandil Narayan/Feroza Aziz

A 16-year-old whose hairstyling TikTok tutorial talking about the threat to Uighur Muslims in China has gone viral has told ITV News he and others are using the platform so people understand what's going on in our world.

Pavan Shandil Narayan, who lives in Sacramento, California, posted the video on his TikTok channel five days ago.

But it went viral on Friday after it was shared by US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

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At first glance it appears to be a hair styling tutorial but Narayan soon begins to talk about the persecution of more than a million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities by the Chinese state.

Narayan tells viewers to look up "Muslim concentration camps in China" and encourages people to talk about it and spread awareness.

It has already had more than a million views on Twitter and hundreds of thousands of people have watched it on Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, which is best known for frivolous shared videos.

It follows a similar eyelash tutorial video posted by Feroza Aziz.

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Her video addressing the same issue was initially taken down from the platform before TikTok apologised and returned the video and restored Aziz’s account.

Narayan told ITV News that he was inspired to make the video after he “saw other Muslim TikTokers spreading news about the camps”.

He said that he used TikTok because it allows “thousands of people to be informed of what’s going on in our world as we speak” adding that “teens are amazing at spreading the word”.

Narayan said that he was honoured that prominent US politician Ms Omar had shared the video.

He added: “I have looked up to her as an inspiration and proof that minorities such as herself can and will make it to office. I still cannot grasp that my United States congresswoman posted my face."

Although TikTok is Chinese owned, the video will not be seen there as censorship rules mean the platform runs on different servers in the country under the name Douyin.

What is known about the detention of Uighurs and others?

Classified Chinese government documents have been leaked. Credit: AP

The Chinese government claims it has detained more than a million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities for what it calls voluntary job training.

But confidential documents revealed this week the camps Beijing runs in China’s far west are instead secret centres for forced ideological and behavioural re-education.

The files, leaked to a consortium of international journalists, lay out the Chinese government’s deliberate strategy to lock up minorities, most of whom are Muslims, to rewire their thoughts and even the language they speak.

The documents stipulate watch towers, double-locked doors and blanket video surveillance “to prevent escapes”.

Experts say they spell out a vast system that targets, surveils and grades entire ethnicities to forcibly assimilate them – especially Uighurs, a Turkic minority of about 10 million with its own language and culture.

Read more on the detention methods here.