Who is Megha Rajagopalan: The BuzzFeed reporter was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, one of journalism’s top global honours, in the International Reporting category on Friday. Rajagopalan headlined a four-part series of investigative reports titled Built To Last tracing a network of internment camps built in China’s Xinjiang for Muslims.
China has previously denied the existence of such detention camps. In 2017, when reports emerged of Uyghur Muslims being persecuted in China, Rajagopalan was among the first to visit these camps. As per reports, her visa was revoked and she was forced out of the country.
From London, she continued work on her investigative series with architect Alison Killing and programmer Christo Buschek. This marks the first Pulitzer for BuzzFeed.
Reacting to her win, Rajagopalan told Poynter, “I’m incredibly grateful to our reporting team… When I first proposed to my editors that we work with an architect and a programmer on an investigation about China, I thought they would tell me I was nuts, but instead they said to go for it.”
Rajagopalan also took to social media to share a sweet message from her Indian dad on her win:
Understated Indian dad reaction pic.twitter.com/bdE7I0Kaq2
— Megha Rajagopalan (@meghara) June 11, 2021
Who Is Megha Rajagopalan? Looking At Her Pulitzer Reporting
Rajagopalan is based in London, having previously reported from over 23 countries including China, Thailand and Afghanistan. BuzzFeed lists her as a tech reporter. She was previously associated with Reuters as a political correspondent.
Pulitzer recognised her as “the first journalist to find and visit an internment camp for Uighur Muslims in China’s far west,” for which she received the Human Rights Press Award in 2018. She also won the Mirror Award in 2019 for uncovering links between Facebook and violence in Sri Lanka.
The explosive Xinjiang reports included testimonies from ex-detainees and refugees. Using mapping software, Rajagopalan and her team worked for months to identify 260 fortified camps where oppressed Muslims and forced labourers were being held prisoner.
Pulitzer called her reports “a series of clear and compelling stories that use 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.”