- Stop Chinese Government’s Inhumane Treatment towards the Uyghurs
- China: Stop Collecting DNA from Entire Uyghur Population
- The Chinese Communist Regime is Currently Committing Ethnic Genocide on the Uyghurs in East Turkestan
- Stop Chinese Communist Dictator Chen Quanguo’s Crimes against Humanity in East Turkestan
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February 3, 2018
We stated in our first 2 petitions that more than 1 million Uyghurs, or more than 10% of the Uyghur population living in East Turkestan (refer to the 2010 Chinese census) are currently being held illegally in jails, Nazi-style political “re-education” concentration camps and orphanages (http://chn.ge/2CAIJFRhttp://chn.ge/2Dw8YAU ). The arrest of the Uyghurs in large numbers has been going on for a long time, but it intensified since July 2009, after the July 5th massacre that took place in Urumchi, the capital of East Turkestan, and has reached to a record level since Chen Quan-guo took office as the Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in East Turkestan. The Uyghur detainees came from all spans of life, as exemplified in our recent report titled “Political Persecution of the Uyghurs — Brief Description of Some Individual Cases” (http://freedomsherald.org/ET/unb/ Among them, there is a special category of people, namely, prominent Uyghurs or Uyghurs of influence. They represent a group of people in various areas of life and profession, who have prominent influence among the Uyghurs, or play leading roles in the Uyghur society or in their own fields of profession, such as intellectuals, writers, lecturers, poets, website owners and administrators, business owners, entrepreneurs, leading community activists, actors-actresses, religious figures, sports professionals, and even some rich people. Therefore, they can be called “the Uyghur prisoners of influence”. They are very similar to the “prisoners of conscience” that are common to Han Chinese and the other ethnic groups in China, including the Uyghurs. But the Uyghur prisoners of influence were jailed or detained in concentration camps for a different reason, that is, for being famous and/or influential among their own community or in their own professional fields. If we imagine the whole Uyghur population as a person, these prisoners of influence can be considered as his/her head, and the Chinese government is now slowly cutting the head off.
Here is an article published on 2 Feb. 2018 in “New York Times” related to the above issue:
What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State
Recently, several media outlets have reported on the arrests of several prominent Uyghurs and leading Uyghur intellectuals. They include Halmurat Ghopur (a leading intellectual), Abdurehim Heyit (a famous singer and musician), Yasinjan Moydin (a businessman and restaurant owner; got ill in a jail, and recently died in a hospital), Ahmatjan Heyder (a religious figure; got released from a jail after getting seriously ill, but died shortly thereafter), Muhammed Salih (a religious leader and scholar; he did the modern translation of the Holy Quran from Arabic to Uyghur language; he was taken into a concentration camp recently, and died on Jan. 24 at 82. His two daughters and a son-in-law also got arrested), Hebibullah Tohti (returned from Egypt after getting a doctor’s degree, and sentenced to a 10-years prison term shortly thereafter), four wealthiest Uyghurs in Kashgar, and some Uyghurs who studied abroad. The charges mentioned included “having nationalist tendencies”, “acts against the state”, “having extremist or politically incorrect views”, “being two-faced” and “undertaking unapproved, private hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca)”. Some of such reports can be found at http://freedomsherald.org/ET/unb/ Previously, the jailing of the Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti received wide coverage in the international media. However, the most cases in such nature still remain unnoticed and unreported, even though such action of the Chinese government is having devastating impact on the Uyghur society and on the lives of all the Uyghur people in East Turkestan and abroad.
We have obtained information on many more cases of the arrested and the detained influential and/or prominent Uyghurs from people who fled China recently, but we restrained ourselves from presenting such cases in this petition. The reason is, the Chinese government is currently using one of their ancient tactics in oppressing the whole Uyghur population, namely, “not only cut the grass, but also destroy the roots” (????). Based on this tactic, if the Chinese government suspects the loyalty of an Uyghur on themselves, they not only arrest and in some cases kill with some fake charges that person, but also they do the same to his/her extended family members. So it is very common that a lot of Uyghur families have lost more than 10 extended family members to jails, concentration camps and orphanages. Several examples of such cases are presented in the above report.
We have learned that the Chinese government has issued “arrest schedules”, “look-up tables” and printed verdicts with two blank spaces, the first for the name and the second for the jail time of the future “criminals”, to local government officials and airport administrators. These documents are issued from the top at the provincial government level down to the heads of all villages. According to such directives, the Uyghurs who “committed” crimes are divided into 3 categories: (1) 6 months to 3 years jail term (?? in Chinese). People belonging to this category are ordinary, innocent ones who were arrested to fill some quota came down from the top. For example, in 2017, Urumchi police issued an order to all its branches to arrest 3000 Uyghurs and Kazakhs in this category within a week. This was reported by the Radio-Free Asia (USA). (2) 7 – 10 years jail term (??). It is for people who have relatives abroad, who were found to have stored forbidden contents in their smartphones, and activists. (3) 10 – 15 years jail term (??). It is for people who returned from abroad, who were forcibly returned from abroad, “political criminals”, and people with religious knowledge. When “catching” an Uyghur “criminal”, a local government official first determines which category that “criminal” belongs to, fills out a pre-printed verdict mentioned above, and gives that verdict to that “criminal” right at the spot.
For example, since 2016 the CCP government in East Turkestan pressured the parents of the Uyghur students studying in different parts of the world, often using jail terms as a threat. As a result, some unknown number of Uyghur students (the number is in the thousands in our estimate) went back to East Turkestan to save their parents from trouble. However, many of those students were sentenced to 3 – 7 years of jail terms and were taken to jails directly from the Urumchi airport upon their return. In many cases their parents had never seen them after returning from abroad. They just simply disappeared in East Turkestan or somewhere else in China.
According to the accounts of a close friend who talked to us, Behtiyar, an Uyghur man in his 20s, decided to visit his parents and other relatives in Kashgar in the summer of 2016. Because restrictions and punishments are much more severe in Kashgar than in Urumchi, he decided to protect himself from all the potential troubles by having his smartphone “cleaned up” in a police “black market” in Urumchi. The police servicemen there asked him to pay 500 Yuan (more than $80) for the service. He paid them and thought he had made his smartphone “safe” to travel to Kashgar. He was thoroughly checked after he got off the airplane in Kashgar, including his smartphone. At that time, one of the police officers told him that he found prohibited contents in Behtiyar’s phone, including a photo of Turkish president Erdogan and another photo of a Turkish national flag. But Behtiyar explained to them what he did in Urumchi before starting this trip. However, they told him that they can retrieve all the deleted contents from a smartphone. The police called Behtiyar’s parents and told them that they need to pay the police 30,000 Yuan (about $5,000) to get their son back, otherwise their son will be jailed. It took 3 days for Behtiyar’s parents to come up with such money. When they finally came to the airport with the money, the police told them that their son had been arrested, given a 7-year prison term and sent to a jail whose location was unknown to them. Behtiyar was simply disappeared this way. The person who told us the above real story also told us that one prohibited content found in someone’s smart phone earns him or her a minimum 7-year jail term. That is consistent with Bahtiyar’s 7-years prison term.
Behtiyar is not a prominent Uyghur nor a leading intellectual. He is just an average Uyghur. But we told the above story so that you would understand how a jail term is now easily handed out to an innocent Uyghur in East Turkestan.
There was a young Uyghur bodybuilder in southern East Turkestan. He was well-known to the Uyghur youth with his well-developed and very good-looking body. He is good in bodybuilding but not known in anything else. However, the Chinese government targeted him as a suspect because of his influence among the young Uyghur people. One day the police came up with a fake crime for him and threw him in a jail with a 5-year prison term. In East Turkestan, jailing an influential Uyghur figure is as simple as that. That is, being prominent or being influential among the Uyghurs is a serious crime in East Turkestan, and thousands of innocent Uyghurs were jailed and detained for such “crime”. That is part of the reasons why more than 1 million young and adult Uyghurs are currently being held either in jails or in concentration camps, and their small children are sent to orphanages.
The English-language program of the Voice of America (VOA) reported that “Recently, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has drawn attention to increased restrictions on the ability of Uighurs in China to express and practice their religion. The State Department’s annual Human Rights Report also has highlighted repression of Uighurs’ freedoms of speech, movement, association, and assembly.” We, the Torchlight Uyghur group, thank the US government, as well as the governments of the other countries and various international organizations for their support towards the Uyghur people. In the mean time, we appeal to the United Nations, foreign governments, and other international human rights and humanitarian organizations to demand the Chinese government to unconditionally release those thousands of Uyghur prisoners of influence.
We, the Uyghurs, are powerless and helpless at the moment. As such, we cannot defend ourselves against the Chinese government’s atrocities and cannot fight this battle for our survival alone. We need the support of the global community. If tens of thousands of people from around the world sign our petition, it may be possible that the United Nations will make a commitment and will act to stop the tragedy that the Uyghur people are facing today.
Please join us in our fight to end the appalling atrocities happening in East Turkestan. Please sign and share this petition. Thank you!
Torchlight Uyghur Group
Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo made a name for himself with his repressive style of rule as party secretary of Tibet from 2011 to 2016. Since his transfer to the Uyghur region in August this year, his tactics have become only more brutal.
Since taking the reins in Xinjiang, Quanguo has launched new polices targeting the religious freedom and cultural identity of the Uyghurs and intensified existing policies like the Communist Party’s “strike hard” campaign against Uyghur.
Chen Quanguo effectively considers all Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang as political threats and “undependable” because of their distinct religious and ethnic identities. The political re-education camps that have popped up in almost every district of Xinjiang that currently detain tens of thousands of Uyghurs are the brainchild of 62-year-old Quanguo. His strike even harder approach in Xinjiang may have helped secure his current seat on the CCP’s 19th Politburo, further cementing his influence in the regime.
In March, the Xinjiang CCP issued the ?????????????? (Regulation on Counterextremism in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). The regulation requires a massive campaign against politically “untrustworthy” and “incorrect” people plagued by “ideological illness” because of their religious and national identities. The “re-education” camp that detain people from almost every Uyghur city are part of Quanguo’s effort to cure Uyghurs of that “ideological illness” that he sees as their religious and ethnic identity so that they may be more easily assimilated and controlled.
The Chinese government often embellishes its brutal campaigns against Uyghurs with seemingly benign labels. The party has used various politically correct names for the re-education camps, including ???????? (Education and Transformation Centers), Career Development Centers, Professional Education Schools, Socialism Training Schools, and Counter-extremism Training Schools.
An official explained the frequent change in labeling, saying “obviously, the reason or changing the name is to avoid giving others a bad impression“.
CCP Propaganda about the “re-education” camps
Even when the rest of the world wasn’t sure about the existence of the re-education camps, government agencies in Xinjiang were broadcasting propaganda to convince the public of the important role of the camps in maintaining stability in the region. An audio broadcast by the CCP Propaganda Department of Xinjiang has a male Uyghur announcer explain the camps:
Going to a re-education and transformation center is a free opportunity for the ideologically infected to receive treatment and cure their disease. Young friends, how are you? I am very pleased to share my views on this topic. Following the recent strengthening of the strike hard campaign, some of the people in Xinjiang – mainly younger people – have been sent to re-education and transformation centers. But their parents, relatives, and even the majority of Uyghurs don’t know about the re-education and transformation centers and worry about it. Today, we’ll answer the questions you’ve been wondering about.
- The people sent to the re-education and transformation center are actually ideologically diseased people infected with ideas of religious extremism and violent terrorism – so they have to be treated.
- In order to cure ideologically diseased people in time and guarantee the effectiveness of the treatment, the CCP of Xinjiang decided to set up re-education and transformation camps in every prefecture, city and county all over Xinjiang. The government has organized special officials to teach the people the laws and regulations of the country and the autonomous region, the ethnic and religious policies, various beneficial party policies, and the state language – Chinese.
First, the government will clarify what is wrong and what is right, what they should do and what they should not do. The government assures the people that it will exterminate any impact of religious extremism and violent ideas. It will ensure that those who are ideologically infected will regain their ideological health and return to their homes to reunite with their family members after their minds have been cleaned from harmful ideas.
Second, an ideological illness is as dangerous as physical illness. So it must also be cured at once. We should never postpone the treatment of ideological illness. Otherwise it would deteriorate and threaten our lives. Otherwise we won’t have even enough time to regret. Some may say
“I only had a one-time experience of listening to or watching a religious preaching or violent extremism audio or video. I recognized my wrong and won’t listen to or watch it again. I have so many important things to do, so can I not go to the re-education and transformation center?”.
Some may say the stay at the re-education and transformation center is too long, can’t it be shorter? The answer to those questions are NO. An infection of religious and violent extremism is serious. If anyone escapes from treatment, he will throw himself and society in danger.
Re-education and transformation centers are special hospitals to cure ideological illnesses. The hospital is free, and food and housing is provided. The government built new re-education centers all over Xinjiang to provide the conditions to educate and change the people. The government has appointed a lot of key officials as doctors to these hospitals to treat ideological illness.
Family members of re-educated people, don’t worry. Nobody will be left hungry at the re-education centers. There is no cold, no labor, but there is rare and free opportunity for people to be trained so that they may change. The government’s guarantees to re-educate the people and after that they will live normal lives like others.
The audio is available through various government propaganda offices in Xinjiang.
Targets: The detainees at the camps
According to local officials, the superior agencies have ordered that half of the Uyghur populations in the south be detained if they exhibit the following behaviors:
- Ideological illness
- Politically incorrect views
- Extremist ideas
- Harboring extremist and politically incorrect views
- Recent travel abroad
“Five kinds of suspicious people have been detained and sent to re-education camps – people who throw away their mobile phone’s SIM card or do not use their mobile phone after registering it; former prisoners; blacklisted people; suspicious people who have some fundamental religious sentiment; and the people who have relatives abroad,” a female police officer from far western Xinjiang told RFA.
Chinese auhtorities have formed an official grading standard using those abstract notions to determine their targets. Uyghurs are scored according to their religious background, political views, and other factors. Those who get a score under 60 are considered dangerous and are sent to the camps.
The majority of those targeted are Uyghurs. Other Turkic minorities have also been targeted, but no Han Chinese have been the subject of China’s “re-education” efforts in Xinjiang. Earlier this month, local officials in Xinjiang told RFA that thousands of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities – including Kyrgyz and Kazakhs – are being held in re-education camps without contact with their families under a policy designed to counter extremism in the region.
Sources believe there are virtually no ethnic Han Chinese held in the Xinjiang re-education camps, despite Han Chinese making up the majority of Xinjiang’s population. Those sources also indicate that the number of detainees in southern Xinjiang – where there are higher concentrations of Uyghurs – significantly exceed that of the northern part of the region.
The “politically unreliable”
“The Chinese authorities are holding people at these ‘political education’ centers not because they have committed any crimes, but because they deem them politically unreliable”.
Since April, Uyghurs who have traveled abroad have been accused of harboring “extremist” and “politically incorrect” have been detained in re-education camps throughout Xinjiang until they admit that they committed a “wrong” by leaving the country.
“I learned through my work that among the detainees [from my district] 13 people were held for traveling abroad with a tourist company, “ said ___. “One person had gone on hajj to Mecca two years ago, and two others had studied in Turkey for a short time before returning home”.
Anyone with a religious background may be targeted, including religious teachers, imams, and youth who learn to practice their religion at home..
One official from Aksaray’s Number Two village in Hotan said that officers are to “target people who are religious – for example younger men who sport beards”
A family of four Uyghurs –including two children – were taken to a political education facility in western Xinjiang in April for traveling abroad for business and for the Hajj, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
Xinjiang authorities also imprisoned an Uyghur man after accusing him of “religious extremism” for scolding his son for drinking alcohol.
Life inside the camps
Those detained in the camps are treated like criminals and are not free to see their family members. They are interrogated by police and face imprisonment if they do not comply with the rules and regulations of the camp. And they have no legal protections.
Those who have actual physical illnesses are kept inside the camps instead of being sent to hospitals. The local authorities keep them busy with labor and aren’t concerned about the needs of the people, aside from the very basic necessities like food and sleep. Some elderly Uyghurs and children have died because they were left without the care of their loved ones who were sent to the camps.
Those at the camp are forced to learn CCP ideology. The government has set up classrooms in addition to interrogation rooms and barracks inside the camps. The instructors and other staff, like the “students” at these “re-education” camps who are essentially prisoners, live inside the camp and share the same courtyard with the detainees. The centers’ main gates are guarded 24 hours a day and instructors are required to obtain permission before leaving the facility.
Those who fail to actively learn the political ideology force fed to them at the camp face imprisonment. It’s these kinds of extreme measures that suggest the true aim of the camps are not to educate as much as it is to strip the detainees of their Uyghur identity and force them to accept a Chinese identity.
“During the re-education, they will say ‘Yes, it was a mistake to travel abroad, when the Party and government have created such a high living standard in our own country; we were ungrateful – we were ungrateful when we decided to go elsewhere.”
One official was instructed during a web conference in June that 80 percent of those arrested in re-education camps were to be “severely punished,” including those with “extreme views.”
While the number of those detained cannot be adequately confirmed, almost all sources indicate mass detentions and extrajudicial imprisonment are becoming the norm in Xinjiang. RFA has reported that nearly half of the Uyghurs in Hotan have been targeted for re-education camps.
The camps in Ghulja county , Ili Kazakh prefecture and Korla City hold at least 3600 detainees each, local officials told RFA’s Uyghur Service. Those camps are run under the label of “career development centers” to mask their true nature.
According to one of the teachers in a re-education camp in Ghulja City, there are five camps in a just one of Ghulja’s countries – Turpanyuzi.
“There are 30 to 50 students in each class, so I estimate the total number of people who are undertaking the re-education program [across the county] to be at least 1,500.”
Sources in Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture’s Korla city, where Uyghurs have previously protested house raids during China’s “strike hard” anti-terrorism campaigns, told RFA that the municipality has three re-education camps with at least 2,100 detainees. A “socialism institute” in the municipality detains more than 40 religious figures.
A Kazakh source close to the Urumqi police department said that “they have to detain 3000 Kazakhs or Uyghurs per week.”
An uncertain future in the camps
We have been unable to reach anyone who has been released from these camps. Some officials told RFA “students are not allowed to leave the camp until they have completed the full program, but the length of the training is unclear – the rules only say that the program is complete once a satisfactory level has been achieved.”
“I have been teaching for the last six months, but there is no one in my class who has completed the course and no one knows when the training will end.”
“Nobody knows how long the ‘closed education’ lasts. First of all, the detainees are interrogated by the police, and then they are sent to different education camps.”
“A few people were released after two to three months. But most detainees sent to the camps remain indefinitely.”? ?
Rights Organizations Call China to release detainees
Most observers believe that The Chinese government’s aim is to streamline ideology in an area it perceives to be troubled by radical violence and Uyghur nationalist rights movements and perhaps even erase the western region’s connections with outside world.
Frances Eve, researcher at Chinese Human Rights Defenders, the ramped up suppression in Xinjiang will likely continue past the Party Congress’s because it appears Chen was brought to Xinjiang to replicate the heavy-handed tactics he used in Tibet.
<<Using this sledgehammer approach to counter-terrorism and ethnic-minority policy making is extremely misguided. It violates the civil and political rights of ethnic Uyghurs and does nothing to address the serious economic and social gaps between Han Chinese [the national majority] and Uyghurs,”
The lack of a response from the international community is somewhat surprising in the face of mounting evidence of the re-education camps.
“The U.N. can request the Chinese government allow its independent special experts or the High Commissioner on Human Rights to visit the region, and governments should put more pressure on China to allow journalists and other groups into the region to independently report on the situation,”
The New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch called on the Chinese government to free the thousands of Xinjiang people placed in the camps since April 2017 and close them down.
“The Chinese authorities are holding people at these ‘political education’ centers not because they have committed any crimes, but because they deem them politically unreliable,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.
“It is fair to say that the Chinese government has heightened the repression and discrimination against a particular ethnic group to an extent that seems quite unprecedented,” Maya Wang, Senior Researcher, Asia Division at HRW (21)
“The government has provided no credible reasons for holding these people and should free them immediately,” she added, in an appeal published by Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch said the newly unfolding Xinjiang program called to mind the compulsory ‘re-education’ of hundreds of Tibetans following their return from a religious gathering called the Kalachakra Initiation in India in December 2012 , when Chen Quanguo was Tibet’s Communist Party secretary.
The Xinjiang political education detention centers — where inmates who have not broken any laws are detained extrajudicially, indefinitely and without the knowledge of their families – run contrary to China’s constitution and violate international human rights law, Human Rights Watch noted.
Torchlight Uyghur Group (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In this report, we briefly describe some individual cases in which the relatives of an Uyghur living abroad got persecuted in East Turkestan (also known as East Turkestan Uyghur Autonomous Region in China). The people who provided the information us the information below all live abroad. However, we did not identify them by their real names and in some cases by the names of the countries they are currently residing in. The reason is, if we identify them, the Chinese government will persecute their relatives still living in East Turkestan. It is a common practice in China, and as far as we know many Uyghurs have got persecutated that way. We have recently learned from some sources back home that the number of the Uyghurs currently being held in jails and in “political re-education concentration camps” (http://freedomsherald.org/ET/unb/ ) is 800,000 – 1,000,000. This is an official number we obtained, and actual number could be much higher than one million. Some people who came out of East Turkestan to abroad recently are saying that the number of the Uyghur people who were jailed, detained in Nazi sytel concentration camps and their young childred being kept in orphanages is more than 5 million.
The following cases are described only in the order of the information that we received.
Case #1: Reyhan’gul, an female living in Europe
My second older sister was sentenced to 17 years (of prison terms), her husband was sentenced to 8 years. They had 3 sons and one daughter. Their youngest child was a boy, and was taken to an orphan care center. The other two sons and the daughter were also taken away by the police, and I don’t know for how many years they were sentenced to. My oldest sister’s son and her husband were also sentenced to jail terms, but we don’t know for how many years. My third sister was also arrested, and we don’t know anything else about her. Her husband was sentenced to 8 years. My third sister’s 15-year old son was also arrested, but I don’t know for how many years he was sentenced to.
That is, in my extended family, 10 people were sentenced to various jail times, and one child was taken to an orphan care facility.
Case #2: Jana’s the second oldest sister (audio clip 1:13)
My sister has never had a passport, never been here, and never been to any foreign country. We loved each other so much so that we could not live without seeing each other. We used to live in a city in Northern East Turkestan (East Turkestan). I communicate with her over the telephone. She was detained for chatting with me over the phone. Recenlty when I called her, she said “please do not call me again, they have put me in hospital, and I have just returned home.” I asked why, and she said “your fault made me ill.” Now I understand that because of my fault of coming to Turkey she was jailed.
Case #3: Kawsar (audio clip 10:51)
Recently we saw a sad news in the Istiklal newspaper. According to that paper, a boy named Kawser was sentenced to 16 years of jail term. My son is so sad and cried very hard when he heard the news. That boy separated himself from the Uyghur community and didn’t participate in any community or political activities. He was afraid to visit our home and he was always very careful. At that time, he was in a college in Karaman Marash city. I asked him many times to visit my home in the current for home-made Uyghur foods, but he told me that “my parents are back in our homeland, I’m afraid that would endanger their safety”. I told him our home is far away from the rest of the Uyghur community, and is surrounded by Turkish neighbors and nobody would recognize him if he visited our home. He still declined my invitation and told me it is better for him not to come, so that he would not face trouble from the Chinese authorities when he returns back to our homeland in the future. Since then, very likely due to his extreme cautiousness, he did not even pick up my phone calls. In order to make a living he worked as a translator in a Chinese owned electric company in Kariman Marash. He didn’t participate in any Uyghur community activities. But when he went to our homeland in China to visit his family, he was still arrested and sentenced to a lengthy jail time.
Case #4: A Dentist’s Story
When I was working as a shopkeeper I had a dentist neighbor. He and 10 or so friends got together and ate dinner. It was a regular Uyghur gathering with funny jokes , and they were having good time, no sensitive topics were discussed. After they went home, some of the dinner participants were arrested by the police. That gathering was organized by a person called Ablet, and he was arrested on a charge of organizing that event. He was sentenced and currenly serving in a prison in Karamay City.
Ablet learned Quran from us. After his arrest, his mother came to my home. She said to me: “What is going on, what is wrong with people just get together, what happened to the government, how can they charge and arrest someone for eating dinner together as a group?” I told her “this is a station we cannot do anything about it”. My dentist neighbor also said to me: “Sister, all of the people we had dinner together on that day were arrested. Do you think they will arrest me as well?”
Shortly after that, my dentist neighbor was also arrested. He has two young children, one of them is still an infant. Local government officials warned neighbors not to give any food or material support to their present family. If they did they could also be arrested. Government officials also warned his wife by saying: “Do not get any donation from anyone, including your parents and relatives. Whoever gives you any material support you need to report that to us. If you don’t, we will increase the degree of your husband’s punishment to a more severe term. If you need any help, you need to directly contact us”. She got into a very tough situation. We supported her in secret. One of her children got sick, but she didn’t have enough financial resources to take her child to a doctor. We gave her 50 Yuan. Several other people also gave her some money. Also, even though a government official told her that they would help, but that never happened. The government oppression went up to an unprecedented level. After I came back to Turkey, I talked to the lady to whom I transferred my business assets. I asked my dentist neighbor’s situation, and she told me his situation has not changed that much, and she did not tell me anything else. The dentist is over 20 years old. When I visited our hometown in East Turkestan (East Turkestan), he was not sentenced to a jail term yet. Now, according to the news, he is sentenced to 8 years of prison term, and he has serious medical condition that needs to be cured. The dentist’s wife is about 23 years old. After her husband’s arrest, I always saw her sad and crying.
Case #5: Audio Clip 4:17
On March 14, 2017, they took my father away. In order to learn his whereabouts, my family went to a police office and asked them if they know the whereabouts of my father. They asked my grandfather to give his ID card number to the police. They checked his number and found that no person was assigned that ID number in East Turkestan. Two weeks after arresting my father, they also arrested my grandfather. My grandfather stayed in a detaining center for two months. During that time, his health deteriorated and the police dropped him off at a hospital. Shortly after, they arrested my grandmother. When the police saw she became very week, she was also dropped off in a hospital. My grandparents are currently in their 60s. Then they arrested my uncle. After he was detained for about three months, he was sent to an ER also.
All of my arrested family members were in good health when they were arrested. But their health deteriorated during their detention and they were dropped off in a hospital. My uncle was dropped off in ER during a night time without informing our family. He got slightly better next morning and contacted our family. When our family member went to get him, he was taken away by the police who were guarding him. On the same night, he was dropped off in ER again with a failing health.
This is what I know about my family. I heard my mother became mentally disordered. I got this information about 3 month ago, in October of 2017. I heard this happened some time ago, but my brother kept it secret from me for a while before telling me. So far, we got no news regarding my father’s whereabouts. My father’s name is Hushur. My grandfather’s name is Ilham, my grandmother’s name is Aynur. The uncle’s name is Adil. I am Guljamal, and I am about 18 years old.
Case #6: Aynur Yasin, Southern East Turkestan (Audio Clip 1:51)
His father was a shopkeeper in a market, and her mother was a teacher. In about March 2017, there was a big event, an explosion, in Southern East Turkestan, according to a news reported by Instiklal TV. After that event, the Chinese authorities brought about 5 thousand military troops from inner China and carried out mass arrests. During that time, her father was arrested, after that he vanished to this day without a trace . She did video chats with her father through WeChat before, and she kept those chat records in WeChat archives. I have seen those videos before. Recently, she opened those files and discovered those video records were edited. Parts of the video showing her father was deleted, and other non-relevant parts stayed intact. The original video was 4 minutes long, but now it was shortened to 2 minutes. No news regarding her father so far. She could not contact with her uncles and aunts. Her brother used to work for the police, but he also disappeared in April. This girl is currently living in Turkey without any financial support.
Case #7: Yunusjan (Audio Clip 5:31)
My name is Yunusjan Emmet. I am from an outskirt district of Karamay city. My parents were divorced when I was very young. Currently, I am abroad and have lost contact with them for quite a while, and I don’t know their whereabouts. I believe that they might be in jail or locked up in one of the “political education” camps proliferated in recent months in my homeland. I heard that Yasin Abdusalam’s brothers are also vanished without trace. He is someone I knew from my neighborhood. I can still remember that his older brother’s name is Abdulehet, but I cannot recall his other brother’s name. But I know that the brothers are from a religiously conservative family. I heard later from my wife that the brothers were also detained and I believe that they could be labeled as “separatist” or “religious extremist”. I don’t know anything else about them. Due to severe psychological trauma, and emotionally stress and anxiety, my memory is deteriorating. I could not recollect anything else about them.
In February 2010, I was detained at Urumqi airport terminal. My mother was also picked up simply because she came to say goodbye at the airport. Even though I was holding a legally issued passport and visa, they arrested and sentenced both of us for two and half years on an accusation that I was going abroad to join “Jihadist movement”.
Any parents in their right minds would accompany their loved ones to the airport to say goodbye. I was leaving her to go abroad for education, and she was detained just because of saying farewell to her child at airport.
They accused my mother of instrumental and financially supportive of my going abroad to engage in “illegal activities against Chinese state”. I believe that she is now again in incarceration due to the same charges. I won’t forget the days that my family was harassed regularly and they forced us to attend “patriotic study meetings” on a weekly basis. My mother has heart problems and is suffering from poor health. She was emotionally tormented by the harassments and humiliations. Since I left abroad, police visits and interrogates her regularly about me and my activities abroad. I am deeply aware of the tremendous sufferings and traumas my mother and sister are going through for my sake. I sometime try to comfort myself that what happed to my loved ones are way less horrific than what happed to other Uyghur families and their loved ones back in my homeland. Many of them died in Chinese prisons or simply vanished without official account.
Case #8: Asiye Hushur’s account of her sister’s disappearance (Audio Clip 6:18)
Both my sister and my son were vanished, and I believe they are in jail or in “special education “camps now. Or, my son might be kidnapped by Chinese human traffickers to inland China. I heard many horrific stories about Uyghur kids in our region are disappearing. I am originally from Southern East Turkestan and currently residing in Turkey with my daughter. My sister and her 11th-grader son visited us in Turkey about a year ago. Police took my sister from her home the second day after they went back to their home from Turkey. Her son was expelled from school because of his trip to Turkey. I lost contact with her and she is incommunicado. I called my parents and they pleaded me not to call them. I did not call any of our other relatives or friends back home because I don’t want to create trouble for them. I heard that police will harass those who receive calls from abroad. Relatives of those detained or missing dare not ask police whereabouts of their loved ones. My sister and my son are gone for almost 10 months now, and I am devastated and helpless. I dare not go back to my country because I know they would definitely put us in jail, too. Several years ago, they arrested my elder brother, too, and he perished in prison.
Case #9: An Incident Resulted from Birth Control (Audio Clip 7:07)
In the end of February, 2013, there was a man named as Mirshat in a village of Ghulja. He was above 60 years of age, and he was a Chinese spy. In spite of that, his sons were pious and they were men of good morality.
One of his sons, named as Shirdil, was about 45 years old. Shirdil had three sons. Shirdil’s wife got pregnant, and she wanted to have a daughter when all of her children were boys. Although we were living in the same neighbourhood, we were unaware of her pregnancy. The woman kept her pregnancy very secret, and she moved to a different place when her stomatch became bigger. This was noticed by one of the villagers. I was not sure if Shirdil’s father reported this after discovering his daughter-in-laws’ secret or someone else did so. The woman was not at home when the family planning officers came to visit her. Her husband was detained, but the woman said she was due shortly and she would return home after she delivered the baby. She genuinely believed they would not kill the baby once she was born.
The police called for Mirshat and said: “You are a government employee. No matter how, you must find your daughter-in-law. Otherwise, we will suspend your work and you will stop receiving salaries.” Returning home, this man pressured his son to find his daughter-in-law and requested him to get her home. Despite of any consequences, the man eventually found his wife who was hiding at a relative’s home. The police took her to the hospital by force, caused her to have an abortion even though the baby was due in just a few days. The woman was given an injection to kill the baby before she was to be aborted. The woman was carrying the baby for nine months. The baby was a well-developed boy. After all of this, the woman became seriously ill.
Mirshat, who was a healthy man, also died secretly in less than a month after he handed over his daughter-in-law and killed his own grandchild. It was a spring time when Shirdil’s wife told me all about this.
Case #10: Muhtar’s Family Situation (Audio Clip 9:46)
There were two imams for the mosque in my neighbourhood. One was my husband, Ilshat Hajim, and another was Yunusjan. One day, Yunusjan said: “My son has now grown up. I am worried that he would get involved with something terrible here and cause trouble. Therefore, I would like him to join you to study abroad”. We then came to Istanbul with Yunusjan’s son, Mirshat, who stayed with us in our house for more than a year. Mirshat went to study the Quran on the other side of Istanbul. Later, his older brother also came to Istanbul. Mirshat then moved out to stay together with his older brother. Later, he was sent back home to East Turkestan. Before he returned home, his parents had already spent 100,000 RMB to have him de-listed from a terrorist list. On his way back home, Mirshat posted a short video of him online when he was on the plane. Seeing this, my son told my wife that Mirshat was going home. I then telephoned his older brother and I was told that Mirshat got home safely. We were not worried about him when we saw he posted his more pictures on the internet after meeting his parents in East Turkestan.
Towards the end of February, 2017, the police suddenly came to Yunusjan’s house and Mirshat was taken away. So far, there has been no news about this boy. Mirshat’s older brother, Ilshatjan, had to contact with his parents via another person because he himself cannot contact them directly. In April 2017, his father, Yunusjan, was also detained by the police, but was released in June. Just two days after his release, he was again taken away by the police. Since then there has been no news about him.
We tried very hard to find out information about Mirshat but in vain. We went to many places, but anywhere we go, we are simply told that ‘Mirshat is not here’.
Mirshat’s house has now become a place being frequently visited by the police.
Mirshat is 18 years old. His name on his passport appears as Abdulehet. People in his neighbourhood just call him as Mirshat.
Case #11: Polat’s father’s situation (Audio Clip 1:32)
I had a friend named as Polat. Because his younger brother had been taken to the re-education center in China, he heard from his father that his younger brother’s heart had stopped on 9 January 2018. According to him, his younger brother used to be healthy. His father is over 80. According to the information from China, most of the people who are taken to the re-education centres are dying there.
- Nuriman. In Egypt, there was one boy and two girls responsible for the Quran literacy of new female students at the Quran course. In 2015, after going for a Haj from Egypt, Nuriman returned to East Turkestan with her husband and their children. In 2016, she sent her oldest daughter to Turkey, and her son to Egypt, to study. In 2017, five people in her family were arrested. Her oldest daughter was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment, her husband and their son to 5 years each, and she herself to 5 years. The woman settled down in Urumqi although she was originally from Ghulja.
- Guljamal. Originally from Turfan, Guljamal was a student at a senior middle school in Izhar, Egypt. In 2016, she was admitted to Izhar University. Before starting her degree at the university, she returned to Turfan to visit her parents. Being unable to return to Egypt, she was married locally. One week after her wedding, she was arrested and sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment for studying in Egypt.
- Zeytun. Originally from Kashgar, Zeytun was a student at Izhar University. She taught Arabic grammar in a religious course for Uyghur female students. In 2016, she returned to Kashgar to get married. She planned to return to Egypt after her wedding. But she was arrested in 2017 and was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment later on.
- Guljamal. Originally from Ghulja but Guljamal was settled down in Urumqi. In 2015, she returned home from Egypt. While in Egypt, she worked as a teacher to Uyghur children to teach Uyghur literacy. In 2016, Chinese authorities broke into her house and took her back to China from Egypt. There has been no news about her since she arrived at Urumqi International Airport.
- Abduwali. Originally from Hotan, Abduwali came to Egypt from China in 2016. His parents were sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment each for sending Abduwali and his older brother together with his children to Egypt.
- Mediniyet. Originally from Ghulja, Mediniyet was admitted to the preparatory school for a junior middle school in Izhar. In September 2015, Mediniyet returned to East Turkestan but was unable to return to Egypt. In 2017, Mediniyet was arrested by the Chinese authorities.
- Ghuppur. Originally from Ghulja, Ghuppur was a student at a senior middle school in Izhar. He returned to Ghulja, East Turkestan, in 2016. He was in an extremely difficult situation when he was in Ghulja, so he returned to Egypt in less than a month. Being forced by the Chinese authorities, he returned to China in 2017. He went missing as soon as he arrived at Urumqi International Airport. After a certain period of time, it appeared that he was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment.
- Shokret. Originally from Ghulja, Shekret made a visit to East Turkestan in 2015 when he was a junior student of a middle school in Izhar. Following the strong request for him to return to East Turkestan from his parents who were pressured by the authorities in 2017, Shokret finally returned to East Turkestan but he disappeared after arriving at Urumqi International Airport upon returning from Egypt. After a certain period of time, it became known that Shokret had been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.
Case #12: Asiye Haji’s Family Story (Audio Clip 12:48)
When we were back home, we know that the son of Mihrigul, who is the sister of Ilshat Haji, were preparing for college at home. They made their living by selling milk. Mihrigul raised kettles for living after she retired and her son did the delivery using his motorcycle. One day after a delivery, he stopped at an internet caffee to search for college information. After he came out from there, all of a sudden a number of policemen appeared in front of him and asked where he got his motorcycle, which really baffled him. He said to them that he had owned it for a while and he has proper documents to prove it. However, the police started to physically attacking him disregarding his explanation by calling him “stupid”. He punched back a couple of policemen in self defense, for which he was arrested and was forced to sit on an electric chair for a whole night. The police interrogated him the whole night by beating him using batons and asking him where he got his motorcycle. And it happenned in a police station in Urumchi.
Since he did not return home at expected time, his siblings started to look for him by tracing his delivery routes by car and motorcycle that they owned. They searched for him for a whole night but he was nowhere to be found. On the way back home around 4am in the morning, they heard some shouting voice very similar to thier brother’s voice when they were passing by the police station. So they approached the police station and knocked its door.
– What do you want? Asked the police
– I heard a voice similar to my brother whom I am looking for whole night.
– What is his name?
– Oh, Ilshat is your brother?
– He is inside. He attacked the police so we detained him.
– What was his crime?
– The motorcycle he is riding is a stolen motorcycle.
– We bought it from a shop and we have papers that I can bring from home to show you.
They went home to get the papers and showed it to the police. Then two policeman brought Ilshat out by carrying him wihout saying anything. He was severly beaten and lost conscienceness.
His brothers started to ask questions from police why he was beaten so serverly since he did not commit any crime. However, instead of explaning the case, the police started to threaten them with arrest. So they returned home with Ilshat who was severly injured by the police buttons and electric stun gun. It took a long time for him to recover from those woonds. But it did not stop there. Since from that incident, Ilshat was detained multiple times and accused with so called political crimes as thousands of Uyghurs face on daily basis. There is no trial or conviction whatsoever but people get arrested whenever police wanted.
What happended to my son is pretty much similar in nature. He was at home when one of his friend called him out. As soon as he stepped outside, he was abducted by police just for the fact that he was wearing a blue jacket that a robber was supposedly wearing during an earlier robbery. So several police officers were running around arresting anyone who happens to be wearing blue jacket in town. His brother saw the whole thing and ran to the house to let us know what had happened. So we immediately followed the police to a police station. Once we got there, we asked the police for an explanation. They made us wait for about an hour and finaly told us that they made a mistake. We know from prior experience that it is no use to puruse justice there and we know that my son’s fate will be no different than Ilshat we mentioned ealier. So we decided to leave our homeland and go to another country by selling all we had, including our car. With the help of our relatives, he was able to get his passport and come to Egypt. When our eldest son’s passport was ready, he and his future wife could not come with us, so we left them behind.
What I have shared here is just something that happend to me or people around me. I am willing to share these hoping that at least we can let the world know about terrible injustices that Chinese government is forcing upon the Uyghurs back home.
Case #13: Janan’s Husband Emet (Audio clips 3:29 and 14:38)
My husband Emet worked as a Muazzin (caller for prayer) in a Mosque for 15 years when we were in our homeland. He came to a foreign country without quitting his role (it would not be possible to come out safely if he did not keep this secret).
A girl named Gulshen who was learning Quran from Emet has been jailed because of teaching how to pronounce the two letters – Alif (?) and Baa ((? to another woman. When that woman was interrogated to confess who taught these, she told Gulshen did it. The girl Gulshen was 16 at the time, and she was taken from her home at midnight because of teaching the two letters.
When a policemen knocked her door at midnight, before openning the door she asked her dad.
- These must be policemen who came to arrest me, what should I say if they ask who taught me Quran? If I say Emet taught me, then they would torture him a lot. (We all and even our children heard many times that Chinese police torture people brutally). I would not tell about him (Emet), how if they torture me too painfully?
Before getting an answer and open the door, policemen banged on the door so hard that it nearly shattered.
Later her dad informed us that Gulshen was detained and Emet should move to somewhere elso or he will be jailed and would also cause many of his students to be arrested. There was a rich young Uyghur man in our town and he used to be in good relationship with policemen. He also said, please help get Emet moved somewhere elso immediately. At the time, we were under close watch by police, they used to come to our home everyday, asking qustions such as “who taught Quran’, “where did you learn” and so on. We answered all their questions, the next day policemen from city police bureau came for the similar questions in various ways. Policemen from our twon brach office and local village also came to us with similar questions and threats every day. Our home was under police watch from 2013 until the end of 2014. Emet gave the same answer to them every time. A police from city police bureau named Yaqup (please change his name as he is Uyghur and an assistant police) told the rich young Uyghur man that Emet has to take shelter, has to move to somewhere else.
Before everything came to the surface, a young man helped us to get visa and we went to Malaysia with Emet and our daughter. We had to leave our son there as he was restricted from going abroad for 5 years. Then we came to the current country via Malaysia in 2015. After we left, Chinese police troubled my son a lot asking about our whereabouts. As we advised before we left, my son said to police that “my brother is sick and my parents have gone to his country to take care of him, help him get over the illness. They will either bring him back or care for him in a hospital there until he recovers.” My son kept asking us when we will go back over the phone, and we kept saying ‘he is getting better and we will be back soon’.
My elder sister’s daughter Minawar used to work in disability support sector in a town. She was the guarantor to my husband Emet to get passport. Therefore the police arrested her and threatened her, demanding her to bring my husband back home. At the time we were in the current country, she told us on WeChat ( a phone app we used contact with her before) many times that we must return to home. She said ‘I am now going to your country with police. Poliemen are with me now and I can bring you back wherever you live in your current country. You will see how I will bring you back. You have destroyed my family, caused me to be jailed and lose my job. My salary stopped, what do I eat and dring now?’ We shut down our phone but she kept sending messages.
Meanwhile Emet’s elder sister, Mehirgul, was the guarantor for me and my children to get our passports. She was also in the same trouble. She was retired, and her retirement salary was stopped. Policemen detained her and told her that you were the guarantor for Emet’s wife and children. Emet has gone to overseas without resigning from his role as a Muazzin (caller for prayer). You must bring him and his wife back’. Her son-in-law said “ Why do not you come like a man? You caused us trouble and destroyed two families” in a very insulting tone. We remained silent as we understand that they were troubled. We told them that we are very sorry and we will go back soon.
After the threatening messages from my elder sister’s daughter Minawar that she will come to our current country with police to arrest us. We left the city we are staying and moved to another city. Her threatening words made us feel that they will really come. We told our close friends in the former city that if someone asks about us please say ‘I do not know them’. Later we got to know that they issued arrest order for my husband Emet, we did not receive the actual copy of the arrest order, but learned it through Eli, a builder from our hometown who visited our home in our former city. He came with his wife Hornisa. His daughter Nurnisa was a student in our current country. She was sick at the time, her father came to take her daughter back home. When they returned to China all of them were put in jails just because they went to a foreign country in the “Restricted 26 country list” of Chinese government.
During his visit at my home in our former city, he said ‘You should never return to your home, they have made an official arrest order. Emet’s older brother sent his words through him, my brothet should never come back. But if Emet comes back, they will torture him brutally. They looked for Emet a lot as if they searching for a hundred people’.
When we were in our hometown, a rich young man built a two-storey mosque there. It was two-story with basement. The basement was made to meet congregation prayers needs, especially during Eid and Ramadan there were no enough space for people come to pray in ground level. The local government sent some people fill the basement with soil. They also broke down the mosque tower from its top saying it was made 40 cm taller than their regulation. The tower was 17 meter tall. When we visited our village, we saw the towers of all themusques there had also been broken from their top. Emet got involved in these incidents asking them to stop. When one Chinese man came in to a mosque without removing his shoes, Emet told him not to enter the mosque with shoes as the carpets were newly placed and need to stay clean. But the Chinese man got upset and said ‘ who are you to dare to say remove my shoes? What can you do if I do not remove my shoes’. After the incident the Chinese man slandered Emet and blamed him of ethnic separatist. Then a group of armed police came to arrest Emet. The young man who built the mosque was so good in Chinese language. He spoke to police and explained the real situation, indicating Emet was speaking nicely to the Chinese man and Emet is in good relationships with other Chinese neighbours. He also said that was a misunderstanding and there was nothing like ethnic separatist. At the time, situation was not as bad as now and he was saved from being arrested. But they made him a target after the incident.
These are the reasons we stayed in the current country. They (police) told my son that you will be freed from prison when your parents come back. When they arrested my son we did not know that we could actually apply for refugee under the United Nation (UN). Later our friends in our former city said “ Because they issued an arresting order on you, why do not you apply for a status to the UN? Recently this country and China are getting good relationships, so it’s better to go to another country”. Therefore we applied for a refugee status, but we are still living in fear. There is an agreement between this country and China that this country will transfer criminals to China. That’s why we are living in fear. We have not returned to our former city since long long time ago. This country has embraced us and we are living here according to this country’s law. Whichever country we will go, we will obey the law of the country while keeping our faith. If we go anyone’s home, we have to respect them. I always remind my children about this point. We have never involved with any illegal activity in this country.
October 16, 2015
On October 15, 2015, Mr. Uiles, son of the Mongolian dissident Mr. Hada, who had been imprisoned for 19 years, was taken away by police in western Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Bogot City (“Bao Tou Shi” in Chinese) after being beaten bloody. Later on the same day, Uiles was placed under a 10-day detention on a charge of “obstructing official business.”
Ms. Xinna, mother of Uiles, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) that on the morning of October 15, 2015, she, Uiles, and her mother Ms. Hanshuulan, were talking together as they took a walk near Hanshuulan’s residence. A State Security agent followed them closely and listened to their conversation.
“I asked him to stop following us. Not only did he refuse to distance himself, but he approached even closer and started cursing at us,” Xinna told SMHRIC via a voice message. “My son Uiles also asked him not to follow us. He started punching and kicking Uiles.”
Xinna described the scene: “Uiles resisted the physical assault and defended himself. Physically fit and professionally trained, the agent beat my son until he was bleeding from his hands and elbows.”
Xinna said she was also beaten by the State Security agent as she tried to protect her son from the assault and attempted to pick up his sunglasses, which were smashed on the ground during the altercation.
“Shortly later, a police vehicle from the Bogot City Qing Shan District Public Security Bureau arrived on the scene and forcibly took my son away,” Xinna told SMHRIC.
Both the “Notice to Family of the Summoned” and “Notice to Family of the Detainee,” issued by the Qing Shan District Public Security Bureau, state that the Bureau summoned and detained Uiles for “obstructing official business” in accordance with Article 50 of “The People’s Republic of China Public Security Administration Punishment Act.”
The detention period is 10 days starting October 15, 2015. Currently Uiles is held at the Bogot City No.1 Administrative Detention Center, according to the “Notice to Family of the Detainee” issued to Xinna.
“This is nothing but a continuation of the persistent harassment and persecution against my family that started almost 20 years ago, when my husband, Hada, was arrested and imprisoned for defending the rights of the Southern Mongolians,” Xinna said, expressing her strong criticism of the Chinese authorities’ heavy-handed policy in the region.
In Hohhot, capital of Southern Mongolia, Hada also protested against the authorities’ brutal treatment and arbitrary detention of Uiles.
“Today I went to the Autonomous Region Party Committee and the Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau, and demanded the immediate release of my son,” Hada told SMHRIC in a written statement.
“The police beat up and injured my son before placing him under detention. My wife was also beaten. I urge the authorities to release my son immediately and unconditionally; I urge them to bring those police who were engaged in these criminal acts to justice,” Hada said in another written statement and identified himself as “Uiles’ father, who had been imprisoned unjustly for 19 years.”
In 1995, Hada was arrested and later sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “splitting the country and engaging in espionage.” On December 10, 2010, he completed his full prison term. Yet, not only did the Chinese authorities refuse to free him, they placed him under another 4 years of extrajudicial detention in a “black jail” in suburban Hohhot.
His wife, Xinna, was arrested on December 4, 2010, on a trumped-up charge of “involvement in illegal business,” referring to her Mongolian Studies Bookstore. In April 2012, she was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve on the same charge.
On December 5, 2010, Uiles was arrested for “illegal drug possession.” After nearly a year of detention, he was discharged but was placed under “residential surveillance,” a form of house arrest.
In 2002, the then 17-year-old Uiles was arrested and sentenced to 2 years in prison for another trumped-up case of “involvement in robbery.”
From the Tibet Society:
On the 16th of September, Ai Weiwei was in London and during a Q&A session was asked ‘how the Chinese felt about the oppression of the Tibetan people.’
His carefully worded answer:
“Tibet, and also some related situation like minority situations, [is the] result of this whole system. If the system is not changed, if the political situation is not changed, I don’t think Tibet has a chance for the condition to change.”
“It’s a very sad situation but I think it is lacking of communication, lacking of sincerely understanding of humanity or respect of different culture and language. This not only happens to Tibetan people but also happens to Chinese. It’s just the general condition.”
Hada answers Hindustan Times reporter Sutirtho Patranobis’s interview
English translation by SMHRIC
June 27, 2015
Sutirtho: Can you share with me and my readers about your experience in jail? How were you treated? Some reports say that you had been tortured. Is it true? What methods did the police apply? What were your living conditions in the first 15 years? Did the conditions improve in any way during the last four years?
Hada: The main objective [of the Chinese authorities] during the 19 years I was in prison was to force me through physical and mental torture to admit to alleged crimes. As a result, I became physically disabled suffering from multiple complications. All kinds of torture methods including use of toxic drugs were applied to break me down mentally to force me to write some statements of their choosing. On two occasions, I was placed under solidarity confinement for 99 days in total. Not only was I tortured in prison far away from my home, but also my family suffered a great deal during those 15 plus years Their objective was to isolate me from my loved ones to break me down. What is even more egregious was that following the 15 years of imprisonment, they threw me into a “black jail” and persecuted my wife and son on trumped-up charges. Could this be called improved treatment? Needless to say, it was not. Rather this should be considered a further violation of laws and rights.
Sutirtho: What do you have to say about the charges that were brought against you?
Hada: There were ethnic repressions widespread in Southern Mongolia at that time. Specific evidence of this include the steady flow of Chinese immigration to Southern Mongolia, cultivation of the grasslands for agricultural purpose, forceful assimilation of the Mongolian population, gradual deprivation of the autonomous rights of the Mongolians, mass unemployment of Mongolian students, desertification of the grasslands and increasingly disastrous sandstorms and so on. In summary, the very existence of the Mongolians as a distinct people was under threat, and the traditional culture was dying out. Under these circumstances, the government criminalized the activities of the Mongolian intellectuals who organized themselves to save the national culture. History and events testify to the fact that we were not guilty of any crimes, rather the government has committed serious crimes.
Sutirtho: What kind of routine did you have in jail? Did you have access to books and reading material? How did you spend your time?
Hada: The prison authorities had always been consistent in stating that I would be exempt from hard labor and would be treated well including access to books and television if I were to admit to the alleged crimes. They told me that the reason why they were keeping me in prison was not for putting me under reeducation through labor but was to have me admit to the crimes I allegedly committed. They even deliberately treated me better for short periods of time as an incentive. Despite these I never wavered in my beliefs. Then they attempted to break me down with unbearable hard labor. Violating their own prison law, the authorities forced me to engage in hard labor day and night, causing severe injury to my spinal discs. On cold winter days, they forced me to wake up before dawn to clean up the prison yard, causing serious injury of the nerves to my legs that were exposed to freezing cold during this period of time. During the entire period of imprisonment, I had a dozen major health problems which still exist and are unlikely to be cured.
Sutirtho: Did the authorities try to brainwash you?
Hada: During the 15 years of imprisonment, [the authorities] repeatedly attempted to force me to change my thoughts and beliefs. They told me over and over that my main goal should be to change what I think and what I believe. In Chinese prisons, there is a popular song with the lyrics of “the goal of prison is to change thoughts and beliefs”. Again during the four years of extrajudicial imprisonment in the “black jail”, they attempted to force me to give up my thoughts and beliefs, to be obedient, to cooperate with them and to be subservient to the Chinese Communist Party. They repeatedly told me that the only hope lies in following what the Communist Party says, and the United States and Europe are unable to save us. It is clear that forced brainwashing will not end so long as the dictatorial regimes do not fall apart.
Sutirtho: What about food? Did the authorities ensure that you got regular meals in jail?
Hada: Food in prison was extremely inferior in quality. This was especially the case during the 15 years of imprisonment. At some point the food quality was improved slightly. Yet, the majority of the inmates complained they were unable to eat it. Over the first two thirds of the 15 years imprisonment, I was not provided with any food and hot water. I had to buy food with the money sent from my family to survive this long period of time. This was because I refused to give up my thoughts and beliefs. This was the case even when I was completely worn out and unable to move due to extreme hard labor. I would not have survived those hardships without the support of my family. Even during the last four years of extrajudicial imprisonment, the amount and choice of food was restricted.
Sutirtho: Did your family and legal team have regular access to you? Reports that said you suffered from serious medical conditions. What kind of conditions were those? Did you have access to proper medical treatment?
Hada: During the 15 years of imprisonment, my family members were allowed only sporadic visitation rights. Serious health problems had consistently been left untreated. In extreme cases, some medical treatment was reluctantly provided if the inmates were able to pay for it despite the fact that prisoners’ medical treatment must be paid by the government in accordance with prison laws. In the last four years, prison visits by my family members were also strictly limited. In some cases, more than a year passed between family prison visits. No matter who came to visit me, they were thoroughly searched and sometimes even had to undergo a strip search. This was again an attempt to isolate me from others to break me down.
Sutirtho: Your wife, son and extended family also faced serious problems in the time you were in jail. How did they cope? Apparently, the authorities tried to bribe them. Is that true?
Hada: Over the past 19 years, my wife was arrested multiple times. The latest arrest resulted in a 3-yearjail term with 5 years reprieve which has not expired yet. Our bookstore had been shutdown numerous times. It is still closed today. My family had no choice but to make ends meet with money borrowed from others. My son was expelled from school under a false accusation, and was sentenced twice on trumped-up charges. He has been barred from being employed even for temporary jobs, making him unable to be independent. Besides these, my family and I had also overcome many other difficulties and hardships. The authorities had never stopped promising a good life in exchange for our cooperation over these 19 years. None of us accepted their offer. They are still trying.
Sutirtho: How have these 19 years in jail and detention changed you as a person? Are you now more determined to follow your ideals of protecting the unique culture and identity of your community?
Hada: In 1992, the main reason why my organization’s name was changed to “Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance” was that we realized that democracy, freedom and human rights would be an unstoppable historical trend after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc countries. I wrote a number of articles about this at that time. Although I had been worried about the deteriorating situation in China and Southern Mongolia during my 19 years imprisonment, the beliefs I formed in 1992 have never been shaken. I believe the developing trend of international communities is becoming more and more favorable to us. Therefore, my determination to dedicate my entire life to the cause of the Southern Mongolians has never weakened owing to my firm belief that there must be a solution to the Southern Mongolia question. Just because of this, I am still continuing my struggle after my release from prison.
Sutirtho: You personally – and your wife and son – have experienced the might of the Chinese government. Do you think it is possible for an individual to carry this fight on?
Hada: The all three members of our family have been subjected to a series of persecutions. The persecution is still continuing. Yet, I don’t think it is impossible for an individual to fight against a government. It is common for governments to violate laws and commit crimes. This is especially true with authoritarian regimes that often times oppress not only other nationalities but also their own people. So fighting a regime is not an easy task. In other words, one must be prepared for huge losses and suffering which many people are afraid of. It is not an easy undertaking for an individual or a family to fight a regime and claim victory. Yet, not everything should be measured with success or failure. Whether one pursues justice or not, whether one takes up historic responsibilities that each of us bears also need to be taken into account. Every nation or people cannot be without some of this type of individual, as few as they may be.
Sutirtho: What are your next steps? Even after your release from jail, do you have the freedom of movement and expression?
Hada: I will continue to fight against ethnic repression and strive for genuine autonomy for the Southern Mongolians. As a first step, I will file legal complaints for the four years extrajudicial detention, false accusations and persecutions against my wife and son, the shutdown of our bookstore and the retaliation against my attorney. Then, I will file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the unjust trial and unfair sentence of 15 years in jail. In fact, my legal complaints and lawsuits themselves are a form of struggle against ethnic repression. At the same time, I will learn how to use a computer and the Internet to have a better understanding of what is happening around the world. It is impossible for those who fight for the future and interest of their nation that is oppressed by a dictatorial regime to have real freedoms before the nation itself is completely freed.
Sutirtho: What are main issues or problems that Inner Mongolians face currently?
Hada: The most critical issue the Southern Mongolians are facing is how to achieve genuine autonomy. The main reason why there existed serious ethnic repressions in Southern Mongolia is that the Southern Mongolians have completely been deprived of their political rights and right to autonomy. It continues to deteriorate now. This is the exact reason why we had changed our organization’s name from the Southern Mongolian Cultural Enlightenment Conference to the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. As you might know, since the Southern Mongolians have long become an absolute minority and de facto second class citizens on their own land, they have been deprived of their right to manage their own state affairs independently. This problem can be resolved only if all Southern Mongolians make up their minds to fight hard with all their might and energy with the strong support of justice seeking people from around the world.
Sutirtho: The situation in Inner Mongolia seems to be more peaceful than in Xinjiang (which is witnessing increasing ethnic violence) or even Tibet (nearly 130 cases of self-immolation). How is the situation in Inner Mongolia different from these two places? Are the government policies for your province different or better than in Xinjiang and Tibet?
Hada: The Southern Mongolians have already established their own political parties and fought for autonomy for 90 years. Although the struggle has failed repeatedly, the spirit and determination of the Southern Mongolians have never faded away. As the situation of Southern Mongolia is at its lowest point, Southern Mongolians have taken the path of peaceful means to achieve autonomy. However, as a result of the Chinese authorities’ heavy-handed policies, brutal repressions, and gradual deprivation of autonomy rights, Southern Mongolia have become a nation of slaves. The Tibetans and Uyghurs who have witnessed this tragedy have decided to choose their own path.
Sutirtho: Do you think that Beijing has any plan or intention to address the issues plaguing the Mongolian people?
Hada: Beijing publicly claims that there is no problem in Southern Mongolia and advertizes to the world that the situations in Southern Mongolia are fairly plausible. Therefore, what can we expect from them to resolve our issues? In fact, it is evident that Beijing firmly believes that Southern Mongolians will fight to gain their autonomy, independence or even unification with the independent country of Mongolia if they do not speed up their assimilation process. Therefore, they are trying all possible means to accelerate their assimilation. The root cause of the deteriorating ethnic problems during the past six decades is nothing but the Beijing regime itself. Thanks to the strong backing from Beijing, local officials are not only free from any liability even if they abuse the Southern Mongolians at will, but also are rewarded with wealth and promotion of rank.
Sutirtho: Could you please share something about your life and times before the ordeal of jail and detention began in the mid 1990s? How has the world changed since the time you were dispatched to jail and now?
Prior to my arrest, our family life was relatively good. During these 19 years, the economy has improved in China. Yet, the authoritarian regime remains untouched. The reason is that there has been no political reform at all while a series of economic reforms took place. Especially since the so-called “Western Development” project was launched, the Beijing regime deliberately blended ethnic problems with economic issues, solely pursuing economic growth through unscrupulous plundering of natural resources in ethnic minority regions. As a result of further deprivation of autonomous rights, ethnic problems have steadily escalated. History testifies that authoritarian regimes have no ability to resolve ethnic problems.
Present-Day Ethnic Problems in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: Overview and Recommendations (2)
By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 23, 2015
Continued from I. Unemployment
II. Bilingual Education
Besides unemployment, the issue that provokes the most intense reaction within Xinjiang’s Uighur community is the issue of bilingual education. In practice, “bilingual education” in Xinjiang has essentially become “monolingual education” (i.e. Mandarin-only education.) Within the Uighur community, there is a widespread belief that the government intends to establish an educational system based on written Chinese and rooted in the idea of “one language, one origin.” Suspicions abound that the government is using administrative means to exterminate Uighur culture and accelerate ethnic and cultural assimilation. With the mandatory implementation of so-called “bilingual education,” the Uighur language has become steadily marginalized, not only in the field of education but also in government administration, the judiciary, and other areas. Despite being one of the official languages of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the Uighur language has long been deprived of the respect, attention, status and legal safeguards it deserves.
In practice, the greatest problem with bilingual education in Xinjiang is that it produces a large number of students who are proficient in neither their mother tongues nor in Mandarin. This has led to declining educational standards and difficulties for ethnical students, who dread attending school, to master subjects. The bilingual education system in Xinjiang mandates that physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and other subjects be taught in Mandarin Chinese, which means that Uighur and other ethnic minority students are often unable to understand what they are being taught. This policy is responsible, to a large extent, for the steady increase in dropout rates for Uighur and other ethnic minority students. Another consequence is that many experienced Uighur primary school teachers have been forced into early retirement or made to leave their faculty positions for jobs unrelated to teaching. Thus, a large number of Uighur schoolteachers have become direct casualties of government policy on bilingual education.
“Bilingual education” in Xinjiang has increasingly given way to “monolingual education,” raising grave concerns and causing serious repercussions. This has the potential to spark a larger-scale Uighur rights movement aimed at defending Uighur language education and preventing the extermination of local language and culture. In recent years, Uighur fears of cultural and linguistic annihilation have been greatly exacerbated by a sharp contraction in Xinjiang’s local-language publishing and cultural industries.
This sudden dwindling of Xinjiang’s Uighur-language publishing and cultural industries has profound and far-reaching consequences. Not only does it threaten the demise of Uighur culture and the suppression of Uighur intellectuals, it has also caused vast swaths of the Uighur community, most of whom live in isolated rural areas, to become completely cut off from contemporary civilization. Southern Xinjiang, taken as a whole, is extremely backward: it is a geographical backwater of scattered, insular oases, and the vast majority of its Uighur inhabitants do not understand Chinese. For these reasons, the majority of households in southern Xinjiang are cut off from books, newspapers, radio broadcasts and television programs offering up-to-date information or news about the outside world.
This severing of communication channels means that, notwithstanding a small number of Uighur elites fluent in Chinese, most traditional Uighur communities are utterly deprived of access to contemporary news and information. In an increasingly competitive and open social environment, this makes Xinjiang’s traditional Uighur communities inherently less adaptable to external stimuli than traditional Han Chinese communities in other areas of China. When people are unable to attain the knowledge essential to a modern society, unable to cultivate strength of character for modern life, or to acquire healthy modern societal values such as rationality, tolerance and open-mindedness, they may find themselves in crisis, consumed by fear that they are being increasingly abandoned by modern society. The rapid disintegration of traditional society and the challenges of adapting to a new environment can leave people mired in ignorance, parochialism, savagery and despair.
Over the past ten years or so, traditional Uighur society has experienced an unprecedented surge in crime rates, the rapid disintegration of morals, and the spread of religious extremism and cultural conservatism. Add relative impoverishment and an increasing hatred of Han Chinese, and you have a vicious circle that intensifies day by day. It is this, combined with misguided government ethnic policies, that has allowed backward, ignorant, parochial, extremist, isolationist and fanatical ideologies to proliferate, creating a breeding ground for “the three forces” [of separatism, religious extremism and terrorism.]
Measures such as preaching national unity, making minorities reliant on government handouts, and accelerating the Sinification of China’s Uighur communities are not a sufficient bulwark against separatism, religious extremism and terrorism. Contrary to the common perception of Uighur cultural, educational and publishing industries as being too prone to strengthen Uighur ethnic and cultural awareness, it is only by allowing these industries to develop and thrive, to keep pace with the times and with history, that we can weaken “the three forces” [of terrorism, religious extremism and separatism] by denying them ground in which to take root. This is the only feasible long-term method by which to defeat them.
Therefore, we may say that the backwardness of Uighur cultural, educational and publishing industries is not only the enemy of Uighur society, but also the enemy of Han Chinese society.
In fact, nearly all Uighur families want their children to receive a better-quality education in Mandarin Chinese, and they feel that genuine “bilingual education” has come too late. Yet at the same time, the prevailing view and mainstream opinion in Uighur communities is that “Bilingual education should not come at the expense of one’s mother tongue.” Mandarin’s special status as China’s lingua franca should not make it an excuse for linguistic discrimination or forced linguistic assimilation. In a nation of diverse ethnicities, shared cultural values should be expressed in diverse ways, not subject to standardization or unification. Education should not be made the “executioner” of native languages and scripts.
As for why “bilingual education” in Xinjiang has devolved into “monolingual education,” the answer lies in the slapdash way in which bilingual education policy has been implemented:
1. Deficiencies in technical and basic preparations (i.e. finding qualified faculty, investing in school and facilities construction); inadequate consideration of regional differences and local needs; implementing educational policy in a “one size fits all” fashion.
2. Academic content and curricula that do not take into account either the specific academic needs of ethnic Uighur students, or the successful experiences of schools in China’s other ethnic regions.
3. Xinjiang’s limited allotment of teaching staff, poor infrastructure and low student academic abilities were scarcely sufficient for a monolingual education program, much less a full-scale bilingual education program.
4. Implementing “bilingual education” has actually exacerbated the educational funding gap between Han Chinese and Uygur students. For example, in the city of Atushi [also spelled Atush or Artux], the Han Chinese population numbers 22,725, the Uighur population 198,217, and the Kyrgyz population 29,186. If we do not count the Municipal No. 2 School, located forty kilometers outside of the city, Atushi has only three high schools: one Chinese-language school (Prefectural No. 2 High School) and two Uighur-language schools (Prefectural No. 1 High School, and Municipal No. 2 High School). Class sizes in the Uighur schools average more than 50 students per classroom, whereas the Chinese school averages only 30 students per class. Differences in teaching quality and levels of educational investment have widened the educational gap between Han Chinese and Uighur students, both in terms of their access to knowledge and their ability to master new subject matter.
Thoughts and Recommendations
1. Xinjiang needs true bilingual education. The [Korean-language] bilingual education program in Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture is a typical success story. Xinjiang can draw from that experience in restructuring its own bilingual educational content and curriculum.
2. In ethnic-minority populated areas, increase investment in the hardware and software required to provide true bilingual education, and redress the grievous imbalance in educational resources allocated to different ethnic groups.
3. Train qualified teachers. Currently, the biggest impediment to bilingual education is a serious shortage of qualified teachers. It will be difficult to alter this situation in the short term, but by focusing on systematic training of existing teachers, we can gradually reduce or dispel the regional disparities among teachers of bilingual education.
4. Exam-based university selection of minority students: although the current system of adding points to the university entrance exam scores of ethnic minority test-takers is in line with the central government policy of favoring minority candidates, in practice, many of the true beneficiaries of this preferential scoring system are academically-accomplished minority students who do not require preferential treatment, or even affluent, well-connected Han Chinese students. It might be possible to replace the “added points” section of the exam with test matter related to Xinjiang’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Not only would this signal to Uighur students that Xinjiang’s multi-ethnic and multi-cultural traditions have not been forgotten by the educational system, it would also deepen everyone’s understanding of Xinjiang’s ethnic and cultural diversity, thus shaping a richer and more inclusive national identity and consciousness.
5. Raise the number and prestige of ethnic minority cultural and publishing endeavors, in order to reverse the rapid decline of minority cultural industries. In terms of fiscal policy, increase government investment and support for ethnic minority cultural, educational and publishing industries, and accelerate Uighur-language participation and access to modern information technology. Both the regional and the central government should advance Uighur rural society by promoting knowledge about modern social life and modern production methods, and making this a key element in long-term planning.
With regard to Uighur folk culture, the government of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region should search for ways to encourage and support grassroots cultural initiatives in this field. The regional government should also begin experimenting with gradual reforms of the ethnic minority cultural and educational publishing industries: for example, introducing market-based mechanisms or objective quality targets, harnessing the initiative and enthusiasm of existing staff, and avoiding the current problem of overstaffing.
6. Increase regional or national government support for specialized research and scholarship on the social transformations affecting Uighur communities. Encourage the participation of mainland Chinese and even overseas scholars and academics, so that China’s rulers may draw on their collective wisdom and counsel to resolve the nation’s ethnic and social dilemmas. In mainland China at the moment, there is an almost complete dearth of worthwhile academic research on this topic. One hopes that if scholars are allowed more academic independence, it will help to fill this void.
7. Establish a plan and systematic targets for training a new breed of top-tier ethnic minority intellectuals, and incorporate them into national planning via funding for specially earmarked projects.
Xinjiang suffers from a dearth of ethnic minority intellectuals, at least those who meet the strict modern criteria for intellectuals. Moribund educational and research institutions and outmoded systems of personnel training and advancement have deprived Xinjiang of a true community of ethnic minority intellectuals. Whether the task is promoting social progress in Xinjiang, improving the lives of ethnic minorities, or advancing national identity and cohesion among minority elites, a highly qualified community of ethnic minority intellectuals is essential to the task. Allowing more ethnic minority intellectuals to enter the mainstream confers honor upon them and their communities, and that honor serves to strengthen their sense of national identity and cohesion.
By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 22, 2015
This article, a total of 24,000 words in Chinese, was first posted on the Daxiong Gonghui website after the Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti’s arrest in January, 2014. Daxiong Gonghui described the origin of the article in a note: “This document was written by Ilham Tohti, associate professor of economics at Minzu University of China (formerly Central Nationalities University), in response to a 2011 request from high-level officials in the Chinese government. Ilham Tohti made first-draft revisions to this document in October of 2013, but was unable to complete a final draft.” The post has since been censored and is only available elsewhere as a repost. I was able to confirm the origin and the authenticity of the article with Mr. Huang Zhangjin, the editor of the online Daxiong magazine. The translation will be posted in several installments for easy reading, and the entire article will be ready for download in a few days. – The Editor
Since Zhang Chunxian took office, a big push on Xianjiang policy by the Chinese central government and a series of initiatives by Zhang Chunxian himself have rekindled hope among ethnic population in Xiangjiang for the region’s future social stability and development prospects. Furthermore, Zhang Chunxian has managed, in a very short period of time, to win high praise from local ethnic minority officials and intellectuals alike.
At present, the new administration in Xinjiang is relying on increased economic investment and improvements in citizens’ livelihoods to quell ethnic tensions. These policies will likely have a positive short-term effect, but because they do not address deep-seated problems, we cannot afford to be sanguine about Xinjiang’s future, nor can we be certain that violence will not erupt again. If the government is to win broad-based popular support and achieve genuine long-term peace and stability, it must promote further systemic and social adjustments.
To this end, I have prepared a simple list of nine issues affecting ethnic relations in Xinjiang. For each, I have included an overview of the present situation, causes and contributing factors, and proposed solutions.
I. Unemployment among Ethnic Minorities
Unemployment is a social issue that affects all regions of China, but Xinjiang’s unemployment problem tends to be concentrated among ethnic minorities. For Uighurs who migrate to the cities in search of work, employment opportunities are markedly limited, confined to a narrow band of service-industry jobs, mostly jobs in restaurants. There is a vast gap in employment opportunities available to different ethnic groups: Uighur and other ethnic-minority job applicants face significant employment discrimination. These factors, in turn, fuel resentment toward the government and toward the Han Chinese majority.
Because the factors driving urban and rural unemployment are so different, we can divide the employment issue in Xinjiang into two distinct facets: (1) unemployment among Uighur university graduates and (2) the rural labor surplus.
Unemployment among Uighur university graduates
According to official government data, only 17% of ethnic Uighur university students in Xinjiang manage to secure a full-time job by the time they graduate. This is far below the rate for ethnic Han Chinese university students. My own research reveals that the actual job-placement rate for Uighur university students approaching graduation is even lower, at less than 15%. The difficulty of finding work after graduation not only impoverishes ethnic-minority families who have sacrificed to send their children to university, it also contributes to the notion, widespread among Uighurs, that education is useless.
The rural labor surplus
The rural labor surplus in Xinjiang is a serious problem. The root cause of this excess rural labor force is lagging urbanization and industrialization in Uighur areas. In fact, the actual urbanization rate among the Uighur population is only about 10%.
Most of Xinjiang’s Uighur population is concentrated in the rural south, where the average amount of arable land per capita is less than one mu, or one-sixth of an acre. This sort of marginal existence and inescapable poverty not only bottles up vast reserves of surplus rural labor, it also gives rise to lawlessness and criminal behavior, making these areas potential breeding grounds for future threats to the social order. If this vicious cycle is allowed to continue, it may even bring about the collapse of southern Xinjiang’s fragile oasis ecosystem.
1. Given the absence or non-enforcement of national ethnic policies, the primary cause of employment difficulties among minority university students is blatant ethnic discrimination in hiring. Ethnic minorities are severely under-recruited for jobs in the civil service and in state-owned enterprises. Prior to the July 2009 ethnic unrest in Urumqi, many private-sector job advertisements openly stated that only Han Chinese applicants would be considered; some state-owned enterprises went so far as to recruit Han Chinese from other parts of mainland China, rather than hire local ethnic minorities. At some workplaces with no Uighur employees, Uighurs may be stopped by security guards and prevented from entering the premises. Severely curtailed employment prospects have given rise to an unusual phenomenon in Xinjiang: a craze for extracurricular foreign language training courses. Xinjiang’s ethnic minority university students are keener on studying foreign languages than students at top-tier universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University, because these students feel that their only hope lies in finding work in international trade, tourism, or overseas. Even the privileged classes are not immune to employment difficulties: one child of a high-ranking Xinjiang Uighur government official graduated from a prestigious mainland university and spent a year searching fruitlessly for work. It was only after securing a personal letter of introduction from Wang Lequan [then Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang] that the young graduate was finally able to secure a job.
2. A unique feature of Xinjiang’s natural geography is its desert archipelago of insular, isolated oases. Historically, there has been a vast gap in the amount of government investment given to these different geographical units. This is particularly true of the Uighur enclaves in Xinjiang’s south, where urbanization and industrialization lag far behind the Han Chinese-dominated “Tianshan North Slope Economic Zone.” (The “Tianshan North Slope Economic Zone,” situated at the northern foot of the Tianshan mountain range, is the most economically developed region of Xinjiang. This highly concentrated swath of productive forces forms the developmental core of Xinjiang’s modern industry, agriculture, telecommunications, education, science, information technology and other sectors. Home to over 83% of Xianjiang’s heavy industry and 62% of its light industry, favored with ample natural resources and robust urban and transportation infrastructure, the zone accounts for over 40% of Xinjiang’s gross domestic product.) Xinjiang’s south is geographically isolated; the Han Chinese cities in the north tend to exclude Uighurs; and when the surplus rural labor force in the south tries to flow into the Tianshan North Slope Economic Zone, it is met with restrictions. All these make it even more difficult for southern surplus rural labor to migrate to urban areas.
3. Severe underinvestment in basic education: there is a vast north-south disparity in educational investment in Xinjiang. Even in southern Xinjiang, one finds stark ethnic inequalities in the allocation of educational resources, particularly in the area of secondary schools. Whether in terms of fiscal investment or number of schools, the proportion of educational resources allocated to Uighur students is far below what it should be, given their percentage as a proportion of the local population. Moreover, the high school enrollment rate in southern Xinjiang is extremely low, due to the critical lack of investment in basic education: in large Uighur population centers such as Kuqa country and Shache [Yarkant] county, there is only one high school in each county offering Uighur-language instruction. As a result, average educational levels in Uighur communities in southern Xinjiang are extremely low, causing workers to be inadequately equipped for careers in modern agriculture or industry. The surplus rural labor supply spills into the cities, where migrants face severely limited job prospects, forcing them further afield into the interior to look for better opportunities.
4. Since the ethnic unrest of July 2009, nearly all of Xinjiang’s Uighur enclaves have been subject to the constant pressure of “stability maintenance” policies. Rural migrants to the northern city of Urumqi have been expelled in large numbers, and forced to return to their villages in the south. At the same time, local governments have adopted stringent limits on outward population migration, thus exacerbating the problem of rural employment.
Thoughts and Recommendations
The Uighur unemployment problem is the cumulative result of numerous long-term forces. As such, resolving the dilemma will require a broad-based approach and systematic long-term planning; it will not happen overnight. Simply pouring money from central government coffers into Xinjiang to create a slew of make-work jobs is not the right approach: not only would this prove an undue fiscal burden for the government, it would also transform the Uighur population into a people dependent upon handouts, engendering a sense of shame and inferiority.
I have the following thoughts on how the issue of unemployment should be addressed systematically:
1. Article 23 of the “Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law of the People’s Republic of China” expressly stipulates that ethnic minorities be given priority in hiring by government institutions and state-owned enterprises. Even taking into consideration the practical difficulties of immediately implementing such a policy, steps should be taken to gradually expand Uighur employment opportunities and to phase in quotas for the hiring of ethnic minorities in the civil service and state-owned enterprises. At present, public services in Xinjiang suffer from a serious dearth of Uighur and other ethnic minority employees. Hospitals, post offices, banks, insurance companies, notaries, courts, municipal bureaus and other social service organizations are staffed mainly by Han Chinese who cannot speak Uighur, causing tremendous inconvenience to Uighur citizens in their daily lives.
2. The government should take an active role in promoting internal population migration in Xinjiang as a means of alleviating unemployment in the south and preventing further damage to the fragile southern ecosystem. For example, it could oversee a controlled and systematic transfer of a certain proportion of southern Xinjiang’s population to the northern industrial belt, or to farms managed by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). Instead of spending vast sums of labor and capital to organize rural migrant workers to culturally unfamiliar coastal cities thousands of kilometers away, the regional government should encourage rural-to-urban population shifts within Xinjiang’s borders. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), currently suffering from severe manpower shortages due to population drain, has tried all manner of methods to attract labor from other areas of mainland China, but it has done nothing to absorb the surplus rural labor force that exists in southern Xinjiang.
By taking an active role in organizing and guiding population shifts within Xinjiang, the government can alleviate unemployment in the south, while also reducing ethnic segregation and helping to dispel the notion, prevalent within the Uighur community, that the XPCC and the northern cities are being used by Han Chinese to deal with the Uighur population.
3. Provide more assistance to ethnic minority entrepreneurs. This is the most fundamental, long-term solution to Xinjiang’s unemployment problem, and it relies on market-based mechanisms rather than governmental supervision. Since Secretary Zhang Chunxian assumed office, there has been a noticeable improvement in Xinjiang’s level of assistance to ethnic minority entrepreneurs. I recommend broadening this approach to establish a long-term plan aimed at improving the modern management skills of ethnic minority entrepreneurs via exchanges with highly developed coastal regions and prestigious mainland Chinese universities, thus creating a long-term mechanism for the systematic training of minority entrepreneurs. Furthermore, we should foster closer cooperation between Han Chinese and ethnic minority entrepreneurs, encouraging them to bond together in their mutual interest. Having the government train and support a large contingent of minority entrepreneurs is the most convenient way to promote ethnic unity and harmony in Xinjiang.
One detail worth noting: the practice of prominently featuring minority entrepreneurs as speakers at government-organized ethnic unity rallies may not have the desired propaganda effect. Minority entrepreneurs should not be leveraged for government publicity: they have a far more important and effective role to play off the political stage.
4. Increase investment in basic education in minority-populated areas. The government has many long years of unfulfilled promises in this regard, but expanding access to basic education will transform minority peoples’ ability to adapt to industrialization and urbanization. In a mere five to ten years, we will begin to see a marked improvement. At the very least, better access to education will significantly reduce the barriers that ethnic minority migrants face when trying to enter the urban labor force. Now that the government has substantially increased investment in basic education in southern Xinjiang, there remain two problems that need to be addressed: countering the preconception that education is useless, and correcting misapprehensions and assuaging people’s fears about bilingual education.
5. Establish systematic professional and technical training for ethnic minority workers. Xinjiang suffers from a serious lack of ethnic minority professional and technical personnel, which makes it difficult for ethnic minorities to enter the technical and industrial workforce. Entrepreneurial skill is also in short supply to start businesses. I propose increasing training for early-career and mid-career specialists in fields suited to the unique economy of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, in which resource-oriented and state-owned enterprises predominate. For example, the government could work with vocational and technical schools to increase employment opportunities for ethnic minorities in the mining, textile, and agricultural-processing sectors. In fact, work on this has already begun, to positive feedback from Xinjiang’s Uighur community.
I also recommend that the Xinjiang Autonomous Region cooperate with localities in China’s more economically developed coastal regions to systematically train up a cohort of technically-proficient ethnic minority youth who will form Xinjiang’s future technological and entrepreneurial talent pool.
6. Establish brigades of ethnic minority industrial workers. Industrial workers are an essential component and driving force of industrial and economic development. They play a fundamental role in accelerating industrial transformation, promoting technological innovation, improving corporate competitiveness, and so on. Employers in Xinjiang are currently in need of a large number of industrial workers, but they face widespread difficulties in recruiting qualified personnel.
Training up and establishing brigades of ethnic minority industrial workers will help to expand employment opportunities and widen career horizons for minority university and polytechnic graduates. This, in turn, will increase the employment rate among ethnic minorities and help facilitate their adjustment to modern industrial society.
7. Leverage local and regional advantages to support the development of Xinjiang’s own cultural and creative industries. This would both raise employment and allow Xinjiang’s cultural influence to radiate across the Central Asian region. Targeted training and practical support would help creative entrepreneurs and small- and medium-size enterprises to expand into the broader Central Asian market. China’s information technology, animation, advertising and other creative sectors enjoy a distinct advantage in the Central Asia market region, but Han Chinese enterprises attempting to enter this market face tremendous cultural and linguistic barriers, whereas Uighur enterprises possess a natural advantage. By leveraging the technological strength of China’s other regions, it is entirely possible for Xinjiang to cultivate local cultural and creative industries with a strong competitive edge in Central Asia. This would allow Xinjiang’s ethnic minority populations to transform themselves from cultural importers to cultural exporters, an achievement of immeasurable importance.
 In April 2010, Zhang Chunxian was appointed Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, replacing Wang Lequan, whose divisive policies may have helped to fuel ethnic unrest in the region. Zhang Chunxian’s appointment was regarded by many as positive step toward defusing ethnic tensions in Xinjiang.
 The English text of Article 23 of the “Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law of the People’s Republic of China” reads: “When recruiting personnel in accordance with state regulations, enterprises and institutions in ethnic autonomous areas give priority to minority nationalities and may enlist them from the population of minority nationalities in rural and pastoral areas.”
August 18, 2014
Xinna and Uiles, wife and son of prominent Mongolian political prisoner Hada, were harassed by Chinese Internet police for “posting illegal contents” on “overseas Internet sites.
On August 15, 2014 around 10:00 AM Beijing Time, Ms. Xinna and Mr. Uiles, wife and son of the prominent Southern (Inner) Mongolian political prisoner Hada, were harassed by the Chinese Internet police for posting “illegal contents” on “overseas Internet sites”, according to a video clip the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received from Xinna.
Identifying themselves as “Chinese Internet security police”, at least 8 police personnel divided into two groups knocked down the door to their home and carried out the “warning”. No evidence was shown to support their accusation against Xinna.
“This happened this morning around 10:00 AM,” Xinna told SMHRIC in a Skype message, “before we took the video of those police, some of them harassed us and went back to their cars.”
An identification number of “012986” on his badge, the police head accused Xinna of posting illegal contents and threatened to carry out a “thorough investigation”.
Without opening the door, Uiles asked the police to identify themselves.
“What police are you?” Uiles asked.
“We are the Internet security police,” the police head answered.
“You are a police from China, right?” Uiles asked.
“Yes,” the police head replied.
“Then, how come you police an overseas internet website?” Uiles asked.
The police head was unable to show any evidence of “illegal contents” posted on overseas Internet sites but claimed that the posts have violated “relevant laws and regulations”.
According to Xinna’s statement posted on her Facebook page two days ago, she has received 422 repeated harassing text messages entitled “hu si ni” (“call to death” in English) on her two cell phones on August 12, 2014.
“I still continue to receive these harassing messages to both of my cell phones,” Xinna told SMHRIC, “I have no choice but to turn off my phone or turn them silent.”
Earlier last week, Xinna met the prominent Chinese lawyer Mo Shaoping in Hohhot, capital of Southern Mongolia, and discussed the possibility of having him represent Hada to file a lawsuit against the Chinese authorities for illegally imprisoning and detaining him even after he served the full prison term of 15 years.
On December 10, 1995 Hada was arrested at his home by the Chinese authorities for establishing the “Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance” (SMDA). Dozens of other members of the SMDA were also arrested and detained. Hada was later sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served his full prison term at the Inner Mongolia Jail No.4 at Chifeng City. During his 15 years of imprisonment, Hada repudiated every demand to declare his guilt. Without any valid legal justification, Hada remains imprisoned by the Chinese authorities at a secret prison in suburban Hohhot.
From December 3 to 5, 2010, the Inner Mongolia Public Security Bureau arrested Hada’s wife and son a week before his scheduled release. They shut down Xinna’s bookstore called the “Mongolian Studies Bookstore” and confiscated a large number of books and souvenirs. No search and seizure warrant was presented at the time. The seized materials have still not been returned. Xinna and Uiles were detained at Hohhot No.1 and No.3 Detention Centers respectively. Accused of “illegal drug possession”, Uiles was detained for about a year before he was placed under “residential surveillance” at his home. After being detained for 16 months, Xinna was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve on a trumped up charge of “illegal business”.
“I thought they come up with some evidence. But they didn’t show up again,” Xinna wrote in her statement on Facebook, “I guess nothing good will happen next…possibly shutting down the Internet? Carrying out arrests? I don’t care about it any more. Life is no better than in prison to me anyway.”