Government restrictions on buying daily necessities are getting more severe for Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) an anonymous source told RFA’s Uyghur service.
The source, a Uyghur woman who left the country last year and is living abroad, contacted RFA to reveal a new rule in place that restricts the purchase of sugar. Coming into effect in 2017, the rule has forced the woman’s family to close down their bakery, which they had been running for 10 years.
“My sister started the bakery in 2008 and it had been doing good business, enough to support the whole family,” the source said. “One day my sister left a message on WhatsApp, saying that the authorities were rationing sugar. She said we had to close down the shop because in order to buy over our allotted amount, we would have to go to apply for police approval.”
The source also said that in order to buy sugar, customers must show their ID and an approval letter stamped by the police. These letters can be hard to come by for anyone who has family members sent into political re-education camps under a campaign launched in early 2017 or who otherwise had a black mark against their name, she said.
In late 2016, authorities in the region issued a decree to all the grocery stores and supermarkets requiring that they verify that customers wishing to buy sugar have the right permissions in order. According to social media comments, the official government line was that sugar could be used for nefarious purposes, like making explosives.