Uyghur officials in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are regularly visited by Han Chinese “relatives,” who force them to forgo the dietary restrictions of their Muslim faith during weeklong stays, including prohibitions on the consumption of pork and alcohol, according to sources.
RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke with a township and a village secretary of China’s ruling Communist Party in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture over the weekend who related, on condition of anonymity, their experiences while hosting Chinese minders at their homes on multiple occasions since 2016.
Both said that when the minders, or “relatives,” stay with their families to teach them the Han Chinese language and extol the virtues of Beijing’s policies in the region—often for around one week—they bring alcohol and meat that includes pork, and expect family members to consume them, against the principles of “halal” that govern what Muslims can eat and drink.
The practice of embedding “relatives” in the homes of Uyghurs, which RFA has reported on previously, is seen as part of a bid by authorities to assimilate them into Chinese culture and ensure their loyalty to the central government above all else, including religion.
Those who do not follow the teachings and customs of their minders risk being sent to the XUAR’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017.
The township party secretary RFA spoke with said that “relatives regularly … bring gifts, alcohol, fruits and meat” when they are sent to the homes of Uyghurs, including officials.
“I haven’t noticed whether pork is included in the meat,” he added about the meals they share, suggesting that the reporter visit the region to speak with local families for additional information.
The village party secretary told RFA that whatever “relatives” bring is cooked and eaten together with the families they stay with, and that asking about whether the food is halal or haram—forbidden according to Islamic dietary restrictions—is frowned upon.