Li Xin, a former resident of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), says ruling Chinese Communist Party policies in the region have been the main cause of violence and instability, and that Han Chinese who care about the situation daren’t speak out in case their entire family is sent to a concentration camp, her description of “re-education” facilities that Beijing claims are for “vocational training.” She spoke to RFA’s Mandarin Service in a recent interview after managing to leave China. Her name has been changed for fear of reprisals against her family back home:
RFA?Why did you decide to go overseas?
Li Xin: I am escaping because I fear for my life. I have no way to remain in my hometown. The neighborhood committee has been harassing us constantly.
RFA: Why are they harassing you?
Li Xin: It’s because of a family member who was locked up in a concentration camp for unknown reasons. They didn’t tell us why they were arrested. Then they broke into our home with no search warrants or evidence, and started rudely rummaging through our stuff. They said ‘something has happened,’ and told us to cooperate with the investigation.
RFA: Are there other Han Chinese in the “re-education” camps?
Li Xin: Some of my friends back home have been detained, as well as the friends of some family members. They saw each other in the concentration camp. One of our relatives went in because they were forcibly evicted and their home demolished, and some of the others were sent in their for taking medications or drugs, but a long time ago, but they were being locked up for something that happened years ago.
When it comes to Han Chinese, the main group being persecuted is anyone who has a record of going overseas, and also anyone whose home has been demolished, or people whose land the government wants, but doesn’t want to debate it with them. There has been a lot of public anger since the demolitions, and a lot of people wanted to argue with the government, but they got sent to concentration camp after they tried that.
RFA: So what made you decide to escape?
Li Xin: They have this program called the “five plus one working group,” which basically means a bunch of people are monitoring us and limiting our freedom. They each have their specific task: one is in charge of monitoring; some make reports on what we say, and others are tasked with brainwashing us.
After our family member was arrested, they forced the elders to do stability maintenance work, and later forced me to join in as well. They made us buy various bits of equipment for stability maintenance, including a big long wooden staff: we also had to buy a whistle, and a red armband to wear on our sleeve to prove that you are doing stability maintenance. They also forced us to buy an alarm, which was clearly also a monitoring device.