RFA: Exile Leaders Slam China Claims of ‘Voluntary Vocational Training’ For Detained Uyghurs in Xinjiang

Uyghur exile leaders on Friday dismissed China’s claims that members of their ethnic group held in political “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are taking part in “voluntary vocational training,” saying Beijing seeks to cover up widespread abuses in the region.

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

While Beijing initially denied the existence of such camps, the Uyghur chairman of Xinjiang’s provincial government, Shohrat Zakir, told China’s official Xinhua news agency earlier this week that the facilities are “humane” and a tool to protect the country from terrorism.

According to Zakir, Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslims in the region are taught Mandarin at the camps, as well as important vocational skills and lessons on Chinese law, all while being provided with free meals in comfortable living conditions, and that they are free to come and go as they like.

Reporting by RFA and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Western governments have increasingly drawn attention to the camp network, where Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, has said that some 1.1 million people are or have been detained—equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the XUAR.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert recently said the U.S. government was “deeply troubled” by the crackdown on Uyghurs, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described it earlier this week as “the largest internment of civilians in the world today” and “straight out of George Orwell,” during a speech at the Chiefs of Defense Conference Dinner in Washington.

‘Covering up crimes’

Zakir’s claims were part of a now almost daily barrage of Chinese state media propaganda extolling the camp system.

On Tuesday, state broadcaster CCTV ran a primetime program praising the camp system, with interviews with Uyghurs thanking the campaign for correcting their erroneous ways. Critics said the interviews looked like the televised forced confessions and apologies China has used to showcase the conversion disappeared human rights lawyers and other dissidents.


RFA: Xinjiang Authorities Detain Prominent Uyghur Journalist in Political ‘Re-Education Camp’

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are holding a prominent Uyghur journalist and poet in a political “re-education camp,” according to his son, who said the arrest is being used as leverage against him because he is living in exile in the U.S.

Bahram Qurban, the son of former editor-in-chief of the official Xinjiang Cultural Journal Qurban Mamut, told RFA’s Uyghur Service that his parents visited him for a month in the U.S. beginning in February 2017, marking the first time the three had seen each other in more than nine years.

After the couple returned home to the XUAR, 68-year-old Mamut went missing, and Qurban said that he later learned that his father had been taken to one of a network of re-education camps in the region, where Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have since April 2017 been detained without legal process.

“I inquired about him and learned that he had been arrested,” he said.

“He never committed any crime, but the authorities regularly arrest people who have relatives living abroad [to gain leverage over them]. I believe that is why he was arrested. While it isn’t my fault, I feel that I am the reason for his arrest.”


RFA: China Sugar Restrictions in Xinjiang Hit Uyghur Bakeries Hard

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.


RFA: PART II: Interview: ‘We Can Observe The Toilet With Cameras as Well’

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule. Sources say detainees routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers in the camps and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities. China initial denial that the camps exist has in the face of tide of evidence shifted to the claim that the facilities provide vocational training to grateful Uyghurs, and XUAR authorities have grafted an amendment onto counter-terrorism legislation in a largely unsuccessful effort to portray the camp system as legal. An officer at a police station in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service about the conditions at a camp where he worked as a guard for 10 months. In the second part of the interview, the officer—who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal­­—describes the stern regimen detainees must follow in one camp.

Part 1

more of Part 2

part 3

RFA: Prominent Uyghur Publisher Arrested, Under Investigation

A senior Uyghur publishing executive and Communist Party official was arrested in July on suspicion he was involved in “separatism and religious extremism activities,” a source in the publishing sector told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

Abdurahman Abey, approximately 65, had a 40-year career in writing and publishing in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), serving as director of the official Xinhua Bookstore, and from 2005-2015 as director and Communist Party deputy secretary of the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House.

In Chinese media he had been portrayed as an “energetic publisher” who won national awards in the field every year from 2003-13.

Following an anonymous tip that Abey was arrested in July, RFA’s Uyghur Service called official organizations in Xinjiang, including the Uyghur Autonomous Regional Party Committee, the Discipline Inspection Commission, the Organization Department, the Cultural Supervision Bureau and the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House.

A staff member at the Xinjiang Youth Publishing House confirmed the arrest of Abey and gave some details.

“During the time when he was working at the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House (Abey) was implicated in separatism and religious extremism activities. Therefore he is under arrest and further investigation,” said the staffer.

“He left the youth publishing house a long time ago, and the incidents took place after he started working in the People’s Publishing House, and his arrest has been reported within Xinjiang,” the staffer added.


RFA: Malaysian Leader Mahathir Confirms Decision to Free Uyghurs

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirmed on Monday that his government had freed 11 ethnic Uyghur Muslims, saying the refugees had not broken laws in his country, in a move that defied Beijing’s request that they be repatriated.

Malaysia allowed the Uyghurs to depart for Turkey last week after dropping immigration charges against them, the men’s lawyer told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news site, on Thursday.

“They have done nothing wrong in this country, so they are released,” Mahathir told reporters in parliament.

China, which had asked for their extradition, said Friday that it “resolutely” opposed Malaysia’s decision to release the 11 Uyghurs, according to Reuters.

“These people are all Chinese nationals. We resolutely oppose them being deported to a third country,” Reuters reported China’s Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.

The 11 men were part of a group of 20 who fled to Malaysia in November 2017 after escaping from a detention center in southern Thailand by drilling holes in a wall.


Magic Weapons: China’s (foreign) political influence activities under Xi Jinping

In September 2017, a paper was published by the Wilson Center and the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States entitled, Magic Weapons: China’s political influence activities under Xi Jinping

The paper details the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jingping to infiltrate and influence foreign governments to acquiesce to their demands. Their efforts to cause division in foreign societies to weaken them so they may be taken over.

Executive Summary:

In June 2017 the New York Times and The Economist featured stories on China’s political influence in Australia. The New York Times headline asked “Are Australia’s Politics too Easy to Corrupt?,” while The Economist sarcastically referred to China as the “Meddle Country.” The two articles were reacting to an investigation by Fairfax Media and ABC into the extent of China’s political interference in Australia, that built on internal enquiries into the same issue by ASIO and Australia’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2015 and 2016. The media and official reports concluded that Australia was the target of a foreign interference campaign by China “on a larger scale than that being carried out by any other nation” and that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was working to infiltrate Australian political and foreign affairs circles, as well to acquire influence over Australia’s Chinese population.

The story is continuing to play out in the Australian media, with more and more revelations of China’s political interference appearing almost daily. The focus of media attention has been on Australia, but the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) attempts to guide, buy, or coerce political influence abroad are widespread. China’s foreign influence activities are part of a global strategy with almost identical, longstanding approaches, adapted to fit current government policies. They are a core task of China’s united front work; one of the CCP’s famed “magic weapons” (??) that helped bring it to power.

This policy paper examines China’s foreign political influence activities under Xi Jinping, using one very representative state, New Zealand, as a case study. New Zealand’s relationship with China is of interest, because the Chinese government regards New Zealand as an exemplar of how it would like its relations to be with other states. In 2013, China’s New Zealand ambassador described the two countries’ relationship as “a model to other Western countries”. And after Premier Li Keqiang visited New Zealand in 2017, a Chinese diplomat favourably compared New Zealand-China relations to the level of closeness China had with Albania in the early 1960s. The paper considers the potential impact of China’s expanded political influence activities in New Zealand and how any effects could be mitigated and countered.


Where are my family members? (Video)

A letter of appreciation for respected Sanator Marco Rubio.

by Batur Karahanli
13th October 2018, Istanbul, Turkey

Dear Honorable Senator Marco Antonio Rubio,

Your recent announcement of recommending an Uyghur economic Professor, Ilham Tohti, for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 brought hope to the entire Uyghur community in diaspora. As an Uyghur intellectual, I keep a close eye on the media coverage about the sufferings of my people back home and truly appreciate some politician, academics and the human right activists have been making great efforts to help my people and publicising the crimes of the ruthless Chinese government. Hope these efforts encourage many more people to join in and support the Uyghurs.

My name is Batur Karahanli, an Uyghur from East Turkestan. I am currently living in Turkey. Like many Uyghurs living outside of our homeland, I am going through the same personal tragedy, in which I am not allowed to contact with my family members, including my aged parents, two younger brothers and a younger sister, since 26 June 2017. I have no idea whether my parents and siblings are still alive, dead or in the so called re-education camps which Chinese authorities intentionally created to control, assimilate and eventually eradicate Uyghurs as a nation.
Sometimes, I doubt that am I really living in the 21st century, where people can communicate with one another all over the world, in seconds, without any issues because of the convenience that internet brought. However, we, the Uyghurs live outside of East Turkestan, are deprived of even a basic right of hearing the voices of our loved ones. This is a very simple example of Chinese oppression against my people and this sort of torture alone caused deep stress and anxieties to myself without knowing the whereabouts of my family. I show my sympathy to the people who have been suffering from similar circumstances elsewhere, e.g. Palastine or Syria, however, those people are able to know what is happening to them and are able to make their voice heard using different communication tools. Therefore, our situation is far worse than those people live in the war zones.
While the rest of world is enjoying the freedom and democracy, the communist Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity in East Turkestan. Communist China regards us, Uyghurs, as an obstacle to expand its power to Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and the Europe through our historic homeland, East Turkestan.
The Uyghurs have every right to survive and to be treated as a human as other nations in today’s world. We have contributed to the world’s civilization from the early history with our beautiful and unique culture, such as the ”twelve Muqams” from our art and music sector; the Book of ”Qutadghubilik” (means The knowledge for Happiness); also, Uyghurs done great deal of work to connect the East to the West through the ancient Silk Road and proven to be tolerant to different people and cultures. However, we became the target of Chinese regime and China is implementing state terror towards Uyghurs, by all means, to destroy us as a people because we are different from them culturally, historically, linguistically as well as in other social values.
In such a tough and challenging situation, you have not let the Uyghur people stand alone. You are using every opportunity and shown your courage and huge concern about the ethnic cleansing that China has been doing in our homeland, and became an active voice of the voiceless Uyghurs. I appreciate that you are calling and urging to punish Chen Quannguo ( The Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang Region) and his co-workers using the global Magnitsky Act, because he is the culprit of designing those Nazi-style internment camps, which is the shame of humanity since the WWII. I read that you have also submitted your proposal regarding ”Xinjiang Uyghur Human Rights Act” to your senior officials to show your’s and your government’s support towards Uyghurs cause.
Therefore, I thank you again for all of your endeavours to save Uyghurs from Holocaust of the 21th Century. My people and I, will never forget your sincere help. May God bless you and the friends of Uyghurs who dare to speak up against the common enemy of human beings.

Faithfully yours,
Batur Karahanli

A Shame Time for the Uyghur Girls

By Rozinisa

The little girl still in the dark jail. She seems to have seen eyes around her. But those eyes are full of fear and self- protection but lack compassion and care. The prison aspect, as usual, using all kinds of temptations and deceptions, there is also a promise that cannot be achieved to let them self-guard and mutual suspicion. Because once they unite, that is a big disaster for this government. So, they always use this old method to anywhere anytime to these local people.
The little girl also saw some of them isolated from the young lady. It’s like trying to avoid a person with an infectious disease.
Suddenly, the little girl stood up, and move towards the young lady. She silently helps the young lady and helps her sit down. The young lady’s heart feels warm at this stage, so suddenly she is crying aloud. The little girl quickly covers her mouth. She knows if the crying is heard by any jail guard, a bigger disaster will come. So, she uses a corner of her headscarf silently to wipe the young lady’s tears. Because they have no right to cry or speak. Crying or speaking in this jail is considered a protest this government.
The little girl looks at the young lady in fear, she is very scared. She is afraid that one day the night trial will be her turn. Because she doesn’t know what will happen exactly in the night trials as others before she has suffered.
Sher name is Nazigum. She is fourteen years old, and she is one of the twenty-five women in this cell. She is also one of tens of thousands of innocent Uyghur girls being detained.
Since September 4, 2017, she has been in this jail because they spoke the truth with their teachers about her family religion activity. Then her parents were taken to prison, as they were jailed because they refused to say, “No God anymore ” and “Jin ping is a God of the people”. And her five years old sister and 9 years old brother wat take to the orphanage (called ‘ Happy Kindergarten”). After several trials, the cell guard has asked her the same questions and received the same answers, maybe they will never hear her again. In the last 6 month, she was sent from another jail to this jail. Because there are some places called extremists who are stubborn.
The day begins early.
“Nazi! stood up” soundly with the sound of the prison guard opening the iron gate of the cell. But suddenly the guard covered her nose with her sleeves.” Why is there such so bad smell?” she said to pretend to know nothing.” Come here, “said the prison guard angrily.
Nazigum slowly got up because she was very scared. More importantly that she was afraid to be interrogated. It was a terrible and shameful moment. they forced her to remove her all clothes and forced her to stand in the spotlight and bundled her hands up high. For the prison guard, this was not enough, they would also tie her legs apart and tied up. At that time, the little girl often hears the male jail guard’s erotic laughter. That shame will not be forgotten throughout his full life. When she is thinking about that terrible time, her legs seem to be frozen. She cannot move anymore.
“Nazi?come here quickly!” the guard calls again angrily at the door and closed the door quickly, she is now in handcuffs and her ankles shackled to her hands.
The little girl knows that when they are taken out from their cell with handcuffs and ankles shackled. They may not return, and no one knows where they are taken or what will happen to them. silence is the only way in this jail,
October11, 2018