Uyghur Update: July 11th-17th

These updates are really keeping me on my toes, hey. I was just called and told to be extra cautious walking home alone at night, and to be wary of people pretending to be friendly, especially if they are Uyghur. What a time to be alive.

Inside the Uyghur Region

First up, some new policies! China has reportedly ordered everyone in the Uyghur region to download an app that will monitor and delete content pertaining to extremist activity or illegal religious content. Apparently 10 women have already been arrested.

The app’s website advertises it as a family-friendly filter aimed at protecting internet users from porn sites, online fraud, viruses and malware, and phishing sites.

However, it also offers “mobile phone remote control and other security services,” the website said.

“In order to achieve city-wide coverage in the antiterrorist video and audio clean-up, and to target people, materials and thinking for clean-up work, management and crackdowns, a technology company affiliated with the municipal police department has developed an app for Android smartphones that can filter out terrorist video and audio content,” the Tianshan district government in the regional capital Urumqi said in a directive issued July 10.

So it looks like the government has moved from using secret software to literally telling people to self-monitor. The Chinese government really does not give a crap about international pressure anymore, does it?

The article also goes on to talk about the growing pressures on Kazakh people as well. A woman was arrested because her husband applied for Kazakhstan citizenship. Wtf?

Okay, this blew my mind. China’s literally launched a “risk assessment” checklist which profiles you and gives you a score of how much of a security threat you are. Excerpts from the article:

On July 10, the Western Hebei Road Neighborhood Committee in Urumqi’s Yengisheher (in Chinese, Xinshiqu) district circulated a document listing 13 non-Han residents of the area and grading their individual risk to security based on ten categories.

According to the document from the Western Hebei Road Neighborhood Committee, each resident is assigned a 100-point value and 10 points are subtracted from that value for each of the 10 categories that applies to them.

The remaining value for each resident is used to determine the security risk they pose to the community, with anyone rated 80 points or higher designated “safe,” anyone rated between 50 and 70 points seen as “average,” and anyone rated below 50 points considered “unsafe.”

The 10 categories on the form consist of: Between Ages of 15 and 55, Ethnic Uyghur, Unemployed, Possesses Passport, Prays Daily, Possesses Religious Knowledge, Visited [one of] 26 [flagged] Countries, Belated Return to China, Has Association With Foreign Country, and Family With Children Who Are Homeschooled.

Additionally, personal information for each resident is listed on the document, including their name, home address, age and number of family members.

In one example, 85-year-old Ibrahim Ismail (Yibulaying Simayi), was rated an “average” security threat based on a 50-point score after 10 points each were subtracted for being a Uyghur, possessing a passport, praying daily, possessing religious knowledge, and visiting a flagged country.

Another resident, 29-year-old Misir Emet (Misaier Aimaiti), was also rated “average” based on a 70-point score after he lost points for being Uyghur, falling within the “risky” age range, and being unemployed.

Just read those examples! WTF! Apparently it has been implemented in a few areas for a couple of weeks already. It isn’t a region-wide thing yet, but the fact that it has even begun in some areas… I am aghast…

Mosques are now required to put up banners that say things like “Love China, Love Communist Party” and fly the Chinese flag:

And here is a fascinating minute-long video showing how anti-religiousness is taught in classrooms. Absolutely… fascinating…

This little article came out analysing how developed or integrated the autonomous regions were, touching on the effectiveness of the Western Development Programme. The concluding remarks were that the autonomous regions did not benefit as much from the program, and:

We also found that the overall relationship between development and the concentration of minorities isn’t consistent among the different autonomous provinces. In Tibet, the correlation is negative: counties whose Tibetan population is outpacing the Han population have experienced less development. But the opposite is true in Inner Mongolia, where counties whose ethnic Mongol population is growing have benefited from more economic development, not less.

Why the inconsistency? One explanation is that Inner Mongolia was China’s first official ethnic minority region, established in 1947; thanks to a steady influx of Han Chinese, ethnic Mongolians now make up less than than 20% of its population. The Chinese government considers the region much better integrated than Tibet, which was only established as an autonomous region in 1965, and where Han Chinese still make up less than 10% of the population.

What this all suggests is that in an authoritarian system such as China, economic development is deeply shot through with the imperative to exert political control. The Chinese government doesn’t treat all its ethnic minority groups in the same way: the more “loyal” a group is to the Chinese state and the more integrated it is into the culture and economy, the better its members will be treated. This does not bode well for the rebellious Tibetans or Uighurs, who continue to challenge the Chinese government’s plans for their homelands.

Looks like Beijing is now physically linked to Urumchi with this road

The article about how the security clampdowns have been bad for businesses (which I included in the last update) was picked up by Yahoo news. The South China Morning Post, Dawn, and the Daily Mail also picked up on the intense security measures and anti-Islamic laws the government has been inflicting on the Uyghurs. China Digital Times also released an article about how the repressive policies are continuing to worsen.

The Uyghurs in Egypt

As I said in the last update, Uyghur students have been deported to China from Egypt, and more are being detained right now, preparing to be deported. Still others are being searched for by the Egyptian police. An article came out which interviewed some of the students. Read the article for more 1st person accounts of what is actually happening there. Honestly, all these “Muslim” countries being bought by China right now… astaghfirullah.

Anyway China sent an Uyghur representative to Egypt and he apparently said those students that were to be deported are all extremists. Uyghurs who betray their people are the worst… like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Django Unchained… despicable.

The Middle East Monitor had this short piece where they interviewed a student who had visited one of his detained classmates.

Razi told HuffPost Arabi that his arrested classmate called him to tell him he was on his way to the Mogamma, Cairo’s administrative governmental building, accompanied by a security forces, to complete his deportation papers.

When Razi visited his friend he found him handcuffed and guarded by several police officers. During the meeting, which did not last for more than five minutes, he gave him clothes and money to buy food from the police station. As they said goodbye to each other his friend was distraught for fear that he would be executed if he was sent home.

Ezzat Ghoneim, director of the Egyptian Coordination for Human Rights who sent a team of lawyers to defend the students, said on Monday that they have been told they will be released after proving they have the appropriate residency papers to live in Egypt.

According to Ghoneim Egyptian authorities are attempting to show that the Uyghurs are being arrested for violating residency laws rather than because they want to deport them to China.

Ghoneim told HuffPost Arabi that “every arrested student is photographed and his personal details are sent to the officers of the Chinese embassy in Cairo in order to reveal his security situation with the authorities in Beijing.”

Being rounded up and deported for “alleged irregularities in their residency papers” sounds like such an excuse, wow. From personal accounts, we get stories like this which state that those detained have legal status in Egypt, or like this which is just ugh.

The students have released an SOS letter to Al-Azhar University.

Here is one of those short explanatory videos on the current situation. VOA also picked up on the news, a little delayed.

There was a protest held in front of the Egyptian embassy in the US, where students called for the Egyptian government not to cave into Chinese pressure. A powerful speech by Aydin Anwar has been viewed 3.7k times on Facebook already:

My speech from today’s protest — demanding that the Egyptian government stop the detention and deportation of innocent Uyghur students. In the speech, I mention some of the ways Uyghurs are tortured inside the Chinese prisons, the final destination for those deported

The descriptions of the prison conditions and the torture those prisoners have to go through was a shocking reminder of the atrocities and inhumane acts China inflicts on the Uyghur people. Absolutely abhorrent – it is difficult to listen to. But it is reality for them, and that sickens me to the core. Here is another video that has 4k views as of writing this.

In light of the deportations, this interview came out which described the terrible situation happening in East Turkestan. It is half an hour long so I guess it goes in depth. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet…

There has actually been a few videos coming out with the #freeuyghurstudents hashtag, as well as some longer ones like this which implore the international community to help.


The last of those Uyghurs who had escaped to Thailand in 2014 are still being held in detention and there are renewed fears of deportation to China.

Organ Harvesting

This article and video came out taking a close look at the organ harvesting situation in China, with a close look at Enver Tohti, an Uyghur surgeon who performed these surgeries before he moved out to the West. He had a prepared a testimony which he presented to Irish authorities. Enver Tohti was also featured in an “award-winning organ harvesting documentary Hard to Believe.”

Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo died. Here are some of the news outlets that covered it: BBC News (a video looking back at his message), The New York Times (how there is fading pressure on China’s human rights issues now), Amnesty International (short video), UHRP (condolences), China File (essay excerpt on his “three refusals”), CNBC (Trump says Xi Jinping is a great man, the White House later expresses condolences, Merkel expresses condolences), The Guardian (a public vigil for Liu in Hong Kong!), Human Rights Watch (summary of his achievements)

In light of Liu Xiaobo’s health crisis and death, articles such as these have come out, looking at a history of China’s arrests of peaceful dissenters and its attempts to control information.

Chinese Spies

So this article came out in which a Chinese man is interviewed about China’s spy networks in the US. He wants democracy in China and says the Chinese government is like the mafia. A short excerpt that explains where he got all this information:

Guo Wengui, a billionaire businessman who broke with the regime several months ago, said in an interview that he has close ties to the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the civilian intelligence service, and the military spy service of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“I know the Chinese spy system very, very well,” Guo said, speaking through an interpreter, in his first American interview. “I have information about very minute details about how it operates.”

Guo said he learned about Chinese spy activities from Ma Jian, a former MSS vice minister, and Ji Shengde, former PLA military intelligence chief.

Read the full thing, it is fascinating. There are about 25,000 intelligence officers in the US alone!

Foreign Policy

So China has officially set up its first military base in Djibouti (in East Africa). China calls it a support base though. So it:

“will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping, and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” according to Xinhua, China’s news agency.

…and will also be used for:

“military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways,” said Xinhua.

Fun. Here’s another article that analyses what this could mean. It also talks a little about the 800 or so peacekeeping missions China has in Africa. The Drive also posted a “here’s what you should know” article about the military base.

Speaking of the military, China is apparently honing their skills in the Mediterranean Sea, where their navy has conducted their first live-fire drill.

A naval flotilla of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has conducted a live-fire drill in the Mediterranean Sea “honing their combat skills” en route to a joint exercise with the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea, the Chinese Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on July 12.

The operation was aimed at sharpening the crew members’ skills in attacking small targets, the press release quoted the captain of a PLAN guided-missile destroyer as saying. The ships “fired several rounds at sea targets,” China Daily quoted the MoD release as saying. “Sailors also used small arms to hit nearby targets during the exercise.”

Lord help us.

Countries Condemning China

An internal Canadian government report has basically said that the human rights situation in China is terrible and is getting worse.

Outside of Politics

Zulkayda Mamat published this article about “Iz” and her story which made me tear up a little, especially at: “Iz is my grandmother dying and no one being able to return to our homeland for her funeral”. For me, “Iz” is a poem that we had to memorise at Uyghur Mektep and recite in front of an audience of Noruz celebrators. I’d forgotten the meaning behind those words.

So here is a nice video of a boy born and raised in England playing rawap.

The BBC are doing a “Tales from the new Silk Road” project and there is a story about an Uyghur dancer.

And I stumbled across this blog post about a confused white girl travelling in “Xinjiang” without a clue about anything, which was really interesting, actually. She didn’t know anything and therefore could not make any assumptions or look for anything in particular to cement her preconceived notions. Therefore, what we get is just what she sees, and this turns out to be a land full of security and locals too afraid to speak to foreigners. Amazing. Also this made me laugh:

We ogled at the beautiful Id Kah mosque, supposedly the largest in China. It’s a sight to behold, and also eerie: no worshippers, only Han Chinese tourists snapping and flashing and pointing and selfie-sticking, and enough CCTV cameras to make you feel that even if Allah wasn’t watching, someone definitely was.



2 thoughts on “Uyghur Update: July 11th-17th

Add yours

  1. Thanks for this super informative and interesting update! Wish I’d read this while still in Xinjiang. From your confused white girl… thanks for bringing your excellent blog to my attention x

    1. Haha no, thank you for writing about your experiences! It was fascinating to read about what is happening now from an “un-politicised” perspective, if you will. I read the news but I don’t often come across first-hand accounts from regular people, so it was cool to see a traveller recounting a personal view of the sensationalised headlines I’m used to 😀

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