Just to reiterate from my first “Uyghur Update” post – these are just really informal summaries of the news from the past week, mostly so that I know what is happening to the Uyghurs of the world. This is in no way meant to be read as a serious report – that’s what all the links are for lol.
Within the Uyghur Region
This video began to circulate the web recently. It shows Uyghur villagers being made to stand in lines and sing songs praising the Chinese government… disgusting… Also, apparently if you exercise or regularly go to the gym you may be connected to terrorism..? And there are government-sponsored alcohol-drinking contests?? And the Uyghur language is now FORBIDDEN in Hotan public education activities & school management (so much for “bilingual education”!).
Also here’s more photos of Chinese propaganda displayed in mosques. There’s also this really… effed up video…? It is a performance that shows a man and a woman dancing, and there is another woman in black with a hijab who is also dancing and trying to get this guy’s attention, but to no avail. She cries for a bit on the ground then flings off her black clothes to reveal bright etles and a doppa, after which the man becomes interested in her and (I guess?) everyone is happier. The ending pan reveals an applauding audience of Uyghurs dressed only in traditional clothing. Like… wtf kind of mockery…?
As of 30 June 2016, individuals who identify as farmers, herdsmen and fishermen make up 26 million members; members identifying as workers totalled 7.2 million. Another group, the “Managing, professional and technical staff in enterprises and public institutions”, made up 12.5 million, 9 million identified as working in administrative staff and 7.4 million described themselves as party cadres. 22.3 million women are CPC members. The CPC currently has 88.76 million members.
“Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members…Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party’s faith…they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion,”
“Officials who have religious faith should be persuaded to give it up, and those who resist would be punished by the Party organisation,” [wrote Wang Zuoan, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA)]
…Religions in general should be sinicised. This doesn’t affect Muslims only, this is literally all religions. You know, for national security and social stability. Ugh.
Security and Surveillance
China continues to find new ways to censor everyone despite the already-heavy restrictions – now WhatsApp is partially blocked:
A Chinese censorship researcher known by his pseudonym Charlie Smith said authorities appeared to be blocking non-text WhatsApp messages wholesale precisely because they have not been able to selectively block content on the platform like they have with WeChat, which is produced by Shenzhen-based internet giant Tencent and legally bound to cooperate with Chinese security agencies.
Because WhatsApp content is encrypted, “they have moved to brute censor all non-text content,” Smith said in an email. “It would not be surprising to find that everything on WhatsApp gets blocked, forcing users in China to use unencrypted, monitored and censored services like WeChat.”
Here is another article written by someone who has experienced the censorship, with some analysis with regards to Liu Xiaobo.
More media outlets are picking up on the news that people are being made to download surveillance apps. This article has a photo of a “personal communications device checkpoint”. Apparently the app is able to pass through password-security and access the hard drive of whatever it’s installed on. Here’s another article in Infosecurity Magazine which describes how people were given 10 days to download the app (Jingwang), and checkpoints were set up to check if it had been installed. If it wasn’t, then you could face 10 days of detention. Charming.
Here’s a write-up in The Australian about the app. It also includes a list of all the other ridiculous laws placed on Uyghurs recently. More articles describing the app: Hong Kong FP, China Digital Times, Bleeping Computer, Tribune, The Register, International Business Times, Mashable (which has a little more info):
The app reportedly scans for the MD5 digital signatures of media files in the phone, and matches them to a stored database of offending files classified by the government as illegal “terrorist-related” media.
Jinwang also keeps a copy of Weibo and WeChat records, as well as a record of IMEI numbers, SIM card data and Wifi login data. The records are then sent to a server.
This move is the latest in digital surveillance in Urumqi. In March, government workers were asked to sign an agreement have “terrorist-related” media content, while the police sprung a surprise spot check on a group of nursing students.
But I guess if they’re even banning Winnie the Pooh because he looks like Xi then there’s no stopping to what will or won’t be banned. This was a pretty interesting article about this ban and other censorship tactics within mainland China.
Uyghurs in Egypt
Here is a really in-depth report on the current situation of the students in Egypt, which I encourage you to read. It includes interviews with the students, Egyptian officials, and some idea of what the Chinese and Egyptian governments are doing about the situation.
Here is a New York Times article outlining the situation as well. It states straight up that:
Egyptian authorities transferred scores of detained students from China’s Uighur community to a massive prison complex in Cairo on Wednesday for interrogation alongside Chinese officials, students and activists from the ethnic minority said.
Egypt appears to be assisting China in a crackdown on the group as Cairo looks to Beijing as a key ally and source of much-needed investment, including in mega-projects like the construction of a new capital and an expansion of the Suez Canal.
Egyptian authorities in coordination with Beijing have detained some 120 students this month, with at least 80 still held, activist Abduweli Ayup said from Turkey. Others put the total figure near 200.
So the reasons behind the arrests seem to have been made clear to the Western audiences now. Here’s another article talking about why Egypt would do what china wants them to. UNPO also released a short update.
This is in Chinese, so I only know what the Google Translation page states, which is: “2017 Perceived China – China’s western culture Egypt line Xinjiang” by the China State Council Information Office, China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s Government, the Chinese Embassy in Egypt jointly organized. Apparently, the XUAR People’s Government Vice-Chairman Erken Tu Ni Zi Zi went to the Chinese Embassy in Egypt and said the students would return home and be better employed and contribute their strengths to “home development” (and generally they should be returned home for their own good and for the good of the country). lol apparently Xinjiang is in its best condition in history because of the bilingual education, economic developments, and medical treatments, and that the region was going to be the centre of the new Silk Road… lol… I can’t even… wow… the lies…
Here’s an interview with an Uyghur activist in the Netherlands, talking more about Egypt and Uyghurs. UNPO also released this video from a youth activist. More articles on the issue in Associated Press, and also a BBC news video.
RFA published an article outlining some individual stories of those who had gone back from Egypt when China first ordered everyone’s return. In particular, it talks about a 12 year old boy whose parents had been arrested after staying in Egypt for 3 months and then voluntarily returning. The child was made to undergo political reeducation, too.
Memtimin Ala wrote a piece likening the Uyghur situation to the Jewish people during their Exodus – except the reverse; from freedom to slavery. He also draws a little parallel with our situation and the Holocaust at the end.
This video of Dr. Enver Tohti speaking about organ harvesting has over 2.1M views on Facebook as of writing this. I think I mentioned it in the last update, but that was an article. In this video he also mentions that the recently mandated free health checkup for everyone in the Uyghur region, and the collection of everyone’s DNA, is not for health purposes, but may in fact be to build an organ database.
And uh… I’m not very strong on news regarding the economy, so here’s an article about cotton prices and Uyghur farmers. Probably going to be detrimental to Uyghurs in general anyway.
This is an interesting article that shows an interactive map of all the political prisoners in China.
But it seems like after the death of Liu Xiaobo, Chinese activist morale is at an all time low. Personally, I can see how this moment in time could leave Uyghur, Tibetan, Chinese and HK-ese activists in utter despair. However, I feel like I was more depressed about the world last year, perhaps even before Trump was elected. Now? I feel like I am simply a part of the chaos. Anything can happen. Right now that ‘anything’ is not going in our favour – but the tides can turn at any time. I don’t have hope. But I also don’t have despair. We’re all just doing our best on this Earth.
Although yeah even Chinese human rights lawyers are disappearing now so.
An article titled “China Buying International Silence on Human Rights” came out, which takes a close look at the countries bought by China.
Here’s a close look at Chinese investment into Pakistan. They’re really pumping them with money at this point. One interesting thing in the article was that China had built two giant nuclear reactors “just 30km from the centre of one of the world’s biggest and most densely populated cities”. I’m not actually opposed to nuclear energy if used correctly, but these reactors were built “atop the Makran Trench, a major faultline prone to severe earthquakes”. I doubt China would invest so much in something that would lose them money, however it shows again just how much they disregard nature and people if they cannot use them to their economic gain.
Speaking of OBOR, here is an analysis by Michael Clarke of ANU, looking specifically at the effects of increasing security in the Uyghur region.
Outside of Politics
This is a really interesting article from the New York Times about a reporter’s experience in Kashgar – in contrast to the blog post from a tourist with no background in my last update, this reporter had been to Kashgar to report on various issues for a while now. Remarkably, their stories match up. I suggest you read it because it’s better than me trying to summarise it lol. I posted about it on my Instagram and had some messages and comments saying they had similar experiences. In fact, it seems like even non-Uyghur foreigners are being told not to call their relatives in the region for the time being!
The Silk Way Rally (an international car race?) was held in Urumchi but the article about it talks more about how much security there is and some of the political background of the region rather than the actual race.