Uyghur Update: 3rd – 10th November

The Uyghur Region

The underground water tunnel from Tibet to East Turkestan is… fake?

Last week I spoke on the water diversion project China was planning (water from Tibet to go into ET). Apparently China has denied these plans. Hopefully they’re telling the truth.

The citizens are to snitch on “two-faced” cadres

Uyghur government/public sector workers who are “…suspected of disloyalty toward Chinese policies” are to be turned in by the citizens. Informants are being provided with phone lines to dob in “two faced” cadres and other workers. Apparently the announcement gives a list of things that could be considered “two faced” – for example, certain religious activities and publishing information “harming the unity of the country” or “distorting the history of Xinjiang”. A translated list would have been nice…

Some signs of religious extremism that will get get you detained

Here’s another RFA report that discusses a list distributed earlier this year called “75 Signs of Religious Extremism”:

Among the signs of extremism on the list were “conducting business as usual” and “women who wear religious clothing to work” during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, “storing or purchasing large quantities of food for home” and “acting abnormal,” and “praying in groups in public outside of mosques.”

“There are many different signs of religious extremism—we have a list of 75,” a village secretary from Hotan city’s Ilchi township said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“[New guidelines say to look for] those who, when at prayer, stand with their legs wide apart and place their hands above their chest, and also those who dye their hair red [with henna].”

“In our opinion, they are part of an organisation, and they coordinate and identify one another by their colored hair—otherwise they wouldn’t do it,” the secretary said.

…the new instructions advise authorities to be wary of “those who wear short trousers” and “those who wear a watch on their right wrist,” he said, without elaborating.

“In villages, people who don’t greet the party secretary or cadres, and those suddenly abstaining from drinking alcohol—these changes are [now] also considered to be a sign of religious extremism,” he added.

“We talk with whoever exhibits any of the signs and ask them to correct their behavior,” said the secretary, who also asked to remain unnamed.

“If they refuse to cooperate, we send them for re-education in order to liberate their thoughts and minds.”

Apparently there is a list online, in Chinese, which you can read here.

Reports on arrests

UCA News picked up on how Uyghur imams who do not comply with Party teachings are being sent to re-education camps.

RFA reports that family members of police are also being arrested, and it seems like those whose family members are arrested or sent to re-education camps are demoted or fired.

Last week I spoke of Abdurehim Heyt’s arrest. Here is RFA’s version. It seems like Abdurehim Heyt has been sentence to 8 years in prison.

While this is not specific to Uyghurs, “disrespecting” the Chinese national anthem can now land you a 3 year stint in jail. Hong Kongers have been known to boo the anthem at various sports events or protests, and it seems like this is just another rule authorities can abuse to imprison people.

Healthcare

Apparently 99.7% of Uyghurs have had their blood samples taken. This is according to “…a report in the Epoch Times website” by “…oncologist Anwar Todi Bogda” in a “…lecture in Taiwan where he exposed live evidence of human organs for profit.” Apparently the survey was conducted by Ethan Gutmann, who created the film Hard to Believe and wrote The Slaughter. (Side note: while I don’t doubt that China has been building this database for a long time, I really wish the reporting done on this was more reliable. I cannot seem to find this report in the Epoch times, and this article itself (which has been recycled on a few different news sites) is poorly written and not edited at all.)

If this is how bad it is for foreign Chinese people to go through the medical system and security in Kashgar, imagine how bad it is for poor Uyghur natives who have no money. I’m glad they could leave after a successful surgery and write about it later, but under different circumstances I feel this would be a completely different story. The link also includes a video showing some of the security presence.

Chinese propaganda

Here’s a picture of a farmer carrying the Chinese flag as they work? …why?

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There’s also been these photos of primary school students in Kashgar dressed up as Confucian scholars and practicing calligraphy circling the internet. In the context of the ongoing erasure of the Uyghur language and culture in schools… this is… gross… Also I found some videos of propaganda I must have missed from a few months ago.

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Language

Melville House published an article about how China is going back on its word that minorities in their autonomous regions are allowed to study in their own language. The second paragraph is a pretty interesting list of linguistic changes happening in Central Asia at the moment:

in a recent report translated into English by Luisetta Mudle for Radio Free AsiaQiao Long and Yang Fan write that authorities in some areas of Xinjiang are enforcing a new directive that prohibits the use of any educational materials in Uyghur or Kazakh in schools. The directive specifies that “the use of all Uyghur and Kazakh-medium textbooks and teaching materials must be terminated across the board,” and orders that those materials “be put away in sealed storage.”

Central Asia has been a hotbed of politically motivated language policy recently. Back in April, we reported on strict new regulations on the transportation of books to Tajikistan, which borders Xinjiang. Earlier this month, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev made waves when he announced the Kazakh language would cease to be written with the Cyrillic alphabet, and instead adopt the Latin. The government in Xinjiang this summer banned books by Saifuddin Azizi, a transnational revolutionary who traveled with Mao Zedong and served, for a term of more than twenty years, as the first chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In recent years, minority activists in the PRC have protested government restrictions on education in Tibetan and Mongolian, both, like Uyghur, official languages of autonomous regions designated for ethnic minorities.

Scroll down to the end of this post to see a poster of a study on bilingual education.

 

Surveillance, Technology, Academic Censorship

The Wall Street Journal reports that a lot of people in the West are the ones backing the build up of China’s surveillance state. Can’t say I’m surprised..

The Epoch Times also picked up on China’s evolution into an Orwellian nightmare, a so called “form of Leninism in the digital era” apparently:

At a panel on China’s future held at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica research institute on Nov. 3, scholars warned of China under “digitized totalitarianism.”

Political science professor Dr. Titus C. Chen from the National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan expressed concerns that the advanced technology can be used to squash any potential dissent, in thought or actions, before it takes place, calling it “a modern form of political engineering.”

The hacking group KeyBoy has been “engaged in what appears to be corporate espionage against multiple U.S. companies.” KeyBoy is linked to the Chinese Government and has a history of targeting Uyghur, Tibetan, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong communities.

According to this Twitter account (who links to an article in Chinese):

Chinese surveillance technology: once your phone is connected to wifi, police will identify your ID, social accounts, phone MAC address

Here’s a really interesting article on academic censorship in China. Here’s another article on the move to restrict access to certain articles in journals by Springer Nature vs how Cambridge University Press decided not to block anything.

 

Trade, Economy

Interesting article on OBOR and the relation between Russia and China. It has a little section on Uyghurs:

China’s geopolitical ambitions, like Russia’s, arise out of internal insecurity. The Chinese state is weakest in the west — that is, in historic East Turkestan — home to the Muslim Turkic Uighur minority, which the dominant ethnic group, the Han Chinese, view with trepidation.

Islam represents an alternative identity for the Uighurs, one independent of the Chinese state. Unlike the Tibetans with their Dalai Lama, the Uighurs don’t have an elite leadership with which to communicate with Beijing. Rather, they embody an anarchic force that could be provoked into upheaval by an environmental disaster or other emergency. China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, by joining the rest of Turkic Central Asia economically and politically closer to China, is meant in part to deny the Uighurs a rear base in an uprising.

This is not the first time I’ve seen Uyghurs described as an “anarchic force” which seems a bit iffy. We are… people… not some random force of nature provoked into upheaval by an environmental disaster. The disaster is China. Here’s another, shorter explanation of OBOR.

Here’s an article on why Catalonia’s independence matters to China. Basically, because anything about “separatism” brings to mind East Turkistan and Tibet, and because they want Europe to stay stable so they can do their trade deals. Apparently Spain received $2 billion in investments from China.

Here’s another strong-worded article by Gulnaz Uighur titled “Is China Embellishing its economy through despotism?

 

International

Ilham Tohti, human rights awards, and China being petty af

On July 30th of this year, the city of Weimar announced that it would be awarding the Weimar Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti come December 10th – International Human Rights Day. Since then their website has been attacked, info about the award has been erased, the Chinese embassy in Berlin allegedly called and said that Tohti was a “Chinese criminal” who should not be awarded the prize, and Beijing has protested to Berlin through diplomatic channels. As reported by China Change.

Speaking of Tohti, his name was spelled out in NYC by @heanquan who walked 80 km in 18 hrs. You can watch on YouTube.

Trump, human rights, international support?

This week Trump visited China. I don’t know why they bothered, but Liu Xia Activists and WUC urged Trump to bring up human rights issues. Am I being too pessimistic? Trump is hateful man who I doubt knows what “human rights” is. Trump apparently agreed with Xi’s anti-terrorist strategies (although the language in that article was… not great). And Trump is actually in love with Xi so yeah.

Speaking of Liu Xia:

More than 50 prominent international authors have written a letter to Chinese president Xi Jinping urging him to free Liu Xia, the wife of deceased Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.

The letter, signed by Chimamanda Adichie, Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood, Tom Stoppard and George Saunders, appealed to Xi’s “conscience” and “sense of compassion” to release Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010 despite never being accused of any crime.

I don’t believe Xi understands the concept of “conscience” or “compassion” but it’s nice that international authors are looking to China more. Perhaps there will be a re-emergence in interest like back when Hollywood was all about Tibet. Wishful thinking?

Egypt students

A video by TRT World about the Uyghur students from Egypt who are still missing. Around 20 are not accounted for.

A mini rant at some Chinese dude in Canada

The article titled “How China is targeting its Uyghur ethnic minority abroad” in Canada’s The Globe and Mail received a “Letter to the Editor” by a spokesperson from the Canadian Chinese Embassy. He says that “…The Chinese government has taken justifiable measures to strengthen social security and guarantee the peace and stability of Chinese society and the well-being of its people” which is frankly ridiculous – nothing justifies the amount of security, surveillance, and mass “re-education” the government is doing. But he also says “…The Chinese government always distinguishes terrorists from the ordinary people and never uses ethnic identity as a criterion for identifying terrorists. The Chinese government will crack down on terrorists according to law, no matter what ethnic group the terrorists belong to” which, again, is so obviously untrue that I don’t even know what to say. Yes, China also imprisons Han Chinese who oppose the government, so it obviously sees blind nationalism over race or ethnic group. But identifying as Uyghur immediately makes you more suspicious to the Chinese government, especially if you are Muslim, and so it is definitely using “ethnic identity as a criterion for identifying terrorists”.

 

Uyghur Groups

The World Uyghur Congress hosted their 6th General Assembly in Munich, Germany. You can follow the news through their Twitter or Facebook. Here’s the RFA report (in Uyghur). More news next week after the proceedings end.

The Australian Uyghur Association and the East Turkistan Australian Association hosted a demonstration at the Chinese Consulate in Melbourne on Friday the 10th of November. This was in remembrance of East Turkestan National Day which will be on the 12th of November. ETAA will also be hosting a picnic for ET National Day!

 

Outside of Politics

Tourism

This blog writes that Karamay could be the next Dubai considering it is home to the largest oil fields China claims. It is the richest city by GDP per capita and is growing their tourism sector as well. I am mostly just bitter about China.

Another article about being a tourist in the Uyghur region and all them “hidden gems”.

Food

The Urumqi Restaurant in Rotterdam, Netherlands took part in some sort of event where they shared Uyghur food and culture, which is always nice. Also the kawap in the video looks amazing.

Literature

I found this really interesting translation of an Uyghur (female!) writer, Patigul’s work, Life of a Mimic. According to the website:

Patigul is a Uyghur writer and journalist born in 1965 in Tacheng, Xinjiang. She has received multiple prizes, including the inaugural Xinjiang Development and Construction Literature Award, and her essay “We Slept the Winter on the Hay” was included in a best-of collection for 2012. Her essay collection Secrets Shared with Sheep was published in 2012.

(Just found out “Tacheng” is Chochek lol). I’ve never come across her before and her writing is fascinating so check it out.

Linguistics

There was a poster on “The effectiveness of Uyghur-Chinese bilingual education on linguistic and cognitive development” at the Conference on Multilinguism 2017 in Groningen, The Netherlands. The researcher showed that “minority speakers benefit from instruction in their native language”:

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