Uyghur Update: 4th – 15th January

I have been travelling a little and it’s unfair how big of a difference time zones make so I am a little late but hopefully I won’t be travelling again until the middle of the year. Enjoy my jetlagged attempt at writing lol. So much happened?? I am certain I have missed something…

 

In the Uyghur Region

Environment

China’s environmental protection ministry admonished the Uyghur Autonomous Region for illegally exploiting natural resources without regard for the environment. This comes on the heels of weeks of reports from the Global Times about finding new natural resources in the region (as I’ve been documenting in previous updates). Will they stop mining and drilling there now?

Arrests

Four of the wealthiest men in Kashgar have been arrested, apparantly for religious extremism:

“Gheni Haji, Imin Hajim, and Memet Tursun Haji had displayed signs of religious extremism, so they were arrested,” [the Kashgar, Chasar township chief of security] told RFA in a phone interview, adding that their activities were characterized as “abnormal” by authorities.

“I was told that Memet Tursun Haji did not hold a funeral when his father passed away. Not holding a funeral is one of the signs of extremism. Gheni and Imin prayed only eight times at prayer service, not 20 as others usually do. That is also a sign of extremism.”

Imin Hajim, Yasinahun said, is “a man of few words” who normally kept to himself, but had protested police searches of his home.

“He expressed extreme displeasure with our visits to his house related to our security work and said, ‘I am a Chinese citizen, why do you conduct so many searches,’” he said.

They had also apparently went on un-sanctioned hajj trips.

Shafkad Abasi, a Tatar medical practitioner, was detained by Chinese authorities in March 2017 and no one has heard of him since. His brother was denied visitation rights when he attempted to look for him.

This Tweet links to a Chinese article which apparently talks about 3 high ranking Uyghur officials being accused of pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism.

More on Dr Halmurat Ghopur – apparently he was arrested for “spreading national extremism” according to RFA.

Re-education camps

An interview with a former Communist Party secretary reveals how even Uyghur Party members who promote ethnic unity and are loyal to the Party are being sent to re-education or being relieved of their jobs. Further information from RFA reveals the appalling conditions people in re-education are facing, including so much over-crowding that people are being turned away from these centres (although it is not known what happens to them after they are turned away):

Bawdun said that on the day he was brought to the re-education camp, a friend was also processed and admitted, although contacts from the Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefectural Public Security Bureau and the detention center bailed him out three to four days later based on a health condition.

While inside, the friend said he had seen officials from the re-education camp tell the police to “stop bringing people … as it is already too full.”

He described cells that had previously held eight people now accommodating 14 inmates, who “were not allowed pillows” and “had to lay on their sides because there was not enough room to lay flat,” let alone space to turn over or stretch their legs.

Other acquaintances told Bawdun that they had seen “detainees walking barefoot,” and that inmates were “not allowed clothes with buttons or metal zippers,” belts, shoelaces, or “even underwear” in some cases, despite average low temperatures of around 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius) at night in December.

There is more detail about the number of people in the article. Apparently they get health checks before being admitted, and he saw women who had fainted while waiting for the checkup, and many men over the age of 70, all waiting to be detained. These are clearly prison conditions, not “re-education” or “ugunush”, which is what it is being called in Uyghurche. Ugunush sounds so harmless, like you’re just going to school. It is a prison…

More rumours on what might be happening in those camps and prisons: unexplained deaths and graves.

Word on the street is many of the wealthy or well-to-do have been leaving as soon as they can, especially after they realised things were only getting worse after the 19th Party Congress despite being promised that re-education would be ending.

19th Party Congress

The Global Times reports that there are parts of the Uyghur Region that are still blasting parts of the 19th Party Congress throughout their towns using loudspeakers. Actually, just read the article because it’s really short (like most Global Times articles) and the author sounds like they are trapped in a factory and crying for help honestly. It also talks about the government officials that lived with Uyghur families:

About a million cadres and employees in Xinjiang participated in a campaign in which they spent time living, working and studying with people from different ethnic groups, the Xinjiang Daily reported on Sunday.

The campaign is aimed at promoting the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC to thousands of families in the autonomous region, the Urumqi-based paper reported.

Unity Week + Chinese “families”

Apparently a new “family system” is being implemented in March – a Chinese family will be placed in every(?) Uyghur household? The Times released an article that seems to be in line with this but I am not subscribed so I can’t see if they are talking about the “unity weeks” (where they had government officials living with Uyghur families for a week or so) or if they go into future plans. In any case, here is the official report on how amazing the unity week activities went, and how some of these people have actually known their “family” since 2014 since these programs are in no way new.

Propaganda songs

Here’s a translation and audio of a propaganda song that is blasted ubiquitously throughout Urumchi.

Here’s a video of Kazakh people being made to learn a Chinese propaganda version of a popular traditional folk song (Karajorga). The uploader provided a translation of the lyrics:

The Communist Party is the sun,
its radiance felt in every household.
Chairman Xi is the leader.
All the people of the country…
The society is stable and harmonious.
How happily are we living and working!
Our life is so good.
Construction has given the countryside a new outlook,
with wide asphalt roads, and tidy affordable homes. …
Fifteen years of free education,
land-use extended by 30 years,
we farmers…
Communist Party is good!
Chairman Xi is good!
Communist Party is good!
Chairman Xi is good! …
Rural areas are now on the same level with urban areas. …
The kindness of the Party shouldn’t be forgotten.
We support the Communist Party. …
Let’s revive the nation…

Education

The Global Times reports that people in “Xinjiang” (and Uyghurs in the mainland as well!) are being educated about their history and religion:

The campaign is necessary as Xinjiang still faces threats from terrorism, extremism and separatism, and problems in ideology still threaten social management of the region and local people’s national identity, Xu noted.

“The understanding of such history is the foundation to better insist on core socialist values in the region,” he said.

Lectures are also being held outside Xinjiang.

An open history class was held for Xinjiang students studying at Shanghai Yucai High School in May 2017, together with a seminar and lecture about how to improve such classes, according to the school’s website.

Xinjiang students studying in regions such as Beijing and Shanghai also need such knowledge as they are more easily approached by terrorists and separatists, Xu said.

“…as they are more easily approached by terrorists and separatists” … … …

 

Organ Harvesting

NTD.tv released a video about organ harvesting in China. In it, Enver Tohti talks about his time as a surgeon for the Chinese. There are also excerpts from speeches from activists and other surgeons. It’s a little graphic.

Dissolution of Uyghur Culture

Xplore Film released this trailer(?) and an excerpt of an essay that is yet to be published… seems like they are ready to expose something.

On Forced Disappearances

An interview with Michael Caster (editor of The People’s Republic of the Disappeared) on forced disappearances (he talks about Uyghurs but also China).

Ethnic Cleansing of Uyghurs

This article was published by CJ Werleman Independent, titled “Uyghur Muslims: Victims of the World’s Largest Ethnic Cleansing”. It outlines the atrocities Uyghurs are facing and really hits home the fact that this is large-scale ethnic cleansing.

 

China

Marriott in hot water for liking Tibetan activist tweet

The hotel group Marriott is under fire because their Twitter account liked a post that supported Tibet. They issued an apology but users found that they had liked another post by “Friends of Tibet” so they were under more fire. According to this article, “Authorities in Shanghai shut down the company’s Chinese website and launched an investigation after it emailed a Chinese-language questionnaire to its customers in which Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were named as countries.” Apparently the tweets were congratulating Marriott for listing Tibet as a country. China ordered Marriott to shut down its Chinese language website and app, and Chinese booking sites withdrew Marriott from their listings. Marriott responded by saying “Marriott International respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We don’t support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China… We sincerely apologise for any actions that may have suggested otherwise.” lmao.

Surveillance and Security

More on the facial recognition and surveillance technology China has been using. The article talks mostly about the technology itself, then sums up all the problems it is facing, all its aspirations, compares it to other countries’ surveillance technologies, then ends with privacy and rights abuses:

At Megvii, marketing manager Zhang Xin boasts that the company’s Face++ program helped police arrest 4,000 people since the start of 2016, including about 1,000 in Hangzhou, where a major deployment of cameras in hotels, subways and train stations preceded that year’s G-20 summit.

Very likely among that number: some of the dozens of dissidents, petitioners and citizen journalists who were detained in and around the city at that time.

Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders in Hong Kong, argues that China’s tech companies are complicit in human rights abuses.

“It’s basically a crime in China to advocate for human rights protection,” she said. “The government treats human rights activists, lawyers and ethnic Uighurs and Tibetans as criminals, and these people are being caught, jailed and possibly tortured as a result of this technology.”

Christianity

China is continuing to shut down churches.

Free speech & reporting

Reporters Without Borders released an article saying China is “one of the worst free speech predators”.

 

Chinese vs China

Social Credit

More on China’s social credit system and how it affects outspoken individuals:

What it meant for Mr. Liu is that when he tried to buy a plane ticket, the booking system refused his purchase, saying he was “not qualified.” Other restrictions soon became apparent: He has been barred from buying property, taking out a loan or travelling on the country’s top-tier trains.

“There was no file, no police warrant, no official advance notification. They just cut me off from the things I was once entitled to,” he said. “What’s really scary is there’s nothing you can do about it. You can report to no one. You are stuck in the middle of nowhere.”

Open letter from Chinese youth

This open letter to Xi Jinping is being circulated on the internet, titled: “A Youth Letter to Xi Jinping on the Last Judgement”. It is quite strongly worded, explicitly stating, “We are a group of young Chinese and non-Chinese committed to subverting your regime and dividing your empire.” It is actually quite poetically written… it has been a while since I’ve read something so unapologetically religious, rebellious, and proactively peaceful…?

Chinese billionaire vs Chinese government

Guo Wengu, an exiled Chinese billionaire, seems to be making a few headlines. Apparently he has made himself an enemy of the state for exposing certain Chinese government officials and is seeking asylum in the US. This is a report by the BBC. A quick Google search reveals that he has been speaking out against corruption in China since last year. This blog seems to have translated some of the things he said against officials who targeted Uyghurs? I’m not sure how reliable it is but it also links to some YouTube videos, which is one of the platforms through which Wengu has been releasing information. There has been some weird drama around him. It’s interesting to see Chinese billionaires speaking out against the CCP though.

 

International

Ilham Tohti

Ilham Tohti is being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a group.

BRI

Update on Belt and Road and potential financial hurdles.

Chinese influence over academia

An extensive look at China’s influence over academics in Australia and the US, and another one that focuses more on China and the world.

Switzerland & Security

In the last few weeks reports have come out from Germany saying China was using LinkdIn to gain information – now Swiss intelligence says they are aware of the threat of “…Chinese intelligence services… systematically trying to extract information from Swiss researchers and decision-makers by initiating contact via LinkedIn.”

USA

AT&T (a mobile service provider) have dropped Huawei amongst security concerns. Also WhatsApp group chats might not be as secure as one would hope.

The Congressional Executive Commission on China says the situation in “Xinjiang” has further deterioted since their 2017 report.

A delegation from the Uyghur Region went to the US to meet with “…leaders of overseas Chinese communities, local cultural organizations and scholars from local think tanks” and “…promote understanding of Xinjiang, especially among scholars in the US.” However, from my understanding there were no Uyghurs in the delegation, and they didn’t meet any Uyghurs or any scholars or thinktanks who are currently writing about Uyghurs…

Canada

This article came out talking about Chinese intimidation in Canada among human rights activists. It talks about Chinese people trying to speak out against China but getting threatened or admonished by the government. Their families living in China will pay. It talks about Falun Gong practitioners too – apparently Canadian politicians now get fake emails from the “Falun Gong” disparaging their reputation. They talk about Uyghurs who can’t call home for fear that their relatives will be imprisoned. It ends with a former Miss Canada who was barred from competing in Miss World in 2015 for talking about the Falun Gong. Her father in China is constantly harassed by the government, and her pageant sponsor (a dress shop owned by a Canadian-Chinese) dropped her after the Chinese Consulate emailed them.

France

WUC released a letter to the President of France ahead of his visit to China this week. But he didn’t do much about human rights issues.

UK

Carrie Gracie, the BBC China Editor, resigned recently due to lack of fair pay between her and her male counterparts. Her website has a few stories on Uyghurs and this link has a video that was taken down from BBC servers a day after it was published. Anyway wage gaps based on gender and race need to end now.

 

Activist Groups

Torchlight Uyghur Group

“Torchlight Uyghur Group” has been circulating this petition on change.org called Stop Chinese Government’s Inhumane Treatment towards the Uyghurs. As of now it has been signed by 9,800 people. It is available in a number of different languages and basically says:

1.     Close the “political re-education camps”; they are in violation of the China’s relevant laws and the relevant international regulations;

2.     Stop the policy that prohibits the Uyghurs in East Turkestan to travel a foreign country and the Uyghurs abroad to travel to East Turkestan;

3.     Guarantee that the Uyghurs abroad can receive money from, send money to and communicate with their parents and/or siblings in East Turkestan;

4.     Stop the surveillance of the Uyghurs who have relatives abroad, and allow them to communicate with oversea relatives;

5.     Stop the surveillance and the remote control of the Uyghurs living abroad;

6.     Stop examining the home computers and mobile phones of all the Uyghurs living in East Turkestan;

7.     Stop the arbitrary search of Uyghur homes, and mandatory assignment of Han-Chinese “relatives” to every Uyghur family.

IUHRDF & RFA

Rebiya Kadeer released a letter of appreciation for the publication of this article from the Wilson Centre (particularly the translation of certain Russian documents). Here is an interview David Brophy (the author) did with RFA.

 

 

Outside of Politics

Sports

Apparently Mardan Mamtimin is the first Uyghur bodybuilder to compete on a world stage (WBPF?). Not really a fan of bodybuilding but there you go.

This came out in December but I thought it was still a really cute video of a kid just trying to play soccer and look after his parents T_T. Abdulla Abdureyim gheyret qil lol.

History

A cool little article on research about old irrigation and farming systems in Central Asia. A fun quote at the end:

Li told Newsweek that the biggest insight he felt he gained from the research was that ancient Central Asian agropastoralist societies might have lived a more sustainable lifestyle than Han dynasty colonists, and that their irrigation technologies were more adaptive than those that the Han troops introduced to Xinjiang.

“The systems built by the local agropastoralists were oriented towards conservation and efficiency,” Li wrote to Newsweek. “They were built in an energetically conservative way and they emphasized water storage rather than constant supply of water. The Han dynasty systems, however, were oriented towards maximizing the water supply with much less consideration of the labor cost and the efficiency of water use.”

(Apparently the Han dynasty were present in the Tarim Basin for a while but the history’s contested whether the region was a protectorate/tribute state or if there were just trade relations. Either way relations between the “Xiongnu” and Han Dynasty were very up and down, the Great Wall still served as a demarcation line between them, and ties were severed when the Han dynasty fell)

This video by The Nomadic Professor was released on YouTube. It outlines Uyghur history and refers to it as East Turkestan, which is nice. It’s not entirely accurate and he forgets to mention the Qarakhanids and stuff but you get the gist of it all.

Nature

A big iron meteorite (“The Tear of Allah”) was found in Altay and a Kazakh herdsman had been looking after it for years, but it was taken away by the local government so now he is suing. The article mentions that the world’s 3rd largest iron meteorite (“Silver Camel”) was also found in Altay a century ago which I thought was pretty cool.

 

Fundraiser

There’s this fundraiser going around — an Uyghur couple need help because the husband was shot by a stray bullet in America. Link to their GoFundMe for anyone who wants to help.

 

Education

Ana Til Care in Virginia, USA had their open day which was really nice. There were a lot of performances by the young children currently enrolled at the school and then presentations from the teachers about past curriculums, achievements, and future plans. I think this is a great start and hope it will last a long time!

I believe Abduweli Ayup and his group are producing Ana Til TV for anyone interested. (It’s for kids).

Psychology

Dr Mamtimin Ala gave an interview about Uyghur psychology.  His presentation slides can be found here and a recent lecture on psychological wellbeing here.

New Reads

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The Uyghur journal “Izdinish” released their second issue. You can read their first and second issues on their website.

Yet another Uyghur book website has been published! This one is called UyghurKitap. Looks pretty neat.

Food

Another positive piece on Kebab Empire in New York for their polo/kawap/doghap deal.

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