Weekly Brief August 18th

World Uyghur Congress, 18 August 2017

WUC Issues Press Release Expressing Alarm at Uyghur Language Ban

The World Uyghur Congress issued a press release this week after it emerged that Chinese authorities in the Hotan prefecture had decided to completely ban the Uyghur language at all education levels up to and including secondary school at the start of the fall semester in September 2017.

A five-point directive was issued by Hotan’s Education Department in late June 2017, which stated that Mandarin Chinese “must be resolutely and fully implemented” for the three years of preschool, and “promoted” from the first years of elementary and middle school “in order to realize the full coverage of the common language and writing system education.” The directive also instructs schools to “resolutely correct the flawed method of providing Uyghur language training to Chinese language teachers” and “prohibit the use of Uyghur language, writing, signs and pictures in the educational system and on campuses.”

While the policy currently only covers schools in the Hotan prefecture, there remains a very real possibility that the policy may be extended to cover all of East Turkestan, given China’s continuous efforts to erode the Uyghur language and tendency to try out a new policy at the local level first, before deploying it at a larger scale.

Regardless, the elimination of an entire taught language from a prefecture made up of close to two million Uyghurs is an affront to the most basic aspects of cultural life. The policy stands outwardly as the realization of China’s clear assimilationist drive that targets fundamental aspects of Uyghur life including religious belief and cultural rights.

US Religious Freedom Report Heavily Criticizes China

The U.S. State Department published their annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 this week, which heavily criticized China for its discriminatory laws and practices which denied its citizens freedom of religion or belief.

The report singled out China for continuing to physically abuse, detain, arrest, torture and imprison Uyghurs, Tibets and other religious minorities. It also documented the severe discrimination against Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims at the hands of the Chinese government.

The recognition of the serious human rights violations committed by the Chinese government and deprivation of freedom of religion comes at an important time, as the Uyghur people have endured a marked increase in restrictions on their freedom of religion and religious persecution in the past few years.

Other news:

Massive Surge in Police and Security Staff Recruitment Recorded in East Turkestan

A report from the South China Morning Post noted an explosive surge in the number of police and security staff jobs advertised by Chinese authorities in East Turkestan in the past 11 months. Citing a study conducted by Adrian Zenz, an expert on the region at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany, over 84,000 security-related positions were advertised since September 2016, almost 50% more than in the past 10 years. The escalation seems to coincide with the appointment of Chen Quanguo as the new party boss for the region. As Chen Quanguo was known for his violent and suffocating security tactics in his previous position as the party boss of neighboring Tibet, this is a very worrying indication of what Chinese intentions for East Turkestan will be.

China Jails Ethnic Kazakh Man for ‘Helping Others Emigrate to Kazakhstan’

A crackdown on ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs with any overseas ties continued this week as Chinese authorities in East Turkestan reportedly sentenced an ethnic Kazakh man to a 12 year jail term for allegedly ‘helping others emigrate to Kazakhstan’. In recent weeks, it has emerged that many ethnic Kazakhs have had their passports confiscated and others have been detained by Chinese authorities for seeking to study or emigrate to Kazakhstan.