Uyghur Students Taught to Neglect Native Language and Culture

Bitter Winter, 16 September 2020

Below is an article published by Bitter Winter.

Thousands of Han teachers from across China are being sent to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since 2017 to teach local children Mandarin Chinese as part of the central government’s campaign to “sinicize” the region. Lured by the government’s promises, many of them soon realize that this is yet another CCP-designed elaborate hoax.

A primary school teacher who has been working in Xinjiang since 2018 said that many Uyghur teachers in the school had been dismissed after new Han teachers arrived. Most of them were forced to return to their native villages.

The teacher believes that the elimination of the Uyghur language and forced exposure to Han culture and traditions in Xinjiang’s kindergartens and schools have had irreversible effects on local children.

“They are quick to absorb what they learn,” she explained. “They seldom speak Uyghur at school; some even forgot how to speak it. I heard a student speaking to his parents in Uyghur on the phone: he stumbled on every word and could not speak in coherent sentences.”

“Our goal is not to make them learn well, but rather ensure that they don’t oppose the government when they grow up,” the teacher continued. “They are indoctrinated every day, forced to memorize the names of state leaders.”

The parents of these children don’t dare object to this “patriotic” education. “If students refuse to put efforts into studying Chinese, teachers must contact their parents through local government officials to conduct political education,” the teacher said. “These parents are all terribly frightened because they could be sent to transformation through education camps if their children refuse to study Chinese.”

Another Han teacher, in her 20s, has been working in Xinjiang for two years. She remembered how one of her students cried in her arms about her mother, who was detained in an internment camp. “She asked me to be her mom,” the teacher recalled, tears swelling in her eyes. She added that many of her students’ parents are in camps; some have even died there. “Those children spoke Uyghur with their parents but can no longer do that because they are detained,” the teacher said.

A middle-aged Han teacher working in Xinjiang revealed that most parents of over a dozen Uyghur students in her class are detained in transformation through education camps. Only two have been released. “But it doesn’t mean that they are free,” she continued. “A large factory has been built in the city outskirts, surrounded with iron railings like a prison. Many former camp detainees now live and work there on meager salaries of a few hundred RMB, compared to thousands paid to Han workers. They are only allowed to leave the premises once in a while to see their children and must register every time they leave and return.”

“There is a serious lack of Han teachers in Xinjiang,” the father of a teacher working in Xinjiang told Bitter Winter. “Schools didn’t allow them to take summer holidays or days off this year, fearing that they won’t come back.”

His daughter has been teaching Chinese in a Xinjiang primary school for three years. Even though the agreed tenure will soon be up, the young woman is unsure if she will be allowed to return home.

“Her ID and CCP cards are held by authorities in Xinjiang and can’t be transferred to her hometown. Even connections in the government don’t help to retrieve them,” the father explained worriedly. He acknowledged supporting the daughter’s decision to go to Xinjiang because the term was three years, and she was supposed to get a better position in a state-run institution after her return.

Another Han teacher returned home after two years of teaching in Xinjiang, ahead of the agreed date, because she could not live and work in these oppressive conditions. As a result, she now cannot get a position in any school and supports herself doing odd jobs.