Xinjiang confiscates ‘ethnic’ goods, ships prisoners out of province to solve crowding



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Kazakh rugs sit in dumpsters after they
were confiscated by authorities.
(Photo: ChinaAid.)
ChinaAid

(Ili Kazakh, Xinjiang—March 29, 2018) The ongoing crackdown against ethnic minorities, especially those who are predominantly Muslim, continues in China’s far western Xinjiang region. Authorities are confiscating and destroying goods that appear ‘ethnic,’ and the prisons and detention camp “training centers” in the region are so full that detainees are being shipped to other provinces to make room.

According to sources on the ground in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a large desert area on China’s western border, government officials have begun confiscating any items that display characteristics of religious or cultural significance for minority groups, such as blankets, decorations, rugs, and signs. Some of these items were burned, while others were thrown in dumpsters. The groups most affected currently are Chinese Kazakhs and Uyghurs, both of which are historically Muslim.

The government also banned “daily use” items with ethnic characteristics. Restaurants in the cities of Urumqi, Yining, Tacheng, Aksu, Korla, and Altay in Xinjiang also ordered local restaurants to replace Kazakh and Uyghur decorations with Han Chinese decorations instead. The Han are the largest ethnic group in China and compose approximately 92% of China’s population.

An anonymous Kazakh in the region said, “Kazakh blankets, carpets, and embroidered cloth have been burned. Shops cannot sell products imported from Kazakhstan, and if they try, the merchandise is confiscated. Residents are also ordered to remove Kazakh decorations from their houses and replace them with ‘Chinese’ ones.”

Dilxat Raxit, spokesperson of the World Uyghur Congress headquartered in Germany, issued a statement about the forced renovations: “According to reports from Aksu and Korla, we found that local Chinese governments are forcing operators of Uyghur restaurants to refurbish interiors according to Chinese tradition, eliminating all Uyghur traits. Products with the [Islamic] star and crescent are confiscated. The government even coerces the Uyghur people to hang Chinese couplet banners and red lanterns.”

Immigrants to Kazakhstan who recently arrived from Xinjiang have said that the “political training centers” and prisons in the region are full to bursting, and to try to alleviate the crowding, authorities began shipping detainees from Xinjiang to other provinces in mid-March.

Detainees in a “political training center,”
where many are held for months with no
contact with the outside world.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
These so-called “political training centers” are detention camps throughout Xinjiang, where ethnic minority citizens are held for months at a time, not allowed contact with their families, and forced to learn Communist propaganda in an effort to inspire loyalty to the Chinese state and supposedly curb “religious extremism.”

According to an informant, another reason prisoners are being sent away is that many of the guards at the camps and prisons are Xinjiang residents, and many of them sympathize with the prisoners and detainees, whether they are Han, Mongolian, Uyghur, or Kazakh. Detainees are often tortured, which has caused some members of the police guard to faint. Kazakh members among the guards have helped spread news to the outside world what the conditions in these centers really are. China is relocating prisoners to other provinces, where authorities will not be emotionally swayed.

Another Kazakh interviewed said that because of the men being taken away to these centers, many villages “consist of only women, children, and the elderly.”

ChinaAid reports on instances of religious persecution and government abuse, such as the unlawful and unethical treatment of minority citizens in Xinjiang, in order to promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.


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