China-Xinjiang-Banished Textbooks storyAugust 27, 2019
For 15 years, Yalqun Rozi skillfully navigated state bureaucracies to publish textbooks that taught classic poems and folk tales to millions of his fellow minority Uighurs in China’s far western region of Xinjiang.
That all changed three years ago when the ruling Communist Party launched what it says is a campaign against ethnic separatism and religious extremism in Xinjiang. Suddenly even respected public figures like Rozi were being arrested, caught up in a crackdown that critics have said amounts to cultural genocide.
Rozi was arrested soon after Chen Quanguo, a hard-line politician, became Xinjiang’s top official in 2016 and his books were pulled from shelves.
Soon his former colleagues at Xinjiang Education Press began disappearing, as did the officials who used to supervise his work. Colleges held political meetings to denounce “problematic textbooks,” including Rozi’s, calling them “treasonous” and a “great scourge” that poisoned Uighurs with ideas of splitting China.
“Those textbooks weren’t political at all,” Kamaltürk said. “There were things in there about taking pride in being ethnic Uighurs, and that’s what the Chinese government was upset with.”