‘Eradicate the tumours’: Chinese civilians drive Xinjiang crackdownApril 26, 2018
Four months after the Communist Party sent the “work team” to Akeqie Kanle, a fifth of its adult population – over 100 people – had disappeared into detention and re-education centres.
The team – comprising staff from a regional university – was among more than 10,000 such groups that poured into rural Xinjiang last year as part of the government’s battle against separatism and “religious extremism” in the region, home to several Muslim ethnic minority groups.
Called “research the people’s conditions, improve the people’s lives and win the people’s hearts”, the programme recruits officials and university professors – mostly from China’s Han majority group – to spread party propaganda, eliminate rural poverty and promote “ethnic harmony.”
The work is vital to a social engineering campaign that has permeated every aspect of daily life in the fractious far western state, with the aim of politically indoctrinating the entire population.
Teams like the one sent to Akeqie Kanle from the Bingtuan Broadcast Television University (BBTU) have helped send vast numbers of people into jails and secretive re-education centres, breaking up families and decimating villages.
When the BBTU team arrived in early 2017, it helped hang crimson lanterns across the village to celebrate Chinese New Year and push the government’s promises to provide job training, clean government and safe water.
But its focus then turned to interrogating villagers for any signs of dissent.
“The work team is resolute,” BBTU’s publicity department boasted on social media in an unusual public accounting of the dark side of a work team’s operations.
“We can completely take the lid off Akeqie Kanle, look behind the curtain, and eradicate its tumours.”
They were to pay daily visits to so-called “key individuals” and “untrustworthy elements”: religious people, passport holders, all males between the ages of 16 and 45 and the illiterate, which Xinjiang’s justice department described as particularly susceptible to being brainwashed by extremists.
In Akeqie Kanle, the BBTU team wrote it had posted fliers urging villagers who had engaged in illegal religious activity to turn themselves, or others, in.
Team members compiled dossiers, put suspicious individuals on watch lists and met daily to analyse their findings.