“Eradicating Ideological Viruses”: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s MuslimsSeptember 01, 2018
In rural areas, since late 2016, the authorities have also started “peasants and herders’ night schools” (农牧民夜校). According to the authorities, these schools – to be established in every Xinjiang village – aim to teach people Mandarin, government policies, and skills training, so that people can “leave behind ignorance and backwardness” and is a major program that fulfills the purpose of “social stability and enduring peace” in the region. There is some evidence that participation is not voluntary, at least for certain types of villagers. According to three interviewees who recently arrived in two different regions in Xinjiang, women under the age of 45, housewives, the self-employed and the unemployed are required to attend these classes, and other individuals as determined by the authorities.
“People could visit each other but that didn’t mean they would. Everyone became secretive and secluded. The crackdown affects the way people behave – so instead of bearing gifts and stay for a long time during visits … people bring money instead, and they stay for a short time and they quickly go…. They prohibit crying and wailing and traditional grieving songs at funerals; you can have a big gathering for the occasion, but you have to first submit an application to the neighborhood office first, and the neighborhood office will dispatch people to watch you.”
“We have also not been allowed to say, ‘As-salaam-alaikum’ [the Islamic greeting] but only ‘nihao’ [the Mandarin greeting]. You also can’t speak freely about Kazakhstan or write in Kazakh or wear Kazakh clothing or wear Kazakh jewelry…. Arabic scripts are replaced by Chinese.… Kazakh chocolates and candies can no longer be sold, but alcohol … consumption is encouraged.”
“At school we changed from having both Kazakh and [Mandarin] Chinese languages to having all subjects in Mandarin only except Kazakh language. Even Kazakh literature is being translated into Chinese and taught.”
“You’re not allowed to wear clothes with signs of Kazakhstan and my son has a t-shirt with it, so we had to burn it.”