Ghost WorldApril 01, 2019
Higher-level officers, most of whom were Han, were given the job of conducting qualitative assessments of the Muslim population as a whole . . . In face-to-face interviews, these neighborhood police officers assessed the more than 14 million Muslim-minority people in the province and determined if they should be given the rating of “safe,” “average,” or “unsafe.” They determined this by categorizing the person using ten or more categories: whether or not the person was Uyghur, of military age, or underemployed; whether they prayed regularly, possessed unauthorized religious knowledge, had a passport, had traveled to one of twenty-six Muslim-majority countries, had overstayed their visa, had an immediate relative living abroad, or had taught their children about Islam in their home. Those who were determined to be “unsafe” were then sent to the detention centers where they were interrogated and asked to confess their crimes and name others who were also “unsafe.” In this manner, the officers determined which individuals should be slotted for the “transformation through education” internment camps.
The state also assigned an additional 1.1 million Han and Uyghur “big brothers and sisters” to conduct week-long assessments on Uyghur families as uninvited guests in Uyghur homes. Over the course of these stays, the relatives tested the “safe” qualities of those Uyghurs that remained outside of the camp system by forcing them to participate in activities forbidden by certain forms of Islamic piety such as drinking, smoking, and dancing. As a test, they brought their Uyghur hosts food without telling them whether the meat used in the dishes was halal or not. These “big sisters and brothers” focused on the families of those who had been shot or taken away by the police over the past decade. They looked for any sign of resentment or any lack of enthusiasm in Chinese patriotic activities. They gave the children candy so that they would tell them the truth about what their parents thought.