Incarceration of Christians and Han Chinese in Xinjiang shows broad reach of forced indoctrination campaignSeptember 24, 2019
What is taking place in Xinjiang is an “accelerated, comprehensive and violent program to jettison meaningful markers of Uyghur identity, such as language, Islam and tangible connections to Central Asia, and replace them with elements of a Han-centric Chinese culture.”
Indeed, “even secular, atheist and Christian Uyghurs are being targeted, I believe, because their milieu has still been largely shaped by Central Asian and Islamic norms.”
“We know of at least 14 Christians” who have been taken away by authorities in Xinjiang, said Robert Paix, a Christian businessman who has lived and worked in the region, in part to share his faith. “Islam is just one of the matrix of problems the Chinese government has with Uyghur people,” he said.
One Westerner who lived in the regional capital, Urumqi, with his family described the case of a Christian Uyghur woman who lived with a Han Chinese roommate. The Uyghur woman spoke Mandarin and ran a business teaching English. But in December, 2017, police took her from her apartment, put her in a prison uniform and handed her clothes, glasses and national identification card back to her roommate, said the source, a Christian whose identity The Globe and Mail is not disclosing out of concern for the safety of the person’s friends in Xinjiang.
Police said they had found questionable content on her computer, according to the source.
“The sentencing basically was very quick. From what we could understand, it was just ‘You are a terrorist,’ and there was a document that she had to sign – basically like a confession.”
Christian Uyghurs likely number only in the thousands, according to foreigners who have lived in the region. Most Uyghurs are practising Muslims or maintain cultural ties to that faith.
But from what the Westerner could see, the incarceration of Uyghurs “did not seem religious in nature. It seemed just from our experience there that the religious extremist angle was being used to really just suppress the entire people group and culture.”