Uyghurs in Xinjiang Ordered to Replace Traditional Décor With Sinicized FurnitureJanuary 09, 2020
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are ordering Uyghurs to “modernize” the interiors of their homes by ridding them of traditional ethnic decor and adding Sinicized furniture, largely to the benefit of majority Han Chinese entrepreneurs, sources said.
In recent months, officials in the XUAR have been promoting the “Sanxin Huodong,” or “Three News,” campaign to force Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to abandon the rugs and pillows they traditionally use as furniture in their homes and replace them with sofas, beds, and desks, according to Uyghur sources inside the region and living in exile abroad.
The campaign follows one in which authorities in the XUAR allocated more than 4 billion yuan (U.S. $575 million) to “modernize” the lifestyles of residents in the region, in part by destroying elements of traditional Uyghur design, including mihrabs, or ornate domed niches built into a wall or ceiling to denote the correct direction one should face when praying to Mecca.
Those who do not follow the directives risk being labeled religious extremists and placed in the region’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities are believed to have held some 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017.
After receiving information about the implementation of the Sanxin Huodong campaign in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city’s Nezerbagh township, RFA’s Uyghur Service contacted a government employee there who refused to comment on the situation.
But RFA was able to speak with a member of a work group in Kashgar prefecture’s Yengisheher (Shule) county who said that residents are tearing out the prior designs of their homes and renovating them according to the requirements of the new campaign.
“It’s the Sanxin Huodong—right after we moved here, [authorities] held a meeting about it after the flag-raising ceremony one morning … and they talk about it once a week now,” the work group member said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal.
“The ‘Three News’ means, firstly, having sofas at home, secondly, having beds, and thirdly, having a table for studying or a study desk for the children … Previously, people put down felt mats or carpets [as furniture].”
The work group member said that often the new beds Uyghurs place in their homes are provided to official Han Chinese “relatives” who Uyghur families are required to invite into their homes and provide with information about their lives and political views as part of the “Pair Up and Become Family” campaign that was launched in the XUAR in late 2017.
“Yes, they sleep in their shared beds,” the work group member said, referring to the “relatives,” who also subject their hosts to political indoctrination during their visits.
In the village in Yengisheher county where the work group member is based, they said that “more than 80 percent of people” have complied with the Three News campaign.
“My sense is that it has exceeded 80 or 90 percent,” the work group member said.