China accused of practicing cultural genocide in Xinjiang

An Uyghur woman and child walk past a burned car following riots in Urumqi 10 years ago (Photo courtesy: AP )

(, Jul05’19) – China is deliberately separating Muslim children from their families, faith and language in Xinjiang in an attempt to make culturally Chinese people of them in schools designed for that purpose while their parents, numbering around a million, undergo de-Islamization in concentration camps set up across the so-called Uyghur autonomous region, according to a BBC News investigation report Jul 5.

The report cited records as showing that in one township alone more than 400 children had lost not just one but both parents to some form of internment, either in the camps or in prison. The Chinese government is said to carry out formal assessments to determine whether the children are in need of “centralised care”.

Along with the move to transform the identity of Xinjiang’s adults, the evidence is said to point to a parallel campaign to systematically remove children from their roots.

While China’s tight surveillance and control in Xinjiang, where foreign journalists are followed 24 hours a day, make it impossible to gather testimony there, evidence could be found in Turkey where parents speak of their lost children back home, the report noted.

The report speaks of 60 separate interviews in which anxious, grief-ridden parents and other relatives gave details of the disappearance in Xinjiang of more than 100 children.

They were all Uighurs – members of Xinjiang’s largest, predominantly Muslim ethnic group that had long ties of language and faith to Turkey. Thousands had come to study or to do business, to visit family, or to escape China’s birth control limits and the increasing religious repression.

With his wife detained back home, one father has told the BBC he feared that some of his eight children might now be in the care of the Chinese state. “I think they’ve been taken to child education camps,” he has said.

Schools for such purpose are said to keep expanding in the same way the labour camps for holding adults are with increases in the numbers of their inmates, the report noted.

Xinjiang’s education expansion is driven, it appears, by the same ethos as underlies the mass incarceration of adults, the report said, affecting almost all Uighur and other minority children, whether their parents are in the camps or not.

The report noted that in April last year, the Yecheng County Number 4 authorities relocated 2,000 children from the surrounding villages into yet another giant boarding middle school.

Government propaganda is said to extols the virtues of boarding schools as helping to “maintain social stability and peace” with the “school taking the place of the parents”.

The report quoted Dr Adrian Zenz, a German researcher widely credited with exposing the full extent of China’s mass detentions of adult Muslims in Xinjiang, as saying, “Boarding schools provide the ideal context for a sustained cultural re-engineering of minority societies.”

Just as with the camps, Dr Zenz’s research is said to show that there is now a concerted drive to all but eliminate the use of Uighur and other local languages from school premises. Individual school regulations outline strict, points-based punishments for both students and teachers if they speak anything other than Chinese while in school.

Research is said to show that all children now find themselves in schools that are secured with “hard isolation closed management measures”. Many of the schools as reported to bristle with full-coverage surveillance systems, perimeter alarms and 10,000 Volt electric fences, with some school security spending surpassing that of the camps for adults.

“I think the evidence for systematically keeping parents and children apart is a clear indication that Xinjiang’s government is attempting to raise a new generation cut off from original roots, religious beliefs and their own language,” Dr Zenz was quoted as saying.

He believes the evidence points to “what we must call cultural genocide”.


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