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China has moved a million ‘guests’ into Uyghur homes to report on extremist, unpatriotic beliefs

A woman stands behind a pillar during the Eid al-Adha festival at a Chinese mosque. (Photo courtesy: JASON LEE / REUTERS)
A woman stands behind a pillar during the Eid al-Adha festival at a Chinese mosque. (Photo courtesy: JASON LEE / REUTERS)

(TibetanReview.net, Nov25, 2018) – In a most invasive surveillance yet, more than a million Chinese people have been moved into Uyghur Muslim family homes in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) for a series of week-long stays in 2017, with instructions to report on whether they display Islamic or unpatriotic beliefs, reported The Independent Nov 23. The task of these imposed guests was stated to be to watch for signs that their hapless hosts’ manifestations of attachment to Islam might be “extreme” and therefore anti-China.

The informant-guests reportedly describe themselves as “relatives” of the families they stay with and are said to have received specific instructions on how to get their hosts to let their guard down. For example, a devout Muslims would refuse cigarettes and alcohol and this is seen as one way of finding out whether they are extreme.

“Had a Uighur host just greeted a neighbour in Arabic with the words ‘Assalamu Alaykum’? That would need to go in the notebook,” American anthropologist Dr Darren Byler was quoted as saying in research published by Asia Society’s Centre on US-China Relations. “Was that a copy of the Quran in the home? Was anyone praying on Friday or fasting during Ramadan? Was a little sister’s dress too long or a little brother’s beard irregular?”

The report notes that the Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, had reported that more than 1.1 million people had been paired up with 1.69 million ethnic minority citizens in China by the end of September this year.

They were reported to have focus especially on families of those who have been detained in the “re-education” centres.

More than one million Uyghurs remain incarcerated in a network of reeducation camps for their presumed extreme view of Islam. And the guest-stay programme reportedly still continues, often focusing on the families of those already in detention

The issue has been widely reportedly and was also discussed at the recent session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. China denies the existence of the incarceration camps, claiming it was only clamping down on religious extremism and insisting that Uyghur we being educated and given vocational training to improve their employment opportunity.

However, the report notes that those who have spent time in the camps have spoken of having been forced to undergo an intensive indoctrination programme, being told to renounce Islam and to, instead, heap praise on the Chinese Communist Party.

One former inmate has said Muslim inmates had been forced to eat pork and drink alcohol.

China has also been accused of having put Uyghur children and those from other ethnic minority groups into state-run orphanages across the Xinjiang region, even if their parents were not dead, while some one million adults in their families were taken to internment camps.

The informant-guest programme was also implemented in Tibet too in past years; but there were no reports of them having resulted in people being rounded up and placed in reeducation camps.

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