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Turrets and fences: China's re-education campaign in Xinjiang

According to some estimates, 11.5% of the Muslim Uighur population could be in the field of re-education

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Turrets and fences: China's re-education campaign in Xinjiang

Hundreds of thousands of Communist Party officials settling in to live with local families. A security device whose spending has multiplied tenfold in a decade. Surveillance cameras, police, checkpoints. In Xinjiang, campaign of control of Uighur population, ethnic group of Muslim religion originating in this Chinese province, has reached stifling levels in name of fight against terrorism, according to activists and scholars denounce. So suffocating that according to some calculations up to 11.5% of Xinjiang Uighurs-one million people-may be interned in a network of "re-education" fields.

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"Security and stability in Xinjiang has become a major concern because of new Silk Road ( Chinese strategic Plan for a network of infrastructures to communicate with West). The state launched a massive security campaign that has consisted of police recruitment, surveillance systems, but none of that was enough. In addition, re-education was established as final step in fight against any form of separatism. We are talking about re-education of an entire population, "explains by telephone Adrian Zenz, academician of European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal (Germany), that this Tuesday has published a detailed report on se centers of re-education in middle Specialized China Brief, from Jamestown Foundation.

In 2009, bloody riots confronted Uighurs with Han, ethnic majority in China, and left nearly 200 dead. Between 2013 and 2014, China experienced a series of serious attacks in different areas of country that attributed Uighur Islamic separatists. Since n, it has embarked on an ever-harder crackdown on repression and control in Xinjiang.

Since March 2017, Chinese authorities have arrested tens of thousands of Uighurs and or minorities in re-education centres, outside judicial system, where y are subject to intense Chinese propaganda sessions with aim of deradicalizing m, according to Han Denounced residents, human rights organizations, academics and media. Beijing denies its existence, or silent for an answer. Last October, a senior official expressed to press that "we guarantee legitimate rights and interests of all ethnicities and prohibit discrimination and oppression against any ethnic group."

"We know that se fields exist. What we do not know exactly is what happens in re, "explains Western diplomatic sources.

The Zenz report, which is based on data available in Chinese media and public Works contests Web pages, has found 73 bids on se centers, with a minimum set value of 682 million yuan. The expert estimates that total number of centers can be around 1,200. Documents filtered and published by Uighur organizations allege that up to a million people could be found in those centres. The total population of this ethnic group is eleven million.

Comparatively, network of labour camps that China dismantled in 2013 officially counted in 2008 with 350 centres and 160,000 detainees. If leaked documents are correct, "it is entirely possible that Xinjiang's current re-education system would exceed size and capacity of re-education system through work that existed throughout China," The scholar points out in his report.

"It is very difficult to find a Uighur family that does not have at least one boarding member," explained Professor James Millward of Georgetown University in a recent talk at Hudson Institute in Washington and broadcast on Internet.

Although fields are described, according to cases, with different names, like "centres of vocational education", "bases" or "centers of reeducation", tenders specify, in some cases, own material of penitentiary centers: fences, walls Reinforced or turreted. In one case, installation of video communication systems similar to those used in family visits to prisoners was claimed.

Following network of centres, one finds " belief that a significant percentage of Muslim population is affected by extremist thoughts. So you need a certain percentage of population to undergo re-education, not only most serious cases, but also ors that have been exposed "to that ideology," explains Zenz.

Its mere existence, and very real possibility of ending up in one of m, "creates a strong atmosphere of intimidation and a half. It also keeps a significant part of population in custody, and if you're detained you can't do anything against government. So in short term it makes it very unlikely that re will be any terrorist plot. In long run, however, consequences can be quite serious, "he adds.

The control campaign includes or measures in addition to fields. Artificial intelligence has become a key tool. Mobiles are constantly inspected. There are plenty of checkpoints and cases where identification needs to be shown.

According to Human Rights Watch, which has extensively documented security measures in Xinjiang, a programme that existed since 2014 has been accelerating in recent months, and provides that Chinese officials are staying for several days with Uighur families. During se visits, NGO points out, "families must provide officials with information about ir lives and political views, and y are subject to political indoctrination." According to this organization, only in December 2017, more than one million officials were mobilized to stay in homes, mainly in countryside and among Muslim families. There is No evidence that hosts may refuse to welcome m.

For government, it is "a combination of compulsory loyalty, vigilance and control, information on subsidies and official aids and a public relations exercise, selling idea that people happily coexist with each or," explains Maya Wang, a researcher from HRW, from Hong Kong. But it's a very intrusive program. Even when you eat or sleep you do it under eyes of party. It's greatest invasion of intimacy possible. "

The situation, in all light, will continue and harden. According to Zenz's study, "Beijing will probably continue to support se measures, reflecting growing efforts of central government to bring barriers to ' foreign ' religions. Indeed, re-education system in Xinjiang may end up serving as a model for managing toughest bags of undesirable religious beliefs across country. "

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