Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 27, 2018
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) police arrested almost all male Muslims over the age of thirty in a village in Xinjiang and sent them to “transformation through education camps” – an immense network of camps for native Uyghur ethnic minority set up by the government as part of a major crackdown on Muslims, launched in 2014. According to some calculations, the camps, supposedly created to counter “religious extremism,” now host around a million people.
Barely any men are left at home in a village in Huocheng County, Yining city – the majority of them were taken to the camps. Moreover, for villagers’ supervision, authorities have installed CCTV cameras at each intersection and monitor all phone calls. The Government gave each household a large clock ordering to hang it in a living room; anyone who disobeyed was threatened to be arrested. Fearing that the clocks contain a camera or a covert listening device, the villagers do not dare examine the clocks or speak aloud in their homes. Even their relatives are wary of visiting.
On March 18, the local police forced their way into the home of a 55-year-old Uyghur named Ma. Officers asked him if he had ever read the Quran. Ma, an honest and straightforward peasant, not used to police interrogations, truthfully answered that he read some parts of Quran with his father when he was little. Taking Ma’s answer as a confession, officers immediately arrested him. Ma’s family later learned that he was taken to “The Loving Heart School” (爱心学校), which, hiding behind a creepily inappropriate name, in reality, is an indoctrination camp where the CCP “fights religious extremism.” Ma was only allowed to call his family once a week or every two weeks, each call was automatically cut off after five minutes. Since all phone calls were closely monitored, Ma would only ask “Is everyone okay?” every time he called his family, not daring to say anything else.
On the evening of March 4, Ma was at home with his granddaughter. Suddenly, two officers from the Huocheng County National Security Brigade forced their way into the house and arrested Ma, leaving his five-year-old granddaughter alone in the courtyard, crying with fear. Ma’s family, afraid of persecutions and not wanting to harm him, did not take any steps to find his whereabouts. They only received his arrest warrant more than a month later but never saw him again.
55-year-old Jin was a devoted Muslim and often went to the mosque to read the Quran. One day at the beginning of April, officers from the County National Security Brigade broke into his house and took him away. Jin was sent to “The Loving Heart School.” Hoping that keeping silence would guarantee Jin’s early release, his wife did not tell anyone about what had happened to her husband. To demonstrate her allegiance to the Party, she was forced to attend the national flag-raising ceremonies every Monday and learn songs worshiping the Chinese Communist Party.
Villagers, whose family members have been sent to camps for intense indoctrination, are monitored even more closely. During Ramadan this year, the government rewarded informants with hundreds or even thousands of RMB for reporting on those who fast. All who go to the mosque for worship must swipe their ID cards at the entrance. If authorities determine that somebody is spending too much time in the mosque, he is sent to the “Loving Heart School.”
The whole village lives in a perpetual state of terror and anxiety, afraid of being arrested and punished if authorities decide that they have done or said something “counterrevolutionary.” Some villagers have lamented that “Living in a country where the CCP holds power is as frightening as living in prison. The Communist government not only controls what you say it also tries to control what you think! The CCP is driving us mad!”