Sources from Yining city report about further measures against Islam in Xinjiang, and new “transformation through education” camps being built.
Bitter Winter continues to receive reports from Xinjiang about the massive crackdown on the local Muslim population, including ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs. New reports came from the city of Yining, Xinjiang, revealing massive control of the Muslim population’s phones and offering new details on the inhumane conditions in the so-called “transformation through education” camps.
After well-publicized cases of Muslims who escaped to Kazakhstan, both Kazakhs and Uyghurs are strictly forbidden to get close to the borders with Kazakhstan and other countries. Muslims who, for whatever reasons, have visited Kazakhstan are interrogated repeatedly. If their reasons for visiting Kazakhstan look suspicious, they are arrested.
Police investigation of entire villages is also becoming common. The cell phone service is blocked to prevent communication, and the identity and religious attitudes of each villager are checked, with many being sent to the “transformation through education” camps.
As Bitter Winter reported in June, a massive “home-stay” program is implemented, with Communist cadres sent to live in homes of Uyghur families both to keep them under watch and report on them. According to an informant, it seems that as a further step of this program, the cadres sent to Xinjiang are now encouraged to marry local Muslims, which is seen as an opportunity to draw them away from religion.
Spying on each other is also encouraged and rewarded, and local Muslims are forbidden from wearing headscarves or using the religious salutation “Bismillah” (“In the name of God”).
Last month, we also reported that almost all Muslim men over thirty in a village of Huocheng County, near the city of Yining, were sent to “transformation through education” camps. A source added new details about the living conditions in these camps, reporting that expenses for clothing and food of the inmates should be paid by their families. The pretext is that detainees are in the camps to “study,” but in fact, they spend part of their time in forced labor, from which the government obviously profits.
The “study” part is also painful. Inmates are required to memorize Chinese Communist Party (CCP) texts, including speeches at the 19th National Congress of the CCP and those by president Xi Jinping, and to be able to recite them in Mandarin, a language most of them do not speak at all. Our sources report that every day several inmates collapse and are sent to hospitals and that the already very extensive network of “transformation through education” camps for Xinjiang Muslims, hosting, according to some scholars, one million detainees, is now being further expanded.