The “ten household joint defense” policy is rapidly spreading across Xinjiang and terrifying both the minorities and Han Chinese people.
Recently, Bitter Winter reported about the “ten household joint defense,” which has been instituted in several regions of Xinjiang. Groups of ten Han Chinese households are forced to buy riot control gear to keep the minorities, Uyghurs, in check.
We now have the details of how these groups are being trained. Since May 2018, the policy has been fully implemented in Shihezi city of Xinjiang. The police conduct regular “counter-terrorism drills,” and even business owners are required to participate in it.
Like with households, the business owners were told to spend a large sum of money to buy the necessary equipment. That includes fire extinguishers, one-button alarms, protective clothing, batons and more. Authorities from various departments take turns in inspecting a shop’s equipment, and even if a single item is found missing, the shop would be shut down.
As soon as the police officers blow the whistles, the proprietor and his employees are expected to show up at a designated spot within 30 seconds, armed with full gear. Those who fail to do so are punished. For the first violation, a reminder is given. For the second, the proprietor’s business is shut down for three days. The third one is the final violation allowed as for that people are sent to “transformation through education” camps.
In June, the owner of a dry cleaning shop was late in coming out after the whistle. As a result, the store was shut down and the owner, who was sent to a camp, is still in detention.
This has created an atmosphere of panic and fear amongst the business owners and workers. A waitress at a restaurant complained, “We are scared and on edge every day. We are always alert and afraid of facing serious consequences if we don’t hear the whistle when it is blown outside. Our boss has also reminded us many times that if we don’t want him to be sent to a camp or the restaurant to shut down, then we need to pay attention.”
The waitress recounts a recent incident. “This one time, while I was busy at work, a colleague said that she thought she heard a whistle outside. Without hesitation, I hurried out. But as soon as I looked around, I saw there was no one. The whistle had been sounded for ten stores behind us. This has happened many times, and this fear is driving us crazy!”
Reported by Li Zaili
Li Zaili (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), born in Xinjiang in 1982, went to the United States to study at the age of 16. After graduating from university, Li returned to Xinjiang and worked in journalism. In 2014, Xinjiang authorities started detaining large numbers of Muslims in “transformation through education camps.” Learning of that, he left his original position and began independently collecting and organizing information related to “transformation through education camps,” and submitted articles for publication in overseas media outlets. After Bitter Winter was founded in May 2018, Li Zaili became a special correspondent of Bitter Winter covering Xinjiang, Xizang and some other regions in China.