Xinjiang’s mass arrests of Uyghurs and others in re-education effort creates demand for more prison guards, whom authorities appear to have trouble attracting.
Bitter Winter has reported in detail about the extensive – and escalating – campaign of mass arrests and detention of Uyghur, Hui, and other minorities in the Xinjiang region. It appears the mass detentions are creating a new problem for authorities: how to attract enough prison guards to supervise and control all the new political prisoners.
On October 26, 2018, the Xinjiang Bureau of Prison Administration posted a call for candidates to apply for 1013 prison guard positions. The recruiting announcement lists generous benefits for the jobs such as “official staff status and generous compensation,” implying authorities are having trouble attracting enough candidates.
Over the past two years, Xinjiang authorities have been building transformation through education camps across the region. The camps house mostly Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Hui people and aim to remake them into patriotic supporters of the Chinese Communist Party.
A relative of a Hui Muslim detainee told Bitter Winter, “Rooms in the camp that were built to hold ten people are now holding 30 people; there’s not even enough room to turn over when sleeping. With these poor living conditions, it’s inevitable that the prisons would need to increase their police force.”
In recent months, locations across Xinjiang have been recruiting all types of law-enforcement officers at high wages to increase their security forces. Authorities have even resorted to recruiting from other provinces, including Henan Province, to meet recruitment goals. In December, for example, Alashankou city in Xinjiang hired 200 law-enforcement officers, each police officer with a salary of approximately 9,400 RMB (about $1,370) per month, and auxiliary police officers paid 7,000 RMB (about $1,020) per month.
Some observers conclude that this push to hire law-enforcement officers reflects increasing strains in Xinjiang. Police are stretched thin between the transformation through education camps and the daily “social stability maintenance” operations, which have also been increased recently.
Critics believe that it won’t be long until all of Xinjiang is a giant prison.
Reported by Li Benbo