HONG KONG—Students at a top Beijing language college who come from the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have been attending political study classes in which they are taught the official Party line on last year's deadly ethnic violence there, a university official said.
Officials at the prestigious Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) ran a series of intensive classes during November and December to "educate" ethnic minorities from Xinjiang, mostly Muslim Uyghurs, about the clashes, in which at least 197 people died.
"We had such a program for ethnic minorities here," university official Memet said.
"We told them what went on there, and we had them watch some of the relevant video [from the July 5 clashes]."
"We had all kinds of media, video, everything," he said.
"We organized them to go and watch it. It was also released on the Internet. It was very openly available."
BFSU currently has around 80 students from Xinjiang who are likely to go back to their hometowns for the lunar new year holidays in February.
Uyghurs, a distinct and mostly Muslim ethnic group indigenous to Xinjiang, have long complained of religious, political, and cultural oppression under Chinese rule, and tensions have simmered there for years.
The classes came after a top-level meeting on ethnic unity education among the heads of China's top universities, according to Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, of Beijing's Minzu University, who was detained briefly following the clashes after giving interviews to foreign media.
The ethnic violence began July 5 after police suppressed a peaceful demonstration of Uyghurs and left at least 197 mostly Han Chinese residents dead, according to official media.
Exiled Uyghurs have accused Chinese police of firing on unarmed demonstrators who were calling for government action following attacks on Uyghur migrant workers at a factory in southern China.
Twelve people have since been sentenced to death in connection with the violence, which prompted a regionwide shutdown of Internet and international phone services, with at least 700 people detained by the authorities.
Original reporting in Cantonese by Hai Nan. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.