China Dangles Huge Payouts For Tips on ‘Terrorists’ in Largely Uyghur Hotan Prefecture

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uyghur-armed-civilians-hotan-nov-2017.jpg Armed civilians patrol the area outside the bazaar in the seat of Hotan prefecture, Nov. 3, 2017.
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Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have earmarked a substantial amount of cash to reward residents of Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture who report “acts of terrorism” in the predominantly ethnic Uyghur-inhabited area, according to official sources.

The Counter-Terrorism Reward Resolution, enacted by the government of Hotan Prefecture, set aside 100 million yuan (U.S. $15.2 million) for information on suspicious activities, and for individuals who “attack or kill terrorists,” the official Hotan Daily newspaper said in a post to its WeChat social media account earlier this month.

The exact amount of individual rewards will be made public soon, the report added.

Officers who responded to calls at police departments in the prefecture confirmed that the reward policy had been announced by their superiors, but mostly said they were unsure of the details of the scheme.

But a security guard who answered the phone at the Aqsaray police station in Hotan’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county agreed to read the content of the “Announcement of Payment Categories for Rewarding Members of the Public Who Provide Information on Illegal Activities Relating to Acts of Terrorism or Violence,” which he said had been posted in the station “two or three months ago.”

“People from all ethnic backgrounds who provide tips or clues of any illegal activities relating to acts of violence or terrorism will receive high rewards, once the information has been confirmed to be genuine after investigation,” the guard read from the notice, speaking to RFA’s Uyghur Service on condition of anonymity.

“Anyone who supplies information prior to a planned violent terrorist attack on high density public areas or key locations—such as government offices—using machetes, knives, bombs, or vehicles to ram buildings or people, will receive 3 million-5 million yuan (U.S. $456,000-760,000).”

According to the notice, anyone who provides information regarding those believed to “supply financial support to extremist organizations or individuals at home or abroad,” or about those who “attempt to cross national borders” will be rewarded 1million-2 million yuan (U.S. $152,000-304,000), depending on the quality of the information received.

Tipsters who inform on those who “plan or arrange illegal cross-border activities” are eligible for 2 million-3 million-yuan rewards.

The notice contained 19 reward categories in total, the guard said, with the lowest value of 2,000 yuan (U.S. $304) earmarked for informants who report “women in full dress” or “bearded men.”

“Number 19 states that anyone who reports women in full dress, young men who grow beards, and those who mix normal cultural traditions with religious extremism, will be rewarded 2,000 yuan,” the guard said.

Regional crackdown

While similar policies have promised to reward would-be spies on “terrorist activities” in past years in Xinjiang, the announcement from Hotan provides some of the most detailed information on how authorities monitor Uyghur residents.

Uyghur exile groups told RFA they were “deeply concerned” that the new resolution also rewards members of the public who attack and even kill alleged extremists, expressing fear that it would allow Han Chinese migrants to the region to “take the law in their hands” and “attack innocent Uyghurs with impunity” by labelling them “terrorists.”

Since Xinjiang Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo was appointed to his post in August last year, a series of harsh policies have been initiated targeting Uyghurs in the region, where members of the mostly Muslim ethnic group complain of religious and cultural repression and harassment under Chinese rule.

Thousands of Uyghurs accused of harboring “extremist” and “politically incorrect” views have been detained in political re-education camps and prisons throughout Xinjiang since April as part of an ongoing crackdown.

China regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang, including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.

While China blames some Uyghurs for “terrorist” attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat and that repressive policies in Xinjiang are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by RFA's Uyghur Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.


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