Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang are urging citizens to turn in ethnic Uyghur workers in government and other public sectors suspected of disloyalty toward Chinese policies in the politically sensitive region, sources say.
Phone lines have been set up to encourage informants in major cities, while a public announcement issued in mid-October in Xinjiang’s Bortala city urges readers to identify cadres and other workers suspected of “two-faced” behavior.
Numerous categories of disloyal activity are outlined in the document, a copy of which was recently obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service.
Some concern involvement in religious practice restricted by authorities in the mostly Muslim region, while others relate to the harboring or promotion of “separatist” or “extremist” sentiment, or to the providing of support to separatist groups.
The publication of information “harming the unity of the country” or “distorting the history of Xinjiang,” the ethnically Turkic Uyghurs’ homeland now claimed by Beijing, is also flagged as a disloyal act.
Reached for comment by RFA, an officer on duty at the Gusu police station in Bortala quickly hung up the phone, while an officer in Bortala’s Hongxin police station said that rewards would not be offered for information on “two-faced” workers.
“Just expose them, like it said in the announcement,” he said.
Also speaking to RFA, a Han Chinese official at the Bortala Party Committee office said that a special office has now been set up in Bortala to examine information brought forward by informers.
“Higher authorities will judge all of this,” she said, before whispering to a colleague and then hanging up the phone.
Heightened repression in Xinjiang may now be leading Uyghurs living in the region to betray others in order to survive, Ilshat Hassan—president of the Washington-based Uyghur American Association—told RFA in an interview.
“As soon as ordinary Uyghurs realize that nothing can guarantee their personal safety, they may decide to expose others’ so-called dangerous and suspicious activities in order to protect themselves,” he said.
“In this way, they can show the Chinese authorities that they themselves are not a danger to the state.”
Since April, thousands of Uyghurs accused of harboring “extremist” and “politically incorrect” views have been detained in re-education camps throughout Xinjiang, where members of the ethnic group complain of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
Reports indicate that authorities in Xinjiang are now also detaining Uyghurs who have traveled outside China, sometimes to visit family members in Central Asia or to pursue religious studies in Turkey and Egypt, and are refusing to free them until they admit it was “wrong” to have left the country.
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 that Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.
Reported and translated by Kurban Niyaz for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.