STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Chinese Uyghurs forced to welcome Communist Party into their homes

More than a million Chinese Communist officials are being dispatched to live with local families in the western regio...

Posted: May 14, 2018 2:56 PM
Updated: May 14, 2018 2:56 PM

More than a million Chinese Communist officials are being dispatched to live with local families in the western region of Xinjiang, a move seen as a sign of the government's increasingly tightened grip over the area's predominantly Uyghur Muslim population.

The so-called "home stays," announced by the government, target farmer households in southern Xinjiang, where the authorities have been waging an unrelenting campaign against what they call the forces of "terrorism, separatism and religious extremism."

Government statements and state media reports show that families are required to provide detailed information during the visits on their personal lives and political views. They are also subject to "political education" from the live-in officials-- whose stays are mandated to be at least one week per month in some locations.

International advocacy group Human Rights Watch highlighted and condemned the government's "home stay" program in a report released Sunday, calling it a serious violation of privacy and cultural rights of the 11 million ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

"What can be more intrusive than forcing your way into somebody's home, making them host you while conducting surveillance on them and saying you're bringing benefits to them?" Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, told CNN on Monday.

"It's the ultimate form of surveillance -- it's a forced political indoctrination and assimilation program," she added. "It's both creepy and perverse."

The "home stay" program, evolved from a government attempt that began in 2014 to have officials regularly visit and monitor people in Xinjiang, has greatly expanded since, involving 110,000 officials just two years ago to more than a million now, according to government figures.

State media reports these officials, most of whom belong to China's predominantly Han ethnic group, teach minority families to speak Mandarin, sing the national anthem and organize weekly national flag-raising ceremonies -- activities similar to what activists say are mandated for thousands of Uyghur Muslims arbitrarily detained in political education camps across Xinjiang.

CNN contacted the Xinjiang provincial government for comment but has not yet received a response.

'Forced intimacy'

Tensions have remained high in Xinjiang -- a resource-rich area long inhabited by the Turkic-speaking ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims -- following a spate of violent attacks in recent years. The Chinese authorities have blamed the incidents on Muslim Uyghur separatists seeking to establish an independent state.

In numerous photos posted online, the authorities paint a picture of ethnic unity, showing smiling Han officials and minority families jointly preparing meals, doing household chores, playing sports and even sharing the same bed -- images that Human Rights Watch's Wang says put the "forced intimacy" element of the program on full display.

Government statements have stressed the program's effectiveness in resolving people's daily and social problems such as trash collection to alcoholism.

But in a speech last December, a top Xinjiang official made clear the scheme's "strategic importance" in "maintaining social stability and achieving lasting security," as well as instilling the political theory of President Xi Jinping in the minds of local residents.

A local government statement online also indicated that officials must inspect the homes they are staying for any religious elements or logos -- and instructed the officials to confiscate any such items found in the house.

Activists say the regional government, now led by a hardline Xi loyalist, has not only continued to arrest and imprison many Uyghurs, but also increasingly relied on both high-tech tools and mass mobilization programs to keep the population in check.

In addition to the "home stay" initiative and the political education camps, they cite examples ranging from ubiquitous surveillance cameras, to mandatory GPS tracker installation in cars and DNA collection for all residents aged 12 to 65.

Last year authorities also enacted a sweeping anti-extremism law, with long beards, veils in public and home-schooling all on the ban list, prompting new denunciations from international human rights groups.

Amnesty International has said Uyghurs face widespread discrimination in housing, education and employment as well as curtailed religious freedom in their homeland. Other critics have linked the rise of violence in Xinjiang to Beijing's repressive reign there -- a claim the government vehemently denies.

Ethnic tensions

Over the past decades, the arrival in Xinjiang of waves of Han Chinese has also fueled ethnic tensions, despite the government's best effort to portray an image of ethnic harmony.

"We guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of all ethnicities and prohibit the discrimination and oppression against any ethnic groups," Zhang Yijiong, a senior Communist Party official in charge of ethnic minority affairs, told reporters last October.

"The cultures, histories, languages and traditions of all ethnicities are protected and respected by national laws."

Critics of Beijing's Uyghur policy see a starkly different scenario in Xinjiang, as the authorities intensify their crackdown and surveillance while forced political indoctrination spreads.

"The real intention of the Chinese government is to eliminate the Uyghurs as a distinct ethnic group," Rebiya Kadeer, a longtime exiled Uyghur leader who recently stepped down as president of the advocacy group World Uyghur Congress, told CNN in an interview in Washington last year.

"All this repression (in Xinjiang) only makes the Uyghurs hold on to their identity more firmly," she added. "China has awakened the Uyghur people."

Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 65°
Robinson
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 66°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 65°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 65°
Sunny and warmer!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1361569

Reported Deaths: 24671
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook54504110100
DuPage905031279
Will75456990
Lake67145988
Kane58349771
Winnebago33178474
Madison30500519
McHenry28573285
St. Clair27847513
Peoria23094310
Champaign20618145
Sangamon18724234
McLean18138179
Tazewell16938287
Rock Island14970314
Kankakee14176210
Kendall1303893
LaSalle12536243
Macon10750199
DeKalb9856119
Vermilion9628132
Adams8452123
Williamson7428129
Whiteside7160171
Boone669972
Ogle611181
Grundy588775
Clinton575790
Coles568695
Knox5553145
Jackson502464
Henry497066
Livingston481785
Stephenson475381
Woodford473976
Effingham472972
Macoupin469782
Marion4472115
Franklin444874
Monroe435793
Jefferson4291120
Lee416552
Randolph412984
Fulton391955
Morgan388981
Logan386958
Montgomery371974
Bureau371682
Christian365973
Fayette317455
Perry316960
Iroquois301866
McDonough284847
Jersey268949
Douglas258835
Saline256454
Lawrence240525
Shelby229537
Union226040
Crawford211626
Bond204824
Cass199125
Jo Daviess181024
Clark179933
Warren179746
Pike178852
Ford178246
Wayne177553
Hancock175931
Carroll175136
Richland175140
Edgar170239
White169626
Washington164525
Moultrie161028
De Witt150824
Mason150745
Piatt149714
Clay148143
Mercer146933
Johnson143915
Greene143633
Wabash134612
Massac133940
Cumberland129019
Menard123412
Jasper115018
Marshall106918
Hamilton83315
Schuyler7536
Brown7046
Pulaski6887
Stark63723
Edwards56912
Henderson52514
Calhoun5182
Putnam4823
Scott4781
Alexander46811
Gallatin4584
Hardin38612
Pope3204
Out of IL20
Unassigned02351

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 732692

Reported Deaths: 13450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1002531746
Lake53931975
Allen40779678
St. Joseph35838552
Hamilton35695408
Elkhart28695442
Tippecanoe22419219
Vanderburgh22332397
Porter18838309
Johnson18007379
Hendricks17269315
Clark13007191
Madison12708339
Vigo12470248
LaPorte11970212
Monroe11914170
Delaware10720186
Howard9946216
Kosciusko9438117
Hancock8310141
Bartholomew8078156
Warrick7789155
Floyd7672178
Grant7072174
Wayne7061199
Boone6712101
Morgan6593139
Dubois6162117
Marshall6073111
Cass5826105
Dearborn581878
Henry5758103
Noble562784
Jackson502773
Shelby493196
Lawrence4563120
Harrison436372
Gibson436092
DeKalb429285
Clinton427953
Montgomery425089
Whitley397139
Huntington392980
Steuben389457
Miami382267
Knox372690
Jasper368248
Putnam361660
Wabash354580
Adams341954
Ripley340170
Jefferson331281
White314854
Daviess298199
Wells291881
Decatur285492
Fayette281262
Greene279785
Posey271933
LaGrange267870
Scott266954
Clay260547
Washington241632
Randolph241181
Spencer232431
Jennings230449
Starke217154
Fountain213046
Sullivan212042
Owen201956
Jay196330
Fulton195540
Carroll189420
Orange184154
Perry183537
Rush173725
Vermillion169643
Franklin168435
Tipton163045
Parke146416
Blackford135132
Pike134934
Pulaski116945
Newton108134
Brown102441
Crawford100615
Benton98914
Martin89015
Warren82215
Switzerland7938
Union71010
Ohio57111
Unassigned0417