Vladimir Lenin told us; "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." Is China's desire to totally control Uyghur students rooted in it's communist beliefs?
Ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan Chinese schools in the Xinjiang region of China have begun to tighten controls on the ethnic Uyghur. In addition to the extorted promises of Uyghur parents agreeing to keep children under 18 years of age from fasting for Ramadan, China has begun sending out buses to gather up Uyghur students. These actions are said to be preventive measures that are supposed to keep both Uyghur and Han citizens safe during the anniversary of the July 5th, 2009 ethnic clashes in Urumqi. The thing that makes Uyghur groups both in exile and within China find these measures offensive and discriminatory is the fact that China only appears to target Uyghur when such measures are taken.
Such actions often include the confiscation of Uyghur students' cell phones and other personal electronic devices. These confiscated phones are searched and most of the time returned. If an Uyghur student attempts to hide their property from the authorities they face severe consequences, of which China is not willing to talk about. Yet Han students are excused from search and seizure methods that are applied to Uyghur students.
This is amplified by the state sponsored segregation of Uyghur students from the rest of the students in Xinjiang schools. However when Uyghur students are not segregated they become ready targets for Han students and ethnically Han teachers. In October of 2011 a group of Han students barged their way into a Uyghur language class armed with sticks. These Han students savagely attacked and beat Uyghur students as the Han teacher stood by and watched. Yet in other cases Uyghur students in even earlier grade levels are routinely subjected to severe beatings by Han teachers for even the most minute of infractions (often only perceived offenses). Han students on the other hand are rarely punished, let alone physically.
“I was sent to Canada to study ... because I couldn’t go to school back home because I was afraid of my Chinese teachers and Chinese classmates.”
~ Uyghur Student seeking asylum in Canada
The response by many Uyghur parents has been to transfer their children to schools that are officially bilingual or have a Uyghur majority. This initial response has created a system in which the Uyghur fall in line with the Chinese desire for total segregation. It completes the initiatives put forth by Chinese officials without forcing the government to accept responsibility. The excuse that is often offered by Chinese government officials is that the two ethnic groups just simply can't "get along". Therefore when a group of Han students attacks a group of Uyghur students the officials are able to tell the outside media (heavily restricted, if ever allowed into Xinjiang) that this is just how children behave. While at the same time China takes advantage of ethnic division and further alienates the Uyghur community.
Division, after all, allows for China's government to carry out it's own "war on terror" in Xinjiang. It permits China the oppertunity to put pressure on the Uyghur community so as to crush any future hopes of a separatist movement. With continual pressure of China's heel upon the Uyghur people the government in Beijing seeks to subdue the spirit of a people. Under it's weight it seeks to force Uyghur no other option but to leave their homeland. Thus replacing the Uyghur with China's "ethnic Chinese" Han people.
While these statements may be controversial to some. The history of China's actions in the Uyghur Autonomous Region has been that of an invasion force. From the start in 1949, China sought to bring the region under control by forcing Han citizens to move into the region. From the very moment the People's Liberation Army entered Xinjiang the Chinese began to flood the region with friendly civilians. Once established in the region, China laid out laws that blatantly favored the Han while discriminating against the Uyghur people. This tradition has been unimpeded every since.
In 2009's ethnic riots the Chinese government used the excuse that the initial protestors (and instigators of the violence) were in fact Uyghur. The part that China ignores is that the ethnic violence quickly placed blood on both Han and Uyghur hands. Even more importantly, China refuses to admit to the fact that military and police forces entered the fray clearly on the side of the Han citizens of Urumqi. These police forces then conducted arbitrary arrests that cast a large net over Uyghur neighborhoods while almost completely avoiding the Han neighborhoods. Disappearances of Uyghur men and boys followed the 2009 riots and have not ended.
The Uyghur children are however the real victims of China's entrenched bias against them. From the moment Uyghur students come of age to be school bound they are introduced to a state sponsored system of oppression and discrimination. They are not allowed to speak their language in Chinese state schools without fear of beatings by both teachers and Han students alike. Instead of being taught the history of their people, Uyghur students are forced to learn the official history of Xinjiang and The People's Republic. Their heritage and ethnicity are taught to them to be reasons for their suffering at the hands of government officials. And yet all of this is supposed to teach the children of the Uyghur to be faithful to a government all the way across the country in Beijing. A government that they are not permitted to take part in or advantage of.
Seeds grow in their own time and in their own way. If China intends to teach loyalty to the system (which I highly doubt) then they will be greatly disappointed when the children they teach bring forth the fruit of the seed China has planted. A government that teaches it's youth that it is a burden, an obstacle, and an oppressor cannot pray for patriotism. Instead, it prepares it's field for conflict.
(Note: not all sources listed)
Radio Free Asia
Human Rights Watch