Home News China's cultural suppression of Uyghurs targets home decor

China’s cultural suppression of Uyghurs targets home decor

Following revelations that Chinese authorities have been actively brainwashing Uyghur Muslims in prisoner camps across its western Xinjiang region, reports have now emerged that Beijing is targeting their home furnishings in efforts to further “Sinicize” the beleaguered minority.

The so-called “Sanxin Huodong“ or Three News campaign has allegedly sought to push Uyghurs and other Muslims to abandon traditional rugs, pillows, sofas, beds, desks, and other household items and replace them with more Chinese furnishings, which AsiaNews reports is largely to the benefit of Han Chinese businesses.

According to U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia (RFA), the campaign follows a 4 billion-yuan (U.S. $575 million) effort to “modernize” the region by targeting other aspects of Uyghur architecture and design.

Those who fail to comply risk being labeled extremists and locked up in a network of mass detention camps. 

RFA reached out to a government official in Kashgar city’s Nezerbagh township regarding the Sanxin Huodong campaign, but that official declined to comment.

However, one member of a local work group who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisal said the campaign was underway.

“It’s the Sanxin Huodong — right after we moved here, [the authorities] held a meeting about it after the flag-raising ceremony one morning … and they talk about it once a week now,” the work group member told RFA.

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That work group member said that the Three News referred to having sofas, beds, and a table at home, as opposed to felt mats or carpets.

Those beds were specifically offered up to official Han Chinese “relatives”, whom Uyghur families are required to invite into their homes in order to report on their lives and families as part of the 2017 “Pair Up and Become Family” campaign.

The latest campaign follows documents leaked in November 2019 showing that an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs believed to be locked up in China’s so-called vocational training centers are in fact being treated as top security prisoners.

Camp officials have been instructed to enforce strict discipline and punishments and to ensure no escapes take place while detainees are coerced into losing their ethnic and religious identity.

Ben Emmerson QC, a leading human rights lawyer and an adviser to the World Uighur Congress, told the BBC it was very difficult to view the camp system “as anything other than a mass brainwashing scheme designed and directed at an entire ethnic community.”

The mistreatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority prompted condemnation from the European Union on Dec. 20, 2019.

Chinese authorities have also clamped down on other faith groups as part of its ongoing “sinicization” process, which is intended to put all ethnic and religious minorities under the influence of Chinese culture and the Communist Party.

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