‘Mandarin only’: China removes Uyghur language as medium of instruction in Xinjiang
Even as China continues to reject the allegations of ongoing human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, the alleged atrocities against the Uyghur Muslims continues. In a recent revelation, it has now been revealed that the Chinese authorities have removed the Uyghur language instruction from educational institutions in the region.
According to a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report, the Keplin county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) no longer provides education in Uyghur language to students. Xinjian province is the home to Uyghur population, and the national laws guarantee minorities the right to bilingual education.
In an audio recording accessed by RFA’s Uyghur Service this week, a person claiming to be an Uyghur man from Kelpin county was reportedly heard making phone calls to the Bureau of Education in his hometown to ask for information about how to place the children of his neighbours, who he claims are detained in an internment camp, in school.
Instruction to be carried out in ‘national language’ or ‘Mandarin Chinese’ only
Continuing, the man who identified himself as an employee of the Kelpin Bureau of Education says that the caller could bring the two children, reportedly aged five and seven, to the bureau offices. As the caller asked to clarify which language the children would study in, the bureau employee said that instruction in Kelpin would be carried out in the “national language,” or Mandarin Chinese only.
When the caller asked if it is possible to choose the medium of instruction to be Uyghur, the Bureau employee responded by saying, “The national language is the standard now.”
After receiving the audio recording, the RFA has now received similar calls from Kelpin County No. 1 Intermediate School. One of the administrators confirmed to RFA that “schools in Kelpin no longer offer Uyghur language instruction”.
“Speaking Uyghur language is not allowed [on school grounds],” the administrator said stating, “Normally, it’s not even OK for us (staff) to speak to one another in Uyghur.”
Persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China
According to a 2017 report by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, the increasing Muslim population in Xinjiang contributed to increased political risk, poverty, and extremism. One of the reasons cited behind their high birth rates was the Islamic belief that the foetus was a gift from God.
However, experts are of the view that it is a strategy of the Communist Party of China (CCP) to strip Uighurs of their religious and ethnic identity and assimilate them into the dominant Han Chinese ethnicity. While Uighur Muslims are often subjected to re-educational programs, forced labour, and digital surveillance, their children are indoctrinated in orphanages.
Reportedly, Uyghur Muslims have been the subject of a massive crackdown since 2017. They were held up in prisons for praying, traveling abroad, or even using social media under the pretext of containing ‘ religious extremism’. According to researcher Zenz, two counties and townships have directed authorities to leave no ‘blind spots’, contain illegal births, and decrease fertility levels.
However, China has rejected allegations of cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps and interfering in their religious activities. The Communist Party of China has denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang even as several reports highlight brutal crackdown on the ethnic community.
Recently, a commission of the United States Congress, in a new report, said that China has possibly carried out “genocide” against Uyghurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang.