Uyghur activists dismiss Chinese propaganda documentary on happy Muslims in Xinjiang as ‘gruesome distortion of reality’
Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan], May 2 (ANI): Uyghur activists dismissed a documentary released by the state-owned China Global Television Network in mid-April in several languages, including English and Russian, in a bid to push Beijing’s narrative of Xinjiang to global audiences.
The documentary, Beyond The Mountains: Life In Xinjiang, depicted the lives of ethnic Uyghur and other Muslim minorities, mostly ethnic Kazakh and Kyrgyz, in Xinjiang, reported RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty (RFE/RL).
The documentary showed prosperous lives, freedom of choice, and abundant opportunities for Muslims who said that they enjoyed their home region of Xinjiang in China’s northwest.
Farangis Najibullah, writing in RFE/RL said that the film makes no mention of China’s brutal crackdown on Xinjiang’s Muslims that has seen more than one million people forced into a notorious network of massive internment camps, often run-in prison-like conditions, since 2017.
Xinjiang activists who spoke to RFE/RL condemned the documentary as blatant Chinese propaganda that is a gruesome distortion of reality.
The film seeks to counter multiple accounts by natives of Xinjiang who say that Muslims live in a climate of fear and oppression as authorities target their culture, religion, family life, and traditions.
The documentary also showcases that the government has created opportunities for young people to pursue their dreams in sports, music, business, and other areas.
As per the film, a Kashgar Corner Coffee & Tea, a start-up business run by young Muslim entrepreneur Mardan Ablimit has turned his dream into reality by opening a popular coffee house at the heart of Kashgar’s historic Old City to “blend the old and the new.”
While another young Muslim woman moved from her remote village to the city for a “well-paid” factory job that enabled her to provide a comfortable life for her family.
A Uyghur businesswoman challenged stereotypes to help young women in her community to pick Western-style wedding dresses was also depicted in the documentary.
It’s difficult to verify Ablimit’s story of success or others depicted in the documentary, who are shown to be happy over the opportunities provided to them by China, said Najibullah.
In reality, the Chinese government has shut down Xinjiang Muslims’ cultural centers, damaged or razed thousands of mosques and historical Muslim structures, and imprisoned community leaders, wrote Najibullah.
Muslims are barred in many areas from entering mosques until they reach the age of 18. Thousands have been jailed for performing Islamic prayers, celebrating holidays, or having traditionally large families.
Many Muslim children have been separated from their families and placed in special boarding schools — a move activists say is aimed at brainwashing the younger generation, reported RFE/RL.
Beijing has also reportedly embedded more than one million civil servants from the country’s majority Han Chinese population to live with Muslim families in Xinjiang as part of the assimilation effort as well as to monitor their movements and contacts, reported Najibullah.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote in its International Religious Freedom Annual Report issued on April 28, 2020, that “individuals have been sent to the camps for wearing long beards, refusing alcohol, or other behaviours authorities deem to be signs of ‘religious extremism.'”
Meanwhile, China denies all of the reports of widespread rights abuses in Xinjiang and insists that the internment camps are educational and vocational training centres aimed at preventing religious extremism.
But many survivors say many of the detainees at the internment camps are subjected to torture, rape, and forced labour, mainly working in textile factories and picking cotton. Some women have reported being forced to undergo an abortion and others say they were forcibly sterilized, reported RFE/RL.
The documentary comes after the United States, Britain, Canada, and the European Union imposed sanctions on several Chinese officials over the reported rights abuses in Xinjiang.
On April 22, the British House of Commons approved a parliamentary motion declaring crimes against humanity and genocide are being committed against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslims in Xinjiang. (ANI)