China forcibly separates Uighur children from their families

Chinese President Xi Jinping is apparently pushing ahead with his assimilation policy against the Muslim Uyghur minority. Experts warn of human rights violations.

In China, the government in Beijing is taking increasingly systematic action against the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region – and apparently not stopping at children. As UN human rights activists reported on Tuesday, Uyghur children and children of other minorities are increasingly being forcibly separated from their parents and raised in state boarding schools, according to the government in Beijing. They warn of human rights violations.

“We are deeply concerned that boarding schools in Xinjiang are taught almost exclusively in the official language, with little or no use of Uyghur as a language of instruction,” said the UN experts. The separation of children from their families could lead to them being forced to adapt to the Mandarin language spoken by the majority in China and also replacing their customs with Han cultural practices.

Hundreds of thousands of children could be affected

As the experts reported on Tuesday, the state’s coercive measures mainly affected Uyghur children whose parents were in exile or in the Chinese government’s internment camps. The exact number of children is unclear, but observers and human rights activists assume that Beijing has put hundreds of thousands of people in Xinjiang against their will in re-education camps, sometimes tortured and forced into forced labor. The number of children is likely to be correspondingly high.

Beijing threatens teachers with punishments

According to the UN experts, the authorities treat the children of exiles or internees as orphans and place them not only in boarding schools, but also in preschools and orphanages – cut off from their original community. Teachers should also face severe punishment if they speak Uyghur to children. “This will inevitably lead to a loss of connection with their families and communities and undermine their attachment to their cultural, religious and linguistic identities,” analyze the experts.

“The massive scale of the allegations raises extreme concerns about the violation of fundamental human rights,” they said. They therefore contacted the government in Beijing. According to experts, this is pursuing a rigorous assimilation policy towards the Muslim Uyghur minority. President Xi Jinping tightened this course again after taking office in 2013.