‘Eradicate the tumours’: Chinese civilians drive Xinjiang crackdown

By: AFP April 26,2018 - 08:29 PM

THE CIVILIAN group descended on the village under government instructions to “win the people’s hearts,” but it also had a darker mission: identifying and punishing threats to the Chinese state.

Four months after the Communist Party sent the “work team” to Akeqie Kanle, a fifth of its adult population — over 100 people — had disappeared into detention and re-education centres.

The team — comprising staff from a regional university — was among more than 10,000 such groups that poured into rural Xinjiang last year as part of the government’s battle against separatism and “religious extremism” in the region, home to several Muslim ethnic minority groups.

Called “research the people’s conditions, improve the people’s lives and win the people’s hearts,” the program recruits officials and university professors — mostly from China’s Han majority group — to spread party propaganda, eliminate rural poverty and promote “ethnic harmony.”

The work is vital to a social engineering campaign that has permeated every aspect of daily life in the fractious far western state, with the aim of politically indoctrinating the entire population.

Last year, the party tasked participants with enforcing increasingly draconian restrictions on religious and personal freedoms in a process that echoes the decades of brutal thought reform under Mao Zedong.

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TAGS: Chinese, CIVILIANS, crackdown, drive, eradicate, tumours, Xinjiang

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