A Chinese government campaign using Uyghur expatriates to make pro-Chinese videos and comments on social media platforms to mark the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on July 1 has been met with contempt by activists and internet users. of the Uyghur diaspora.
Posts, videos and photos on WeChat, TikTok and Instagram featuring ethnic Uyghurs praising the policies of the Chinese government in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have angered Uyghurs along with their family members in the vast internment camp system in the region which has brought international charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
In a video recently uploaded to TikTok, a Uyghur cosmetic surgeon named Mardan who lives in South Korea says he encouraged his seven-year-old daughter to attend a concert hosted by the Chinese Embassy celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CCP, where she sang a Chinese patriotic song.
Other videos show Mardan and his family at events at the embassy, giving interviews to Chinese journalists and expressing their loyalty to the Chinese state. The videos describe how Mardan imbues his two Korean-born daughters with ideas about “the unity of the Chinese nation” and “Chinese identity”.
Mardan says he posted videos of the girls on social media to spread the idea that Uyghurs live happily in China.
When contacted to discuss his short videos, Mardan abruptly ended the call, saying he couldn’t speak to RFA.
In another recent video on Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, a Norway-based Uyghur named Akbar praises cars and other goods made in China, and says he has always considered himself a proud “Chinese citizen” although he lives outside the country.
Uyghurs on social media were quick to condemn the video, after which Akbar posted a statement on Facebook asking for forgiveness from his fellow Uyghurs and claiming that he considered himself an “East Turkestan Uyghur”, using the name of the preferred XUAR. by most Uyghurs. Akbar said he was forced to make pro-Chinese statements about Douyin so he could maintain contact with his relatives in the XUAR.
Some members of the Uyghur diaspora have expressed their understanding of Akbar’s situation, but many others have denounced his actions as unacceptable.
“We are a subjugated people, a people who are going through genocide, and we have found ourselves in this situation because of the Uyghur Sinophiles among us, because of these people who support the government,” said Zubayra Shamseden, Chinese coordinator of the awareness raising of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
The “cowards among us”
A small number of Uyghurs who live in democratic countries publicly express their loyalty to the Chinese state, avoid Uyghur-led protests against Chinese policy around the world, and even report on Uyghurs abroad to government authorities to help block events and slander activists, Zubayra mentioned.
She cited the examples of Halida, a Uyghur working for the Chinese government in Australia who recently tried to block Uyghur-led protests, and a young Uyghur in Germany who spoke out in favor of the policy. Chinese and slandered the testimonies of survivors of the camps.
Such actions “make us ashamed that there are people like that among us, that there are such braders, traitors and cowards among us, that there are people who are so selfish that they destroy it. ‘future for an entire ethnic group, for a little personal gain,’ Zubayra said.
Although these people are useful to the Chinese authorities in their disinformation campaigns, they ultimately live under the threat that they and their families fall into China’s “black hands”, she added.
Some Uyghurs have spent their entire lives working loyally for the Chinese state, only to find themselves detained and locked up in camps and prisons – what China calls “two-faced Uyghurs,” she noted.
Since January, the US State Department and the parliaments of six other democratic countries have determined that the Chinese government is committing genocide against Uyghurs in the XUAR, citing internment camps that have detained some 1.8 million people, some of whom have been tortured or subjected to other abuse. A German parliamentary committee said last week that serious human rights violations against Uyghurs are crimes against humanity.
The United States and several other countries have imposed sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for various abuses against Uyghurs, as well as Chinese government agencies and companies suspected of using forced Uyghur labor to make products such as cotton. , wigs, tomatoes and polysilicon for solar panels. .
In response, the Chinese government has stepped up a multi-faceted campaign to counter its criticism and dismiss the allegations.
“As Beijing celebrates this month, our communities will mourn the gradual loss of our basic rights over the past century,” Dolkun Isa, president of the Uyghur World Congress, said in a statement released on June 28.
“We have nothing to celebrate during an ongoing genocide, so we will continue to speak out against this authoritarian regime,” Isa said. “The CCP is the world’s most formidable state-sponsored criminal organization. He is responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people over the past 100 years. [The] The CCP’s crimes must be held accountable by the international justice system.
Following increased pressure from the international community, the Chinese government has stepped up its disinformation campaign on the Uyghur crisis in Japan, in part by mobilizing the Chinese embassy and Chinese NGOs in the country, Uyghur residents said.
On April 29, two Japanese-based organizations, including the Chinese Teachers Association, held an online briefing in which a young Uyghur named Pahirdin Parhat gave a pro-China speech, according to Secretary Ahmatjan Letip. General of the Uyghur Association of Japan.
In addition to claiming that there were no internment camps in the XUAR, Pahirdin also criticized international human rights organizations for making what he called “baseless” allegations. against China.
The 25-year-old Uyghur said he grew up in China and said that Uyghurs were not discriminated against there. He also pointed out that Uyghurs and Han Chinese live together a prosperous and harmonious life in the XUAR, Ahmatjan said.
Among the different types of Chinese propaganda used abroad are online briefings organized by embassies by Chinese and Uyghur officials from the XUAR capital, Urumqi, so-called “cadets” and “religious figures” including minds have been changed in “re-education centers”, and ordinary people from all walks of life, Ahmatjan said.
“They claim that everything that is said about Uyghurs internationally is false, that it is propaganda fabricated by the West,” he said.
Pahirdin’s remarks drew strong condemnation from Uyghurs living in Japan, Ahmatjan said, amid a heightened propaganda campaign by the Chinese government there.
“Pahirdin spoke about the camps in his presentation, [and] he said the western media was spreading disinformation that a million Uyghurs were locked up in concentration camps, ”Ahmatjan said.
As in other countries, Chinese government officials are trying to justify the crimes they commit against Uyghurs by forcing Uyghur students to speak out in favor of the government and its policies, he said.
Ahmetjan pointed out that Pahirdin’s hour-long presentation had a negative impact on Japanese society and that in response his organization released a video and published editorials in major Japanese newspapers highlighting the untruths of the young Uyghur.
Abdulkerim Abdurahman, president of the Uyghur Association of Japan, told RFA that members of the association have started to carry out anti-disinformation activities in Japan.
“For this person named Pahirdin to side with China and refute all this oppression, to say that the Uyghurs live happily at a time when the people of our homeland are suffering indescribably, the Uyghurs deeply angry in Japan,” did he declare.
RFA could not locate Pahirdin for comment.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the CCP, the Washington-based Campaign for the Uyghurs issued a statement titled “100 Years of CCP Rule: Genocide is Nothing to Celebrate” and called for international attention to the CCP. China’s treatment of the 12 million Uyghurs in the XUAR.
“As the fireworks erupt in China, they will sound like an insult to the millions of people who are suffering under the CCP regime. They will light up a nation that has renounced freedom of religion and democracy in favor of an authoritarian regime, ”the statement said.
“It is a deeply sad day for the world, because we have not yet stopped the CCP’s reign of terror. The genocide of the Uyghurs is still going on, and every day the Party becomes more daring, ”said Rushan Abbas, executive director of the Washington-based NGO.
“This is our final wake-up call that the CCP must be stopped if we are to preserve a world system of dignity and order that is respected by all,” she said.
Reported by Mihray Abdilim and Erkin Tarim for RFA Uyghur service. Translated by Uyghur service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.