Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have issued a directive completely banning the use of the Uyghur language at all education levels up to and including secondary school, according to official sources, and those found in violation of the order will face “severe punishment.”
The new ban marks one of the strongest measures yet from Beijing aimed at assimilating ethnic Uyghurs, who complain of pervasive ethnic discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression by the China’s ruling Communist Party in Xinjiang.
In late June, the Education Department in Xinjiang’s Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture issued a five-point directive outlawing the use of Uyghur at schools in favor of Mandarin Chinese “in order to strengthen elementary and middle/high school bilingual education.”
Under the directive—a copy of which was obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service—schools must “insist on fully popularizing the national common language and writing system according to law, and add the education of ethnic language under the bilingual education basic principle.”
Beginning in the fall semester this year, Mandarin Chinese “must be resolutely and fully implemented” for the three years of preschool, and “promoted” from the first years of elementary and middle school “in order to realize the full coverage of the common language and writing system education.”
The directive instructs schools to “resolutely correct the flawed method of providing Uyghur language training to Chinese language teachers” and “prohibit the use of Uyghur language, writing, signs and pictures in the educational system and on campuses.”
Additionally, the order bans the use of Uyghur language in “collective activities, public activities and management work of the education system.”
Any school or individual that fails to enforce the new policy, that “plays politics, pretends to implement, or acts one way and does another,” will be designated “two-faced” and “severely punished,” it said, using a term regularly applied by the government to Uyghurs who do not willingly follow such directives.
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Reported by Eset Sulaiman for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Alim Seytoff. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
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