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  • In a far corner of northwestern China, a car drives along a wall lined with barbed wire, heading towards what looks like a standard apartment complex.

  • Access here is restricted, and the cameraperson is filming secretly.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Filming is prohibited. Don't film.

  • (Speaking Chinese) I'm not going to, I'm just going to follow you inside and take a look.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Fine.

  • Because this is no ordinary residence.

  • It's part of a contentious labor resettlement program run by the Chinese government to extend state control over Muslim minorities, mostly Uighurs, by moving them from one part of China to work in another.

  • This covert, low-quality footage that we've adjusted to reveal some details, and obscure others, gives us some rare insights into how people in this program live and are indoctrinated.

  • [Love the party, love the country, love the family of the Chinese nation.]

  • [Anti-separatism, anti-extremism, anti-violence]

  • Over the last few years, the mass incarceration of more than a million Uighurs and Kazakhs by the Chinese government has led to international outrage.

  • These labor programs are part of that larger story.

  • Let's take a closer look at the compound we showed you at the beginning.

  • It's in Xinjiang, in the northern city of Kuitun, where the population is mostly China's Han ethnic majority.

  • But the workers in the compound are Uighurs, and other minorities transferred there from their homes in Hotan and Kashgar, hundreds of miles away.

  • At the Kuitun complex, there are multiple dormitories.

  • We see that right around the time the transfer started in 2017, a security checkpoint and another building, a cafeteria, were built at the site.

  • The cameraperson is now shooting inside of the cafeteria.

  • (Speaking Chinese) How many dishes? Only one dish?

  • (Speaking Chinese) Two dishes and rice.

  • We can see the compound's residents.

  • They all work as street cleaners.

  • A sign describing the program calls them Kashgar and Hotan surplus labor.

  • It also lists instructions for how they should conduct themselves.

  • And another poster offers guidelines on how to interact with the local population.

  • [Activities outside: Treat people with politeness, be neither servile nor overbearing. When receiving help say thank you. When being misunderstood say sorry.]

  • This program and others like it have led to the relocation of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs away from their homes and families.

  • But government propaganda openly promotes these as poverty-alleviation initiatives.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Promoting the employment transfer of rural and urban surplus laborers from Kashgar and Hotan and increasing their income reflect the C.P.C. Central Committee, General Secretary Xi Jinping and Xinjiang's Party Committee and government's care for all ethnic groups in Kashgar and Hotan.

  • What's at stake here is about more than just putting people into labor programs.

  • The bigger goal is to turn Uighurs and other ethnic minorities away from their own heritage, to be more in line with the rest of Communist China.

  • Back at the compound, the rules strictly limit when and where the workers can go.

  • We hear about this as a cameraperson meets residents in the sleeping quarters.

  • (Speaking Chinese) For example, if you don't eat at the cafeteria at night, can you eat outde?

  • (Speaking Chinese) Not at night, at noon we can.

  • (Speaking Chinese) You've been here for a year. Have you ever been back home to see your kid?

  • (Speaking Chinese) Go back? No, no, no

  • This man was pressured to come here a year earlier, leaving his family, a wife and young child, behind.

  • His life here includes mandatory Mandarin classes in the evenings.

  • And despite the government's claim that they are lifting these workers out of poverty, he says he's only making a third of what he did back home.

  • (Speaking Chinese) How much do you make here every month?

  • (Speaking Chinese) 2,000 RMB -[285 USD a month]

  • (Speaking Chinese) How much did you make at home, before you came here?

  • (Speaking Chinese) I made 200 RMB a day last year. -[Up to USD 856 a month].

  • Yarkand County is the home he left behind.

  • For Uighurs in towns like these, the future is becoming increasingly uncertain because the decision, whether to stay or go, is often no longer in their hands.

In a far corner of northwestern China, a car drives along a wall lined with barbed wire, heading towards what looks like a standard apartment complex.

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A Secret Look Inside a Chinese Labor Program for Uighurs | Visual Investigations

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    Helena posted on 2020/03/24
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