Some overseas organizations and media have been hyping China’s policy in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by initiating an online campaign to “find missing Uyghurs in China.”
They posted online that some Uyghurs are missing after China on December 9 announced the graduation from vocational education and training centers of trainees once influenced by extreme thoughts.
After digging into the online information released by some individuals and organizations on the alleged missing Uyghurs, confirming from the authorities in Xinjiang and visiting some of the “missing people” in different places in Xinjiang, the Global Times (GT) reporters found that they are living normal lives.
The allegedly “missing” people met by the GT reporters slammed those who have taken advantage of their identities and sought to interfere with China’s internal affairs, and told those who posted about them to stop disturbing their peaceful life.
The hashtag “StillNoInfo” has been used on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook in the past week.
With the hashtag, some overseas Uyghur people posted photos and names, claiming their relatives or friends can’t be contacted and have gone missing.
Some online organizations have also posted photos and names of allegedly “missing” Uyghur people in China.
The Global Times found that many figures who were engaged in starting the activity to find “missing Uyghurs” on overseas social media are members of “East Turkistan” separatist groups and this is their latest attempt to smear China’s Xinjiang policies.
For example, Rushan Abbas, leader of the so-called Campaign for Uyghurs, and Halmurat Harri, who started the “MeTooUyghur” activity, are found to be members of “East Turkistan” separatist groups. They first stole some Uyghurs’ photos and information, claimed these people to be “missing” relatives in Xinjiang, spread rumors on overseas media and had interactions with some certain media. Some overseas nongovernmental organizations, especially the Human Rights Watch, are also taking an active role in promoting these rumors.
Trainees who used to be influenced by extremism have graduated from the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang, and the training centers will be open to officials, herdsmen and other people willing to gain vocational skills, a senior Xinjiang official said at a press conference on December 9.
The “StillNoInfo” campaign was launched at the same time on Twitter and Facebook, with people charging that the Uyghur people they know in China are still missing.
However, the GT reporters met several people on the “StillNoInfo” list and found that they have been home for months and are living a regular life on the right path after graduating from the training center.
Ruzi Memet Atawulla works in a shoe factory in Hotan. He lives with his family in a house built with the help of local governments. Photo: Zhao Juecheng/GT
Ruzi Memet Atawulla, 23, works in a shoe factory in Hotan. In 2017, he went to a vocational education and training center after being influenced by extreme thoughts. He graduated in April 2018 and began to work in the factory.
Ruzi Memet told the Global Times that all his classmates in the training center have graduated and been employed.
Now every morning he takes a bus with some neighbors to the factory, working eight hours a day and earning 2,500 yuan ($350) a month.
“I should have made more effort, so that I could earn 3,000 yuan a month,” he said.
Ruzi Memet lives with his family in an 80-square-meter house built with the help of the local governments.
The family grows tomatoes, tulips, Chinese cabbages and grapes, which have brought them an income of 16,000 yuan this year. They also keep sheep and cows.
The day before the Global Times visited, Ruzi Memet just got married. “I bought a suite for the wedding,” he said with shyness.
However, for this family, Memet Tohti Atawulla, the elder brother, is an unspeakable scar. The Global Times learned that he was suspected of having joined the “East Turkistan” separatist group and has been attacking China’s Xinjiang policy. Recently, the elder brother claimed his brother Ruzi Memet was missing.
On December 10, Memet Tohti posted on Twitter with the hashtag “StillNoInfo,” claiming that his mother and brothers are suffering in “Chinese camps.”
Ruzi Memet could not hide his sadness talking about his elder brother. “Brother, you said you went abroad to study, but now you are with the separatist force and attack our [country’s] policy,” he said.
“Our life is getting better and we have a new house. I hope you stop colluding with the separatists. Our father is getting old and we all miss you a lot,” he said, choking with sobs.