A video clip of a gloomy bride, believed to be a young Uyghur woman, appearing to begrudge marrying her groom, a member of China’s predominant Han race, has been circulating online, with observers and Uyghur human-rights advocacy groups calling it more proof of Beijing’s callous bid to “attenuate” the Uyghur identity in Xinjiang.
The video is believed to have been taken in southern Xinjiang, a vast region that has been highly populated by Uyghurs in small communities since they were hived off in sweeping re-siting programs executed in the region’s capital Urumqi after the Communist Party’s takeover of China in 1949.
Talk to East Turkestan, a Xinjiang human-rights concern group, alleged on its Facebook page that the relatives of this Uyghur woman were held captive at an “ideological remolding camp” set up by local party cadres and she had to marry that Han man she had met just two months ago, for the safety and release of her family members.
The celebration of a marriage that was not at all euphoric was the latest evidence of Beijing’s systematic “racial cleansing” and “genocide,” the group claimed in a post.
The group also indicated that virtually all male Uyghurs would be incarcerated for education programs held at schools and government facilities for varying lengths.
The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, made up of exiled Uyghur dissidents labeled by Beijing as separatists, told Hong Kong’s Apple Daily that Uyghurs had no tradition of intermarrying Han people but under Beijing’s scheme of forced assimilation, there had been such marriages in exchange for allowances or release of relatives locked up in “education” camps.
It’s said that courses in Mandarin language and Chinese history, as well as political pamphlets touting Communism and racial harmony, are offered at these camps to inculcate Beijing-decreed thoughts.
Beijing has claimed that these courses were intended to foster social inclusion and national identity and equip young Uyghurs with necessary language skills for their own career development.
Local authorities also dangle a host of perks and pecuniary aids, such as one-off cash handouts, housing allowances and baby bonuses totaling tens of thousands of yuan, to encourage intermarriages between different ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Han people now make up around 38% of Xinjiang’s total population, which stood at 21.8 million last year. Other than Uyghurs, the region also has considerable diasporas of Kazakhs and Muslim Hui people.