Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are preparing local residents for visits with outside “inspectors” by ordering them to disavow knowledge of “family planning” policies targeting Uyghurs that a recent report equated to genocide, according to sources.
RFA’s Uyghur Service recently received information from an anonymous source who said that authorities in Suydung (Shuiding) township, in Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Qorghas (Huocheng) county, have been holding meetings over the past two weeks to warn residents that people may be visiting the area to inquire about birth control policies.
According to the source, who has knowledge of the region and declined to provide their name for fear of reprisal, police personnel are warning residents in the meetings that they risk fines and even detention in an internment camp for giving “incorrect” responses to the visiting inspectors, who may include both Chinese nationals and foreigners.
The meetings appear to have begun shortly after Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow in China Studies at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, published a report in collaboration with the Associated Press in June detailing a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of forced sterilizations and abortions targeting Uyghurs in region.
In his report, Zenz concludes such policies may amount to a government-led campaign of genocide according to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
They also come as China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin addressed a question during a regular press briefing in Beijing about France’s recent condemnation of the mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR, and its demand that independent rights observers be granted access to the region to investigate claims of abuses there.
“We welcome those with a truly objective and fair attitude to visit Xinjiang and see for themselves the real situation and avoid being blinded by these rumors and slanders,” he said, dismissing reports that authorities in the region have held some 1.8 million people in a vast network of internment camps since April 2017.
RFA recently spoke with an officer from the Suydung Township Police Station who confirmed that a colleague was in charge of the preparatory work related to the inspections, and that predominantly Uyghur “assistant police officers are undertaking this work in the villages.”
When asked what residents are being instructed to say to inspectors, the officer said he did not know and referred further questions to those in charge of the meetings.