A Chinese court has handed down a conditional death sentence on former Xinjiang department of education directors on charges including writing and publishing school textbooks that it said were designed to “divide the country.”
Sattar Sawut and his deputy, Shirzat Bawudun, were sentenced to death with a two-year pardon, while five other Uighur men, including publishers, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, according to state media.
The dates of the convictions and sentences are unknown, but they were revealed in a state media film released last week, amid a public relations crackdown by the Chinese government rejecting international criticism of its abuses in the region. from Xinjiang.
In the Chinese judicial system, a death sentence with clemency can be commuted to 25 years or life imprisonment, pending good behavior.
Sattar was accused of teaming up and plotting with his deputy to incorporate “bloody, violent, terrorist and separatist ideas” into elementary and secondary school textbooks dating back 13 years, the state news agency Xinhua said.
The books in question date from 2003, but in 2016 the Xinjiang authorities considered the content to be “separatist” in nature and incited ethnic hatred.
The son of Yalqun rozi, one of the editors sentenced and arrested for the first time in 2016, said the charges were “absurd.”
“These textbooks were approved by the state,” Kamaltürk Yalqun told the Associated Press. “China is trying to erase history and write a new narrative.”
The court has not released its ruling or other documents, and state media did not detail what problems it saw in the texts. A People’s Daily article on Wednesday said a total of 84 texts in a 2003 edition and a 2009 edition in ethnic languages were found to influence several identified individuals to participate in the 2009 Urumqi riots and a 2014 bombing. at the Urumqi train station.
The People’s Daily report said: “By changing and distorting history, [Sattar and his co-accused] He tried to instill separatist ideas in the students, increase national hatred and achieve the purpose of dividing the homeland. ”
South China morning post cited the CGTN film to describe some sections and images in the textbook that referred to a 1940s chapter in the history of Xinjiang and the government of the Republic of East Turkestan of short duration, or that showed fighting between Uyghur fighters and Han-like soldiers during the same period.
Yalqun told the AP that the passages were about historical accounts that had nothing to do with terrorism, and the prosecutions were aimed at cultural destruction and assimilation.
“Because these textbooks are rich in Uighur culture, China targeted them,” Yalqun said. “They are moving in the direction of completely eliminating the education and culture of the Uyghur language.”
Sattar, who was also convicted of crimes related to bribery charges, was deprived of his political rights for life and his assets were confiscated.
The indictment comes amid mounting crackdowns on Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. More than 1 million people are believed to have been interned in re-education camps, and there is evidence that the authorities carry out labor transfer programs, as well as systemic rape and torture, forced sterilization of women, separation of children, and massive surveillance and intimidation. . Leading Uighur academics and other public figures have been arrested.
The US government and some legal groups have declared that the Chinese government’s actions against the group are genocide.
As international outrage rises and it becomes increasingly coordinated in implementing sanctions and other measures against perpetrators, Beijing has stepped up its denials of mistreatment and abuse, launching cross-platform public relations campaigns ranging from choreographed press conferences in foreign countries to a musical released nationally. It represents a wonderful life in Xinjiang.
Chinese diplomats have engaged in hostile communications online and with foreign counterparts, and individually attacked and defamed Uighur women who have spoken publicly about their ordeals.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism