A new Chinese government musical drama depicting a harmonious and happy life in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) shows the need to allow supervisors, experts say. independently enter the area to investigate reports of an ongoing genocide there.
Last week, a musical called “The Wings of Song” premiered in Chinese theaters, telling the stories of three young men – a Uyghur, Kazakh and Han Chinese – who both take their inspiration. from life in XUAR to writing a song that will motivate them to be famous all over the country.
The area is described as a land of natural beauty, where all races live happily together under the leadership of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and spend all day dancing and Singing in solidarity. The ethnic minorities in the film appear to be homogenous, with cleanly shaved Muslim men drinking beer and Muslim women without headscarves, like their Han comrades.
Uyghur activists were quick to turn down the new film as a disgusting attempt by Beijing to justify their crackdown in XUAR.
Rushan Abbas said: “The use of a musical to refute genocide is an offensive attempt by the Chinese government to imply that a scripted film, music and setting could deny the work. Great harm is inflicted on the Uyghurs and other Turkish peoples. , the executive director of the Uyghurs Campaign, based in Washington.
“For those of us who have been away from home for many years and do not know whether they are alive or dead, seeing these images is very angry and painful. There is no pathetic film that can erase the CCP’s atrocities.
Critics argue that such an image depicting how XUAR would look would be idealized by Beijing’s machines if its policies of repression and assimilation in the region succeed – in stark contrast. with reports of discrimination, forced sterilization, mass incarceration and forced labor that led the US and other parliaments to view the situation as state-backed genocide in recent months.
The film has been viewed by experts in the West as ignorant propaganda while more and more information is slipping out of XUAR about human rights abuses, including the detention of up to 1.8 million Uyghurs. and other Muslims in an extensive network of regional detention centers since early 2017 and a pervasive surveillance system that tracks every movement of ethnic minorities.
While Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, China last year changed its strategy and began to describe these facilities as “boarding schools” that offer vocational training to the Uighurs, prevent radicalization and help protect the country from terrorism.
But reports by the Uyghur Service of the RFA and other media show that detainees were detained against their will and subjected to political manipulation, often faced with adversity. brutally treated at the hands of their supervisors and endured poor diet and unhygienic conditions in often overcrowded facilities.
Get a better understanding of the CCP’s strategy
Experts told RFA that the thrilling musical can provide insight into the CCP’s calculations as it works to control the narrative of what’s going on in XUAR. They said that it seemed to be produced for consumption mostly by the CCP’s superiors that produced it.
Ticket sales were barely $ 110,000 on Monday, showing very little interest in the world’s second-largest film market, according to box office tracking expert Maoyan.
Sophie Richardson, the China director of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls the film “grotesque, gruesome, ridiculous, and ridiculous”, noting that most governments match France will transparently investigate the allegations of abuse.
“Not only is Beijing deeply dishonest and says there is no abuse and no offense and all this is fabrication, but the fact that it is doing song and dance videos to try and try trying to show that everything in the area was practically fine, was a really pathological response, “she said.
“It’s hard to say why the Chinese authorities think creating such videos will convince anyone outside of the propaganda bubble. And perhaps the answer is it’s just for those inside the propaganda bubble. But actually I think the release of such videos only raises more questions and suggests that the government has something to hide rather than serious matters.
Such efforts by Beijing, Richardson said, create a greater incentive for reliable media to release factual information that could be used to “prompt us to properly investigate” the reporting abuse.
Henryk Szadziewski, research director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) based in Washington, suggests that The Wings of Song’s producers are less concerned with the “effectiveness” of their propaganda of refuted reports of genocide in XUAR rather than about “creating new stories for others to justify ignoring what was happening.” “
“It’s for people who are trying to deny what’s going on in the area, for some reason, to continue doing business as usual,” he said.
But as more and more evidence of rights violations appear in XUAR, Szadziewski said Beijing’s court will now “shed some light” on what is going on there.
“We need clear, objective, independent information and this is definitely not the environment we are in, especially [when it comes] from a state source, ”he said.
“We have heard a lot of talk about independent tourists coming to the region, especially from the United Nations, and I think this really needs to be resolved and the observers need access. is controlled so that we can assess and evaluate information coming from China. “
Last month, Jiang Duan, China’s delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council, said Beijing was discussing the XUAR visit of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, but “the purpose of the visit is for exchange and cooperation rather than … so-called investigation is based on “pre-proven guilty.”
The “invitation” follows a statement by Bachelet, in which she states that the situation at XUAR requires an independent and thorough assessment of the situation. The Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (OHCHR) previously told RFA that she would not accept unless allowed access to camps on her own terms.
Larger propaganda campaign
HRW’s Richardson says The Wings of Song is part of Beijing’s larger propaganda campaign that includes coercive testimonies communicated by state media from ethnic minorities expressing their fights. appreciated for the CCP’s role in the development of XUAR, organizing tours to the Potemkin “vocational school” in the area including the singing and dancing of those held in traditional attire, and advertise on social media about the views of the state led by Chinese government officials, diplomats and celebrities.
In particular, she pointed out the Chinese government’s use of social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook that they do not allow its citizens to use because of the threat of uncensored criticism of its policies. surname.
“I think it’s helpful to point out the truth regularly because again, it just suggests that the government has something to hide,” she said.
“If it’s really to be believed, why is your or my Twitter feed inaccessible to people in China? If we all believe that the truth is important, let’s decide who has the better truth and proceed accordingly. “
Beijing’s propaganda campaign also harassed foreign journalists such as BBC China correspondent John Sudworth, who won an award for its reporting on the treatment of Uyghurs in XUAR, but close to he left Beijing, where he spent nine years with his family in Taiwan because what he said was pressure and threats from the Chinese government.
Other foreign nationals investigating the situation in the region, such as Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, an analyst based in Australia who co-wrote last year’s Australian Institute of Strategic Policy on Duy labor. Turkey in the supply chain, also facing what they say are concerted efforts. of Beijing to harass them, even from abroad.
She told Washington Post Office that in the past week, she has been the target of thousands of negative comments on Chinese social networks calling her “flirtatious” and “drug addiction”, and even threatened to kill her.
Adrian Zenz, a German researcher who is considered one of the leading experts on mass detention in XUAR and who published a report last year showing that the measures of forced birth control The Uyghurs is the equivalent of genocide as defined by the United Nations, which was recently punished by Beijing after a protracted smear campaign against him that included threats of his own defamation lawsuit. Chinese government.
However, the propaganda apparatus of China continued to release new content.
On Wednesdays, the official English language Global Times reported that a recently released documentary film about China’s “war on terror” in XUAR highlights “problematic Uyghur language textbook” and that the enemies of the CCP have received guidance. quoted from “Western media and anti-China forces.” [that] seeks to be famous by smearing [it] as a ‘propaganda campaign’ to justify the Chinese government’s policies in the region. “
The report cites “Chinese experts” as saying they were “not surprised by such hype”, writing the response as a measure of using “low play and logic” to slander China about Xinjiang, a cliché and hilarious thing. “
Reported by Adile Ablet and Alim Seytoff to RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translation of Alim Seytoff. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.