Apr 16, 2015

East Turkestan: Pressure Stops Uyghur-Phobic Hospital Notice

An internal notice in Nanning hospital, which warned staff to look out for a potential terrorist attack from “suspicious persons” from Xinjiang has led to an outcry from Uyghur groups denouncing the measure’s promotion of racial separatism and ethnic discrimination. Due to mounting pressure, the hospital cancelled the notice three days after it was first circulated.


Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:

Uyghur groups and netizens have denounced an internal notice issued by a hospital in Nanning warning staff about a possible terrorist attack by “suspicious persons,” a euphemism, they said, for the Turkic-speaking, Muslim residents of northwest China’s turbulent Xinjiang region.

Guangxi Autonomous Regional Maternal and Child Care Hospital in Nanning issued an official sealed antiterrorism warning to employees on April 10 [2015] in response to a notice from the police department the previous day about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the city.

The hospital’s notice directed staff and guards at the entrance to be on alert and contact security personnel if they saw any “suspicious persons” from Xinjiang during the day or at night.

The notice also suggested that hospital employees temporary stop their outside activities after daytime work shifts and shortened such activities as much as possible.

But the hospital cancelled the notice three days later because of pressure from international groups and netizens on social media.

Alim Seytoff, president of the Washington-based Uyghur American Association, told RFA’s Uyghur Service that the incident was proof that China promoted racial separatism and Uyghur-phobic policies.

“China always emphasizes that ‘Xinjiang is an inseparable part of China,’ but China’s government aims to separate people from each other,” he said. 

“As I know, the so-called Xinjiangren [people from Xinjiang] indicates the Uyghurs in the eyes of the Han Chinese people. Therefore, why and what reason did the Guangxi hospital have to issue a sealed official document and warn Han Chinese people that the Xinjiangren are ‘suspicious people?’ The hospital published this announcement according to the emergency notice from the Guangxi police department.”

Of the cancellation of the policy three days later, he said: “This is China’s media policy and the real ‘double face’ of China’s Uyghur policy.” 

The Uyghur news website of the Turkey-based East Turkestan Education and Cooperation Organization published an article about the hospital’s notice, charging that China used an antiterrorism umbrella to intensify racial discrimination and anti-Uyghur propaganda among the Chinese people.

A daytime security staff member at the hospital, who told RFA that the institution’s administration issued the notice after it was informed of a possible terrorist attack by Guangxi police, said he was unsure whether it referred to Xinjiang residents.

“I don’t know if the term Xinjiangren indicated the Uyghurs or another specific group of people,” he said. “I only know it’s my duty to protect the security of our hospital.”  

A nighttime security guard at the hospital told RFA that she was aware that the terms “suspicious person” or “Xinjiangren” were on the notice, but she was uncertain if they referred to only Uyghurs or other people. 

“Anyway, it’s already cancelled, so there’s no need to discuss this,” she said.

The hospital notice sparked strong reactions from Uyghurs and the predominant Han-Chinese ethnic group on social media sites. 

Web writer Lu Mingjun published an article entitled “Guangxi leaders, please look at me. Do I look like a ‘suspicious person?’” on WeChat, a Chinese government-approved social media site.

“‘Xinjiangren’ do not equal ‘suspicious persons’ or ‘terrorists,’” he wrote. Just like ‘Fujianese’ or ‘Shanghairen’ (people from Shanghai), the so-called “Xinjiangren” include Uyghurs and other ethnic groups. If the government believes that Xinjiang people are a part of Chinese people, they must control this kind of nationalistic propaganda and foolish thing.”

An anonymous writer published an article entitled “Who is a ‘suspicious person?’” on WeChat’s forum, contending that the term “suspicious person” could not imply all Uyghurs.

The netizen pointed out that although nearly 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) separated Xinjiang and south China’s Guangxi, the latter had recently become the second most important anti-terrorism area in the country because of Uyghurs from Xinjiang leaving China through Guangxi’s borders with Southeast Asian countries. 

“So, Guangxi police and local government offices have engaged in large-scale antiterrorism propaganda in the last two years,” the netizen wrote. “The antiterrorism warning announcement by the Guangxi Maternal and Child Care Hospital was a foolish thing. If they believe that the so-called ‘suspicious persons’ and Xinjiang people are the same thing, then it is really a problem.”

The ethnic minority Uyghurs have complained about pervasive ethnic discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression by China’s communist government under its series of “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang in the name of fighting separatism, religion extremism and terrorism.