Inside China’s razor wire ringed ‘vocational schools’: Curriculum is taser-enforced re-education

by WorldTribune Staff, October 24, 2018

To build better “Chinese citizens,” officials at re-education camps which hold Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic minorities (referred to as “vocational schools” by China) are instructed to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins,” according to a Chinese government document.

The camps are run much more like prisons than schools, according to an Oct. 24 report by AFP.

‘Graduates’ receive a certificate after they finish ‘vocational training.’ / Screen grab from CCTV

“Thousands of guards equipped with tear gas, Tasers, stun guns and spiked clubs keep tight control over ‘students’ in facilities ringed with razor wire and infrared cameras,” said AFP, which examined more than 1,500 publicly available government documents.

The centers should “teach like a school, be managed like the military, and be defended like a prison,” said one document, quoting Xinjiang’s party secretary Chen Quanguo.

The Chinese goverment previously denied the existence of the re-education camps, but launched a public relations counter-offensive after a global outcry, including from the UN and the U.S.

Government propaganda insisted the centers were aimed at countering the spread of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism through “free” education and job training.

If education and job training were the top priorities, AFP asked, why would Xinjiang’s Hotan prefecture order 2,768 police batons, 550 electric cattle prods, 1,367 pairs of handcuffs, and 2,792 cans of pepper spray?

That shopping list “was among over a thousand procurement requests made by local governments in the Xinjiang region since early 2017 related to the construction and management of a sprawling system of ‘vocational education and training centres,’ ” the report said.

While some orders, such as air conditioners, bunk beds, cutlery, would not seem out of place at a typical Chinese university, “others resembled prison equipment: sophisticated surveillance systems, cameras for recording students in their rooms, razor wire, a system for eavesdropping on phone calls, and infrared monitoring devices,” the report said.

The centers also bought police uniforms, riot shields and helmets, pepper spray, tear gas, net guns, stun guns, electrified batons, billy clubs, spears, handcuffs and spiked clubs known as “wolf’s teeth.”

At least one center requested “tiger chairs,” a device used by Chinese police to restrain interrogation subjects.

In an emergency request for Tasers, party officials in the regional capital Urumqi argued the gear was necessary in order to “guarantee staff members’ personal safety.”

The so-called “students” at the centers are routinely tested on their knowledge of Mandarin and propaganda, and must write regular “self-criticisms,” according to one of the documents AFP viewed.

The detainees would spend their days “shouting slogans, singing red songs and memorizing the Three Character Classic,” the document said, referring to an ancient Confucian text.

Students who performed well would be allowed to call their families or even visit them in special rooms at the centers.

“Officials were ordered to regularly visit students’ families at home to give them ‘anti-extremism’ lessons and check for signs of anger that could harden into opposition to the Communist Party,” the report said.

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