Recent reports in the Independent and on the BBC have highlighted the plight of the Muslim Uyghur population in Xingjiang, an autonomous region in the far west of China. As part of the systemic repression of the Uygher people, many males have been separated from their families and interned in re-education camps. According to reports published on Radio Free Asia, as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s “Pair Up and Become Family” program, party workers, mostly males who are part of the Han ethnic group, have taken up temporary residence at the home of Uygher families.
This “home stay” programme was extended in early 2018 and now party workers, termed “relatives”, stay for at least five nights every two months. During these “home stays” they share their host’s bed, often with multiple occupants sharing a 2.5 metre sleeping platform. A party representative stated that a distance of one metre was maintained and that no sexual abuse had been reported, but also stated that hosts “developed feelings” for these relatives whilst their husbands were interned. This programme demonstrates the pervasiveness of the forced assimilation and surveillance of this community, which now includes the most intimate aspects of their personal lives.
Written by Louise Roden, solicitor at BLM