China jails Uyghur teacher in Xinjiang for teaching in local language. (Representative)

Beijing:

A Uyghur educator, previously honored by the government for outstanding work, is serving a seven-year prison sentence in China’s restive Xinjiang region for violating Chinese policy by teaching students in Uyghur – their native language, said a news article quoting one of his former students and a police officer.

Chemistry teacher and faculty principal at Kashgar Kona Sheher County No. 1 High School, Adil Tursun was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018, after two years in detention, Radio Free Asia reported, citing his former student Abduweli Ayup, who is now a Norway-based Uyghur activist and linguist.

Notably, Abduweli documents missing and imprisoned Uyghurs in Xinjiang and discovered Adil’s imprisonment on a leaked Chinese government list of some 10,000 “suspected terrorists” published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in April 2021, the report reported. media.

Adil, who had previously been recognized as one of the nation’s ‘outstanding teachers’ by the government, was arrested by authorities for the ‘crime’ of teaching students in the Uyghur language because they did not understand instructions in Uyghur. Chinese, according to Abduweli.

The bilingual education policy introduced by Xinjiang officials required Mandarin to be used as the primary language of instruction in schools, while Uyghur language and literature were to be taught as subjects.

According to the authorities, the policy was implemented to improve the standard Mandarin skills of ethnic minority students to make them more competitive in the workplace. However, Uyghurs saw the measure as forced cultural assimilation aimed at diluting their Turkish heritage, according to the outlet.

Now, not only Uyghur language education, but the use of standard Uyghur language textbooks have also been banned in almost all schools, regardless of the fact that some students cannot understand Mandarin instructions.

Adil notably expressed his dissatisfaction with the Chinese government’s policy of abolishing the Uyghur language in schools, according to Radio Free Asia.

When RFA called Kona Sheher County police to find out Adil’s sentence, they declined to answer questions but did not deny that the teacher had been jailed.

“After his mistake was investigated, he was arrested. It was one of his previous mistakes – speaking in Uyghur to his students as bilingual education was implemented,” the outlet quoted a police officer as saying. of Kashgar prefecture.

“He was turned over to the National Security branch of the police department and was sentenced to prison two years after his arrest,” he added.

In a major crackdown on ethnic minorities, Chinese authorities have arrested scores of Uyghur intellectuals, prominent businesspeople, and cultural and religious figures in Xinjiang for years.

Nearly 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkish minorities are believed to be held in a network of detention camps in Xinjiang since 2017, allegedly to prevent religious extremism and terrorist activity, according to the outlet.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)