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China Bans Uyghur Language in Hotan Prefecture

September 11, 2017 by admin

The World Uyghur Congress issued a press release after it emerged that Chinese authorities in the Hotan prefecture had decided to completely ban the Uyghur language at all education levels up to and including secondary school at the start of the fall semester in September 2017.

A five-point directive was issued by Hotan’s Education Department in late June 2017, which stated that Mandarin Chinese “must be resolutely and fully implemented” for the three years of preschool, and “promoted” from the first years of elementary and middle school “in order to realize the full coverage of the common language and writing system education.” The directive also instructs schools to “resolutely correct the flawed method of providing Uyghur language training to Chinese language teachers” and “prohibit the use of Uyghur language, writing, signs and pictures in the educational system and on campuses.”
While the policy currently only covers schools in the Hotan prefecture, there remains a very real possibility that the policy may be extended to cover all of East Turkestan, given China’s continuous efforts to erode the Uyghur language and tendency to try out a new policy at the local level first, before deploying it at a larger scale.
Regardless, the elimination of an entire taught language from a prefecture made up of close to two million Uyghurs is an affront to the most basic aspects of cultural life. The policy stands outwardly as the realization of China’s clear assimilationist drive that targets fundamental aspects of Uyghur life including religious belief and cultural rights. The language ban, along with the Chinese government's 'bilingual education' program constitute a grave threat to the unique Uyghur language and culture.

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