CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 June 2018

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Colonisation by language

URUMQI (SE): The use of the Uyghur language in schools in the Xinjiang region of China has been banned by the government and an official announcement says that those violating the order will face severe punishment.
 
The ban is being seen as one of the strongest repressive measures yet imposed by Beijing to try and assimilate ethnic Muslim Uyghurs.
 
The Education Department in Hotan (Hetian) prefecture has outlawed the use of the Uyghur language in schools, saying that Mandarin Chinese should be spoken “in order to strengthen elementary and middle/high school bilingual education.”
 
Radio Free Asia reported that it had seen a copy of the directive which says that schools must “insist on fully popularising the national common language and writing system according to law, and add the education of ethnic language under the bilingual education basic principle.”
 
The directive adds 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 realise the full coverage of the common language and writing system education.”
 
It 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.”
 
It also says that any school or individual that fails to enforce the new policy will be designated as two-faced and severely punished, a term regularly applied by the government to anyone of the Uyghur society that does not willingly follow directives.
 
A Han Chinese official in the Qaraqash (Moyu) County Education Bureau said the directive was issued in June.
 
A Uyghur official with Hotan’s Chira (Cele) county government said she had been informed about the order, but was not fully aware of its contents.
 
Robbing people of their language is an insidious form of colonisation designed to destroy their culture.
 
It was a ploy used by the Japanese in Korea and Taiwan in the first half of the 20th century and whether by edict or practice by British colonisers in many places, especially among indigenous peoples in the Americas, Australia and Africa.

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