Chinese officials in Xinjiang have banned the use of ethnic minority languages in schools in at least one area of the autonomous region, Radio Free Asia reports.
Local education officials sent an order to schools in Yining county in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture. The order bans the use of any school books or teaching materials written in the languages of the mostly Muslim Uyghur and Kazakh ethnic groups.
It also said that any materials in those languages must be placed in “sealed storage." The document’s letterhead referred to the education department of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government.
The document’s wording may suggest that the ban could spread to a wider area.
The document states: "Schools must not flout these rules by continuing to use ethnic minority-language materials. Any found doing so will be reported to a higher level of government."
Luo Dan is the official named on the document as the contact person for the Yining county education bureau. Luo confirmed to Radio Free Asia that the order is real and is being carried out.
In Luo's words, "The use of all Uyghur and Kazakh-language textbooks and teaching materials in language and literature has ceased."
'All Chinese now'
RFA spoke to an ethnic minority citizen of Xinjiang who asked to remain unidentified. He said official government policy commands respect for minority languages. But he said that for several years, the government has increasingly restricted the use of minority languages in the education system.
In his words, "Right now, math, physics and chemistry are all taught in Chinese. There are still some Uyghur and Kazakh-language textbooks around, but they are gradually disappearing.
"It's all Chinese now," he said.
China says Uyghurs have carried out terrorist attacks in recent years. But experts outside China say it is government has inflated the threat from Uyghurs. Those experts say China’s increasingly repressive policy in the northwest has led to the growing violence there. Hundreds have died in the violence since 2009.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Qiao Long and Yang Fan produced this report for RFA's Mandarin Service. Luisetta Mudie translated and edited the piece. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
autonomous region - n. an area of partial self-rule within a larger country under a central government
seal - v. to prevent access to something or someplace
letterhead - n. the name and address of an organization (such as a company) that is printed at the top of a piece of paper used for writing official letters
refer - v. to mention (someone or something) in speech or in writing
flout - v. to break or ignore (a law, rule, etc.) without hiding what you are doing or showing fear or shame