That is the hometown I can never go back to

The collection of ten fingerprints, iris of both eyes and DNA, which sounds like a plot from a Science Fiction movie, I never thought it would happen to me so soon.

I am from Xinjiang, a Han Chinese, and despite leaving after going to college, I go back once or twice a year to visit my friends and Family, and Xinjiang will always be my hometown. Two or three years ago in the winter, when I was notified to go back to Xinjiang to apply for the “third generation ID card” to collect biological information, I deeply felt that Xinjiang is an indelible part of me. I felt that Xinjiang was an indelible mark on my body.

On the day of the application, there were many people, but only three police officers were working there. When I went in, the police officer in charge of taking pictures kept telling a middle-aged woman with permed hair, “You should press your hair, it’s too high, I can’t take a full picture here”. The middle-aged woman said, “I’ve been pressing for half an hour, or you help me p it”, the police helplessly computer screen to her to see. “are almost p into bald, still not a full picture ah! “The whole room laughed.

But I still remember the absurdity I felt in the crowd’s laughter, for people living in Xinjiang, all this change is becoming more and more normal.

Everyone who came to the queue started by taking pictures, but everyone who took pictures had one problem or another, and it was hard to get past the photo-related, fingerprint-collecting machine always failed to recognize fingerprints, and every once in a while it would shout “Please press your left and right thumbs at the same Time! Every once in a while it would shout “Please press your left and right thumbs at the same time”, and then shout it again in Viennese. The police officer in charge of collecting fingerprints and irises would occasionally remind the fingerprint collector, “Your hands are too dry. When the iris was taken, she would say, “Look at the red dot,” and when the person holding the iris machine looked in, there was a red dot. Once she said to the person whose iris was being collected, “Why are your eyes crooked? The whole room laughed again.

The last step is to collect DNA, stabbing blood on your finger and dabbing it on a test paper card with your ID information on it, and the police officer whispers “Okay” at the end of the process, and you You can come out with a cotton swab covering your finger.

The so-called “third generation ID card” I did not get in the end, perhaps just a cover to recall me to collect biological information.

But I still remember the absurdity I felt in the helplessness of the grassroots staff and the laughter of the crowd, as similar scenes played out in everyday Life, as if the grand goal of monitoring citizens was being dismantled, and for those living in Xinjiang, what was being dismantled was the vigilance of the individual – that all this change was becoming normal.

Xinjiang – The Safest Place in China

More than one family member or friend has told me that Xinjiang is the safest place in China. This is even an accomplishment that some Xinjiang people are proud of.

Over the past few years, every time I return to Xinjiang, the atmosphere I feel is tightened up a bit and I am subject to more controls.

I don’t know when we started to go into any building: restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, hospitals, supermarkets, and so on, all need to go through security checks, one to check bags, one to pass people, and to swipe ID cards. So relatives often joke that in Xinjiang, you can’t even get out of the neighborhood without an ID card.

One winter, my family and I went to the gas station, because the gas station only allows the driver to enter a person, other passengers have to get off the bus and walk to the exit after refueling. I had to get out of the car in the winter of minus 20 degrees, walk to the exit shivering and wait for the car to drive out.

During the 19th Congress, there are many police officers on the streets of Urumqi who check cell phones, and if you are found to have posted any “anti-party speech” on your phone, you will be dealt with.

Friends in the system, work has also become thin ice, each unit focus on those who do not smoke and do not drink minority, think they “have problems”. A friend who worked in a state-owned enterprise became a member of the “Visiting Huizhu” team, and was arranged to live in the homes of ethnic minorities, eating and living together with them. He lived with them, ate with them, “cultivated ethnic feelings”, and “studied” together. I couldn’t even go Home for the New Year.

When I expressed my incomprehension of these measures to my family and friends, I often received only a sigh of relief in response, “This is Xinjiang. Sometimes I think I have been away from there for too long, which is why this series of controls that everyone takes for granted is so unbearable to me.

The Line Between Ethnic Minorities and Han Chinese

For years after I left Xinjiang, I ran away from this mark because outside of Xinjiang, it meant unexpected trouble, stigma, and was also synonymous with “remote and backward. ” synonym. But in Xinjiang, Han Chinese are considered individuals who enjoy certain privileges. I have no personal experience with the life of ethnic minorities, but I have seen it all.

When I went home for Chinese New Year in the Spring Festival, I found that non-local ethnic minorities must have a unit with a letter of introduction, or a relative writing a letter of guarantee to leave the station. Every two hundred meters, there was a police car; each unit was assigned a different number of ethnic minorities (mainly Uyghurs) who came from the southern border, and each unit had to arrange jobs for them. Those who do not perform well will be sent somewhere to “study”.

A friend told me that before and after the 19th National Congress, many ethnic minorities (mainly Uyghurs) in their units suddenly disappeared, and friends, family, and at the same time, they didn’t know where they had gone. The so-called criminal record is not only those who have made political mistakes, have a criminal record of theft, robbery, or had a “non-conforming policy” beard Ethnic minorities have been arrested for the 19th Congress.

In this prejudiced social structure, our relationship is so unequal. I am, in a way, a beneficiary of this system, but I also naturally carry those prejudices and discrimination with me.

For a long time in my life, I have always felt that I did not discriminate against minorities. I remember in elementary school, I was particularly close to two Uyghur boys who were much stronger than me and taught me how to flip a double bar after school every day. But by chance, I learned that one of my high school classmates (Han Chinese) was majoring in Uyghur. My first reaction was, “Why do you want to study Uyghur? What’s the use of that? “From that moment on, I realized that growing up under this prejudiced social structure, our relationship with each other could be so unequal. I, as a Han Chinese, was, in a way, a beneficiary of this system, but also naturally carried those prejudices and discrimination with me.

For many years, the Xinjiang people shown on CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala were mainly the singing and dancing Uyghurs, and at the annual People’s Congress in March, the minorities would definitely appear in their traditional national costumes.

It’s like the elders around me are very fond of Xinjiang dance, but they never seem to connect those Uyghurs who dance in Xinjiang with the Uyghurs that exist around them. A relative working in a factory overheard mentioning that the minorities in the factory were too slow to learn technology and felt they were not as smart as Han Chinese, another friend working for a large resource-based state-owned enterprise said that their unit had no minorities at all and did not plan to hire, and another student mentioned to me that she hated riding the train “meeting the Uyghurs” because they are “noisy, smelly and dirty “.

“Sacrificing a generation”

One year I wanted to go back to my alma mater on a whim and found that the walls of my alma mater were fenced off with barbed wire, so maybe people who didn’t know better would think of it as a prison. I looked at this place where I had studied for many years and felt a great sadness in my heart. Will the current crop of students take the barbed wire fence for granted? When they graduate and grow up and go to other places and see schools and buildings without barbed wire and walls, will they feel at ease and free, or will they yell at them for not caring about people’s “safety”? “safety”?

Over the past few years, I have increasingly found myself knowing almost nothing about Xinjiang. The Culture there, the history there, everything that has happened there seems to be disappearing little by little.

The policy now in place in Xinjiang is to “sacrifice a generation,” and the generation that is sacrificed includes both ethnic minorities and Han Chinese. From this point of view, we are all a community of Destiny.

I once met a man on a train who worked for a government department in Xinjiang, and he told me frankly that the policy now in place in Xinjiang was to “sacrifice a generation”, and that the generation to be sacrificed included both ethnic minorities and Han Chinese. And the sacrifice of this generation includes both ethnic minorities and Han Chinese. From this perspective, we are all part of a community of destiny.

For most Han Chinese in Xinjiang, the most practical way to save themselves is probably to crawl along this long system, some of whom can crawl out of Xinjiang to other places, where they can carefully hide their accent, learn about the local people, and integrate into the culture.

For the minorities in Xinjiang, many are not even in a position to choose this path. For us, the “sacrificial generation”, we may only be able to use those fragmentary pieces to piece together the memory of our homeland, which is the Xinjiang we can not return to.