Qarasaz: 1/3 of elementary students missing a parent

Verifiability/reliability: Weaker, from an account of a teacher outside Xinjiang with figures ultimately based on second-hand information.

This post—"Emulate Lei Feng, We’re Taking Action”—appeared on Meipian, a Chinese social media platform that's kind of like a cross between Instagram and Tumblr. (Lei Feng was a revolutionary hero.) It's very photo-focused, which makes verification of random posts easier. The post has been deleted, but is archived here.

The post was created by the personal account of a teacher in Inner Mongolia. The Young Pioneers (a Party youth group) of the school she works at, West Ujumqin Banner Fourth Elementary School, started a donation drive for a school in Hotan, Xinjiang. This school, writes the teacher, is in Qarasaz, where 1744 (32%) of the elementary schoolers in the township have had at least one parent taken away. Of these, 130 (2.3%) have had both taken. (Baidu Baike, citing a 2019 statistical yearbook I was unable to access myself, says the population of Qarasaz was 53,124 at the end of 2018.)

Thank you to Jericho Katz (pseudonym) for translation. Not all pictures from the original post are included below.

"学雷锋,我们在行动" 西乌旗第四小学大队部 倡议活动 2018年3月12日

“Emulate Lei Feng, We’re Taking Action” West Ujumqin Banner Fourth Elementary School's China Young Pioneers Headquarters Initiative March 12, 2018

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在当今经济快速发展的时代,许多的人在享受着经济变化带来的福利同时,在新疆和田地区墨玉县喀尔赛镇这一片净土上还生活着这么一群孩子,他们没有新鞋子、没有新的保暖衣服也没有良好的教育条件。只有清新的空气和孩子们童真的笑容。

In these times of fast-paced economic growth, while many people are enjoying the benefits brought about by economic change, in the ‘pure land’ of Qarasaz Township in Xinjiang’s Karakax County, Hotan Prefecture, live children like these: they don’t have new shoes, new clothing to keep them warm, or good learning conditions. They only have the pure air and smiles of childlike innocence.

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然而这些祖国的花朵,眼睛里却散发着对知识的渴望与向往。我不禁为之动荣,虽然他们上课的条件很艰苦,但没有人抱怨这里恶劣的环境。清晨看着冉冉升起的太阳,孩子们的脸上洋溢着灿烂的笑容,朗朗的读书声此起彼伏的回荡在学校的每一个角落。 新疆和田地区墨玉县喀尔赛镇小学学生一共5563人其中两类人员子女1774人。父母双方都不在家的130人。两类人员子女包括,父亲或者母亲有一方在培训中心或者收押的。培训中心指:思想上有什么问题的,或者超生或参加过非法宗教的这类人员就送去培训中心进行转换教育

Yet these flowers of our motherland have eyes that radiate a thirst and yearning for knowledge. I couldn’t help but be moved by them: though their classroom conditions are tough, no one complains about the inferior environment. In the early morning, watching the gradually rising sun, the children’s faces brim with radiant smiles, and voices brightly readinng aloud resound in waves throughout the school’s every corner.

Among Qarasaz Township's 5563 elementary school students, 1774 are children of [one of] the Two Types of people. There are 130 students with both parents not at home. The ‘children of two types of people’ include: children whose father or mother is at the training centers or detained. ‘Training center’ refers to: people with ideological issues, people who exceeded the birth limits or have participated in illegal religions, are sent to ‘training centers’ to undergo transformation through education.**

* See also the definition from this government source (in Chinese) in 2020, which matches the one given here. ** The author appears to misremember the slogan and/or have made a typo. Transformation through education is the standard government term for the mass internment reeducation campaign; this is jiaoyu zhuanhua 教育转化 in Mandarin. The author here reversed the order of the two component words and typed zhuanhuan 'transform, convert' instead of zhuanhua.

我们不可能帮他们马上解决生活上存在的问题,也不可能帮他们改善住宿条件、饮食条件和师资设备,但是他们和我们一样有梦想、有自己对未来的憧憬和向往。我校大队部与这所学校直接联系,并在近期组织我校开展一次献爱心捐赠活动,在此呼吁更多的爱心人士和我们一起携手关注这群孩子、关注他们的成长和他们的未来。我们尽个人力量给这群孩子们送去更多的温暖和关爱,同时也号召我们的同学们要学会勤俭节约 、不铺张 、不浪费珍惜现在的生活。

We can’t help these students resolve the problems in their lives right away, nor can we help them to improve their living conditions, eating conditions, teachers or facilities. But they have dreams just like us, with their own aspirations and yearnings for the future. Our school’s Young Pioneers have connected with this school and recently launched a donation campaign, urging more charitable people to join hands with us to look after this group of children, to look after their growth and their futures. We are each doing all that is in our individual power to send these children more warmth and care, and at the same time calling upon our classmates to learn to be diligent and frugal, not extravagant and wasteful, and to cherish their present lives.

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让我们与孩子们一起努力奋斗、超越梦想、走向未来!在未来的道路上我们一起扬帆起航。大爱无疆,让他们感受到在同一片蓝天下的公平。

Let us strive earnestly together with the children, surpassing our dreams and progressing towards the future! Together, we set sail upon the road to the future. Great love has no boundaries: let them experience equality under the same blue sky.