Uygur community workers help to solve migrants' problems in Guangzhou
City's municipal authorities hired 11-strong team in April to help Uygurs find accommodation, or catch those migrants that get into trouble, local newspaper News Express reports
Eleven Uygurs are working as part of an urban management force helping migrants from China’s far west Xinjiang region living in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Guangzhou’s municipal authorities hired the Uygurs in April to solve problems in the city involving Uygur migrants, such has helping them find accommodation, or catching those that get into trouble, local newspaper News Express reported.
This is the first time Uygurs – the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from Xinjiang – have been employed in such a role in Guangzhou.
The city has seen a growing number of Uygur migrants in recent years. But due to language barriers, disputes have often occurred between the migrants and police officers.
Ten of the 11 Uygur officers are former police graduates. Their duties are focused in communities that have large numbers of Uygur migrants.
One of the officers, identified only as Abudu, said his daily duties included checking on houses where Uygurs migrants live.
He also reports to local police Uygurs that he suspects are causing problems, such as dealing in drugs, News Express reported.
Abudu told the newspaper his language skills made it possible for him to track down suspected Uygur drug dealers.
“This job is a good opportunity for me to tell other people about Xinjiang and let them know that Xinjiang people are hospitable and friendly,” Abudu said when asked why he came to Guangzhou.
Two other Uygurs, Jurai and his wife, are also working for the management force. They work at Guangzhou’s first ethnic minority social service centre.
“I go to look for Uygurs right on their doorsteps to make sure they are registered,” Jurai’s wife told News Express.
She said she often helped Uygurs find accommodation when local landlords were reluctant to rent homes to them. “I tell the landlords that the Uygur tenants are good ones,” she told the newspaper.
Official figures show Uygurs form 46 per cent of the population of Xinjiang, which is twice the size of Turkey and rich in oil and gas. Another 39 per cent are formed of Han Chinese.
Relations between them have grown worse in recent years, especially since two terrorist attacks took place this year, which the Chinese government blames on Uygur separatists.
In March a deadly knife attack at Kunming railway station, in Yunnan province, left 29 civilians dead and 143 wounded. Four people have been charged with the attack.
In May, 31 people died when terrorists in two vehicles drove into shoppers and traders and threw explosives in a street market in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.
Uygurs call Xinjiang East Turkestan. A movement for independence for East Turkestan comprises up to 50 fragmented organisations, which are grouped under the name East Turkestan Independence Movement.