CGTN documentary on “war on terrorism in Xinjiang”; “Two-faces” officials; fate of Ilham Tohti student learned

On April 2, two weeks before the National Security Education Day, CCTV/CGTN aired the fourth installment of a documentary series on the CCP’s war on terrorism in Xinjiang. The film, with a direct-to-video style title The War in the Shadows 暗流涌动, claimed to tell the “real stories” of the region and the challenges in the war against terrorism that China faces.

With glossy production and in typical propaganda fashion, the film paraded several Uyghurs charged with endangering state security and terrorism crimes in front of the camera, and they then gave confessions and tearfully repented their crimes in close-up shots. Among them were two former high ranking regional officials, Shirzat Bawudun and Sattar Sawut.

A few days later, the regional government held its 32nd press conference on “issues involving XJUAR [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region]” on April 7. During the conference, the vice president of the XJUAR high court Wang Langtao provided further details on the two cases.

Shirzat Bawudun (希尔扎提·巴吾东), former deputy secretary-general of the XJUAR political consultative conference, and, prior to that posting, former director-general of XJ justice bureau, party political-legal secretary, was convicted of 10 crimes including splittism, defecting to the enemy, illegally providing intelligence to overseas forces, participating in a terrorist organization, aiding terrorism activities, using extremism to undermine the implementation of the law, gathering a crowd to disrupt public order, accepting bribes, misusing the authority of his office, and bending the law for selfish ends. One of his most serious wrongdoings was arranging to have an illegal sermon at his daughter’s wedding. Shirzat was sentence to death with a two-year reprieve and deprivation of political rights (DPR) for life.

Sattar Sawut (沙塔尔·沙吾提), former director-general of the XJUAR Education Bureau, was convicted of splittism and accepting bribes. He was also sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, and DPR for life.

At the press conference, both were called double-dealing “two-faces,” a derogatory term typically used against suspects who are perceived as being insolent or ungrateful towards the Party and its gestures of fairness.

A segment from The War in the Shadows. Image credit: CGTN

In particular, Sattar’s crime while at the education bureau is linked to multiple cases involving Uyghur intellectuals, including Alimjan Memetimin, former editor-in-chief of XJ Daily and former deputy director-general of XJUAR Education Bureau. They and several others were accused of a large-scale conspiracy from 2003 to 2009 to incorporate splittism and other “desinocized” contents into Uyghur language textbooks used in the Xinjiang region.

The CGTN film also claims that a generation of youth fell victim to such disinformation. Among them was a young student named Atikem Rozi.

A segment from The War in the Shadows. Image credit: CGTN

Atikem Rozi (阿提科木·肉孜 or 阿提克木·如孜) was a former student of Ilham Tohti. In 2014, she and six other students were sentenced to prison for splittism. Shown in frames only lasting a few seconds, the film disclosed that Atikem was sentenced to four years. She confessed to being brainwashed by false ideology and stories. Dui Hua, with other governments and NGOs, has repeatedly requested updates on Ilham Tohti’s students but has received no responses. Disclosure of her punishment by CGTN is believed to be the first official update since the trial in 2014.

CCTV claims to reveal money man behind Hong Kong protests

April saw more nationally televised denunciations related to national security with CCTV airing another “exposé” and TV confession on April 14, this time related to the unrest in Hong Kong.

Henry Li (李亨利 aka Li Hengli), a naturalized Belize citizen and businessman in Shanghai, was first arrested in November 2019 by the Guangzhou State Security Bureau for endangering state security. The high-profile news commentary program Focus Report 焦点访谈 produced a 15-minute long segment, lampooning Li as an ungrateful “two-faces” who was dissatisfied with his business success in China and full of delusions and vanity.

A shot from Focus Report 焦点访谈 featuring Li confessing his crime. Image credit: CCTV

The segment, quoting interviews from state security officers from Guangdong and Shanghai, painted Li as proof of foreign interference in Hong Kong’s political unrest that started in June 2019 and has affected the city ever since.

According to the investigation, state security uncovered close financial ties between Li and a well-known Chinese dissident surnamed Yang who resides in the United States. Supposedly under Yang’s guidance, Li met with Hong Kong political activist Leung Kwok-hung and student leader Alex Chow Yong Kang and funded their protest activities as well as Chow’s visit to Europe.

Li was indicted on April 23, 2020 for funding activities that endanger state security. If deemed serious, the crime can carry more than five-years of fixed-term imprisonment. Li was sentenced to eleven years on April 2, 2021.
“They [people like Li] will be nailed to history’s pillar of shame,” the show proclaimed.