The Chinese government likes to appear as if they respect their senior citizens. However, when it comes to the Uyghurs in the Northwestern part of the country, it’s a different matter altogether. The Communist regime shamelessly exploits elderly Uyghurs for its Xinjiang propaganda.
There are social media accounts solely devoted to supposedly funny Uyghur seniors. These accounts portray the elderly Uyghurs as clown-like street entertainers dressed in traditional Uyghur attire or bearless men sitting idly in Kashgar tea houses and playing the dutar for tourists.
In the last few years, this kind of brazen exploitation of elderly Uyghurs has become commonplace. In the spring of 2021, the CCP-backed media published hundreds of video clips in which Uyghurs of all ages scolded Mike Pompeo for bringing up Uyghur forced labor. One such person reproaching State Secretary Pompeo was a 91-year-old elderly lady and a grandmother of 40. One can only guess whether she had any idea who Mike Pompeo was.
In 2014 the BBC first reported on Almihan Seyiti, an Uyghur woman, who was allegedly born in 1886. China claimed her to be the oldest person in the world. Since then, the Chinese state media made it their annual task to cover her birthday celebrations till her passing away this December. On the screen, they would make Mrs. Seyiti lavish her praises on the communist party: “They threw a good birthday party for me with my family, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My life is good. The authorities treat me well. They have built a house for me, where I live. I am happy,” she told the Xinjiang TV-2 reporter.
No one outside China was likely to accept Mrs. Seyiti’s age at face value. Did China invent the story to push its Xinjiang propaganda via the Western media? It seems likely that the Chinese communist party just used this elderly Uyghur lady as its mouthpiece. The state channels are always keen to have Uyghurs like Mrs. Seyiti express her gratitude to the Chinese Communist Party.
Respecting the elders is an integral part of the Uyghur culture. A young Uyghur would never sit at the table nor start eating before the elders had sat down and started their meals. For this reason, it is despicable that the Chinese regime would utilize the elderly Uyghurs for their cheap propaganda. Many elderly Uyghurs who have their adult children interned in re-education camps are particularly vulnerable and become easy prey for the government schemes. Some of these seniors are old enough to have lived through the two periods of independence of their homeland.