Uyghur Girls Forced Into Labor Far From Home By Local Chinese Officials Several girls and young women belonging to the Muslim Uyghur minority in northwest China are stranded in a coastal Chinese province after â€œtrainingâ€ programs offered by local officials became effective slave labor, parents and officials say. â€œTwo officials from the village came and told us that they would be responsible. They told us that they made a deal with a factory there to train our daughters for one year. They also told us that they would get paid,â€ Uyghur farmer Tohti, a resident of No. 8 hamlet near Kachung village said. â€œBut after they took them there, they didnâ€™t pay. Now, the girls are calling, asking their parents to bring them back home. They cannot come back on their own, so they have been calling their parents. The parents are sending what they have to their children, so they can pay for their travel expenses. Many parents are facing huge difficulties and suffering a lot,â€ Tohti said. Parents were reluctant Reports published on Web sites in the Uyghur region said 213 girls had been co-opted into a work training program by Chinese officials in Yarkand county, near Kashgar, in March. While their parentsâ€”many of whom live in extreme povertyâ€”were reluctant to send them, officials said they would take responsibility for their daughtersâ€™ progress. The location of the factory in which the girls were to work wasnâ€™t made clear. The girls were promised 500 yuan a month at the beginning and during training, the reports said. In later stages, they were promised between 900 and 1,100 yuan monthly, and they were told they would be paid on time. The government and Party took our daughters, so we are expecting that they will do something to bring them back, But the girls went unpaid until June 28, when at least two of them fled into hiding in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Taken to a different province Patigul Yunus, one of the girls from No. 8 hamlet who escaped, was quoted as saying: â€œWhen we asked them about our salary, they told us: â€˜We have already given it to the man who handed you to us. You will not get paid.â€™â€ The girlsâ€™ parents were told that their daughtersâ€”who included junior high-school student Kurbanisa Nurmemet and 15-year-old Risalet Turdimemetâ€”would be taken to the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. Instead, the girls ended up in northern Shandong, a local village official said. The head of No. 8 hamlet, Tursun Barat, said the parents of the girls, some of whom were as young as 15, opposed the plan. â€œI took the farmers to the villageâ€”to the village chief. I told him that their parents donâ€™t want them to go. We should not force them,â€ he said. 'A mistake' â€œThe chief didnâ€™t listen. Instead, he tried to convince them and screamed at me: â€˜Why did you bring the farmers? Why didnâ€™t you bring the girls themselves?â€™ And he also dismissed the chief of the second division from his post because he didnâ€™t bring people,â€ he said, adding that the girls themselves were actually willing to go. â€œDonâ€™t believe what the girls say,â€ he said. â€œYou must also listen to what we say.â€ Tursun Barat said he tried and failed during a visit to Urumqi to meet with Patigul Yunus, who had escaped. He later spoke with the county chief instead. â€œThe [county] chief said that it was a mistake and to correct the mistake...He said, â€˜The government did not force the people, and it has stressed that it was voluntary, but you made a mistake in Kachung. From now on you have to be careful.â€™â€ Asked about reports that some of the girls had been raped, Tursun Barat said: â€œThe government has forced them to go, so the government should respond to this. We have told the chief of the village.â€ â€œItâ€™s true that, at the beginning, we forced them. We borrowed 5,000 yuan for travel expenses for nine girls [from this village], and the girls were supposed to pay that money back. But we donâ€™t know what kind of work they did there.â€ â€œWe wanted to give them money if they didnâ€™t have money and bring them back,â€ he said of his trip to Urumqi. He denied reports that the girls would be punished if they returned home. But he also revealed that the Kachung authorities were already retaliating against the families of the escaped girls. Distraught father â€œI havenâ€™t heard that if they come here, they will be punished,â€ he said. â€œBut I have heard that the parents of the girls who came back here have been subjected to forced labor [in Uyghur, hasha ].â€ The leader of hamlet No. 8 said in an interview that this information had originated with government irrigation officials. Meanwhile, distraught father Tohti called on local officials to bring his daughter home. â€œThe government and party took our daughters, so we are expecting that they will do something to bring them back. The officials who took our children havenâ€™t come back yet either. Two female officials took those girls with them.â€ â€œWe are very concerned about our children, because we donâ€™t know where they are. We would like to bring them back. But we are afraid because two girls who have returned have been fined, and the officials are forcing their parents to send them back to the same place. They say that this is a Party order.â€ Forced labor still common Hasha , or forced, unpaid labor, is still used frequently by Chinese authorities in Yarkand, which with its 29 villages is the largest county in Kashgar. It economy is based on agriculture and horticulture, and it has a population of more than 670,000. A hasha recruitment drive to expand an almond plantation was reported by RFAâ€™s Uyghur service in March. In a series of interviews with RFA in 2004, Chinese government officials in Xinjiang confirmed that hasha still exists, although the system has long since been eliminated in other parts of China. Uyghurs, who number more than 16 million, constitute a distinct, Turkic-speaking, Muslim minority in northwestern China and Central Asia. They declared a short-lived East Turkestan Republic in Xinjiang in the late 1930s and 40s but have remained under Beijing's control since 1949. Uyghur Girls Forced Into Labor Far From Home By Local Chinese Officials ************************************************************ An interesting way to boost the Chinese economy if indeed it is that they are made into slave labour and not paid. Yet, could it be that the Chinese who took the girls is actually saving the money for the girls so that they will have a pot of money to take back home, when indeed, they go? Why did the Uyghur parents be so trusting that they just let the man take the girls away without ascertain details of where they are going and for how long? Even if these Uyghirs are dirt poor, if it were the Govt and the Party which they claim took the daughter, then they should contact the Govt and the Party to get details. Or is everyone afraid to question the Govt and Party, wherein they silently acquiesce to the orders of the Govt and Party without question and send their daughters away and yet, are afraid to ask of their whereabouts? The interaction of the village Chief and Tursun Barat is extraordinary, if not highly draconian in the extreme. It is also extraordinary that the parents of the girls who returned are subjected to hasha or forced labour. Rather asinine and downright abuse of power and violation of human dignity! What a way to go!