Photographer and Videographer Natacha de Mahieu is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘Far West China’. To see Natacha’s body of work, click on any image.
Xinjiang. The Id Kah Mosque, the largest in the country, is almost 600 years old. Today, because of the forced internment of practitioners, few Uighurs still dare to go there. Recently, China has decided to forbid people under 65 to enter mosques.
Xinjiang. « Aim for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation », one of many billboards along the main roads of the province. To develop the region closer to the national standards, the state encourages Hans to settle in the province with propaganda, but also with financial incentives.
Xinjiang. Police station on the countryside.
The Xinjiang region could be defined as a real crossroads of Eurasia. Recently attached to China for its strategic location and rich natural resources, the region is essential to the development of the country. It is since the origin populated by the Uighur’s, a Muslim Turkic ethnic minority.
Considering the cultural difference as a threat to its territorial integrity, Beijing has gradually strengthened its control by adopting radical measures alienating the rights of these local minorities and imposing on them a unique way of life, that of the Han Chinese.
Among these measures are the destruction of mosques and traditional houses, a widespread intrusion into smartphones and a mass-sterilization scheme for Uighur women. The most extreme is undoubtedly the internment of Uighur’s in ‘re-education’ camps, which hold more than one million people according to the UN, and forced labor in factories across China.
Old Kashgar city, Xinjiang. The traditional mud houses of Uighur’s are gradually being destroyed by the state because they do not comply with the new Chinese housing standards.
Xinjiang, Police checkpoint put down in the middle of nowhere on one of the main roads of the province. Due to the recent attacks and demonstrations, the authorities have reinforced repression and keep track of the movements of the entire population. Such checkpoints were set up every 50 km along the main roads.
Xinjiang. A young Han tourist is taking a picture in front of Muztag-Ata, a mighty peak of Xinjiang. The authorities have put a lot of effort in the last years to attract Han tourists, with the hope that some would stay and settle in the region.
Xinjiang. Traditional Uighur front door. Some doors of Uighur houses are marked with signs imposed by the government to ‘tidy’, ‘educated’ and ‘civilized’ households. Nowadays some signs explain that families who lived there have gone into ‘training camps’.
Kashgar, Xinjiang. In this city, as elsewhere in Xinjiang, thousands of face-recognition cameras have been installed in recent years. This close supervision allows control of every moment by Beijing.