View Full Version : China Said to Step Up Religious Persecution of Minority in Its West

UAA/UHRP News Update
12-04-05, 02:08
China Said to Step Up Religious Persecution of Minority in Its West


Published: April 12, 2005

BEIJING, April 11 - China has stepped up a campaign of religious persecution against its minority Uighur population in the western region of Xinjiang even though the government has already eliminated any organized resistance to Beijing's rule there, two leading human rights groups said in a joint report to be released Tuesday.

The groups, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China, quoted secret Communist Party and government documents as detailing a range of new policies that tighten controls on religious worship, assembly and artistic expression among Xinjiang's eight million Turkic-speaking Muslims, including strict rules on teaching religion to minors.

China adopted some of the measures, the groups said, after it persuaded the Bush administration that a little known Uighur exile group, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, was responsible for terrorist acts and belonged on America's list of leading terrorist threats. The groups said China has used isolated terrorist acts to justify a wholesale crackdown on its Uighur Muslim population.

"China is using the suppression of religion as a whip over Uighurs who challenge or even chafe at Chinese rule of Xinjiang," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "In other parts of China, individuals have a little more space to worship as they choose. But Uighur Muslims are facing state-ordered discrimination and crackdowns."

China has waged a long-term battle against what it describes as "splittist" forces in its two sprawling but lightly populated border regions of Xinjiang and Tibet. The Beijing government has promoted rapid economic development in both areas, while encouraging migration of Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group, to offset the influence of Tibetans and Uighurs in their home communities.

The Chinese government has long maintained that it allows religious freedom in both areas, opposing only those people who use religion to advocate independence.

But the human rights groups said that in practice the authorities in Xinjiang have adopted ever-more-intrusive controls, including intensive political vetting of imams, surveillance inside mosques and screening of literature and poetry for even vague hints of dissent.

Even prosaic complaints about the government or the quality of life that might no longer be taken as threatening in other parts of China are often viewed as veiled support for separatism in Xinjiang, the report said.

Although these and other human rights groups welcomed the release of Rebiya Kadeer, Xinjiang's best known political prisoner, before the United Nations Human Rights Commission's annual meeting last month, the report's authors said they detected no signs of a general easing of conditions in the region.