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Report: China "smothering" Islam to control Uighurs - Reuters, India

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  • Zafar Khan
    China smothering Islam to control Uighurs - report Mon April 11, 2005 11:14 PM GMT+05:30
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 12, 2005
      China "smothering" Islam to control Uighurs - report
      Mon April 11, 2005 11:14 PM GMT+05:30


      BEIJING (Reuters) - Two U.S.-based human rights groups
      have accused China of using the law heavy-handedly to
      clamp down on Muslim Uighurs in its restive western
      region of Xinjiang in the name of anti-separatism and

      Beijing's "wholesale assault" on the Uighurs' faith
      ranged from vetting imams and closing mosques to
      detaining thousands every year and executions, Human
      Rights Watch and Human Rights in China said in a
      report released on Tuesday entitled "Devastating
      Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang".

      "Systematic repression of religion continues in
      Xinjiang as a matter of considered state policy," said
      the report, based on previously undisclosed
      regulations and policies.

      The groups echoed charges from other rights watchdogs
      that China was using the global war on terrorism to
      justify a widespread crackdown on Uighurs.

      "China has opportunistically used the post-September
      11 environment to make the outrageous claim that
      individuals disseminating peaceful religious and
      cultural messages in Xinjiang are terrorists who have
      simply changed tactics," the report said.

      Uighurs make up 8 million of the 19 million people in
      Xinjiang and many favour greater autonomy for the
      area. Some separatists have been fighting for 150
      years to make the region an independent homeland they
      would call East Turkestan.

      "Islam is perceived as feeding Uighur ethnic identity,
      and the subordination of Islam to the state is used as
      a means to ensure the subordination of Uighurs as

      Chinese government officials were not immediately
      available to comment.

      Citing internal government and Communist Party
      documents, the report said China had an official
      manual for regulating religion in Xinjiang that used
      vague phrasing and wide-reaching policies to back many
      forms of repression.

      "Religious regulation in Xinjiang is so pervasive that
      it creates a legal net that can catch just about
      anyone the authorities want to target," Sharon Hom,
      executive director of Human Rights in China, was
      quoted as saying in a statement on the report's

      Laws banning the disclosure of information about
      policies towards minorities and religion, even those
      with no connection to national security, kept
      repressive regulations hidden from the public, the
      report said.

      China has previously denied accusations that it
      suppresses Islam in Xinjiang by saying it only wants
      to stop the forces of separatism, terrorism and
      religious extremism in the region.

      New national rules that took effect on March 1
      enshrine religious belief as a basic right of all
      citizens, although China still forbids worship outside
      designated religious organisations.

      What effect the new rules would have in Xinjiang and
      across China was not clear, the report said, adding
      that the rules had "understated aims" of bringing all
      religions under closer control and making it even
      harder for unapproved religious bodies and places of
      worship to operate.

      See Also:

      Human Rights Watch: Religious Repression of Uighurs in

      China Represses Muslim Uighurs: Rights Groups

      China 'crushing Muslim Uighurs'

      China Rejects Rights Groups' Charge of Muslim

      More about Islam and Muslims in China at:

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