Leaked documents from the Chinese Communist Party obtained by The New York Times have revealed an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang on Uyghur Muslims.
The 403 pages of internal documents exposed how the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs, and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.
Detailed discussions on the “indoctrination camps” in Xianjing are found in a directive that outlines how party officials should handle minority students returning home in the summer of 2017 to find that their family members had been sent to Xianjing.
Officials were advised to tell the students their relatives were “in treatment” after exposure to radical Islam, and respond with increasingly firm replies when pressed on their matter, highlighting the narrative the government had carved out to justify the internment.
“If they don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism,” one of the answers said.
“No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study.”
A series of internal speeches by Chinese President Xi Jinping also stood out in the document. He delivered the speeches in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after a stabbing incident which killed more than 150 people at a train station.
Xi said officials should show “absolutely no mercy” and use the “organs of dictatorship” to root out Islamic extremism in the country.
He was careful, however, to say there should be no discrimination against certain ethnic groups like the Uighurs, and not to restrict Islam as a religion. Many people argue that both of these things have come to fruition regardless.
Strict Religious Regulations
A set of new religious regulations were announced in February 2018, which included a declaration requiring the national flag to be raised by local mosques along with the removal of non-Chinese Islamic symbols.
Many mosque decorations are of Middle Eastern origin, including elaborate geometric designs, stylized Arabic script and the ubiquitous crescent moon and star.
Mosques were further required to adopt Chinese-architectural styles, with all domes to be demolished by the end of March.
Minors, defined as being under the age of 18, were banned from entering mosques to study, including during vacations.
A prohibition was also imposed on the use of loudspeakers for calls to prayer and Qur’anic recitations.
Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims
In its 117-page report, “‘Eradicating Ideological Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims,” Human Rights Watch presented new evidence of the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.
Chinese authorities impose restrictions on Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, especially during Ramadan.
Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of a heavy-handed rule in Xinjiang, including violent police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people.
Read more at The New York Times.