New Age Islam
Wed Sep 23 2020, 03:29 PM

Islam and Politics ( 5 Aug 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Uyghur Muslims Face New Religious Clampdown

 

By Mihray Abdulim and Gulchehra Keyum

2013-07-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tourists take photos of a mosque near the city bazaar in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, July 5, 2013

Uyghur Muslims in oil-rich Karamay city in China's troubled Xinjiang region have been banned from holding private religious discussions and barred from traveling to mosques outside their residential areas during Islam's holy month of Ramadan, which began this week, according to residents Thursday.

The new restrictions are part of tightened measures across Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uyghur people, following a spate of deadly violence, the residents said, citing orders read out to them by police and other security officials.

"We have been informed that the situation is like being under martial law," a Karamay Uyghur woman resident told RFA's Uyghur Service, quoting security officials.

The woman said that the officials told her and several others that security in Karamay had been bolstered since June 26, when Uyghurs attacked police and government offices in Turpan prefecture's Lukchun township in violence that left at least 46 dead.

The incident led to a string of violence in Xinjiang, leaving at least 64 dead in total, as the region marked the fourth anniversary of the July 5, 2009 violence between minority ethnic Muslim Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese in the regional capital Urumqi.

"A lot of security forces are in the city during this time presumably because they want to secure this oil-rich place," said the woman, who came in contact with the officials after she and a few others had submitted petitions on community problems to the authorities

Published Order

The authorities in Karamay, which means "black oil" in the Uyghur language referring to the oil fields near the city, have published an order banning religious discussions and large gatherings during the Ramadan which began on Tuesday, the Karamay Daily reported.

"Due to Ramadan, places of worship will be forbidden from holding all sorts of religious teaching activity," it said. "If there are violations, the places will be sealed."

Under the new regulations, Uyghurs in the city are also not allowed to go to mosques outside their residential areas and have to conduct their mosque prayers within stipulated hours, residents said.

There will also be an "around-the-clock" monitoring of mosques to ensure their security, they said.

The heightened measures have been criticized by Uyghur and international rights groups pushing for religious freedom in China.

Call To End Restrictions

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent government commission dedicated to defending the right to freedom of religion, called for an end to the restrictions on religious activity in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

“Launched in the name of stability and security, Beijing’s campaigns of repression against Uyghur Muslims include the targeting of peaceful private gatherings for religious study and devotion,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, the commission's chairperson.

“These abuses predictably have led to neither stability nor security, but rather instability and insecurity," she said. "Through its campaign of repression, the Chinese government has egregiously abused internationally recognized human rights, including the right of freedom of religion or belief."

"We urge the government to lift these restrictions, especially with the start of Ramadan.”

The commission said religious freedom conditions in the Xinjiang have deteriorated significantly since the 2009 violence in Urumqi which left about 200 dead according to state media.

It said that the Chinese government has instituted sweeping security measures that include efforts to "weaken religious adherence and stop 'illegal religious gatherings' and 'illegal religious activities,'" adding that such restrictions on Uyghur Muslim religious activities have caused "deep resentment of Beijing’s oversight of the XUAR."

Determination

Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur exile leader, called on Uyghurs to use the Ramadan period to renew their determination to defend their religious freedom.

"The Uyghur people will not lose their religion no matter what obstacles come in their way," she told RFA.

Uyghur residents in Kashgar and Turpan prefectures who were interviewed expressed dismay at the increasing restrictions on religious practices, including preventing Muslims from fasting during Ramadan.

Uyghur government officials, teachers, and students are among those who are barred from fasting, they said. Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.

"[The ruling Chinese Communist] Party cadres make sudden visits to our homes to check whether anyone barred from fasting is actually fasting," one woman resident said.

Some groups have charged that party officials go to Uyghur homes to provide them with food and drink during fasting hours.

In Xinjiang, Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness, blaming the problems partly on the influx of Han Chinese into the region.

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against the Uyghur minority.

Reported by Mihray Abdulim and Gulchehra Keyum for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by Dolkun Kamberi. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/restrictions-07112013221210.html

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Uyghur Man Shot Dead in Violence Sparked by His Beard

2013-08-05

Security forces in western China’s restive Xinjiang region have shot dead an ethnic Uyghur man who stabbed two people, including a police officer, in violence that broke out after he was pressed to shave his beard, according to police.

Enver Omer, 30, was killed in Aksu prefecture’s in Uchturpan (in Chinese, Wushi) county following a dispute with a local religious affairs official who was conducting street patrols aimed at curbing religious attire.

RFA’s Uyghur Service came to learn of the June 28 incident only last week amid the tight restrictions in volatile Xinjiang, where the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority group complain of religious controls including curbs on traditional and Islamic dress and appearance such as men’s beards and women’s veils.

The incident took place on the same day as bloody clashes broke out in Hotan prefecture and two days after the Xinjiang’s deadliest violence in four years rocked Lukchun township in Turpan prefecture’s Pichan county.

According to local police, the dispute erupted near the Yengimehelle mosque in Uchturpan town’s Kashboyi neighborhood while a worker from the religious affairs office of the Uchturpan Bazaar was patrolling the street with two police officers.

The three stopped Enver Omer and pressed him to stop wearing a beard. In a heated argument that ensued when he refused, Enver Omer stabbed the religious affairs worker, Ablet Mutellip, prompting security forces from the county police station to rush to the scene.

Enver Omer then stabbed one of the county policemen, Enver Eysa, before being shot and killed by another police officer, according to the local public security department.

The incident came after local officials had implemented orders to conduct patrols for religious attire, said Ehmetjan Niyaz, an official of the Uchturpan public security department’s intelligence unit.

“We have a policy of going and checking bearded and strangely clothed people, according to orders from the top,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service, adding that instructions to shave beards had recently been given at the local mosque.

“They stopped [Enver Omer] and asked him to shave off his beard and keep his face clean-shaven.”

“But he chased Ablet with his knife and injured him,” he said, adding that Enver Omer did not have a criminal record.

Police from the Uchturpan Bazaar station and the nearby Yakowruk station confirmed the pre-noon incident.

Yasin Ghopur, head of the Uchturpan state security, said the Aksu prefectural police chief and other senior police officials visited the injured Enver Eysa at the hospital.

Spate of Regional Violence

Two days before Enver Omer was shot dead, dozens were killed in Lukchun township of Pichan county in Turpan prefecture in the bloodiest violence since July 5, 2009 unrest in regional capital Urumqi that triggered a massive crackdown.

According to China’s Xinhua state news agency, 35 people died after police opened fire at "knife-wielding mobs" who had attacked police stations and other sites in the county, though local sources told RFA the death toll was 46.

On June 28, in Hotan prefecture's Hanerik township, police fired at hundreds of Uyghurs protesting the arrest of a young religious leader and closure of a mosque, officials confirmed, acknowledging that up to 15 people may have been killed and 50 others injured.

The same day, local officials said that at least three people were killed in separate violence in Tuanjie Square in Hotan city amid conflicting reports on the circumstances that led to the incident.

Closer to Uchturpan, earlier in June at least 12 Uyghurs in Ghorachol town in Aksu’s Awat county were killed in a blast—apparently triggered by explosives they were carrying—following a house-to-house search conducted by local police officers.

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against the Uyghur minority.

Rights groups have hit out at local restrictions in Xinjiang targeting women in veils and discouraging men from wearing beards, saying they hinder not only religious practice but also Uyghur traditions.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.

Source; http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/uchturpan-08052013173737.html

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Family Runs Into a Stone Wall in Frantic Search for Missing Uyghur

2013-08-06

Four years after a fruitless search and after being given the runaround by Chinese authorities, the family of a Uyghur construction worker who disappeared in the wake of ethnic riots in Xinjiang in 2009 believes he may have been tortured to death or simply killed in jail.

Initially, the local police and the ruling Chinese Community Party branch acknowledged that Enver Turdi was in the custody of authorities, saying he was being held because he was a key witness to an undisclosed event.

But over the years, they have made an about turn and denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, family members said.

Enver Turdi and his younger brother Imin Turdi, also a construction worker, were picked up by police after deadly clashes erupted on July 5, 2009 between minority Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi.

When Imin Turdi was freed four months after his detention, police said his brother, who was 26 years old at that time, would be held for a few more months, according to their eldest brother Qasim Turdi.

Police, he said, gave the impression that Enver Turdi was first held in a jail in Urumqi and then transferred to one in Awat county in midwestern Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture.

Heartbroken

But months have turned to years of frantic searches and inquiries by the family, including his heartbroken mother, who died at the age of 54 early this year, said Qasim Turdi, 34.

Imin Turdi believes that Chinese authorities killed his brother to prevent him from speaking up on "tragic" events he had witnessed in jail or that he may have been a victim of torture in prisons either in Urumqi or Awat.     

"I assume there are two possibilities—one is that my brother witnessed a tragedy in jail in Urumqi, and he been killed there. The second is that my brother died in jail in Awat due to torture," the 28-year-old Imin Turdi told RFA's Uyghur Service last week.

About 10,000 Uyghurs have been reported missing since the 2009 violence, most of them taken into custody by authorities in large-scale sweep operations, according to Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur exile leader.

Imin Turdi said that he and his brother did not participate in any Uyghur protests on July 5, 2009 and denied any knowledge of the violence that ensued.

Imin Turdi said that all key roads in Urumqi were closed on that day and that they had put up in a restaurant that night before returning to their motel the next morning.

He said he and all other Uyghurs staying in the motel were detained by police while his brother could have been taken into custody while out shopping.

'Shocked'

When he was taken to the Awat prison, a police officer asked him whether he had seen his brother, Imin Turdi recollected.

"Is he here?," he asked the officer in return. "The officer appeared shocked and told me, 'Don't ask us this question again,'" he said.

Qasim Turdi said that when Imin Turdi was sent home after four months in jail, police and Communist Party officials assured them that Enver Turdi would soon return home.

"That day, when the police chief and party secretary of our township brought my youngest brother Imin Turdi to our home, they said that Enver Turdi was being detained in Urumqi because he had witnessed 'something' and that he would be released after a few months."

“They told us, 'Don't worry about him and don't go anywhere searching for him, and we will inform you as soon as the investigation is done,’" Qasim Turdi said.

He said his mother had gone to meet county and other officials over the next two years to seek her son's release and that they had asked her to be patient.

"In the third year, the officials in the county in a complete turnaround told my mother, 'We don't know anything about Enver Turdi's situation.’"

When the family accused them of lying, Qasim Turdi quoted the deputy Communist Party secretary of Awat county Ahmet Rahman, who was in charge of law and politics, as saying, "You can sue me over what I said before."

"My mother died six months ago because of the fate that befell her son," Qasim Turdi said.

After her death, he began another round of frantic searches for his brother at the prefecture level and to his astonishment, Aksu officials told him that there were no records of Enver Turdi.

Similar Response

In June, Qasim Turdi went to Urumqi and raised the issue with authorities at the regional level and received a similar response.

"This is the first time I'm hearing about this case," he quoted a senior police officer as telling him. "You have to go back home and give us some time for investigation, and we will call you back soon."

Enver Turdi left his pregnant wife and daughter when he disappeared in 2009. Now his wife and two daughters, aged seven and three years, live in Aybagh town in Awat county.

Qasim Turdi said he wonders whether justice is eluding his family "because we are just farmers and we are powerless and helpless."

"As a last resort, I thought it is better to go to the media."

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by Shohret Hoshur. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai

Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/missing-08062013173900.html

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Uyghur Scholar Ilham Tohti under House Arrest

2013-07-31

Uyghur scholar and activist Ilham Tohti said Wednesday that he has been placed under house arrest for the fourth time this year, possibly to prevent him from speaking out as representatives from the U.S. and China wrapped up an annual dialogue on human rights.

The university professor is an outspoken critic of the government’s treatment of Uyghurs, whose homeland is in China's northwestern Xinjiang region and who complain of discrimination by the authorities and the country’s majority Han Chinese.

He was placed under house arrest at around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday in the capital Beijing, where he lives and teaches economics, he told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“Since yesterday [Tuesday] I am not allowed to step outside of my residence,” he said, adding that three or four people were sitting in his hallway and by the elevator who had even stopped him from walking in the hallway to escape the heat in his apartment at 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

“I guess it may be related to the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue. They suspect that someone from the dialogue may come to see me because there are reports saying that the U.S. may send someone to contact Chinese intellectuals and lawyers, but this is only my speculation.”

This year’s two-day rights dialogue, which began Tuesday, was held in Kunming—the capital of China's Yunnan province—and the U.S. State Department had said Washington planned to discuss rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labor rights, and the rights of ethnic minorities in China.

Reports said that a number of Chinese activists held a protest in Beijing during the talks, demanding to be included in the writing of China’s annual human rights report, and Ilham Tohti said he believed that might also be why he had been refused the right to leave his home.

“Another reason could possibly be that they are blocking me from participating in the human rights protest which is being held in front of the Chinese Foreign Ministry,” he said, adding that he is also a supporter of human rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong and activist Hu Jia.

‘Illegal’

Ilham Tohti also said in a letter he wrote on Wednesday and sent to RFA that he had asked a member of the security team guarding his door whether he believed that holding him under house arrest was legal.

“They answered, ‘It is not right and it’s illegal. But we were told not to let you out of this door. There might be people coming to talk to you.’”

“I tried to take a walk in the hallway at 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning because it was so hot inside, but they stopped me.”

He said that ten of his students had come to see him, but all were forced to register with the police.

“My friends cannot come to see me. Even the text messages that I’ve sent to them were not received. My phone calls are being interrupted most of the time.”

The scholar said that he had been placed under house arrest on four separate occasions since March this year, without providing details.

Detained

Ilham Tohti was detained in February at the Beijing airport and prevented from taking a flight to the United States to take up a post as a visiting scholar at Indiana University.

Following Beijing's refusal to allow him to leave the country, unknown hackers attacked his website, Uyghur Online, which is hosted overseas and discusses Uyghur social issues and news from Xinjiang, briefly shutting it down.

He has spoken out for better implementation of China’s regional autonomy laws in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness.

Last week, 24-year-old Mutellip Imin, a Uyghur student who once worked as a volunteer for Ilham Tohti’s website, was detained by police at the Beijing airport as he was preparing to fly to Turkey to continue his studies, according to a friend.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service and Mihray Abdilim for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Feng Xiaoming and Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/scholar-07312013173204.html

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Hundreds of Uyghurs Detained Over Deadly Attack on Chinese Dam Workers

2013-07-29

Chinese authorities have detained for questioning hundreds of ethnic minority Uyghurs and are hot on the trail of two key suspects in connection with a fatal knife attack on Han Chinese workers building a dam in the restive Xinjiang region, according to local officials and residents.

Dozens still remain in custody following the May 20 attack which led to the death of seven Han Chinese workers building a dam on the Qaraqash River in Hotan (In Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county.

The incident came to light only this month after the Chinese authorities released a “most-wanted” list of 11 suspects in connection with eight incidents of violence in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over the past year and a half.

The Qaraqash incident has not been reported in China’s official media. RFA’s Uyghur Service used the wanted list to trace the circumstances under which warrants of arrest were issued for two of the 11 suspects by contacting officials and residents in the area.

The two Uyghur male suspects were identified as Yusup Ehmetqadir and Memtili Tursunniyaz.

RFA investigations revealed that around 300 people have been detained for questioning over the incident, nearly all of them Uyghurs.

According to the wanted list, the Qaraqash attack was the work of “terrorists” and three of the five alleged Uyghur assailants had been captured by police.

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against the Uyghur minority.

The attack is the latest of a string of violent incidents in Xinjiang blamed on the mostly Muslim Uyghurs, who complain of discrimination by the authorities and China’s majority Han Chinese.

Knife Attack

Memtimin Yasin, the leading official of the Chinese Communist Party for No. 11 Village in Qaraqash’s Hanerik Township, confirmed the incident in an interview with RFA.

“In the early morning on May 20, five suspects armed with knives went to the Qaraqash River by motorcycle,” the village party secretary said, adding that most of the dam workers were asleep in tents near the site.

“At around 3:00 a.m., the suspects stormed into the tents and attacked the workers, killing five of them and injuring four. Two of the four injured later died of their wounds after being brought to an area hospital.”

Authorities took nearly two hours to travel to the location of the incident due to the distance and other complications, he said, and by the time they arrived, the suspects had already escaped.

“That day, all the village chiefs and party secretaries in Hanerik Township were notified to assist in police operations, particularly in conducting house-to-house searches,” Memtimin Yasin said.

“After 15 days, authorities had arrested three of the five suspects, while the other two remain in hiding. One of those who escaped was a resident of my village, so I am working hard to assist the police in their search for him,” he said.

‘Politically Motivated’

The party secretary said that while he did not know the reason for the attack, he believed it was “politically motivated.”

“Usually, fights or quarrels occur between Han immigrants [to Xinjiang] and Uyghurs over land and water disputes, or sometimes over cultural differences,” he said.

“This time it appears that it was more politically motivated.”

Police had shown him a 50-centimeter (20-inch) knife purportedly recovered from the road the suspects had used to flee the scene of the attack, which he said was “not for daily use” and “made especially for killing people.”

“That is why I assume that the incident had been prepared for in advance and was well organized.”

He said that around 300 people in Hanerik township had been detained for questioning in connection with the attack.

“I know 52 people from my village [who were detained], including all of the suspect’s family members over the age of 14, his close friends and former classmates,” he said.

“Twenty-nine of them were released after a month and 23 are still being held. I expect they will be released after Yusup Ehmetqadir is captured.”

Residents Weigh In

Residents of Hanerik township also confirmed the incident, saying the alleged attackers were members of a group which sought independence for Xinjiang from Chinese rule.

“Police and village officials searched my home three times because one of the suspects was my eldest son’s former middle school classmate. I heard about the incident through their conversation,” one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

“[It was] a separatist group—all of them were from our township,” a second resident said.

“Some of them were arrested, but two escaped. Police and officials are still searching for those two.”

‘Fighting For Independence’

A school teacher from Hotan said that the assailants had been driven to carry out the attack because “their land had been occupied, their resources had been taken, and their people faced forced assimilation [into Han culture].”

He said that the incident, along with other acts of violence by Uyghurs against Chinese in Xinjiang in recent months, was carried out in the name of “fighting for independence.”

“The fight is being conducted by small groups … [with the] goal to die with honor and draw international attention to the current situation of the Uyghur people.”

“Land grabs by Han Chinese companies, rising unemployment rates for Uyghurs, and continued religious and political pressure can be seen as the cause for the most recent incidents, including the Qaraqash River incident.”

The teacher said that Uyghurs are no longer targeting their attacks only on authorities in Xinjiang, as more and more Han Chinese move to the region.

“In the view of the attackers, the Han workers in the region are not civilians, they are part of the tools of colonization and they are siding with the army and the police all the time,” he said.

“I believe this is the major factor in why Chinese workers are now being targeted.”

Xinjiang has seen a string of violent incidents since June 26, leaving at least 64 dead in total, as the region marked the fourth anniversary earlier this month of July 5, 2009 clashes between the minority Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese.

Rioting in Urumqi left some 200 people dead and 1,700 injured in the days that followed the 2009 conflict, according to official media reports.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Shohret Hoshur. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Source; http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/attack-07292013171133.html

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Uyghur Student Detained at Beijing Airport

2013-07-22

A Uyghur ethnic minority student who once worked as a volunteer for a website of outspoken Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti has been detained by police at the Beijing airport as he was preparing to fly to Turkey to continue his studies, his friend said Monday.

The whereabouts of Mutellip Imin, 24, are not known one week after state security police "invited him for tea" at Beijing International Airport at 1:20 a.m. on July 15, his girlfriend, Atikem Rozi, said in a report on the Uyghur Online website.

Being "invited for tea" is a euphemism used by police when taking someone for interrogations and delivering warnings.

The Uyghur Online website is run by university professor Ilham Tohti, a vocal critic of the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs, whose homeland is in China's northwestern Xinjiang region and who complain of discrimination by the authorities and the country’s majority Han Chinese.

Mutellip Imin was "taken away 10 minutes before his departure,” Atikem Rozi said in her report entitled “Mutellip, where are you?"

The flight left for Istanbul without the sociology student of Istanbul University who had gone to Beijing to meet with Atikem Rozi during his summer vacation.

Ilham Tohti, who is a professor of economics at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, told RFA's Uyghur Service that Mutellip Imin had worked as a volunteer for his website for about a year before he left to further his studies in Turkey. .

“We have been trying to find out what happened to him ... But so far we have no news,” he said.

Interrogated Over Religious Beliefs

Atikem Rozi said that a week after Mutellip Imin arrived in Beijing, they contacted a female student in Northern Nationalities University in Ningxia to return some money he had borrowed from her.

"She told us that she had been detained by the police and interrogated because of her religious beliefs. And she asked us not to contact her anymore."

The student also said that police asked her about Mutellip Imin and sought her help to find him.

"So, she told Mutellip Imin to be more careful. Now what we had worried about has happened," Atikem Rozi said.

She quoted Ilham Tohti as saying that “even if Mutellip did not do anything that violates state security, the state security police can detain him and charge him with any kinds of crimes that he did not commit.”

Ilham Tohti was himself detained in February at the Beijing airport and prevented from taking a flight to the United States to take up a post as a visiting scholar at Indiana University.

Following Beijing's refusal to allow him to leave the country, unknown hackers attacked his website, which is hosted overseas and discusses Uyghur social issues and news from Xinjiang, briefly shutting it down.

He has spoken out for better implementation of China’s regional autonomy laws in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness.

Another of Uyghur Online's webmasters, Shohret, was detained and interrogated recently by police and forced to disclose Uyghur Online webmaster passwords, sources said.

Reported by Mihray Abdilim for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Source; http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/student-07222013204016.html

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First Uyghur Ramadan Message from White House Hailed

2013-07-15

U.S. President Barack Obama’s message marking the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan has been translated to the Uyghur language and posted online by the American Embassy in Beijing for the first time in a move that has been warmly welcomed by Muslim Uyghurs in China’s troubled Xinjiang region.

Xinjiang is home to China’s ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims, who say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness, blaming the problems partly on the influx of the majority Han Chinese into the region.

Obama’s message, according to sources living abroad, has given the Turkic-speaking Uyghur people in Xinjiang a sense of hope despite alleged oppressive conditions in their homeland and was reposted on several Uyghur websites and through social media.

Chinese authorities have significantly tightened religious restrictions in Xinjiang during Ramadan.

In the message posted last week, Obama addressed the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims by saying that the month of Ramadan serves as a reminder that “freedom, dignity and opportunity are the undeniable rights of all mankind.”

“The United States stands with those who are working to build a world where all people can write their own future and practice their faith freely, without fear of violence,” read the annual statement on the Muslim holy month.

Turkey-based Uyghur community leader Abdul Eziz said that the message gave Uyghurs, who “are being oppressed by all means and from all directions” in China, a sense of hope that the outside world was paying attention to their concerns.

“By reading the President’s message in their own language, our people will definitely find comfort and consolation, knowing that they have not been forgotten,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“At this crucial time, while being ignored by nearly everyone around the world, the Uyghur translation of the President’s message has sent hope to our people and brought light to the darkness around them,” he said. “That is why our people feel so happy, even though this is a small gesture.”

‘On The Side Of Justice’

Beijing has tightened measures across Xinjiang following a new spate of deadly violence that began June 26, when Uyghurs attacked police and government offices in Turpan prefecture's Lukchun township, leaving at least 46 dead.

The incident led to a string of attacks in Xinjiang, leaving at least 64 dead in total, as the region marked the fourth anniversary of the July 5, 2009 violence between minority ethnic Muslim Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese in the regional capital Urumqi.

The Chinese government has recently been labeling any kind of protest by Uyghurs against Beijing’s policies as “terrorism,” Abdul Eziz said.

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against the Uyghur minority.

Abdul Eziz said Beijing had also influenced the governments of Islamic nations Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to deport to China Uyghurs who had sought refuge in the three countries after fleeing alleged persecution in Xinjiang.

Abdul Eziz also cited U.S. government statements expressing concern over the recent spate of violence in Xinjiang.

“Our people greatly appreciate the latest stance by the American government on the recent atrocities committed by the Chinese government,” he said.

The State Department on June 26 called on the Chinese authorities to conduct a “thorough, transparent” investigation of the Lukchun incident, saying it was “deeply concerned by the ongoing reports of discrimination and restrictions against Uyghurs and Muslims in China.”

“In comparison to other governments around the world, America has stood on the right side of justice and did not leave our people disappointed. We are very grateful for this as well,” Abdul Aziz said.

Ramadan Restrictions

Nurmemet Musabay, the U.S.-based general secretary of the World Uyghur Congress, said Obama’s message is especially poignant given a host of new restrictions put in place during Ramadan in Xinjiang.

In certain parts of the region, authorities have forbidden places of worship from holding religious teaching activities, prevented Uyghurs from attending prayers at mosques outside their residential areas, and have forced adherents to conduct their mosque prayers within stipulated hours.

Uyghur government officials, teachers, and students have been barred from fasting from dawn to dusk, according to sources, as is traditional during Ramadan, and some reports say that party officials go to Uyghur homes to provide them with food and drink during fasting hours.

“[Obama’s message] has significant importance as it directly sends a message regarding the Chinese government’s … intensified efforts to restrict religious activities during the holy month of Ramadan,” Nurmemet Musabay said.

“By releasing the President’s message in the Uyghur language during Ramadan, the American government has sent a very direct message to the Chinese government about the protection of Uyghur culture and respect for the religious freedom of Uyghurs.”

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Memet Tohti. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/ramadan-07152013171300.html

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Two Dead in Xinjiang Attack Following House Search

2013-07-05

Authorities in western Xinjiang have shot dead a Uyghur man they say stabbed a police officer to death and critically injured two others following a confrontation during a house search, marking the fourth deadly incident to hit the restive region in less than two weeks.

The incident occurred on June 30 in Atush city, seat of the Qizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture, near China’s border with Kyrgyzstan, sources said.

Also in the Atush region, on Thursday, police detained a Uyghur man in Azaq township in a separate raid. Details of the incident were unclear but witnesses said the man’s wife collapsed as he was led away by police and she later died in hospital.

The incidents add to the string of violence in Xinjiang since June 26, leaving at least 64 dead in total, as the region marked the fourth anniversary Friday of the July 5, 2009 violence between minority ethnic Muslim Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese.

The violence earlier this week in Atush city, broke out as police conducted a house-to-house search in the area, according to local police station chief Turghun Memet.

“It happened when the police were searching the rented home of a suspect in Qulupchining Doqisi [district],” the police chief told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“There was a husband and wife in the house and three police. When one of the police went out to answer a phone call, the suspect took a knife and killed one police officer on the spot and injured the other badly,” he said.

The police officer who had stepped outside to answer his phone reentered the home and shot the suspect dead, Turghun Memet said, without providing the name of the alleged knife attacker or his wife.

“Altogether two people died, including the suspect. One Chinese police officer was badly injured,” he said.

“The dead [police officer] was a SWAT team member and his name was Memet Nur—of Kyrgyz ethnicity.”

Turghun Memet did not provide information about why the suspect’s home was being searched and said that he had not been informed “from the top” about whether there had been any altercation between the suspect and police before the killings took place.

Two Injured

A police officer from nearby Kattaylaq Township said that two policemen were injured during the attack, one of whom was a Uyghur, implying that the policeman who shot the suspect dead was also injured.

Another officer at the nearby Suntagh township police station confirmed that the incident had occurred in Atush city, but said that only his superiors were authorized to give details about casualties.

“The incident happened in the city, not in our jurisdiction, in a place called Qulupchining Doqisi,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.

“I cannot tell you how many were killed or injured. You have to ask our station chief.”

An official from the religious and civil affairs office in Atush said Memet Nur, the police officer who was killed in the confrontation, was from Aqchi County of the Qizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture.

“He graduated from the police academy and was working in the city’s SWAT unit,” the official said.

Collapse

In the other incident, police detained a Uyghur man during a house search in Azaq township of the Atush region, according to a witness who lives nearby.

“Our neighbour Hebibe Yasin passed away in the hospital due to trauma she suffered when her husband was taken away from her in handcuffs,” the witness told RFA on condition of anonymity.

“She fainted on the spot [during the house search] and later died in the hospital,” he said, adding that area residents had conducted a funeral for the woman on Friday.

The cause of death was not immediately clear.

The neighbour did not say why police had decided to search the home.

Tension Ahead Of Anniversary

Xinjiang on Friday marked the fourth anniversary of ethnic violence in the regional capital Urumqi amid military "anti-terrorism" exercises following a string of deadly clashes in recent weeks, local sources said.

Rioting in Urumqi left some 200 people dead and 1,700 injured in the days that followed July 5, 2009, according to official media reports.

In the first of the violent incidents in Xinjiang on June 26, the Xinhua state news agency said "knife-wielding mobs" attacked police stations and other sites in Lukchun township in Turpan prefecture before police opened fire, leaving 35 people dead, including the 10 attackers.

But local officials and residents told RFA the death toll in the Lukchun incident on June 26 was higher, at 46.

Two days later, in Hotan prefecture's Hanerik township, officials confirmed that police fired at hundreds of Uyghurs protesting the arrest of a young religious leader and closure of a mosque, acknowledging that up to 15 people may have been killed and 50 others injured.

On the same day, local officials said that at least three people were killed in separate violence in Tuanjie Square in Hotan city amid conflicting reports on the circumstances that led to the incident.

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against the Uyghur minority.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

 Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/attack-07052013165131.html

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Uyghurs Prevented From Mourning Deaths in Urumqi Riots

2013-07-05

Authorities in China's troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have prevented families of Uyghurs who perished in the July 5, 2009 riots from entering the capital Urumqi to mourn their loss as Beijing marked the fourth anniversary of ethnic violence by staging military "anti-terrorism" exercises.

But Uyghur activists warned that any flexing of military muscle and labeling of Uyghur opposition to government policies as acts of terrorism will only worsen ongoing tensions between minority ethnic Muslim Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese following the violence which left some 200 people dead and 1,700 injured, according to official media reports.

Relatives of Uyghurs who died during the ethnic clashes in Urumqi have been prevented from entering the capital to mark the event, the exile World Uyghur Congress (WUC) said.

"In Urumqi, families who lost sons and daughters during the July 5 violence have been forbidden to mourn them in any way," Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based WUC spokesman, said.

He said all families affected by the clashes between Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghurs that rocked the city four years ago have been placed under house arrest for the period of the anniversary.

"The relatives who want to come to Urumqi from the south of the region, from Kashgar and Aksu, to remember their dead sons and daughters are being forbidden to enter the city to mourn them," Raxit said.

In Kashgar prefecture's Mekit county, the authorities have even taken the computers and cell phones of all "religious-minded people and searched them," he said.

Exaggerated Threat?

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against the Uyghur minority.

Urumqi residents said the authorities had announced large-scale military exercises on the eve of the anniversary.

"Everyone received a mass text message from the Urumqi municipal propaganda department saying that military exercises are taking place from Thursday at 1.00 p.m., concentrated around six towns and villages in Urumqi county," an Urumqi resident surnamed Zhang told RFA.

"It asked for increased cooperation from city residents, farmers, herders, and tourists," he said.

"If there are military exercises going on in Urumqi county, then they're likely to be going on everywhere [in the region]," Zhang added.

A second Urumqi resident surnamed Han said he had also received the message.

"They have stepped up security, and I received a text message saying that they are conducting anti-terrorist military exercises in all the towns in Urumqi county."

He said patrols were more frequent within city limits, too.

"There are armed police and riot police patrolling all the boulevards and all the back alleys," Han said.

Raxit said recent violence in the region had strengthened official rhetoric about "terrorism," warning that "this will only make the situation worse."

"They have also launched a wave of official propaganda to ensure that the outside world only gets China's version [of events]."

Earlier this week, police announced a raft of "anti-terrorist" measures including enhanced arrangements for people to report suspects to the authorities.

Han Chinese fear attacks

Resident Han said many Han Chinese weren't automatically dismissive of Uyghurs' complaints against Beijing, but that most feared attacks on ordinary citizens.

"If you target the government [peacefully], then it's easier to win support, [because] there is a huge gulf between the government and the general population," he said.

"But if they are designated as terrorists, rioters, and saboteurs, then they won't win majority support," he said.

In the first of last week's violent incidents in Xinjiang, the Xinhua state news agency said "knife-wielding mobs" attacked police stations and other sites in Lukchun township in Turpan prefecture before police opened fire, leaving 35 people dead, including the 10 attackers.

But local officials and residents told RFA the death toll in the Lukchun incident on June 26 was higher, at 46.

Two days later, in Hotan prefecture's Hanerik township, officials confirmed that police fired at hundreds of Uyghurs protesting the arrest of a young religious leader and closure of a mosque, acknowledging that up to 15 people may have been killed and 50 others injured.

On the same day, local officials said that at least three people were killed in separate violence in Tuanjie Square in Hotan city amid conflicting reports on the circumstances that led to the incident.

The 2009 clashes in Urumqi were sparked by regional anger at attacks on Uyghur workers by their Han Chinese colleagues at a toy factory in the southern city of Shaoguan about a week before.

Days after the incident in Shaoguan, a peaceful, student-led demonstration by Uyghurs in Urumqi in protest against the attacks escalated into full-scale ethnic rioting.

Beijing blamed exile Uyghur dissident Rebiya Kadeer for inciting the violence, but Kadeer and the WUC have repeatedly said that Chinese police opened fire on unarmed Uyghur protesters.

The government instituted a harsh crackdown, including a five-month, region-wide Internet blackout and large-scale sweeps on Uyghur homes, which have once more intensified in the wake of the recent violence, residents say.

Kadeer has said that about 10,000 Uyghurs have been reported missing since the 2009 violence, most of them  taken into custody by authorities in large-scale sweep operations.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/prevented-07052013145108.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/mihray-abdulim-and-gulchehra-keyum/uyghur-muslims-face-new-religious-clampdown/d/12921

 

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