China launches anti-halal crackdown in Xinjiang city

Clay Curtis
October 12, 2018

"People's governments at the county level and above may establish education and transformation organizations and management departments such as vocational training centers to educate and transform people who have been influenced by extremism", reads one of the new clauses.

In August, the United Nations questioned China over crackdowns on Uighurs - an ethnic minority who are mostly Muslims.

The congressional commission - a bipartisan group created by Congress to monitor developments in human rights and other issues in China - used this year's report to highlight the persecution of Chinese Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China's western Xinjiang region.

China has also justified its method of "training" religious extremists as "the necessary way to deal with Islamic or religious extremism".

The original legislation announced in 2017 banned the wearing of veils, "extreme speech and behaviour" and the refusal to listen to public radio and television broadcasts.

The remarks, coinciding with annual rights report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, were the latest signal of more assertive US statements on Chinese rights issues as the Trump administration presses its trade battles with Beijing.

Reports have emerged that inmates are being transferred from their home province into neighbouring Gansu province as well as regions as distant as Heilongjiang, thousands of kilometres away on the opposite side of the country, with speculation China is using the tactic to more closely control the Muslim population as well as control the flow of information about alleged human rights abuses.

The centres should teach Mandarin Chinese, legal concepts and vocational training, and carry out "thought education", according to a copy of the rules posted on the regional government's web site.

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Members of Uighur, also spelled Uyghur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities who live overseas say they have not been able to contact relatives in China, while authorities are placing children separated from their detained or exiled parents into dozens of state-run orphanages across Xinjiang.

According to the document, to deter extremist activity in the region "in the special training centres hold events for individual and vocational qualification education". "Because the West has failed in doing so, in dealing with religious Islamic extremism".

The announcement comes as Communist Party leaders in Urumqi, the regional capital, on Monday led cadres in swearing an oath to fight the "pan-halal trend".

The region's anti-extremism laws have been in force since April previous year, and also ban Muslim men and women from growing "abnormal" beards or wearing veils in public.

In July 2018, a former teacher at one of the camps who fled to Kazakhstan told a court there that "in China they call it a political camp but really it was a prison in the mountains".

The Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims who make up about half of Xinjiang's 22 million-strong population.

Beijing has spent decades trying to suppress pro-independence sentiment in Xinjiang.

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