Oman Anshakhan with his wife
Kuliziya Mogudong who was just
released from house arrest after having
a forced abortion.
(Urumqi, Xinjiang—May 17, 2018) Ramadan, a holy month in the Islamic faith, began on May 17, and as usual, the local governments in Xinjiang have forbade all celebrations. In response, the World Uyghur Congress posted an announcement on May 14 urging the Chinese government to allow for freedom of religion and to respect the rights of ethnic minorities.
According to Muslims from the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Changji, and other districts in Xinjiang, the local officials forbade the restaurant and shop owners—many of whom are Muslims who observe the holiday—to stop operating during Ramadan, forcing them to keep working. Likewise, the elementary and middle schools received government notifications that the teachers should warn the students against fasting. Some neighborhoods even arranged dinner parties for retired government officials and Communist Party members in order to prevent fasting.
A local Muslim said the government has never allowed fasting: “… we were not allowed to fast last year, and we won’t be allowed to fast this year either. Fasting has been strictly forbidden after Chen Quanguo became the Party Secretary of Xinjiang. They will inspect every household, and people who fast secretly will get into big trouble. Religion is banned now.”
On Monday, Dolkun Isa, the president of the World Uyghur Congress based in Germany, made important announcements before the start of Ramadan. He emphasized that the restrictions on religious activities have worsened every year in China during the holiday. The Chinese government issues new regulations before Ramadan blatantly forbidding Communist Party members, civil servants, teachers, and students from fasting or participating in religious activities. The government also closely monitors mosques and religious individuals, specifically the predominantly Muslim Uyghur people.
Isa implored the Chinese government to allow every Muslim to practice their religious doctrines peacefully during Ramadan. The government’s allowance would not only show respect to the Islamic people, but also help to alleviate the tension in East Turkestan. He remarked that respect for basic human rights is the only means to prevent major ethnic conflicts. The Uyghur people should be able to spend every day of Ramadan without being harassed.
The World Uyghur Congress urged the Chinese government to protect the citizens’ freedom of religion and release all prisoners detained in reformation camps, which are centers designed to arbitrarily detain ethnic minorities. This includes all political prisoners, social activists, writers, poets, and entrepreneurs, such as famed Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, who is known as “China’s Mandela” and is serving a life sentence on trumped up separatism charges.
An example of persecution against religious minorities is seen in the case of Kuliziya Mogudong, a Muslim Kazakh woman. In January, she was forced to get an abortion and put under house arrest with her children in Xinjiang. They were released last week and had arrived in Kazakhstan to be reunited with her husband on May 8.
Her husband, Oman Anshakhan, said, “[The government officials] talked with my wife and my two children and asked them if they wanted to remain in China or travel to Kazakhstan. They simply asked about their current conditions. They also asked them to sign a letter of guarantee that my wife and two children are not allowed to talk about what they had gone through in Xinjiang. They said that they would keep monitoring us even after we got to Kazakhstan. My wife’s two brothers are still in prison.”
ChinaAid exposes abuses concerning religious groups, including Muslims during Ramadan, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.