Uyghur Imams Targeted In China's Xinjiang Crackdown

Uyghur Imams Targeted In China's Xinjiang Crackdown

According to new research by a Uyghur rights group, China has imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim religious figures since 2014 in its crackdown in the Xinjiang region.

Andrew H. Sweet
Andrew H. Sweet
  • Extremism charges were being issued on a "flimsy legal basis" in Xinjiang for "offenses that shouldn't even qualify as offenses," said Donald Clarke, a professor at George Washington University who specializes in Chinese law.
  • While authorities reportedly detained 1,046 clerics at some point, the punishments reflect the harsh nature of Xinjiang justice: 96% sentenced to at least five years and 26% to 20 years or more, including 14 life sentences.
  • Targeting the Turkic ethnic groups in north-western China is not a new phenomenon. Muslim minorities suffered long periods of repression between the 1950s and 1970s when Qurans were burned, mosques and cemeteries desecrated, and traditional dress and hairstyles prohibited.
  • According to Chinese government data, criminal arrests in Xinjiang accounted for 21% of the country's total in 2017, despite the region having about 1.5% of the population.

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