According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the Chinese authorities have detained more than 170 Uyghur Muslims for questioning after they offered prayers without permission during Eid-al-Adha (Qurban Heyt). This incident occurred in Aksu city in Aykol township in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
During Eid prayers, the authorities permitted only those older than 50 years of age to participate. The Chinese government opened few mosques and allowed the elderly to pray, in order to present a staged scenario of ‘normalcy’ in the region in order to avoid questions of human rights abuses. About 170 Uyghurs under 50 years of age also offered prayers against orders, according to a senior police officer. Consequently, they were detained for violating Eid guidelines. He did not mention whether they were detained in re-education camps/detention centers.
A police officer told RFA, ‘I believe there are more than 170 people here. The police conducted raids, street patrols, and home searches to control the actions of Uyghur Muslims. Older people could pray, but young people could not. In order to verify whether attendees were over 50 years old, the cops checked their identification cards. Persons with discrepancies on their IDs or those found lying were made to wear black hoods or held in the police station for questioning’.
Chinese authorities use ‘neighborhood spies’ to spy on Uyghurs.
Radio Free Asia reported that the cops did not ram into mosques to confirm the age of those offering religious prayers but rather employed ‘neighbourhood spies’ to find out if someone secretly prayed at their residence. As spies, their responsibility is to provide information about 10 households within their jurisdiction. Since 2017, only Uyghurs older than 60 were allowed to pray in Atush city in Xinjiang province.
‘We say that people who are very old can pray. Older men – those over 60. Even young people are not allowed in mosques. People who break the law are turned over to the village brigade. They are taken for re-education by the village brigade. Then we contact the family by telephone,’ a security officer from Atushi said when confirming the development.
The XUAR is home to 12 million Muslims, but it is estimated that about 1.8 million of them are being held in detention camps since 2017. According to the Chinese authorities, such camps are often used to prevent religious extremism in XUAR. Uighur families are reported to have at least one member imprisoned, which makes celebrating holidays difficult for their relatives and family members. The Chinese government has permitted local townships to impose their own rules during the annual Islamic festival.
Chinese detention camps for Uyghurs
Xinjiang autonomous region in China is experiencing the worst kind of cultural and ethnic genocide. The indigenous ethnic Uyghurs and Chinese authorities have a long history of discord. Millions of Uyghurs have been sent to re-education camps by Chinese authorities where they are forced to denounce their ways of life, religious beliefs, and practices. China has faced criticism and worldwide condemnation over its unkind and harsh treatment of Uyghur Muslims. China, however, has aggressively refuted the accusations made by the West about its persecution of the Muslim minority, claiming it is a conspiracy against the nation.