Aug 24, 2016

East Turkestan: Daily Harassment and Physical Segregation of Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang Region

Photo Courtesy of: UCA News 2016

Adding to various other forms of daily harassment and suppression of the Uyghur population in China’s restive Xinjiang region, Chinese authorities increasingly fenced off entire neighbourhoods, citing “security” reasons. Uyghurs living in these fenced-in communities report that – while ethnic Han Chinese are not subject to such controls – Uyghurs have to register with their names and have their IDs checked every time they want to enter the neighbourhood they live in. Beijing is known to grossly exaggerate the threat of Uyghur ‘separatism’ in order to justify stricter monitoring and, apparently, even physical segregation of the Uyghur population.


Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia: 

As China’s ethnic Uyghur Muslim minority group falls under increasing suspicion amid terrorism concerns in the country’s northwest, authorities are fencing off entire neighbourhoods in Xinjiang to conduct security checks, Uyghur sources say.

Construction of the barriers began after deadly ethnic riots ripped through the regional capital Urumqi in July 2009, and fences are now being built across the region, a neighbourhood committee worker in Urumqi’s Tengritagh district told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“Every neighbourhood has a fence now,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They have check systems at the gate, but some neighbourhoods are stricter and require people to swipe ID cards before they enter,” he said. “Our own neighbourhood is more secure, so we have fewer checks.”

“Yes, we have fences in every neighbourhood,” a Han Chinese office worker in the Ili River neighbourhood of Ili (in Chinese, Yili) prefecture’s Ghulja City told RFA.

“We check the IDs of everyone who enters the area,” he said. “It has been like this for a while now. There is nothing wrong with it.”

“It’s only for security,” he said.

Yang, a security officer in Urumqi’s Gherbiysay neighbourhood, said, “We check suspicious persons more carefully.”

“Basically, we check the Uyghurs,” he said.

“It’s for security, and [our orders are] very strict. We worry that incidents might happen.”

Contacted by RFA, a Uyghur businessman speaking on condition of anonymity after recently escaping from China said that similar restrictions are now in place across Xinjiang, with fences also being built in the prefectures of Kashgar (Kashi), Aksu (Akesu), and Hotan (Hetian).

“Enclosed neighbourhoods are creating hardships in Uyghurs’ daily lives,” another Uyghur living outside Xinjiang said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They cannot get into the neighbourhoods without registering their names or leaving their IDs at the security gate, and security personnel constantly come into their homes without permission.”

“The Han Chinese residents of these neighbourhoods are left alone, and are never checked at all,” she said.

Uyghurs in Xinjiang have long been subject to violent police raids on their households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on their culture and language by Chinese authorities who impose heave-handed rule in the region.

But some experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from Uyghur separatists, and that domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence that has left hundreds dead since 2012.