Nov 11, 2008

East Turkestan: Violations of Human Rights Continue

Active ImageDespite Chinese rhetoric, Uyghur Muslims are subjected to systematic abuse of their human rights.


Below is an article published by World Bulletin:

Beijing delegation chief Li Baodong rejected as "groundless and untrue" concerns raised by activist groups about the reported brutal physical and mental treatment of detainees.

On the second and final day of a review of China's record on the issue by the U.N. Committee Against Torture, Li said his country had introduced laws to ban and punish such practices.

"We have zero tolerance for torture," he told the 10-member independent committee, which monitors compliance with the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which China ratified in 1988.

On Friday [7 November 2008] the U.N. panel had pressed the Chinese delegation to reveal more details about people held in custody and alleged cases of mistreatment of human rights lawyers, Falun Gong followers, drug addicts, and critics of the Beijing government.

Committee member Felice Gaer of the United States said she was worried about a "very serious information gap" in China, where criminal justice records tend to be classified as a state secrets.

"So much of the information that we are seeking is missing," she told the review at the U.N.'s European centre in Geneva.

Uighurs have long complained of restrictions on Islam, which include studying Arabic only at government schools, banning government workers from practicing Islam and barring imams from teaching religion in private.

The rights groups say in some towns, prayer in public places outside the main mosque is forbidden and an imam's sermon is limited to no longer than a half-hour.

At most major towns in East Turkistan, soldiers search cars and scan identity cards at checkpoints ringing the perimeters.

East Turkistan's Communist Party officials have also curtailed Islamic dress and diet. During Ramadan that ended in September [2008], local authorities required some Uighur-owned restaurants to remain open during the day, when Muslims normally fast. Government employees have been told to shave their beards, and police have been ordering women to remove their veils.

The Uighurs are a Sunni Muslim ethnic group related to the Turkic peoples of Central Asia.