Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang

Human Rights Watch, 11 April 2005


This 114-page report is based on previously undisclosed Communist Party and government documents, as well as local regulations, official newspaper accounts, and interviews conducted in Xinjiang. It unveils for the first time the complex architecture of law, regulation, and policy in Xinjiang that denies Uighurs religious freedom, and by extension freedom of association, assembly, and expression. Chinese policy and law enforcement stifle religious activity and thought even in school and at home.

Read the report here.

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The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse

The East-West Center, 1 January 2005

By Arienne M. Dwyer — This study explores Chinese language policy and language use in Inner Asia, as well as the relation of language policy to the politics of Uyghur identity. Language is central to ethnic identity, and official language policies are often overlooked as critical factors in conflict over ethnic nationalism. In Chinese Inner Asia, any solution to ethnic conflict will include real linguistic and cultural autonomy for major ethnic groups.

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Criminalizing Ethnicity: Political Repression In Xinjiang

Human Rights in China, 28 September 2004


HRIC — This summary of a new report by HRIC and Human Rights Watch examines how the Chinese government has used international campaigns against terrorism as a pretext to crack down on any expression by members of the Muslim minority of Xinjiang to assert their ethnic character or promote an independent state.

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In Custody: Recent Arrests in Xinjiang

Human Rights in China, 28 September 2004


HRIC — Following is a list of known arrests in Xinjiang over the past five years. Unlike CRF’s previous prisoner lists, this one contains many people who are no longer in prison, in most cases because they have received the death penalty.

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Autonomy in Xinjiang: Han Nationalist Imperatives and Uyghur Discontent

The East-West Center, 1 January 2004

By Gardner Bovingdon — This paper analyzes the sources of Uyghur discontent and ethnonational conflict in Xinjiang since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It argues that the episodes of unrest in Xinjiang have not been simply contemporary manifestations of an enduring culture of violence. Nor have they been the product of foreign intrigues. Instead, while conflict in the region has had several causes, the system of “regional autonomy” operating in Xinjiang must be seen as a principal source of the unrest. Instead of resolving a longstanding political dispute between Uyghurs advocating independence and the Chinese government, this system has deepened Uyghur discontent and exacerbated conflict. To support this thesis, the paper presents both a historical analysis of policy changes over time in Xinjiang and a close study of current policies in the region.

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Violent Separatism in Xinjiang: A Critical Assessment


The East-West Center, 1 January 2004

By James Millward — Xinjiang is an arid region three times the size of France in the northwestern corner of the People’s Republic of China, bordering on Mongolia, Russia, and several Central Asian countries. Just over half of the region’s population of nearly 20 million is composed of Turkic-speaking, traditionally Muslim peoples, including over 1 million Kazakhs and some 9 million Uyghurs.

From its conquest by the Qing empire in the mid-eighteenth century until its incorporation in the PRC in 1949, there have been several efforts to wrest all or part of Xinjiang from Beijing’s control. Though this restiveness is often portrayed as an enduring “clash of civilizations” between Chinese and Muslim realms, both the participants and the causes of these episodes have been more diverse than this simplistic formula allows. Indeed, Turkic or Uyghur nationalism has been a far more salient ideological feature than religious zeal. After 1949, despite some Islamic-colored unrest in southern Xinjiang, disturbances in the region corresponded with the political and economic disruptions of the Great Leap Forward (1959-61) and Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

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