PRESS RELEASE: WUC to Draw Attention to Religious Persecution of Uyghurs During Month of Ramadan
The World Uyghur Congress, in collaboration with its affiliates, will mark the holy month of Ramadan by drawing attention to the severe religious persecution and deprivation of religious freedom for the Uyghur people in East Turkistan.
Ramadan begins on the evening of May 15thand will continue until the evening of June 14th. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is an essential component to the Islamic faith. For 30 days, Muslims all over the world will take part in fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.
However, in past years, Uyghurs have been subjected to significant restrictions from the Chinese government as they have tried to observe Ramadan. Numerous reports have indicated that Uyghur Muslims have been forced to break their fast and Uyghur shops have been ordered to remain open. In the last two years, the Chinese government announced bans on men growing beards, women wearing veils and on giving Uyghur children traditional Islamic names. The WUC expects more harsh religious persecution from the Chinese government during Ramadan this year.
WUC President Dolkun Isa marked the start of Ramadan, stating: “As I prepare to observe the holy month of Ramadan, I cannot help but think of my countrymen in East Turkistan who are deprived of this basic right to peacefully practice their religion.” Isa continued, saying, “This Ramadan, I urge the international community, especially Muslim countries, to do more to ensure that the right to freedom of religion of Uyghurs is respected.”
Uyghurs have been subjected to ever increasing measures restricting their right to peacefully practice their religion. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that Uyghurs risk being arbitrarily detained by the Chinese government, merely for expressing any religious sentiment.
New restrictive legislation passed by the Chinese government, especially amendments to the Regulation on Religious Affairs (RRA) in 2017, have established state control over nearly every aspect of religion in East Turkistan. Mosques are controlled by the Chinese government or destroyed, imams must be approved and are closely monitored, religious practice is not permitted outside of state-approved areas and children are not even allowed to enter a mosque or receive a religious education from their parents. Sharing religious material online may also result in an extended prison sentence or enforced disappearance.
It is not just the Uyghurs who have been deprived the right to peacefully practice their religion, as Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese Christians have all been subjected to similar cruel and repressive measures on account of their religious beliefs.
A person’s right to freedom of religion is one of the most fundamental human rights and must to protected by the government, rather than restricted. One’s religious beliefs and practices are one of the most essential aspects of human existence that shape our conceptions of morality, humanity and the possibility of an afterlife. Such an important facet of our existence must never be controlled by the state, it is a deeply personal decision that we must all decide for ourselves.
To draw attention to the massive religious persecution of Uyghurs by the Chinese government, the World Uyghur Congress has decided to highlight a different issue relevant to the religious persecution of Uyghurs and the deprivation of their religious freedom for each day of Ramadan.
We will regularly publish videos, statements and interviews to inform the world about what is happening to the Uyghur people and the need for immediate action to be taken.
We urge the international community, Muslim or not, to speak out against the religious persecution of Uyghurs and demand that China respect the right to freedom of religion for all people.