Criminalizing Ethnicity: Political Repression In Xinjiang

Human Rights in China, 28 September 2004

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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.

Since the attacks against American targets on September 11, 2001, the Chinese government has been conducting a com- prehensive propaganda campaign, aimed at both domestic and international audiences, to label all Uighur opposition as linked to international terrorists networks. Beijing has long equated independent religious activities and political dissent with “separatism”—a statutory crime against State Security under China’s criminal law—but never before has it explic- itly linked all dissenting voices in Xinjiang with terrorism. This new approach contrasts sharply with the consistent position of the Chinese authorities prior to September 11, which was to play down the seriousness of ethnic strife in Xinjiang.

The report can be read here.