WUC Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

World Uyghur Congress, 30 November 2020

The World Uyghur Congress, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, the Norwegian Uyghur Committee submitted a report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom Of Religion in November 2020. The report is a comprehensive overview of China’s discriminatory treatment of the Uyghur population in East Turkistan – particularly since the White Paper on ‘Freedom of Religious Belife in Xinjiang’ released in 2016 .

Key Takeaways 

  • The Chinese government continues to pursue a policy intended to eliminate Uyghur religious practice by criminalising nearly all aspects of Islam, supported by the threat of mass arbitrary detention. 
  • Along with the elimination of expression, China continues to demolish physical structures such as Uyghur mosques, graveyards, and shrines, in an attempt to destroy the ability of Uyghurs and others to practice Islam. 
  • The Chinese government, in legislation and in practice, purposefully conflates extremism and terrorism with quotidian religious practices and experession, and has detained Uyghurs en masse for such expression. The 2017 Regulation on “De-extremification” explicitly criminalises basic tenets of Islam practiced by Uyghurs and other Turkic groups. 
  • Leaked documents show that Uyghurs have been extrajudicially detained in internment camps for wearing a veil, growing beards, going on Hajj, studying religion, or living in a household with a “dense religious atmosphere.” 
  • China’s Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) serves as a hub and database for mass data collection, including information related to religious practice and expression of all Uyghurs in the region. Comprehensive and intrusive surveillance of religious practice has created an environment in which Islam has been nearly totally criminalised. 

The report can be read in full here.