China to punish parents in new crackdown on religion

A new education plan will encourage the public to report parents who allow their children to attend religious activities in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

China denies committing abuses and says legal rights of Uyghur people are under protection.

China unveiled on Wednesday a new education plan that criminalises parents sending their children to religious activities in Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

Xinjiang is an autonomous region in the northwest of China. The restive region is home to Uyghurs, an ethnic Turkic group, the majority of whom are Muslims.

"Any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviours and report them to the public security authorities," a government statement said.

According to Xinjiang Daily, the official publication of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Communist Party Committee, the rules will come into effect on November 1.

Under the new plan, parents and guardians will be unable to "organise, lure or force minors into attending religious activities."

The plan will also bar any form of religious activities in schools.

Rights groups accuse China of placing restrictions on the expression of cultural and religious practices of the Uyghur people in the country's restive Xinjiang region.

As part of the legal arrangement, parents will not be able to force their children to wear clothes and other symbols representing a specific religion.

Families who are unable to keep away their children from “separatism and extremism” can apply to send their children  to "receive rectification", the plan stipulates.

It is also underlined in the new plan that schools must guide students away from separatism to create an environment that "esteems science, seeks the truth, refuses ignorance and opposes superstition".

In 2014, Amnesty International reported that Chinese authorities were clamping down on "peaceful expressions of cultural identity” were labelling people as “separatists” in the region.

China however denies that abuses are being committed in Xinjiang, and insists that cultural and religious rights are under protection.

TRTWorld and agencies