China denies fasting ban allegations in Xinjiang

China says its constitution guarantees religious freedom as concerns raise over religious freedom in Xinjiang where Turkic-Muslim Uighur community is allegedly deprived of fasting and other practices in Ramadan

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that China’s ethnic and religious communities were under the protection of Chinese constitution.

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday gave a response to Turkey’s statement on the persecution of religious liberties and human rights violations in Xinjiang  and denied allegations of ban on Ramadan fasting and other religious practices, adding Beijing would like to maintain a good relationship with Ankara.

"You should know that all the people of Xinjiang enjoy the freedom of religious belief accorded to them by the Chinese constitution," Chunying told reporters during a daily news briefing  in Beijing.

"China has already demanded that Turkey clarify these reports and we have expressed concern about the statement from the Turkish foreign ministry," Hua said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry conveyed its “deep concerns” to the Chinese ambassador to Ankara on Tuesday following the reports that Beijing have banned Ramadan fasting in certain parts of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

Despite the discontent caused by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Chinese side stated that the PRC was hoping to develop its ties with Turkey with that the Uighur  issue has been frequently raising the tension, particularly during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"We of course hope that the Turkish side can meet China halfway and ensure the smooth development of ties." the Chinese Spokeswoman said.

"We hope we can develop the bilateral relationship, based on the mutual respect of each other’s major concerns and common interests."

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had urged China on Tuesday to abide by international law and basic human rights.

"This issue needs to be handled bilaterally and internationally. We will also bring this issue before the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international organizations," Cavusoglu said.

The Chinese constitution asserts that ethnic and religious minorities in the People’s Republic would be equal before the law, but in practice China has long been criticised by the rights groups and international organizations for its human rights violations regarding the ethnic and religious freedom.

Human rights groups, including the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have frequently reported that Beijing is not allowing religious freedom and ethnic liberties as well as basic human rights in ethno-religious minority regions.

“In the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), the authorities stepped up already onerous restrictions on Islam with the stated aim of fighting ‘violent terrorism and religious extremism’ Numerous counties posted notices on their websites stating that students should not be permitted to observe Ramadan, and many teachers gave food and sweets to children to ensure that they did not observe the fast...” the Amnesty International stated on its 2014-15 Human Rights Report regarding the religious freedom in China.

The US State Department last month released its 2014 report that shed light on China’s human rights abuses which had a trend to increase both in Tibet and Xinjiang.

Last week, the Qatar-based the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) severely criticised fasting ban which was partially implemented by the communist rule and urged China to respect the basic needs of Muslims in Xinjiang.

President of the World Uighur Congress, Rebiya Kadeer who was previously forced to flee from Xinjiang to the US, has recently spoken in a video message at a conference entitled, “Turkic World Issues and East Turkestan” accused China of being a ‘’terrorist’’ state.

“Chinese government imprisoned youth under age of 35. More than 40,000 administrative detainees from Uighur Turks have been in prison.’’ said Kadeer, as she compared Xinjiang to ‘the prison of imperious Chinese government.”

The PRC has long been suffering from ethnic separatist causes in Tibet and Xinjiang in the west and to some extent in Inner Mongolia in the north.

Chinese authorities have tightened their grip in Xinjiang in the wake of increasing terror attacks, which were mainly attributed to the Muslim Uighurs by the CCP governance.

Xinjiang autonomous region, which is called as “East Turkestan” by Uighurs themselves,  consists of nearly 45 percent of Turkic-Muslim Uighurs while ethnically Han Chinese makes up almost 40 percent of the region’s total population.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had previously issued orders considering the religious practices and social appearance in the public sphere by warning employees and students not to fast during Ramadan.

The party had also restricted men from having long beards whereas it extended in January to women wearing of burqas in public places.

Hundreds of people have been reportedly killed during the unrests in Xinjiang in the past several years, where China's repressive policies, including controls on religion and Uighur culture, have been intensified by China’s party-government.



TRTWorld and agencies