Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Persecution of the Uyghurs of China for keeping beard

In the past I have written a few times about the condition of Uyghurs (also spelled as Uighurs) of China who are another unfortunate people of our time. Like the Rohingyas of Arakan (Rakhine) state of Myanmar (formerly Burma) they are one of the worst persecuted people on earth. They are a Muslim minority who speak a Turkic language. Hundreds of Uyghurs have been killed by the Chinese government over the past two years. Uyghur exiles contend Chinese oppression of cultural and religious freedom sparks the violence.

The Chinese government has made them third class citizens in their own land. They can't practice their religion freely and are even barred from displaying many of their cultural traits. Even keeping a beard by Uyghur man or wearing burqa (chador) by a Uyghur woman can mean long prison terms. 

"A heavy sentence for growing a long beard is typical of the political persecution" faced by Uyghurs, said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress. "If a Chinese person grows a long beard, it's personal freedom and fashion; if a Uyghur does, he's a religious extremist," said Raxit.

The number of criminal trials concluded in Xinjiang in 2014 jumped 40% compared to 2013, the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights advocacy group, said earlier this month. The report concluded that the rise took place after China's leader Xi Jinping launched an aggressive anti-terrorism drive.

See the report below for a case of harassment by the Chinese government:

A Chinese court in Xinjiang province, in the city of Kashgar, recently sentenced a man to six years in prison for “provoking trouble”, allegedly for wearing a beard. His wife was convicted of the same crime for wearing a veil and burqa that hid her face.
A number of local governments in Xinjiang have prohibited so-called “abnormal appearances” in public, including face veils, hijabs, burqas, long beards, and outfits bearing the crescent moon and stars. The ban was launched last year under a campaign called “Project Beauty” to promote what the state says are secular aesthetics over extremist religious thoughts. The campaign includes the establishment of village-based “beauty stations”, house calls by officials, a system of rewards and penalties, and a re-education and career-training program, among other things.
The man imprisoned in Kashgar is a 38-year-old member of China's Uyghur community, the country's second largest Muslim ethnic group, after the Hui. He started growing his beard in 2010, and has maintained it despite several warnings from the beauty-project authorities. The Kashgar court criticized him for disobeying law and intentionally “picking fights and provoking trouble”. Several others have been prosecuted for their clothes since the beginning of this year, according to a report from China Youth Daily on March 29.
Soon after news of the Kashgar trial started circulating online, however, it disappeared from the Chinese Internet. On March 30, the reporter responsible for breaking the story issued a public apology for “unprofessionalism”, but left no indication of what part of her story was inaccurate.
The micro-blogging service Weibo has deleted many comments about the case. Some express anxiety about the prosecution's arbitrary use of the law on “provoking trouble”.
... But does the Chinese government really believe it will strengthen security by imposing a dress code on a religious group?
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For a similar report, click here.

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