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The Ambassador TIAN Xuejun

The Peoples Republic of China

Sir

The Media Review Network South Africa (MRN) is an advocacy group concerned with human rights issues. As such, we are utterly abhorred that the Chinese Government has placed prohibitions and restrictions on religious observances for the indigenous Uyghur community, especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadaan.

The Uyghur Muslim minority in the region of East Turkmenistan (Xinjiang), began the month of Ramadaan with the Chinese Government implementing and applying restrictions on their Islamic responsibilities. Fasting during the month of Ramadaan is article of faith on which the foundation of Islam stands. Denying the Uyghur Muslims this basic fundamental human right is in direct contravention of International Law. It creates further tension and deepens divisions already present among the Uyghur’s and the Chinese.

Back in June and July of 2014, school children and government workers were provided with food and water in the middle of the day in an effort to discourage the practice of fasting. These measures clearly indicate the state’s intention to gradually suppress the Uyghur’s religious practices. Restrictions have only so far extended to children and members of the public service, but it is certainly not inconceivable that they will extend to the general population in the near future.

Sadly this type of religious prohibitions and restrictions are not the first time this is occurring. In 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and now in 2015 the Chinese Government have put bans on Fasting. Furthermore they have placed restrictions on Islamic dress code and length of beards.

These restrictions and prohibitions are in keeping with the general attitude the Chinese Government has towards freedoms of religion, movement and speech as described by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as discriminatory and violating. As recently as March 2015, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and of Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, cited “disturbing stories” that he had heard regarding the Uyghur Muslims living in East Turkmenistan (Xinjiang). Bielefeldt states: “I heard, also, very disturbing stories about harassment, for instance, intimidation during Ramadan – children in schools were expected to break their fasting on Ramadan,”. He argued that such treatment is “a major problem”.

The region of East Turkmenistan (Xinjiang) has been plagued with dissent and deep rifts between the Uyghur’s and the Chinese Han. The problem here continues to be a misdiagnosis of the root causes of instability. Consistent discriminatory religious, linguistic and cultural restrictions on the Uyghur people continues to aggravate the situation .

The MRN insists that the Chinese Government take firm and drastic steps to relieve tensions in East Turkmenistan (Xinjiang) and halt all bans and restrictions on the Uyghur people. The Chinese Government must adhere to and respect all Freedoms of all people as all governments across the world should.

 

Issued by: 

Nabila Ismail

Researcher: Media Review Network

Tel: 011 837 3220

Email: info2@mediareviewnet.com

MRN

The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.
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