If you’re not one who reads up much on the countries of the world and the peoples who live in them, then it might come as a surprise to you that China, which normally registers as being Buddhist or Taoist or some Christian and other atheist, also has a Muslim population. A significant portion of them make their home on the extreme western end of their nation, at the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region which borders Mongolia, Russia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The ancestral home of the Muslim Uyghur people and a land of beautiful wide spaces, Xinjiang is suddenly at something of a bind at the hands of the national Communist government, which has suddenly slapped its inhabitants with some very restrictive measures.
BBC reports that in light of reports of domestic unrest in the region, the government and its authorities have imposed certain measures that they have described as meaning to combat possible terrorism, but is derided by human rights groups as sanctioned repression and by the Uyghur population as discrimination. The CCP holds that an influx of Islamic radicals and militants has been the root cause of certain disturbances in Xinjiang, and that they’re determined not to let these elements take root in Chinese soil.
But the price of this increased national security measures may be the personal sense of security for the Uyghur. Back in June, Xinjiang police have mandated that residents of the region must provide DNA and other biological information as part of the requirements for processing travel documents. This has been a main point of contention by the Uyghur who make up 45% of Xinjiang’s population, as they more often than not are denied papers by travel authorities on flimsy excuses tied to this directive.
Now the restrictions have gone one step further in that Chinese authorities now have legal backing to confiscate all passports owned and carried by people in Xinjiang. The official reason was that the documents are to be held for “safekeeping”. But the implications are much darker, because BBC Beijing correspondent Stephen McDonnell has it on good authority that the residents with seized passports are only allowed to recover them if they apply for immigration out of China. Both the World Uyghur Congress and Human Rights Watch have lambasted this abuse of power over one of China’s ethnic minorities, and Uyghur communities have long denied responsibility for reported acts of violence in their territory.
The Uyghur are one of the many different peoples belonging to the Turkic ethnic group, who like Arabs mostly follow the Islamic religion. Their distant forbears also include the famous Huns and Ottomans who have figured much in the old history of the world.
Photo Credit to http://globalriskinsights.com/