Uitgever: Continuum Publishing Corporation.
Samenvatting This comparative survey of the secularization policies of the Soviet Union and China looks at the suppression, survival, and revival of religion in both countries. Religion and the State in Russia and China explores the religious nature of man through the cases of forced secularization in the Soviet Union and China. The book provides an in-depth account of the failure and successes of both countries' secularization policies. Starting with the theological innovations that led to atheistic theorizing, it then looks at the policies that were implemented to speed up the suppression of religious beliefs and what ultimately led to today's resurgence of religion.
Russia and China are ideal cases for a comparative study as both experimented with the idea of eradication of religion under Marxist-Leninist parties and regimes. However, they differ in their relationship with their states, religious denominations, and societies. Religion and the State in Russia and China offers original research for an in-depth survey that will interest anyone studying politics and religion, policies, as well as theories of desecularization.
Toon meer Toon minder. Recensie s This is a masterful work, by a scholar with the rare ability to handle sources in both Russian and Chinese, that sheds much light on theoretical debates surrounding religion and modernity, secularization, and desecularization. But it is much more than that; It is also an inspiring story of human resilience in the face of oppression. Peter L. Berger, University Professor Emeritus, Boston University Lucidly and engagingly written, Christopher Marsh's book is a landmark contribution to the growing literature on secularization and desecularization in the modern world.
Previous studies have typically focused on a single country or religious movement, while there has been precious little comparative, cross-national and cross-civilizational research. Yet, without comparative research, it is impossible to theorize desecularization and detect its broad, cross-national meaning, patterns, causes, and consequences.
Marsh's book fills in this gap. It detects and theorizes the patterns of religions' suppression, resilience and resurgence by comparatively exploring the cases of Russia and China. These are, without an exaggeration, the two most important and massive cases of forced secularization and subsequent religious resurgence in the 20th - early 21st century. The book marshals impressive empirical evidence, ranging from documentary sources to representative national surveys.
An outstanding expert on Russia as well as China, Christopher Marsh aptly utilizes his thorough knowledge of the two cases and his fluency in both languages to present to his readers a convincing, empirically grounded yet theoretically consequential account of the stunning resilience of faith under the ruthlessly oppressive atheist regimes, and of its ongoing spectacular revival. Reviews Schrijf een review. Kies je bindwijze. Xinjiang's Party Secretary Wang Lequan stressed in that the "major task" facing the authorities in Xinjiang was to"manage religion and guide it in being subordinate to the central task of economic construction, the unification of the motherland, and the objective of national unity," a vision of subordination that has hardly changed since.
Although China has increasingly faced international criticism for its religious policies in Xinjiang,  it has persistently rejected such criticism. It marshals various facts and statistics to make the case that ethnic minorities are thriving in Xinjiang. These include the existence of some 24, religious venues in Xinjiang; the role played by ethnic minorities in the administration of religion and religious policies; the allocation of "specialized funds for the maintenance and repair of the key mosques"; the establishment of "an Islamic college specializing in training senior clergymen"; "guaranteed access to scriptures and other religious publications"; and, above all, the fact that "all religious bodies independently carry out religious activities within the scope prescribed by law.
The White Paper states that, "The right to freedom of religious belief for various ethnic groups is fully respected, and all normal religious activities are protected by law," specifically citing the enactment by the Xinjiang government of the Provisional Regulations for the Administration of Religious Activity Venues in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Regiona regulation that was abruptly rescinded in May  and "other regulations in accordance with the constitution and the law.
However, there is a significant discrepancy between official materials published for international and public consumption and those intended for internal circulation. These secret regulations and policy statementsdocuments that are used as immediate guides to the implementation of laws and policiesare not publicly available and provide a much stricter framework for religious activity. Given the internal nature of most such policy instructions, most of these documents, and the detailed picture of regulation they present, have not been available until now.
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They are described below. While white papers, the constitution, national legislation, and certain national and provincial policy statements are available to the public and reported in newspapers, there is a large and growing category of Chinese regulations and policies that the government and Party deliberately keep hidden. Two specific regulations-revealed here for the first timeestablish a draconian ban against unauthorized disclosure of information regarding almost any national minority or religious matter or policy, even if unrelated to national security.
These include most documents relating to religious and ethnic policies which would routinely be public information in other countries. Among them are drafts of religious laws and regulations; reports, opinions and suggestions by religious representatives regarding religious affairs; "analyses of developments with overseas religious organizations and their personnel"; "information and statistics unsuitable for the public regarding religious organizations, institutions and activities"; and the "content of state organ meetings unsuitable for the public. While there is no criminal liability for disclosure of "internal" material, in practice many people in China have been sentenced for doing so because state secret laws allow authorities to classify material retrospectively.
Some of the regulations and policies referred to in this report are treated as "internal" or are simply unavailable to the public. Until their revision in , religious activities in Xinjiang were governed by a set of regulations issued in , which echoed the national regulations.
For example, i n , Document Number 7 from the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, while still operating within the framework of the Regulations, laid the outline for a considerable toughening of regulations concerning religion and for the curbing of religious freedom that continues to this day. In October , less than two months after an inspection tour of Xinjiang by President Jiang Zemin, local authorities created a new and comprehensive set of instructions on control of religion.
These were based on directives originating from the central government. In violation of the guarantee of religious freedom enshrined in the Chinese constitution, the document explicitly instructed local authorities to establish "a political verification dossier to make sure imams meet political requirements," the aim being no less than keeping "a handle on the imam's ideological state at all times. The instructions also established a system of annual revision of the accreditations given to imams. This required imams to attend "patriotic education" courses and seminars, and to demonstrate their ideological conformity.
Religious leaders were required to "stand on the side of government firmly and express their viewpoints unambiguously. The provisions include strict rules for religious practice by Communist Party members in Xinjiang, and in effect the freedom of religious belief. Although the issue was openly debated in the Chinese press during the s, the CCP has always demanded that its members be atheists. Thus, the enactment of special regulations specifically to enforce this in Xinjiang can be seen as part of an effort to "step up the struggle against national separatism" and to "root out reactionary religious behaviors.
The Interim Provisions state that sanctions must be taken against "persons in the Party who have a strong religious belief and are keen on organizing and participating in religious activities. The Interim Provisions were only the first sign of more stringent regulations to come. In July , a series of comprehensive amendments to the Regulations was adopted by the Chairmen's Committee of the Xinjiang People's Regional Congress  and submitted for deliberation to the Standing Committee hereafter the " Amendments". The Amendments, yet to be made public, introduced considerable restrictions beyond those in the Regulations.
They were appended to compilations of religious regulations circulated solely to local religious affairs bureaus for their internal use. From an analysis of references in other official documents, however, one can deduce that the amended regulations have superseded provisions in effect prior to their promulgation and that they govern religious activities in Xinjiang today.
The Amendments severely tighten the already restrictive provisions of the Regulations on Religious Activities in five main areas. These are:. One of the most critical features of the Amendments on religious activities in Xinjiang was deletion of the phrase "protection of normal religious activities" from the stated purposes of the regulations in the opening article. The revision in the amended article states that the purpose of the Amendments is to "regulate religious activities according to law, strengthen the management of religious affairs, and guide religion to adapt to socialist society.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this change. The guarantee of "normal religious activities" has been at the heart of the religious policy of the CCP at the national level since and is guaranteed by the constitution article Even though the authorities have always been the only judge of what is "normal" and what is "illegal," the deletion of a legally acknowledged entitlement to "normal religious activities" as the stated purpose of the regulation further restricts the ability of religious practitioners to negotiate categories of action that should be presumed to be lawful.
The Amendments implicitly condition the enjoyment of rights on the respect of obligations. A comparison of the Amendments with the Regulations demonstrates the heightened emphasis on the control, as opposed to the protection, of religious activity. For example, in article 1 of the Amendments the purpose of "protecting normal religious activities" has been deleted and replaced by "regulating" such activities "according to law" and "guiding" religion to "adapt to socialist society.
Article 26, dealing with the registration and operation of religious organizations, was similarly amended: the guarantee that religious organizations can conduct "normal religious activities" was removed and replaced by the more specific limitation that they can "organize religious activities and perform religious functions according to law. The only explicit protections for religious activities offered by the Regulations can be found in the new articles detailing the "rights and obligations" of religious personnel and religious organizations.
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Article 12 states that:. Religious organizations are subject to a similar bifurcation of their rights and obligations. Article 27 of the Regulations states that "Religious organizations enjoy the following rights:. Along with these "rights," article 28 states that religious organizations must "perform the following duties:. In determining whether clergy are qualified to enjoy their delineated "rights and privileges," the authorities clearly are granted ample grounds to assess subjectively whether the required duties are fulfilled.
For example, whether an imam "reflects the aspirations and demands of the citizen believers" or "guides citizen believers to participate in building socialist modernization" is not susceptible to a uniform, predictable, or objective interpretation. These are political terms, the meaning of which has frequently changed in recent years. The new formulation has removed any grounds for a clergy member or a citizen charged with "illegal religious activities" to argue in his or her defense that the actions for which he or she was accused were in fact "normal religious activities," as protected by previous legislation.
One of the intrusive demands on Muslim clerics set forth in Article 8 of the Regulations was the obligation to demonstrate loyalty to the Chinese state. The Amendments take this requirement and extend it to "all citizens who profess a religion. The requirement that believers "oppose" whatever is seen as "national splittism and illegal religious activities" is undefined in the regulations. Assessments are to be made by the authorities on the basis of Party instructions, which vary from time to time and are necessarily interpreted in practice in highly subjective ways by local officials.
It is a catch-all clause that hands virtually unlimited power to the authorities to investigate or arrest any religious practitioner in disfavor with officials, a phenomenon that appears to be reflected by the high number of political sentences handed down in Xinjiang courts, particula rly for certain groups of defendants see section VI below. Article 26 of the Amendments specifies that organizations can only begin activities after being approved, thus prohibiting activities while registration is pending. The Amendments also narrows the right of registered religious organizations to sponsor seminaries, schools, or scripture classes.
The requirement in the Regulations that these activities have prior approval has been retained, but the Regulations now emphasize that no one at all may teach "scripture students" without prior approval. The prohibition on teaching without prior approval appears to apply to individuals as well as institutions and professionals. It thus establishes an unusually onerous restriction on the free exercise of religion, not otherwise known to exist in contemporary China.
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Traditionally, in the countryside, parents would arrange for their children to receive some religious education, along with story-telling and folk songs, from someone knowledgeable or from a community elder, especially around the time of festivals or ceremonies such as weddings. Increasingly, however, the authorities have prohibited these kinds of semi-public meetings from touching on religious issues, on the pretext that they constitute "illegal religious activities.
Although these prohibitions do not seem to apply to a parent teaching a child, parents told Human Rights Watch they feared instructing their own children because they worried that their children might inadvertently display signs of religious awareness and attract the suspicion of authorities. Uighur government employees also consider themselves at risk if they instruct their children or other relatives in religion. Even more restrictive is the prohibition on religious activities that "span different localities.
It also covers mass activities that span different localities. The so-called "on-the-spot" principle prevents, for instance, an imam from Hetian from preaching in Urumqi, or a Kashgar mosque from conducting a ceremony that convenes believers from different parts of Xinjiang. Authorities can also use this provision more broadly to prevent believers from establishing links with religious establishments in other geographical areas and from even visiting mosques or religious places in different areas of Xinjiang or China without permission.
The supervision of places of religious activities also constitutes a new feature of the Amendments. Under article 16, religious organizations are now required to "accept control and supervision by the religious affairs bureaus and other relevant departments of the people's governments at various levels," as well as to "assist the religious affairs bureaus of people's governments in successfully managing religious affairs.
The clergy is similarly required to "accept" supervision and routine checks. These regulations stipulate that those who violate the law or are "found incompetent" should be dismissed and the matter put on record at the county level Religious Affairs Bureau art. For instance, at the Xinjiang Conference on Religious Work, which took place in October in Urumqi, Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan instructed the authorities to "be sure that [religious public figures] are politically qualified.
The fourth significant control mechanism introduced in the Amendments concerns the dissemination of religious publications. The amendments mandate prior governmental approval for the sale and distribution of religious material, including the distribution of leaflets. The Amendments also introduce criteria that will make it more difficult to secure such approval.
These criteria ban any publication by religious groups operating at a level below the provincial level; only the very largest institutions in Xinjiang are registered at that level, and these are few in number. Article 25 of the Regulations stipulated that "religious organizations wishing to publish should complete the formalities for permission in accordance with the relevant stipulations.
In effect this means that approval for the publication of such documents has now been shifted from the local to the provincial level, presumably entailing delay and a higher level of scrutiny. As a result, publication activity outside of Urumqi has dwindled as publishing venues active in producing Uighur literature in the s, such as the Kashgar People's Publishing House, cease to produce any material that might run afoul of this regulation.
The scope of the type of publications that must be regulated in this way has also been expanded. Article 31 states that:. As before, individuals and non-religious organizations do not have the right to publish religious material outside of the government-approved system. The regulations also articulate the ban on bringing into China from abroad religious pub lications deemed to endanger stat e security or the public interest.
The Amendments also introduce a range of administrative sanctions and penalties for religious sites or organizations that violate the regulations. They permit fines to be levied for violations, ranging from to 2, yuan approximately U. The average income in Xinjiang is about 1, yuan a year. The previous regulations did not stipulate any fines.
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Other forms of punishment range from "criticism and education" to "cancellation of registration. The regulations leave it to the Xinjiang Religious Affairs Bureau to ascertain whether the violation is "minor" or "serious" and if it warrants a fine or an administrative punishment. The comprehensive nature of the Amendments, which impose political control over every aspect of religious activity, creates a legal net that can catch virtually anyone the authorities wish to target-a useful tool against Uighur ethno-national aspirations.
In addition to providing new grounds for prosecuting offenders, the Amendments systematize collective responsibility in cases of violations and allow the administrative and security authorities to carry out even broader repression of dissent by considering all forms of religion to be potentially disguised forms of separatism. Their repressive character is best interpreted as an alignment of the regulatory framework with actual practices, particularly as experienced by the Uighur population. The repressive framework imposed by the Amendments most probably derives from practical experience, and incorporates provisions already codified in the guidelines of religious affairs bureaus at various levels of government and of CCP religious affairs committees that supervise their work.
These organs have the power to register, inspect and supervise religious organizations and sites, accredit clerics and approve religious publications. They effectively serve as an administrative arbiter of legitimate religious activities, relegating to illegality all the activities they do not endorse. This section provides a previously undisclosed look at how these restrictive principles are put into practice in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. The Manual is "to be used to conduct education and serve cadres for nationalities religious affairs in their work. The Manual is probably the most comprehensive and detailed account of actual religious policies in Xinjiang to surface outside of China.
It is also indisputably authoritative, as it was published by the institution in charge of controlling religion in the regional capital. The Manual is structured as responses to different questions, ranging from Party doctrinal topics "What are the four fundamental principles and guiding principles on religious work set forth by Comrade Jiang Zemin?
The close correspondence between the Manual's guidelines and the revised amendments tends to support the conclusion that the latter were designed to integrate and rationalize stipulations that were developed by the religious affairs bureaus. The Manual gives a rare glimpse into the actual policies of the religious affairs bureaus in Xinjiang, in particular in regards to the definition of illegal religious activities, the inspection of place s of religious activities, and the censorship of religious publi cations.
Beyond painting a very dark picture of repression of religion, the list is notable in several respects. It is more extensive than even the already-extensive list set out in either the Regulations or the Amendments, particularly in two main areas: the supervision of places of worship, and the publication of any material related to religion or "sensitive" questions.
In addition, many of the prohibitions represent blatant and substantial curtailment of basic civil and political rights beyond those relating to the right to freedom of religious belief. For example, "inciting the masses to illegally rally and demonstrate" implicates freedom of assembly; "distorting history" or "using religion to meddle in The list also contains catch-all "offenses" that allow the authorities to deny religious freedom under virtually any pretext, as for example using religion "to carry out other activities that are harmful to the good order of society," or "to breed separatist elements and reactionary backbone elements.
The Manual provides useful insights into how mosques are actually monitored and inspected. Annual inspections are conducted by the Religious Affairs Bureau according to national "[m]easures regarding the Annual Inspection of Places of Religious Activities," adopted in The Manualindicates that management teams are to be held accountable in case of non-conformity and can be "investigated" and referred to higher authorities:. These provisions, with their characteristic vagueness, bestow a significant degree of discretion on the authorities in deciding whether to certify mosques or on what basis to impose sanctions.
The Manual reveals for the first time the details of a draconian system of censorship of religious publications. The content must be in line with precise guidelines, and cadres are instructed to defer to the higher authorities for any publication involving "sensitive questions," such as "the implementation of religious policies" or issues related to "national minorities' religious beliefs, taboos and customs.
These highly restrictive stipulations, which explicitly forbid "non-religious group s " and individuals from "publishing religious material," are mirrored by strict censorship on the content of publications:. The explicit mention of the existence of a category of "sensitive questions" which must be reported "to the higher level" demonstrates that management of religion and nationalities affairs in Xinjiang is a matter of top-level political concern.
One of the allegedly "sensitive question s " on which extra censorship is required is "the implementation of religious policies. The Manual then turns to the publishing and distribution system, specifically singling-out "publications related to Islamic religion":. Finally, the Manualprescribes sanctions for publishing units that produce content "violating the Party's policies of nationalities and religion" and which "have created in society a severe and negative influence.
Rather than drawing a clear line between legal and illegal publications, the Manualdescribes a system that institutionalizes the almost absolute discretion of the authorities to decide what to allow and what to censor. The sheer number of permits necessary to carry out any type of activity related to religious practice-most of them based on political criteria-give authorities wide discretion to crack down on clerics, activities, and publications that do not unconditionally endorse Party views.
This section surveys three critical areas where the implementation of Xinjiang's religious regulations and policies violate the basic political and religious rights of believers: the registration of religious organizations, the training or "reeducat ion" of religious personnel, and the ban on the construction of new mosques.
The requirement that any type of religious organization be registered is one of the most effective means by which the authorities restrict most forms of religious activity. By law, any association of believers has to register with the authorities, even if their activities are not strictly or exclusively religious, as in the case of traditional community gatherings or charitable groups. The registration and operation of religious organizations require approval by both the religious affairs bureaus and the civil affairs bureaus above the county level.
Any religious body may apply to register. However, Xinjiang authorities routinely deny registration to independent religious bodies on the grounds that no religious activity is allowed without state control. This opens the door for individual believers to be persecuted on the grounds that they belong to or participate in an illegal religious organization.
Most Uighurs interviewed for this report said that they would not dare to try to register a non-profit organization because they were certain that their application would be rejected and that the attempt would put them under suspicion with the authorities. Asked whether they would try to register an organization, a small group of college students in Kashgar gave this response:. Independent religious practitioners are thus in a no-win situation. If they ask to register they are denied registration but draw attention to themselves; if they congregate without having registered they can be charged with participating in or forming an "illegal organization.
This is not merely a theoretical dilemma, judging by the high number of people detained in Xinjiang for political or religious offences. Many are detained in Xinjiang's reeducation through labor camps for belonging to an "illegal organization. In August , for example, a group of eighteen young adult Uighurs were sentenced by a Xinjiang court for alleged separatist activities.
Shirmehemet Abdurishit, the alleged leader of the group, was sentenced to a fifteen-year jail term, while the other seventeen defendants, whose names were never released, were sentenced to jail terms of up to fourteen years. In furtherance of the government's objective of "keeping a handle on the ideological state of the imam at all times,"  the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang conduct "religious training campaigns" and "political reeducation campaigns. The provincial, municipal, and district religious affairs bureaus regularly conduct training of clerics.
Since , the frequency of these trainings apparently has increased from once every few years to once a year for the 8, registered imams above the township level. The campaign was officially "the largest-scale religious training" since the founding of the People's Republic of China, with 8, imams above the village level undergoing "political reeducation" between March 15 and December 23, Each participant must submit a "study report" at the end of the training.
For instance, an imam will describe how "illegal" religious classes were held, or how the mosque used some "illegal" religious book. They may also relate how they failed to warn the authorities about "elements" that were "agitating," or about inviting a cleric from another area without prior authorization.
Clerics also have to admit personal errors and how they have nurtured "incorrect" ideas. They also have to point outexamples of such erroneous actions on the part of other members of the group. These sessions are purposely designed as loyalty tests. If clerics do not offer precise accounts, they are viewed as being insincere about opposing separatism.
But if they admit mistakes, they are considered guilty of violating regulations. This serves to put continuous pressure on the clerics. Final evaluations are recorded in the imam's personal file, which is kept by the religious affairs bureaus. Clerics who do not fulfill the ideological criteria can be put through further "education session s " and have their accreditation suspended or removed. Local sources pointed out that these sessions were particularly taxing for old clerics from the countryside, who are forced to travel and are suddenly plunged into arcane testing of their ideological loyalty to the Party.
The Xinjiang Daily, the official organ of the Xinjiang CCP Committee, portrays these sessions in a positive light, suggesting clerical appreciation for the "training":. The same article reported that after the campaign clerics declared: "Now we have set our mind at rest and seen the light as if we had just walked out of a dense fog. According to secondary accounts given to Human Rights Watch,  the climate of the training sessions is similar to accounts given by people forced to write self-criticisms during the Maoist era.
Each session is a cat-and-mouse game, where the safest way to be left off the hook is to admit to relatively minor mistakes, if need be by inventing them. Such sessions are a core component of the political "reeducation" campaigns conducted for clerics since The content of the courses, in which "political studies are combined with training in religious knowledge," was "scientifically determined" by an ad hoc small group set up with leaders from the Regional Party Committee, the XUAR government, the State Administration of Religious Affairs, and the China Islamic Association:.
The authorities also propagated selections of text from the Koran that were deemed suitable. Religious bureaus of all districts, prefectures, and cities organized in a planned manner the work of testing, explaining, training, and diffusing the book, "obtaining great results," according to official reports. In October , a Party- and government-sponsored regional conference on religious work was called in Urumqi to sum up the work of and lay out the plan for The Xinjiang Party Secretary, Wang Lequan, gave clear instructions to ensure that religious public figures were "politically qualified" and ordered his subordinates to further "monitor" and "expunge" religious publications.
Alongside efforts to step up ideological indoctrination of clerics, since the authorities have radically stepped up the monitoring and inspection of mosques. Among other things, inspections verify the accreditation of imams, ascertain that no "illegal" teaching is taking place, and ensure that government regulations are posted and available. In line with instructions from the Central Party Committee in Beijing and the annual inspection regime prescribed in the Manual, the Xinjiang authorities initiated a campaign in to increase supervision of Uighur mosques.
In August , the Xinjiang Party Committee and the Xinjiang government convened a conference to discuss annual inspections of places of religious activities. This led to the design of a five-year-plan under an ad hoc "small leading group. According to the Xinjiang Religious Affairs Bureau, Xinjiang's 23, mosques were inspected in One hundred forty-one mosques were found to be "non-conforming" and targeted for "rectification. The system establishes permanent monitoring of Uighur mosques by "leading cadres of ethnic minorities" who "maintain contacts with mosques and dialogue with religious personalities" and who control the mosque's inspection log in which details about the clerics in charge, dates, results and recommendations of inspections, and other relevant information is recorded.
The following account of the work to "strengthen the management of religious affairs" in Aksu prefecture of Xinjiang gives a picture of how the system works:. Chinese authorities are careful not to appear to be targeting Islam specifically, and they keep closures of mosques and the non-reaccreditation of imams secret.
It is difficult to assess the number and scale of such actions. However, information found in scattered official sources suggests that retaliation against non-conforming mosques and clerics is prevalent and has gained new vigor since late At that time, authorities in Xinjiang imposed even more control on mosques, effectively banning any new construction work on mosques in Xinjiang. Although Uighur exile organizations have long claimed that such a ban was implemented after the Yining uprising, the measure was never officially confirmed and is not found in material issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau.
However, in October the Xinjiang Party Secretary appeared to confirm the existence of the ban in a speech relayed by the Xinjiang Daily :. The Party Secretary also underscored limitations imposed on the preservation of existing mosques. He declared that, "any maintenance and repair of places for religious activities must reflect real needs and be concrete, safe and practical" and he stressed the ban on sharing costs of repairs with independent, non-governmental sources, such as private businessmen, without permission from the relevant authorities.
The destruction of a mosque by the authorities was reported in Hetian prefecture in southern Xinjiang in October Local worshipers demonstrated against the action; the demonstration was immediately put down by security forces. According to media reports, an official of Hetian Nationalities and Religious Affairs Bureau declared that about five people had opposed the conversion of a mosque into a carpet factory and appealed to regional and Beijing authorities when the project began, but eventually agreed to the factory conversion, which took place "because the mosque was located beside a school and considered too loud and a bad influence.
The persecution of clerics did not start only after September 11, Official media sources reported in May that seven imams were arrested and two "underground mosques" destroyed in the provincial capital Urumqi. The charges against the men were not made public. The government has been careful to maintain a few showcase mosques that have undergone extensive renovation, such as the Id-Kah Mosque in Kashgar. Local residents complain that the ban on renovations and extensions is particularly stringent for Uighur mosques and more lax for mosques attended by Hui Muslims, who are ethnically distinct from Uighurs.
China typically justifies the detention or defrocking of clerics as a response either to "illegal activities"-often activities integral to the free exercise of religion-or to "religious extremism," a code term for terrorism. The general repression of religion in Xinjiang casts doubts on the legitimacy of many of these punishments, but very few independent and reliable accounts have surfaced. The case presented here is particularly significant because it is found in a high-level document issued by the Study Group of the Xinjiang CCP Committee, the highest political authority in Xinjiang, as an example of what constitutes "extremism.
In July and August , the imam of the Sidituwei mosque in Hetian prefecture said in front of three or four thousand people during the Friday prayer:. Pray Allah to save their souls, to give them jobs. Let the sound of our tears move Allah. A crowd of one thousand were thus led to cry loudly. This speech by the imam would normally be understood to be a piece of everyday social commentary, the expression of which would be covered by the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly.
Although China prohibits religion within the state educational system nationwide,  there is no law prohibiting children from participating in public or private state-sanctioned religious activities. The situation is markedly different in Xinjiang, where article 14 of the XUAR regulation entitled Implementation Measures of the Law on the Protection of Minors states that "parents and legal guardians may not allow minors to participate in religious activities.
The national Law on the Protection of Minors  does not include this clause. Neither do similar implementation measures adopted by other provinces. Even Tibet does not have such stringent regulations. The Chinese government has always denied the existence of such a prohibition, which contradicts both China's own constitution  and international legal obligations. In Kashgar, people complained that even talking about religion to their children was fraught with risks.
One Kashgar educator put it this way:. Parents cannot avoid these strictures by sending their children abroad to study. In addition to barring private religious education in Xinjiang, the directives also imposed strict controls on exchanges with the outside world, stressing that "elementary and high school students from the border regions are not allowed to attend the elementary and high schools of foreign countries. In Xinjiang, restrictions on religion in state educational institutions go far beyond prohibiting the teaching of religion.
Xinjiang authorities are actively hostile to any action that may encourage religious interest among the young. The Urumqi Manual discussed in Chapter IV, above details the following "policy restrictions" on religion in the educational system at all levels, including the university level:. The political sensitivity of religion, and particularly religion as it contributes to Uighur social and cultural identity, is evident from the case of a Uighur professor at a higher education institution in Xinjiang who was banned from teaching local musical traditions.
He described these events:. Beginning in , schools in numerous localities across Xinjiang underwent "clean-ups". Books which had "separatist content" were removed from libraries, teachers were investigated and reportedly fired, and students were warned that they were monitored and would be expelled if they did not conform to the new ideological requirements. A report issued by the Hetian CCP Committee on January 5, , ordered educational authorities to "clean up and reorganize the schools, their leaders, and the teaching body so as to turn schools into a stronghold against separatism and infiltration.
Virtually any dissent or outward expression of religious belief is banned in schools. Forms of dress or outward appearance deemed too closely associated with traditional practices of Islam, such as men with beards or women with headscarves, are banned from schools. In Kashgar, for instance, a female teacher in a public education institution told Human Rights Watch how this ban affected practicing Muslim women teachers:.
Even performing the most basic requirements of the Islamic faith, such as reading the Koran, engaging in daily prayer, and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, have been prohibited. In November , a female student was reportedly expelled for disobeying school orders to stop performing five daily prayers.
She was praying in her dormitory room when discovered. Uighur students at Xinjiang University, Kashgar Teachers' College, and Yining Teacher's College all told Human Rights Watch that all religious attitudes and practices are forbidden, praying is impossible for fear of reprisals, and the mere fact of having a Koran or any religious publication is considered grounds for expulsion. Non-teaching personnel in schools also have had to discard religious practices.
A relative of a Uighur working in an office in a Kashgar school interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted that simply sporting a beard was too much:. Such anecdotal accounts about interference with even the private exercise of religious freedom by students and teachers were confirmed by an official document obtained by Human Rights Watch. A letter was sent by the authorities of the Xinjiang School of Forestry to some parents on July 15, , quoting regulations from the Autonomous Region Education Commission.
The letter warned the parents that their children "have been praying and keeping fast, [and have been] involved in some religious activities" and that "if this behavior is seen again the students will be expelled. These restrictions are still in place. In November , an official from a county-level Chinese Communist Party religious affairs committee told Radio Free Asia that they had been ordered to report anyone fasting during the month of Ramadan:.
In Xinjiang today, both students and teachers are subjected to surveillance by school authorities, the CCP, and Party-affiliated organizations. In addition, there is an elaborate network of section directors, class heads, and others who are held responsible if any case of dissident behavior appears. The denunciation of any "suspect" act is strongly encouraged, resulting in a general climate of fear and mutual suspicion. For example, in Kashgar Teacher's College, students complained that there were random searches in the dormitories at least twice a year, and that anyone caught possessing religious or politically sensitive materials risked expulsion from the college.
The students expressed a constant fear that they might be overheard and mentioned cases of fellow students having been expelled for expressing political opinions, criticisms of the Party or government policies, or because they had "talked about religion.
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As a complement to the structural elements of political control described above, the authorities have launched periodic campaigns to enforce patriotic education and indoctrinate students against separatist ideology and illegal religious activities. The May campaign illustrates this approach. In an article entitled "Closely Monitor the Education of Youngsters" published in the Xinjiang Daily on May 15, , the Xinjiang Propaganda Department emphasized that "education is the most important front in the fight against separatism.
Two days later, the authorities declared that an anti-crime "Strike Hard" campaign periodic drives against serious crime conducted throughout Chinawas to be extended to the education system, "Strike Hard Rectification Does Not Forget to Educate Youngsters about the Legal System,"  read a headline in the Xinjiang Daily, announcing that institutes of higher learning throughout the region were to be subjected to a "three rectification" drive. According to parents, students, and teachers across Xinjiang with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, the political climate deteriorated sharply in , with the authorities organizing numerous rallies against separatism which teachers and students were forced to attend.
One Uighur teacher in Kashgar interviewed for this report described this process of ongoing indoctrination:. As described in the next section, these propaganda campaigns against separatism often converged with anti-crime sweeps of putative "separatists. The Chinese government has periodically engaged in "Strike Hard" anti-crime campaigns that sweep up thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of alleged criminals in their wake.
Intended to instill a sense of security in a public concerned about the increase in crime that has accompanied economic growth, these campaigns commonly result in the unlawful arrest and even wrongful execution of large numbers of people. According to Amnesty International, over death sentences were recorded in Xinjiang as a result of such campaigns between and , mostly under state security charges. The last recorded instance of an execution for a separatist crime was in March After repatriation he was tried secretly on separatism and terrorism charges.
Local officials, anxious to show they are giving full attention to the campaigns, frequently appear to be more concerned with numbers than evidence. The characteristics of the Strike Hard campaign in Xinjiang mirror those observable in China more generally: summary trials, pressure on the judiciary to process a large number of cases in an extremely short time, and mass sentencing rallies.
But in Xinjiang, religion appears to be as much the target as crime. Chinese officials in Xinjiang equate the campaigns waged against ordinary crime with those targeting separatism, terrorism, and purported "illegal religious activities. Since , the authorities have conducted at least nine province-wide anti-crime campaigns in Xinjiang that specifically included purported "illegal religious activities":.
Official accounts of these campaigns usually claim hundreds of arrests. This principle sets out that only "basic truth" and "basic evidence" are required to proceed. According to instructions given by Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan at the outset of the Strike Hard campaign: "As long as the basic truth is clear and as long as the basic evidence is verified, prompt approval of arrest, prosecution, and court decisions are required. Security and judicial bodies are also put under pressure to achieve arrest, sentencing, and mass rally quotas. This ideologically charged climate regarding any perceived form of dissent nullifies the already minimal procedural protections enjoyed by defendants in the Chinese judicial system.
Judges and court personnel in Kashgar are explicitly instructed to follow "political criteria" in carrying out their work. On the basis of the principle that "political criteria come first in the combat against separatism," in the authorities designated as a target for "investigation and rectification" court officials whose "political ideas are not strong, who waver at the critical moment, and who do not want to shoulder leading responsibilities [in the fight against separatism]," according to an official account published on a website of the Supreme People's Court.
These anti-crime campaigns are specifically intended to include the targeting of religious activity. According to government accounts, the "People's War" campaign, which led to the arrest of "several hundred terrorists,"  imposed a "tightening of control on religion. They included "leading elements of religious extremist forces," "hardcore ethnic separatists," and "violent terrorists.
In , the crackdown focused on "the rectification of religious venues" and led to the arrest of religious activists preaching "a Holy War" in Hetian, Kashgar, Aksu, Ili, and other places.
Information on the extent of the post-September 11 anti-crime campaigns has been severely curtailed, but local accounts tell of an even more tense and repressive climate. As the Chinese government embarked on an effort to convince international observers of the legitimacy of its crackdown on Xinjiang's Uighurs, local media apparently stopped carrying periodic reports on the results of these campaigns, which often had featured information such as numbers of people arrested and convicted, names of such individuals, and details of their sentences.
A report on January 1, provided a rare insight into the extent of the post-September 11 crackdown, indicating that security forces had arrested "violent terrorists and other criminals" in a campaign from September 20 to November 30, In and , the authorities continued to wage a "strike hard, high pressure" campaign against the purported "three forces"separatists, religious extremists, and terrorists.
Official media reported in January that, "during the past twelve months, Xinjiang suppressed a number of terrorist and separatist gangs, and arrested numerous criminals. In September , Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan disclosed that in the first eight months of the year, Chinese authorities had prosecuted twenty-two cases of groups and individuals for alleged "separatist and terrorist activities. According to local residents in the Yili, Kashgar, and Hetian prefectures, the past few years have seen an increase in intrusive and targeted sweeps conducted by law enforcement agencies, generally the Public Security Bureau in conjunction with the People's Armed Police.
Security forces seal off an area, such as a neighborhood or a village, and conduct house-to-house searches. People whose papers are not in order, or who do not have a city residence permit while living in a city, or who in some other way fall outside of the regulations are taken away in trucks or minibuses waiting at the periphery, and then transported to public security facilities for further checks. Indirect accounts tell of the often brutal character of these house searches.
Because law enforcement agencies refuse to reveal the location where detainees are held after these sweeps, it is particularly difficult for relatives to know what actually happens to the detainees. Some people put in custody during sweeps are detained for long periods without charge; others are convicted or sent to reeducation through labor. Others are released.
Charges brought for offenses related to religion generally range from "disrupting public order" to "endangering state security. The manner in which sweeps are conducted suggests that intimidation is one of the objectives. As one villager told Human Rights Watch:. Many Uighurs interviewed for this report claimed that law enforcement agencies and officials are systematically using the campaign against separatism and illegal religious activities to elicit bribes, to impose arbitrary fines, and to blackmail families to pay for the release of their relatives in custody.
One informant returning from Hetian told Human Rights Watch that following a crackdown on "illegal religious activities" in the area in spring , many families had to pay for the release of their relatives, most of them young men between sixteen and twenty-fiveyears old. According to a young farmer from a village near Hetian:. The campaigns waged against "separatism" and "illegal religious activities" which gained momentum after appear to have propelled a huge influx of Uighur prisoners into Xinjiang's detention facilities.
There is a wide range of options available to the authorities in both the criminal and administrative systems for the prosecution of politically and religiously active Uighurs. In both systems, political instructions from the CCP and government have legal effect. For example, police and judges use CPP instructions to interpret the term "separatism" in the Criminal Code. The conviction rate for criminal cases brought through the judiciary in the PRC is 98 percent, meaning that being indicted almost automatically results in a conviction.
There are no "religious" crimes in Chinese law, so most "illegal religious activities" are prosecuted as other criminal or administrative offenses. Defendants charged with endangering state security have diminished procedural protections and face politically motivated prosecutions and harsh punishments. In prisons and RTL camps, Uighur political and religious prisoners are openly classified as a special category of detainees. The "three types" designates detainees who have "harmed state security, joined illegal organizations, or distributed illegal religious material"; the "three categories" designates those who have "endangered state security, committed crimes with a view toward endangering state security, or are reactionary religious students or religious fanatics.
Official sources show that among Uighur prisoners in Xinjiang there is an unusually high proportion of criminals sentenced for state security offenses. A rare documentary source obtained by Human Rights Watch, a scholarly paper from a Ministry of Justice compendium, shows that in 9. The sweeping scope of the law makes it difficult to discern which cases involved genuine criminal activity, such as violence against the state, and which were punishment for peaceful exercise of rights such as dissent or religious practice. Ordinary criminal provisions are even more frequently applied to religious dissenters.
Defendants have almost no recourse to challenge the charges levied against them. In most cases, the sentence is decided in advance by the authorities. No comprehensive statistical information on the exact number of Uighur prisoners or even the general inmate population of Xinjiang is publicly available.
The Chinese authorities regard such information as state secrets and have not allowed independent monitoring of detention facilities in Xinjiang. International organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross have not been able to reach agreement with the Chinese government concerning access to prisons, and a planned visit by the U. Special Rapporteur on Torture, which included Xinjiang, was abruptly cancelled in June However, official documents relating both to prison and reeducation through labor  acknowledge openly that there has been a surge in the number of Uighurs detained for religious offenses since the mids.
Some of these sources indicate that the number of detentions has created severe management problems in these facilities. The same documents stress that religious activities are strictly prohibited in prisons and reeducation through labor camps. In mid, Ren Tieling, the deputy chief of the Xinjiang Reeducation through Labor Bureau, published a detailed report discussing the characteristics of the "three categories of persons" detained in RTL camps in Xinjiang.
A version of the report, redacted by removing confidential elements such as the number of detainees, was published in the Ministry of Justice journal, Crime and Reform Studies. The report acknowledged that, as of , there had been a "sharply upward trend" in the number of people sent to RTL camps on religious or political grounds. As the numbers "increased annually," RTL camps became "jam-packed. According to the report, in the Kashgar RTL center, a survey of prisoners showed that the majority had been sentenced because they "joined illegal organizations, took part in meetings, paid organizations fees," while some others "sheltered escaped criminals and hid their arms and ammunitions for them, or provided lodgings.
The report also sheds important light on the composition of the prisoner population, and confirms the suspicion that most ethnic Uighurs picked up under the "three categories" rubric in Xinjiang are young men who have been sent there on the basis of their religious belief or activities.