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Xinjiang Reports Outline Criminalization of Islam and Retrospective Punishment
Xinjiang Reports Outline Criminalization of Islam and Retrospective Punishment

Xinjiang Reports Outline Criminalization of Islam and Retrospective Punishment

On the sidelines of the Two Sessions

This week, the party secretary of Xinjiang, Ma Xingrui, announced that:

The practice of Islam in Xinjiang must adopt Chinese cultural influences.

“Furthermore,” he stated, “this denotes an unavoidable shift.” These remarks serve as further indication of the CCP’s determination to

Limit or restrict the exercise of religious rights. in the region, part of a years-long campaign that has detained over a million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. It has been over a year and a half since the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that this campaign may have constituted “crimes against humanity“and
“There is ongoing evidence being discovered that suggests the actions taken were outside of legal authority.”

Repressions associated with religious and cultural customs in Xinjiang

showed that t

the report discussing the mistreatment of Uyghur women and religious oppression

Darren Byler’s article in ChinaFile provided a detailed account of a recent case involving retroactively applied prison sentences for supposed offenses related to religious practices during the defendants’ childhood.retroactive application of the law targeting a Kazakh cleric named Nurlan Pioner

Judges deemed the customary religious practices of this individual to be punishable offenses, resulting in a 17-year jail term.

The verdict given by Pioneer offers one of the most comprehensive official government reports on the criminalization of routine Islamic practices in Xinjiang. It illustrates how prosecutors and judges reinterpret the past actions of Muslim communities, previously accepted by the government, as the actions of “malicious gangs.” The verdict presents evidence against Pioneer and fellow Uyghur bookseller Tokhti Silam, who are accused of leading numerous individuals in extremist practices. It provides detailed accounts of alleged extremist activities, extremist literature, and the search for extremist materials in homes and devices. Additionally, it mentions specific individuals who drove to religious events and the educational status of young people who violated laws by fasting during Ramadan.

Most notably, it provides a detailed account of how past actions, deemed illegal at a later date, have been prosecuted retrospectively. According to the state-appointed defenders for Silam state in the verdict, “Based on the dates of the criminal charges, it is evident that all the offenses committed by the defendant were between 1994-1995 and 2011-2015. During this time, there were no laws or regulations in place, and legal awareness efforts were not yet in effect. Therefore, there was a widespread lack of understanding of one’s legal responsibilities in society. It was only after 2015 that all relevant laws regarding this case were announced and enforced.”

[…] Pioner’s verdict shows that in the rhetoric of the court, the “evil” of “criminal gangs” or religious Kazakhs and Uyghurs has been hiding in plain sight in the books, published by state presses, that had been on the shelves across the region for decades. [Source]

the leaked database was cross-checked with other public sources and deemed authentic.

The Xinjiang Victims Database recently released a blog post examining a leaked database known as the “2009-2015 Prisoners List.” This database contains details on more than 18,000 Uyghur individuals who were convicted and imprisoned for political and/or religious reasons. Many of these convictions were based on regular religious practices. Most of these prisoners were sentenced prior to 2015 and were given sentences that lasted beyond 2017, which is when the mass detentions in Xinjiang started. The blog post also shows how the leaked database was compared with other publicly available sources and determined to be genuine.

Most of the prisoners released before 2017 were probably re-arrested due to their previous convictions.:

I was able to track 140 instances where I could find out what happened to the prisoners after 2015 through other means. This was especially helpful in monitoring their release dates. In almost every scenario, these individuals were re-arrested shortly after, usually being sent to a camp or given another prison sentence.

In locations where up-to-date data on detentions is readily accessible, it is possible to observe the connection between the detentions of victims and their family members, and how this impacted their children, who were sometimes left without parental care.

After gathering data from specific regions, it was found that more than 50% of prisoners had family members (spouses, siblings, parents, or children) who were also arrested, mostly in or after 2017. This suggests that the arrests were not isolated incidents and were connected to other members of the family. In some cases, the initial imprisonment led to more family members being detained during the mass arrests of 2017-2018.

In about one sixth of instances, the prisoner’s young children were left without parents for a length of time. In a small portion of these instances, this was due to the prisoner being the sole known parent in the household. However, in most cases, this occurred because the prisoner’s partner was also held in custody at a later date, often in 2017 or later.

fireside chat”

During a conversation held in a relaxed setting, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, was able to discuss the issue of human rights violations in Xinjiang.global update

During his address to the Human Rights Council, Türk discussed his ongoing discussions with the Chinese government regarding various concerns. He also urged the government to take action on recommendations from his Office and other human rights organizations to address laws, policies, and practices that infringe upon basic rights, specifically in the Xinjiang and Tibet regions. As noted by Adile Abelet in a report for RFA,

Experts in human rights in China believe that the actions taken by Türk have not been sufficient.:

According to former China director of Human Rights Watch Sophie Richardson, Türk’s speech was lacking and lacked effort. She noted that he appeared uninterested in the suffering, pressure, and mistreatment that people in China are facing.

“I am greatly concerned by his dependence on methods and strategies that have been proven to be ineffective, specifically dialogues,” she stated in an interview with RFA. “It is alarming that he refuses to acknowledge his own office’s report on the Uyghur region and the findings that suggest the Chinese government may be committing crimes against humanity.”

According to Richardson, the past 30 years of discussions on human rights have failed to stop and may have even contributed to crimes against humanity.Source]

In the meantime, the Chinese authorities have made efforts to cover up their misconduct by promoting…tourism14 other cities)

to the region of Xinjiang (along with 14 additional cities)Han “colonization”), hoping visitors will see a sanitized version of life in the region. U.S. officials have taken note. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released on Thursday, the co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) urged the State Department to

Elevate the travel warning for Xinjiang to level 4. “U.S. citizens, permanent

Requested that they cease all tours in Xinjiang.
“Tourists with good intentions should not be placed in a situation where they inadvertently support atrocities or are utilized as pawns for propaganda,” was the gist of the statement.


American media corporations have also been complicit in covering up wrongdoings in Xinjiang. In an article for China Media Project, Dalia Parete reviewed the recent partnership between the Discovery Channel and CGTN for their show “World’s Ultimate Frontier.” The show presents foreigners who are awed by the experiences of the region, but neglects to address the ongoing human rights violations happening there. Parete discussed the related comments.

The CCP and Discovery Channel have a history of co-production, with the channel playing a part in promoting China’s external propaganda objectives.:


Last May, an article was published in the New York Times. suggests

Studies on Ideological and Political Education indicate

In an issue of (Studies in Ideological and Political Work), a publication by the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party, Shen Haixiong, who is also a deputy minister of propaganda and the chief of China Media Group, was emphasized.World’s Ultimate Frontier

Being a vital “outward-facing brand” representing the Party.

Shen stated that they have focused on creating a Chinese discourse and narrative system to enhance the perception of China as a trustworthy, likable, and respected country. This direction aligns with the objectives of global propaganda discussed by Xi Jinping during a Politburo study session two years prior. Additionally, Shen emphasized CMG’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with leading international media outlets and develop influential foreign communication brands.

Arriving in Xinjiang and Establishing Roots in China

“This passage, written by the leader of the organization responsible for managing Discovery’s co-production partner – CGTN, clearly reveals that the…”Entering Xinjiang (.

The ultimate frontier of the world.

The program was developed by the Chinese government to promote their external propaganda objectives.


From China’s perspective, the main objective of this series is to divert the attention of the international audience through entertainment and lighthearted conversations, in order to divert their focus from the harsh reality faced by thousands of Uyghurs who have been imprisoned, displaced, forced to leave their homes, and tragically separated from their families in the ongoing repressive campaign.Source]

Correction: The ethnicity of Nurlan Pioner and the proportion of charges referring to normal religious practices in the “2009-2015 Prisoners List” were clarified in the updated version of this post on March 9, 2024.