Most mosques in this Xinjiang city had been demolished already, but now the remaining ones are being shut down as well.
The residents of China’s western region of Xinjiang where almost half of the population are Muslim Uyghurs, have been going through increasingly intense persecution. Disguised as the fight against terrorism and religious extremism, the crackdown on Muslims has especially intensified ever since the revised Regulations on Religious Affairs came into effect in February this year. From being put in “transformation through education” camps to being unable to celebrate their religious festivals, Xinjiang residents have had to endure through it all.
In the city of Shihezi, the authorities have demolished most of the mosques. Bitter Winter has recently learned that now even the remaining ones are being shut down.
Two mosques in the Liugong village were recently shut down forcibly. Their crescent moon and star symbols have been removed, and the entrance is blocked. The authorities have installed surveillance cameras as well as guards at the mosques to ensure believers cannot enter.
Another mosque in one of Shihezi’s agricultural divisions was shut down in April. Its imam, who was in his sixties, was taken into custody and his whereabouts remain unknown to date.
According to a local source, the authorities maintain a floor at the Shihezi Lyuzhou Hospital where they keep the imams. What used to be the ward for psychiatric patients is now the place where these imams are tortured.
The source also revealed that some imams arrested from southern Xinjiang are held in Urumqi’s Dabancheng district, the northern part of the region. At the “transformation through education” camp there, they are forced to pay their living expenses at 400 RMB or 60 USD per day and eat Han cuisine. They are also forced to recite the “Spirit of the 19th National Congress” of the Chinese Communist Party at the camp.
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.