As China cracks down following frequent terrorist attacks at home and pressures governments to return Uyghur Muslims fighting with jihadists abroad, this ethnic minority complains it is running out of places to go without fear of harassment.
UCA News (h/t Mike F) Others among this mostly Muslim minority have fared less well after fleeing escalating persecution in restive Xinjiang. Hundreds, maybe thousands, remain locked up in detention centers in Southeast Asia — or worse — back in China.
“It is unprecedented in the sense that never before were Uyghurs fleeing as whole families,” said Kayum Masimov, president of the Uyghur Canadian Society, following trips to visit Uyghur asylum-seekers in Thailand and Malaysia.
As China cracks down following frequent terrorist attacks at home and pressures governments to return Uyghurs abroad, this ethnic minority complains it is running out of places to go without fear of harassment.
Beijing maintains that the reasons for ramping up security are very real. On Friday, Guangzhou train station in southern China suffered its second knife attack in a year leaving 10 people injured. The identities of the attackers have not yet been made public but, as with other similar attacks, Uyghur Muslims are always behind them.
On March 1, the southwestern city of Kunming marked the one-year anniversary of a bloody attack that left 33 people dead and 143 injured. Overall, 2014 was the worst year on record in terms of Xinjiang-related violence with about 500 people reported killed.
Following an attack by Uyghur Muslim separatists at a market in Xinjiang’s provincial capital Urumqi that left 36 dead in May last year, the government launched a one-year “strike-hard campaign” recently extended until the end of 2015.
Defending China’s terrorism response on Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi emphasized the need for international cooperation to deal with Islamic terror – “a common scourge to mankind”. China’s claims that Xinjiang Muslim separatists are increasingly linking up with jihadist groups overseas are valid, security analysts say.
Islamic State (IS) propaganda films uploaded last year showed Chinese fighting alongside militants from the Middle East, and videos purportedly filmed in Xinjiang have shown masked figures calling for Uyghurs to join the global Jihad.
Following last year’s attack on Kunming train station, the leader of the Xinjiang rebel Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) issued a call to arms from a hideout near Pakistan’s remote border with Afghanistan. “China is not only our enemy, but is the enemy of all Muslims…. We have plans for many attacks in China,” he told Reuters in a rare phone interview.
Between April and the end of January, more than 800 people were captured trying to cross illegally into Vietnam, almost all of them Uyghur Muslims trying to join terrorist cells overseas, according to Chinese state media.
Clamping down on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, Beijing has in recent months closed hundreds of madrassas, banned burqas and barred under-18s from mosques — much stricter measures than those placed on other Muslims living further east in China.
In trying to contain Uyghurs from leaving China to mix with Muslims overseas, restrictions have extended to barring most Uyghurs from the annual Hajj to Mecca, notes Alim Seytoff, director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington, DC. “An ordinary Chinese can apply for his passport and receive it in two to four weeks,” says Seytoff. “It is almost impossible for an ordinary Uyghur to apply and get a passport in this way.”
Restrictions in Xinjiang are expected to get even tougher when Beijing passes a new anti-terrorism law in the coming weeks amid strong criticism from rights groups.
Not surprisingly, the Obama Regime wants China to “show restraint” when dealing with Uighur Muslim terrorists.