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Radio Free Asia and Boxun.com: Beijing trying to wipe out religion among Uyghurs; teachers forced to sign guarantee

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Radio Free Asia, Mandarin Service  2012-03-21

The Korla Education Bureau in Xinjiang is requiring teachers to sign a letter promising that they will not participate in religious activities, a guarantee that also is binding to the teachers’ immediate family members. A source said that the authorities are trying to eradicate religion among Uyghur teachers as a way to gain better control over the region.201203210913china2

Photo:  A meeting at the Korla No. 9 Elementary School (Boxun.com and the website of Korla Education Bureau)
The overseas website Boxun.com reported on Wednesday that the Korla Education Bureau in Xinjiang held a meeting with senior officials on Tuesday and arranged for teachers to sign the “Promise Not to Participate in Religious Activities.” It requires Uyghur teachers to solemnly pledge to adhere to the correct political direction, to take a clear-cut stand against attempts to split the nation and illegal religious activities, to uphold science and advocate atheism, to not be involved in religious activities, and to report suspicious activities immediately to authorities.
A Radio Free Asia reporter called the Korla Education Bureau on Wednesday to confirm this report. The person who answered the phone did not confirm it, but asked, “Who are you?”
Journalist: I’m with the media.
Answer: Oh.
Journalist: Is this true?
Answer: I don’t quite know.

201203210913china3Photo: Korla No. 9 Elementary School teachers signing “Promise Not to Participate in Religious Activities” (Boxun.com and the website of Korla Education Bureau)
The photos provided by Boxun.com show a power point presentation during the Korla No. 9 Elementary School meeting that read:  Don’t believe in religion; don’t spread rumors; be a strong atheist. There is also a picture of teachers signing the promise.

Farhad Eskandar, a young Uyghur man in exile in Sweden, told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that an official of the Korla Education Bureau told him the news. 

He said, “He probably didn’t want to admit it or to release the news to the outside world fearing it might have some bad consequences. Neither students nor teachers in Korla are allowed to participate in religious activities. Teachers are required to stop students and instruct them not to get involved in religious activities. If there’s a violation that is discovered, both teachers and students will be expelled from school. It was like this when my peers and I were in elementary and high school. Our teachers told us not to go to mosques, not to attend religious services, not  to participate in religious activities. It seems to be a lot stricter now than it was back then.”201203210913china1

Photo: Farhad, a young Uyghur man in exile in Sweden (Boxun.com)
Dilshat, spokesperson of the Swedish-based World Uyghur Congress, also told Radio Free Asia that Korla was not the only place where this was an issue. Throughout the entire Uyghur region, authorities have been taking all kinds of measures to force the Uyghur people to abandon their religious beliefs. The letter of guarantee is binding not only to the individual who signs it, but to all the immediate family members. All are required to not participate in religious activities and not believe in religion. The guarantee also requires that they collect information about people who violate this policy by participating in religious activities and to inform the local security and government agencies. Those who fail to report to the authorities will be punished.
Dilshat also said that Beijing has carried out a series of measures to make the Uyghur people give up their religious belief.

He said, “The Chinese government has implemented measures aimed at forcing the Uyghur people to abandon their faith through economic penalties, administrative detention, and issuing policies and notifications. The oppression and restrictions on religion are not confined to teachers alone. Beijing believes that only by eliminating religion and converting people to atheism can they make the Uyghur people give up their political agenda and achieve their total assimilation.

The Uyghur man Farhad Eskandar also said that religion is the main difference between the Uyghur people and other ethnicities, especially the Han Chinese.  If their religious faith is taken away from them, the Uyghur people would lose their identity and cease to exist as an ethnic group.

Reported by Fang Yuan, Radio Free Asia reporter.
Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/fy-03212012101648.html


Boxun.com. News  

Xinjiang forced teachers to sign “Promise Not to Participate in Religious Activities”
(Reported by Boxun on March 21, 2012, Beijing time)

On March 20, 2012, the Korla Education Bureau held a meeting with senior officials and arranged for teachers to sign “Promise Not to Participate in Religious Activities”, in order to faithfully convey and implement the principles of the senior officials’ conference, to study the essence of the speech by party chief Zhang Chunxian on maintaining the stability of Xinjiang region in 2012, to unite the strength of retired teachers against religious infiltration, to fight against ethnic splittism, and to better safeguard stability and harmonious school life. 

Uyghur teachers are required to solemnly pledge to adhere to the correct political direction, to take a clear-cut stand against attempts to split the nation and illegal religious activities, to uphold science and advocate atheism, to not get involved in religious activities, and to report suspicious activities immediately to authorities.

Farhad Eskandar, a Uyghur young man in exile in Sweden, said that China took administrative measures to force the Uyghurs to abandon their religious belief in order to speed up their assimilation.

http://boxun.com/news/gb/china/2012/03/201203210913.shtml

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