Xinjiang authorities order villages to arbitrarily arrest at least 200 people

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Authorities register the IDs of Christians
who are worshiping at an unregistered but
uncensored church. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Yili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang—Feb. 18, 2018) Responding to orders from the central government, a county in China’s northwestern Xinjiang stipulated that 200 people in every village within its jurisdiction must be arrested as part of a “gang crackdown,” leading to the seizure of many innocent people from ethnic minority groups.

On Jan. 1, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued the Notice on Carrying Out the Special Crackdown on Gangs Campaign, which emphasized targeting people who “threaten political security, control grass-roots political power, dominate the market, and manipulate the operation of pornography, gambling and transnational border crossing, as well as 10 other criminal categories.” However, officials in Xinyuan County, Xinjiang used this document as an excuse to set forth a quota of people to be arrested instead of applying the law to actual criminals. A Kazakh Chinese man living in Xinjiang said, “Recently the public security department of Xinyuan County sent a written notice that can’t be found any more. However, it said that more than 200 people should be arrested in each village, divided into three categories. The first is people who have close ties with people in Kazakhstan. The second is those who engage in religious activities such as praying and performing Muslim worship. The third category is released prisoners. All of the above people must be taken away without exception.”

Many of the affected will be ethnic minorities, whom the Chinese government has a history of persecuting, since a total of 60% of Xinyuan County’s 300,000 residents are Kazakh or Uyghur.

Across Yili Autonomous Prefecture, where Xinyuan County is located, security committees have placed each township in charge of “safeguarding villages,” which includes stipulating that villagers who buy gasoline must obtain a certificate from the committee, permitting them a one-time purchase of fuel for their vehicles. Another unnamed Kazakh resident said “Now, they have made all sorts of things difficult, such as saying that ‘a wild Imam [an Imam unaffiliated with the government],’ those who have connections to Kazakhstan, and those who go abroad cannot buy fuel.”

Released prisoners and those who engage at religious activities outside of government-censored venues also may not buy gasoline.

In Altay, Xinjiang, public security departments in seven counties and cities have recently forced nomadic people groups to abandon their traditional mobile phones and purchase smartphones. A person familiar with the situation said, “Now, people are afraid to use smartphones … [and are worried about] being questioned and arrested by the police. This led many young people to give up their smartphones and use the more common non-smart cell phones. Altay authorities feel unable to monitor herdsmen and are now requiring everyone to use a smartphone.”

Many of these nomadic herdsmen told the police that they didn’t have the finances to buy a smartphone, but the authorities made it possible for them to pay for the phones in installments, leaving them with no option but to buy the phones knowing that the devices are under the control of the authorities.

ChinaAid exposes the restrictions and abuses of the rights of people in Xinjiang in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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