During the Eid season, muslims in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region were reportedly banned from offering prayers at mosques and even in their homes
Only people aged 60 and above were allowed to pray in the local mosques on April 20-21, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported quoting local police and residents.
A local police officer told RFA that one only one mosque was open for Eid prayers in Bulung town, Bay county, which saw very few attendances due to restrictions from the Chinese government.
The government had issued a notice that people younger than 60 could not pray on the Eid holiday, the officer said.
According to the report, only a dozen of Uyghur elders were present in Bulung amidst three police officers and several auxiliary police staffers keeping strict vigil.
RFA claimed that the officers also wrote down the Uyghurs’ names who came in attendance to offer prayers.
“The mosque was open, and we went there to survey people,” the police officer said.
A woman from a residential area in Maralbexi County in Kashgar Prefecture said none of her neighbours held Eid prayers or celebrations.
Several media reports have claimed that Xinjiang, of late, has seen a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority), allegedly orchestrated by the state to dilute the minority population there.
China has also been accused of targeting Muslim religious figures and banning religious practices in the region, as well as destroying mosques and tombs.
Uyghur activists say they fear that the group’s culture is under threat of erasure.
Many countries and the UN have accused China of committing mass genocide in Xinjiang.
Last year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China is committing “genocide and crimes against humanity”.
The UK parliament declared in April 2021 that China was committing genocide against the Muslim population.
A UN human rights committee in 2018 said it had credible reports that China was holding up to a million people in “counter-extremism centres” in Xinjiang.
“The mosque was not open. My husband is a policeman, and he went to work on Eid. There was no Eid-ul-Fitr prayer here. It was quiet,” she told RFA.
According to official estimates, about 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, live in Xinjiang, which is officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
They speak their own language, which is similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. Muslims make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.