Activist says China targets Uighurs, limits their religious freedom
Published: July 20, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Uighur activist from China told reporters in Washington that, following violence she claimed was directed at her ethnic group, her main concern was that religious freedom be ensured for all Uighurs. Rebiya Kadeer talked to a July 15 media round table sponsored by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom about a government crackdown on a recent demonstration in the city of Urumqi in China's northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang. On July 5 Uighurs were protesting Chinese policies they say are repressive when Chinese police forces shut off lights in parts of the area and opened fire on protesters, according to Kadeer. After the demonstration turned into a riot, government officials said they would shut down mosques for "safety" reasons, but then reversed the decision a few days later. According to Kadeer, the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority living mainly in the Xinjiang region, are routinely harassed during the holy period of Ramadan. For example, she said, they are forced to take a lunch break and break their monthlong fast during Ramadan. Some of them have been arrested for participating in "illegal religious practices," she said.
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