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Restrictions in Xinjiang tighten

HONG KONG (SE): Persecution in the Xinjiang area of China of the tiny group of Muslim Kyrgyz people has reached a new level with re-education centres being opened for those who violate religious laws.
Radio Free Asia reported on August 23 that the small group is facing similar restrictions as the majority Uyghur people.
The Kyrgyz are a Turkic people who make up less than one per cent of the estimated 21.8 million people in Xinjiang and are largely concentrated near the border with Kyrgyzstan in the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture.
The group had until recently enjoyed relative autonomy under the China until a new Communist Party chief was appointed last year and cracked down on the religious freedom of the Uyghur people.
Radio Free Asia was told that the Kyrgyz are now targeted by authorities as part of the religious restrictions. “The persecution of Uyghurs by the Chinese government is by far the worst,” the report says.
“But the same kind of persecution is increasingly happening to the Kyrgyz people as well. In recent months, many young Kyrgyz were arrested by the Chinese government,” it continues.
Restrictions began last year when Chinese authorities began confiscating passports to prevent freedom of movement across the border with Kyrgyzstan.
“Then, many were rounded up and sent to what are called reeducation centres, but nobody knows what had happened to them, because nobody was allowed to see them,” Radio Free Asia was told.
“A lot of Kyrgyz were arrested for growing beards, praying or even owning a prayer rug or Qur’an in their homes. Some were sentenced to anywhere from five to 17 years in prison. Women more than 60 years of age were given sentences of three to four years,” the American broadcaster was told.

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