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Amnesty International 14 Nov reported that authorities in Xinjiang have detained up to 30 relatives of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya in recent months.
China further increased security and surveillance measures in restive Xinjiang region ahead of 19th Party Congress 18-24 Oct. In Xinjiang, civil servants, employees of state enterprises, govt-affiliated sectors and some schools were reportedly called back to work 2 Oct during national holiday week.
Human Rights Watch called for govt to free thousands of Uighurs and other Muslims, including children, reportedly detained at unlawful “political education” centres in Xinjiang since April 2017. Beijing late Sept denied reports that authorities were seizing Muslim prayer mats and Qurans in Xinjiang.
Authorities in Xinjiang reportedly took measures to prevent local Uighurs from observing Ramadan; also started forcing children under sixteen with religious names to change name. Govt 1 June issued white paper describing “great progress” in promoting human rights in Xinjiang; international rights groups dismissed report.
Media reported ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang being forced to submit DNA samples during mandatory health checks, prompting concerns from human rights groups. Uighur students studying abroad reportedly forced by regional govt to return to hometowns by 20 May, or face threat of their families being detained. Amid concerns over ethnic Uighurs travelling to Syria via Turkey to fight alongside Islamist militants, Chinese President Xi mid-month told Turkish President Erdoğan they should deepen counter-terrorism cooperation. Media 4 May reported Communist Party’s United Front Work Department created new bureau to oversee Xinjiang, indicating increase in Party concern and control of restive region.
Increased show of force and security measures in Xinjiang following Feb attacks continued. Authorities on heightened alert after Islamic State (ISIS) released propaganda video apparently featuring ethnic Uighur Chinese late Feb, threatening attacks in China. Addressing national people’s congress 10 March, President Xi urged security forces to erect “Great Wall of Steel” around Xinjiang. Xinjiang lawmakers late March passed legislation widening rules aimed at combatting religious extremism, including ban on “abnormal” beards, wearing of veil in public places, taking effect 1 April. Law Institute of state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 21 March published report warning that despite recorded decline in terrorist acts with tougher security, situation in Xinjiang could worsen due to growing links with foreign terror groups.
Five people reported killed and ten injured by three assailants in knife attack in Pishan county, S Xinjiang 14 Feb; police shot suspects dead. Parades involving thousands of troops staged in Hotan 16 Feb, Kashgar 17 Feb and Urumqi 18 Feb, and in several cities 27 Feb. Police 21 Feb reported all vehicles in Xinjiang must be installed with satellite tracking devices. State media reported Xinjiang authorities offering rewards of up to 5mn yuan for information on terrorism.
Govt 9 Jan reported police had killed three “violent terror” suspects in Xinjiang. Xinjiang authorities 1 Jan conducted anti-terror exercise following late Dec attack on govt building; local govt head 10 Jan said authorities would tighten security along border with Pakistan to prevent terrorists entering or leaving. Several individuals from Xinjiang arrested by Turkish police 5 Jan suspected of involvement in deadly New Year’s Eve attack on Istanbul nightclub.
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