Chinese coercion: Uyghur imams targeted in Xinjiang
Beijing: The world might be celebrating Eid on Friday but a report released by a Uyghur rights group does not seem to be positive for the Muslim community as it claimed that China has imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim religious figures since 2014 in its crackdown in the Xinjiang region.
The research, compiled by the Uyghur Human Rights Project and shared with the BBC, also found evidence that 18 clerics had died in detention or shortly after.
Many of the detained clerics faced broad charges like "propagating extremism", "gathering a crowd to disturb social order", and "inciting separatism", reports BBC.
According to testimony from relatives, the real crimes behind these charges are often things like preaching, convening prayer groups, or simply acting as an imam.
The UHRP, working with rights group Justice for All, tracked the fates of 1,046 Muslim clerics. Most of them were Uyghur Muslims.
While all 1,046 clerics were reportedly detained at some point, in many cases corroborating evidence was not available because of China's tight control over information in the region, reports BBC.
Among the 630 cases where it was, at least 304 of the clerics appeared to have been sent to prison, as opposed to the network of "re-education" camps most closely associated with China's mass detention of the Uyghurs, reported the British media.
Who are Uyghur Muslims?
Uyghur Muslims are a Turkic minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. It is now widely publicized that their human rights are crushed by China and they were sent to "re-education camps" by the communist regime in Beijing.
The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.