Spies, patrolling, searches: China tightens measures to prevent Uyghur Muslims from fasting in Ramzan
Chinese officials have been utilizing "ears," spies who are selected from everyday citizens, police officers, and neighborhood committees to prevent Uyghur Muslims from fasting during the holy month of Ramzan, media reports said.
According to an ANI report, a police officer from the Turpan area told Radio Free Asia that many secret agents are being employed by Chinese officials to prevent Uyghur Muslims from fasting during Ramzan.
According to news reports, this ban on fasting began in 2017 when Chinese authorities began detaining Uyghurs in "re-education" camps as part of an effort to eradicate Uyghur culture, language, and religion.
In 2021 and 2022, the Chinese government relaxed the restriction slightly, allowing people over the age of 65 to fast and reducing the number of home searches and street patrols conducted by police.
However, this year, Radio Free Asia reported that a political official at the Turpan City Police Station stated that the ban on fasting applies to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or profession.
According to a report by Radio Free Asia, during the first week of Ramzan, Chinese authorities summoned 56 Uyghur residents and former detainees and questioned them about their activities.
The police officer from Turpan City Bazaar Police Station stated that 54 of them had violated the law by fasting, but he and another police officer at the station declined to discuss what happened to those who were found to have broken the law.
The report also stated that officials had engaged two or three spies from each village in Turpan to monitor people who had previously been questioned or detained for fasting during Ramzan and those who had been released from prison.
"Our 'ears' came from three fields -- the ordinary residents, the police and the neighbourhood committees," the police officer from an area near Turpan said, according to Radio Free Asia.
She mentioned that Uyghurs were recruited to monitor other Uyghurs because of the language barrier and there are “70-80 Uyghur policemen” in her workplace who either directly work as 'ears' or lead other civilian 'ears'.
The Turpan City Bazaar Police Station has reportedly recruited two or three spies, known as "ears," to monitor the activities of residents during Ramzan, with some villages having four to five spies, states the report by Radio Free Asia.
Furthermore, a police officer disclosed that an investigation would be conducted on individuals who had previously violated the law by fasting during Ramzan, as well as those who organized fasting activities.
According to the news report, a staff member at the Turpan Prefecture Police Bureau stated that the authorities there had employed spies within the police force to monitor whether Uyghur officers were fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramzan. She further added that, to date, they have not found any officer who is fasting.
As per a police officer from a police station in Turpan City, this year's policy for Ramzan includes conducting home searches, street patrols, and mosque searches. The authorities have also been questioning Uyghur Muslim families to ascertain if they are eating before dawn and gathering for a meal after sunset during the holy month.