China collecting DNA, biometrics from millions in Xinjiang: report
Authorities in China’s far-west are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, eye scans and blood types of millions of people aged 12 to 65, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.
Xinjiang, the only Chinese territory apart from Tibet where ethnic Han Chinese are not in the majority, has long been subject to tight controls and surveillance not experienced elsewhere in China.
In April, authorities banned the region’s 10 million Muslims from wearing long beards or veils in public, as well as banning home schooling and introducing new restrictions on downloading allegedly extremist materials.
Authorities in China’s far-west are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, eye scans and blood types of millions of people aged 12 to 65, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. Xinjiang, the only Chinese territory apart from Tibet where ethnic Han Chinese are not in the majority, has long been subject to tight controls and surveillance not experienced elsewhere in China. In April, authorities banned the region’s 10 million Muslims from wearing long beards or veils in public, as well as banning home schooling and introducing new restrictions on downloading allegedly extremist materials. Authorities in China’s far-west are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, eye scans and blood types of millions of people aged 12 to 65, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. Xinjiang, the only Chinese territory apart from Tibet where ethnic Han Chinese are not in the majority, has long been subject to tight controls and surveillance not experienced elsewhere in China. In April, authorities banned the region’s 10 million Muslims from wearing long beards or veils in public, as well as banning home schooling and introducing new restrictions on downloading allegedly extremist materials. In April, authorities banned the region’s 10 million Muslims from wearing long beards or veils in public, as well as banning home schooling and introducing new restrictions on downloading allegedly extremist materials.
Chinese museum accused of racism over photos pairing Africans with animals
A museum in China has removed an exhibit this week that juxtaposed photographs of animals with portraits of black Africans, sparking complaints of racism.
The exhibit titled This Is Africa at the Hubei Provincial Museum in the city of Wuhan displayed a series of diptychs, each one containing a photo of an African person paired with the face of an animal. In a particularly striking example, a child with his mouth wide open was paired with a gorilla and other works included baboons and cheetahs.
The exhibit was eventually removed after complaints by Africans, including some living in China, the curator said. All the photographs were taken by Yu Huiping, a construction magnate who has travelled to Africa more than 20 times, has previously won awards for his work and is vice-chairman of the Hubei Photographers Association.
Racial sensitivities are often muddled in China, where about 92% of the population belongs to the dominant Han ethnicity and ethnic minorities mostly live in the sporadically populated far west of the country. African countries are increasingly important trading partners, but cultural stereotypes dominate Chinese popular discourse on the continent.
Wang Yuejun, one of the exhibit’s curators, said that comparisons to animals were typically seen as a compliment in Chinese culture, pointing to the zodiac signs that identify people with animals according to their birth year.
“The target audience is mainly Chinese,” Wang said in a statement. But the museum understood the images offended “our African friends” and the pictures were removed to show respect for their concerns, Wang added.
The offensive nature was first notices by a Nigerian Instagram user, Edward E Duke. In a post, which was later removed, he asked why the museum “put pictures of a particular race next to wild animals”.
HIV/Aids patients still face rejection and discrimination in China’s leading hospitals
Despite decade-old anti-discrimination rules, patients say doctors still fear treating them
When 34-year-old “Frank” was diagnosed with a varicocele, a common disorder of blood vessels around the testicles, his doctor told him he needed surgery.
The operation would be routine but after he told doctors he was HIV-positive, the procedure was postponed several times.
“The doctors said my problem was complicated, so they had to postpone my surgery. But I know they don’t want to do it because I have HIV,” he said.
Frank wasn’t surprised – he’d expected to be rejected outright by the No 4 Hospital in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, based on the experiences of other patients. But he still felt downhearted and helpless.
“It’s a common disorder [but it’s difficult to get treatment],” he said. “If I develop some serious illnesses [besides HIV/Aids], I think my only choice will be just to wait to die.”
Frank is one of the 575,000 HIV/Aids patients on the mainland, according to the country’s disease control authority, but the real number could be far higher.
The mainland’s decade-old Aids Prevention and Treatment Regulations are meant to stop hospitals turning away HIV-positive patients but activists say patients continue to face repeated rejection at medical facilities across the country.
The HIV cause has some of the highest-profile advocates – Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping is a national and World Health Organisation ambassador for HIV prevention.
China: Religious Repression of Uighur Muslims
(New York) – The Chinese government is directing a crushing campaign of religious repression against China’s Muslim Uighurs in the name of anti-separatism and counter-terrorism, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China said in a new report today.
The 114-page report, Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, is based on previously undisclosed Communist Party and government documents, as well as local regulations, official newspaper accounts, and interviews conducted in Xinjiang. It unveils for the first time the complex architecture of law, regulation, and policy in Xinjiang that denies Uighurs religious freedom, and by extension freedom of association, assembly, and expression. Chinese policy and law enforcement stifle religious activity and thought even in school and at home. One official document goes so far as to say that “parents and legal guardians may not allow minors to participate in religious activities.”
“The worldwide campaign against terrorism has given Beijing the perfect excuse to crack down harder than ever in Xinjiang,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “Other Chinese enjoy a growing freedom to worship, but the Uighurs, like the Tibetans, find that their religion is being used as a tool of control.”
The Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority of some 8 million people, whose traditional homeland lies in the oil-rich Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China, have become increasingly fearful for their cultural survival and traditional way of life in the face of an intensive internal migration drive that has witnessed the arrival of more than 1.2 million ethnic Chinese settlers over the past decade. Many Uighurs desire greater autonomy than is currently allowed; some wish for a separate state, although there is little recent evidence of violent rebellion.
Highly intrusive religious control extends to organized religious activities, religious practitioners, schools, cultural institutions, publishing houses, and even to the personal appearance and behavior of Uighur individuals. State authorities politically vet all imams on a regular basis and require “self-criticism” sessions; impose surveillance on mosques; purge schools of religious teachers and students; screen literature and poetry for political allusions; and equate any expression of dissatisfaction with Beijing’s policies with “separatism” – a state security crime under Chinese law that can draw the death penalty.
At its most extreme, peaceful activists practicing their religion in ways that the Party and government deem unacceptable are arrested, tortured, and at times executed. The harshest punishments are saved for those accused of involvement in so-called separatist activity, which officials increasingly term “terrorism” for domestic and external consumption.
At a more mundane level, Uighurs face harassment in their daily lives. Celebrating religious holidays, studying religious texts, or showing one’s religion through personal appearance are strictly forbidden at state institutions, including schools. The Chinese government vets who can be a cleric, what version of the Koran is acceptable, where religious gatherings may be held, and what may be said.
“Uighurs are seen by Beijing as an ethno-nationalist threat to the Chinese state,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “As Islam is perceived as underpinning Uighur ethnic identity, China has taken draconian steps to smother Islam as a means of subordinating Uighur nationalist sentiment.”
Documents obtained and interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China reveal a multi-tiered system of surveillance, control, and suppression of Uighur religious activity. As Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan has stressed, the “major task” facing the authorities in Xinjiang is to “manage religion and guide it in being subordinate to the central task of economic construction, the unification of the motherland, and the objective of national unity.”
China Bans Many Uighur Muslims From Ramadan Fast.
Some local governments and institutes have posted notices in China’s restive Xinjiang province banning students and civil servants from taking part in traditional fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Experts on the region say although the orders are not new, they run the risk of reinforcing recent tensions.
Muslims around the world, including Uighurs in Xinjiang, China, are observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which includes fasting from sunrise until sunset. But many in the restive region are banned from observing the fast – chiefly civil servants, teachers and students.
June Teufel Dreyer, a professor of political science at Miami University, said authorities usually couch the ban as a health issue.
“I am aware that it is actually nothing new. They have prohibited this before during Ramadan. And it is always presented as a health issue. That you shouldn’t deprive yourself of food. Students need to keep their energy up to study. And civil servants need to keep their energy up to do their jobs properly,” said Dreyer.
But, Dreyer said, given the recent violent attacks in Xinjiang, the ban has become more sensitive and has attracted more attention.
Oxford University’s Reza Hasmath, who has published several books on China’s ethnic minorities, said the ban does not help the current situation.
“There is heightened tensions in Xinjiang among the Uighurs. Particularly given the ethnic violence that has been occurring over the last year. So this only reinforces more antagonism if anything,” said Hasmath.
Alim Seytoff, president of the Uyghur-American Association and born in Xinjiang, also thinks the ban will cause Uighurs to become more dissatisfied. And, he said, it violates Beijing’s statements that it grants ethnic and religious minorities preferential treatment.
“In fact, it means China does not have any preferential policy. It actually opposes Uighurs’ religious belief, it is an anti-religion policy. So many Uighurs, including me, dislike this policy very much,” said Seytoff.
The conflict between Uighurs and the country’s dominant Han Chinese has lasted for years, but has recently escalated. In May, two cars – widely believed to have been driven by Uighurs – plowed through a crowded market in Urumqi, with those in the car tossing explosives as they went. At least 39 died and over 100 were injured in the attack.
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