China embeds cadres in Uyghur homes during Ramadan

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region are doubling down on a bid to prevent Muslim Uyghurs from fasting and praying during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan by embedding Chinese officials in their homes, according to official sources. While authorities in Xinjiang have typically forced restaurants to stay open and restricted access to mosques during Ramadan to discourage traditional observation of the holy month, officials in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture said the local government is taking more drastic steps this year and assigning ruling Chinese Communist Party cadres to each Uyghur family for monitoring purposes.
“Inspections are conducted during iftar [a meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan] when houses with lights on are checked—that is how we carry out patrols and inspections,” a police officer in Hotan city told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity. Designated cadres visit the home of each family every day, he added, and every ten cadres report to a higher level official. “Furthermore, we had a special arrangement … this year called the ‘Together in Five Things’ campaign, [through which cadres and Uyghur families] worked together, dined together, and stayed in the same home together,” the officer said, without specifying the other two “things” that rounded out the initiative. “It’s all about keeping close to the people. During this period, they [officials] will get to know the lives of the people, assist in their daily activities—such as farming—and propagate laws and regulations, party and government ethnic and religious policies, and so on,” he said. “They stay at farmers’ homes to inquire after their ideological views.” According to the officer, the campaign in Hotan city began on May 25 and lasted until June 3.
A farmer in Hotan’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county, who also asked to remain unnamed, told RFA that cadres had also been embedded in his village since the day before Ramadan began. “We have cadres from different government organs, including from [the Xinjiang capital] Urumqi, and other places,” he said. “They will be here for [up to] 15 days and have been constantly telling us not to fast. It is impossible for us to fast or pray.” And an official in Hotan who asked that the name of his village be withheld said that the “Together in Five Things” campaign was also underway in his area, while speaking with RFA by telephone. “The cadres are staying in the farmers’ homes right now—one cadre in every home,” he said. “First, they will make sure there is no [unsanctioned] religious practice [in the home]. Second, they will observe [the families]. But I don’t know any other details.” Additionally, sources said, authorities are forcing Uyghur cadres, civil servants and government retirees who draw a pension to sign a document pledging that they will neither fast nor pray during Ramadan, ostensibly to set an example to other Uyghurs in the community.

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