Nearly 400 people in China’s volatile Xinjiang region, home to Uygur Muslims, have been punished for allegedly spreading jehad and rumours online, officials said on October 9 as the country stepped up efforts to curb militancy.
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has punished 256 people for spreading online rumours that jeopardised social stability, state-run Global Times reported on October 9. Another 139 people were arrested for “spreading religious extremism, including jehad”, China Daily reported.
Several people received admonitions, while 16 were put under criminal custody, Hou Hanmin, deputy director of the publicity department under the region’s Communist Party, said. Police in Xinjiang have handled an “increasing number of cases in which individuals have posted or searched for religious extremist content on the Internet during the past three years”.
Some even plot “terrorist attacks online” and later put their plans into action, the source said, without giving the exact number. China is battling Islamist militancy in Xinjiang where officials say the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an Al-Qaeda affiliated group, has become active after riots between Uygurs and Han Chinese settlers in the last few years. Uygurs protests growing settlements of Hans in the resource rich western province.
As the US troops set to leave Afghanistan next year, China is more concerned about its likely fallout as Xinjiang shares borders with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Afghanistan. Officials say most people involved in the acts of extremism are not well educated and some of them are unemployed, and spread extreme religious ideas gaining thousands of followers, Fan Guanghui, an official with the region’s public security department said.
A farmer in Hotan was detained after he uploaded 2GB of e-books about secessionism which were read 30,000 times, the Global Times said. Local police in Kashghar, which borders PoK, said overseas hostile forces have never stopped infiltrating and inciting residents to take up extreme religious ideas through the Internet and that the online spreading has become a great threat to ethnic unity and social stability.
In Kashi, teenagers make up the majority of Internet users and have a greater chance of being exposed to extreme religious ideas, local police told Global Times. Since July, a high school student in Kashi had uploaded a large number of audio and video files about extreme religious ideas and terrorism, which have been reviewed 5,100 times, it said.
“Online rumours and extreme religious ideas in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods can easily cause social conflicts and distort the real religions,” Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China, said. China’s state-run media earlier reported that Uygurs have fought in Syria’s civil war alongside rebels.
In June, Xinjiang witnessed one of the deadliest clashes since 2009 when riots broke out between Uygurs and China’s ethnic majority Han that left 200 people dead. Nearly 46 per cent of Xinjiang’s population is Uygur and 39 per cent Han, according to official statistics, but the latter largely dominate the economy.
Chinese police fire at Tibetan protesters
Beijing: A US-backed broadcaster has reported that Chinese security forces fired into a crowd of Tibetan residents who were demanding the release of a fellow villager detained for protesting orders to display the national flag. Chinese police also fired tear gas at those protesting in Biru county in the Tibet Autonomous Region in which dozens were injured, Radio Free Asia said in its report on October 8.
The report, which cited unnamed local and exiled Tibetan sources, could not be independently confirmed. Local Communist Party and government officials either could not be reached by phone or hung up shortly after answering.
The International Campaign for Tibet earlier reported that authorities had intensified the security presence in Biru county and nearby areas after residents refused orders to display Chinese flags to commemorate National Day on October 1. The ICT, a Tibetan rights group said, government work teams had been sent to Biru, known as Driru in Tibetan, ahead of the national holiday to compel local Tibetan residents to fly the flag as part of an intensified effort to enforce loyalty to the Communist Party.
In recent unrest, protesters were calling for the release of a local resident, Dorje Draktsel, who was detained last week after participating in demonstrations against the flag order, the Radio Free Asia report said.
The self-proclaimed Tibetan Government-in-exile based in India said it has received reports of the firing in Driru but had few details to provide. Spokesman Tashi Phuntsok said by phone that the exiled Tibetans had heard that some protesters were injured but did not know how many.
China has claimed Tibet was a part of its territory for centuries while Tibetans say they were largely independent prior to the occupation by communist troops in 1950.
Many Tibetans say Beijing’s economic policies in the Himalayan region have largely benefited only Chinese migrants and that they resent strict limits on Buddhism and Tibetan culture that the government imposes. China says it has made vast investments to boost the region’s economy and improve the quality of life for Tibetans.
Meanwhile, in the northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang, an official Chinese newspaper said authorities have detained more than 100 people from late June to the end of August for the spread of “religious extremism.”
Xinjiang sees periodic outbreaks of anti-government and anti-Chinese violence, some of it inspired by resentment over economic marginalisation by ethnic Han migrants who have flooded into the region in recent decades, along with restrictions on Uighurs social and cultural life.
8 Hindu idols vandalised in Natore, Bangladesh
Miscreants vandalised eight newly-made idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Natore Sadar upazila early October 4. A gang broke into the Sarbojanin puja mandap at Chandrakala village between 2:00am and 4:00am and disfigured the idols including those of Hindu Goddesses “Durga” and “Lakshmi”; and Gods “Ganesh” and “Kartik”, said Aslam Hossain, officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station quoting Jagadish Chandra Karmaker, president of the temple committee.
The committee members stayed at the temple until 2:00am, reported our correspondent in Natore quoting the police official. Describing the incident police said Narayan Chandra Karmaker, general secretary of the committee, came to the temple around 4:00am and found the deities are damaged badly. Narayan later informed the locals about the incident and also called the law enforcers.
Police are trying to arrest the criminals involved in vandalising the statues, the OC said. A three-member committee has been formed to investigate the incident. Shakhawat Hossain, additional deputy commissioner (ADC Revenue) will head the probe. A general diary was filed at the Kotwali Police Station in connection with the incident. Earlier on September 29, eight idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses were vandalised in Bogra and Munshiganj districts.
Muslim fanatics dig up Hindu grave, took out the dead body & dragged it through the streets in Sindh
Islamabad: A crowd of Islamic fanatics dug up the grave of a Hindu man in Pakistan in the latest sign of growing religious tension in the increasingly unstable province of Sindh. Shouting “Allahu Akbar” the fanatics dug out the body and dragged it through the streets of the southern town of Pangrio.
The Hindu man, Bhoro Bheel, 30, had died in a road accident and was buried on Saturday, in line with caste tradition. The subsequent desecration sparked demonstrations and forced police to step up street patrols. “Even our dead are not safe anymore in their graves,” Narayan Das Bheel, a member of the Hindu community told Reuters.
“Tensions are still running high, but we are in control of the situation,” district police chief Shaukat Ali Khatian said. The incident was caused by some clerics of the extremist outfit of Ahle Sunaat Wal Jamaat, but later other Muslims joined in and dug up the body and threw it away.” Hindus and Muslims shared graveyards in Sindh for centuries, but tension has been on the rise recently as extremists make increasingly aggressive inroads into the rural parts of the province. Sindh is home to most of Pakistan’s small Hindu community, which numbers about 2 million among a population of roughly 180 million.