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The government should halt the persecution of Uighurs for
exercising their right to practice their own religion and their right to hold
their own religious beliefs. We recommend:
- Senior government and Party officials should explicitly
affirm that the independent practice of religion, peaceful dissent, and
advocacy for Uighur autonomy do not constitute criminal acts.
- Religion in Xinjiang, and the practice of Islam in
particular, should not be subject to government interference or approval,
save for those legal regulations necessary in a democratic society to
protect national security, public security, health, order, and morals. In
particular, the recruitment and training of clergy, the conduct of and
attendance at religious services, the establishment and management of
places of worship, the celebration of religious events and holidays, the
writing and publication of religious material, and the provision of all
levels of religious education, should be presumptively lawful and without
need of prior approval.
- The right of children and young adults to worship, obtain
religious education, and express their religion, including through dress,
should be respected. The right of parents and legal guardians to provide
religious education to their children likewise should be respected.
Thorough legal reform is an urgent requirement if China is to fulfill its obligations to respect freedom of religion, association,
expression, and assembly; the right of minorities to their own culture; the
right of parents to educate their children; and the right of all to liberty and freedom against its arbitrary deprivation. To this end, we recommend that Chinese
- Repealthe Xinjiang Provisional Regulations
on Religion and bring national regulations on religion and freedom of
association into conformity with international law and standards.
- Amend guidelines for religious freedom, such as the 2000
Manual, to conform with Chinas obligations under international law.
Guidelines such as those found in the Manual are problematic because they
go far beyond what the regulations require, reflect the primacy of
political criteria over law, and do not take into account international
- Publicly disclose all laws and regulations applicable to
religious practice in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region.
- Ensure that peaceful religious observance and practice is
neither equated with nor incurs liability for state security offenses.
- Amend article 36 of the constitution to explicitly protect
the right to manifest ones religious beliefs without state interference.
The unjustified detention, maltreatment, and torture of
Uighur religious prisoners should halt immediately, and all those imprisoned
for their peaceful religious practices or religious beliefs should be freed. To
this end, we recommend:
person be imprisoned for the practice or expression of his or her own religious
person be imprisoned or remanded to reeducation through labor without fair
trial guarantees, including a public hearing, the right to be represented or
advised by counsel of choice, the right to present a defense and to invoke and
rely upon constitutional and human rights, the right to a presumption of
innocence, and the right to appeal to a judicial authority.
labor camps, lock-ups and all other places of detention should be open to
inspection; mechanisms to detect and investigate allegations of maltreatment
and torture should be put in place; the use of evidence obtained by torture
should be strictly outlawed; and the punishment of those who torture or
maltreat detainees assured.
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
Religion or Belief, and the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention should be
invited to visit Xinjiang and, in accordance with their working methods,
observe conditions and make recommendations for reform.
government should make publicly available information on all persons in
Xinjiang detained or imprisoned for offenses related to religion in Xinjiang,
including individuals brought before the courts and the reeducation through
China has sought to justify its crackdown on any
manifestation of an autonomous Uighur identity as necessary to suppress terrorism.
The international community should challenge the legitimacy of this claim and
make it clear that the burden is on China to prove this link in each case. The
international community should make it clear to China that its overbroad and
repressive policies in Xinjiang deepen local resentment and risk further
destabilizing the region, and that such policies harm the credibility and
conduct of global anti-terrorism efforts.
- Countries that conduct intelligence and criminal
cooperation with China should insist that any cooperation be contingent on
respect for human rights guarantees, and should urge China to distinguish
between conduct that is genuinely criminal and peaceful dissent, such as
expressions favoring Uighur autonomy and independent manifestations of
- Uighurs who flee China and request asylum should be
offered protection from return to China pending resolution of their claims
to asylum, and such claims should be processed and decided in accordance
with international standards.
- No country should cooperate in the return to China of
Uighurs accused of crimes, including terrorism, until the proper treatment
of returnees can be independently monitored and their rights to a fair
trial assured. Chinas practice of systemic torture of state security
detainees and the particularly high rates of executions in Xinjiang make
such returns unsafe and likely to violate the Convention Against Torture
and the U.N. Refugee Convention.
- Countries that engage in counter-terrorism strategies,
consultations, and educational programs with China should pay special
attention to policies in Xinjiang with a view toward assisting China in developing policies that are respectful of human rights.
Just as China has become increasingly integrated into the
world economy, it now needs to become fully integrated into the international
system of human rights promotion and protection, particularly via the United
Nations. The United Nations and other international mechanisms and
international organizations should pay special attention to repressive policies
in Xinjiang and the plight of Uighurs as an important deviation from Chinas international obligations.
- The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture should request that
Xinjiang be on the itinerary of his projected visit to China so he might examine the treatment of those accused of religious or security offenses and
advise on the implementation of mechanisms to ensure that human rights
obligations are fully protected in counter-terrorism strategies.
- The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights should request
China to report on measures it has taken to implement the 1994
recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom with
respect to Xinjiang as well as other parts of China.
- The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention should write
to the Chinese government raising concerns about those arrested and
detained for religious practice, including those held in reeducation
through labor camps, and should request an invitation to conduct a mission
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should
urge China to embark on reform of religious policy in Xinjiang to remove
conditions that facilitate the persecution, and hence the flight, of
- In advance of the Committee on the Rights of the Childs
September 2005 review of Chinas state party report to the Committee on
the steps it has taken to give effect to the rights in the Convention on
the Rights of the Child, the Committee should ask China what it has done
to protect the right of children in Xinjiang to manifest their religion
and receive religious education.
- The Counter-terrorism Committee of the United Nations
should call on China to abide by its obligations under international human
rights standards when pursuing counter-terrorism strategies, and should
assist China in establishing a long-term plan for doing so.
- As part of working agreements with Xinjiang authorities,
require independent monitoring of discrimination against Uighurs and other
ethnic minority groups in access to assistance and services.
- Require consultation with independent NGOs on policies and
regulations that affect Uighur and other ethnic communities.
- Support the development of independent NGOs run by Uighurs
and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Advocate for the reform of national,
provincial, and local laws and regulations on religion to ensure that:
i. individuals and groups are free
to practice their religion without having to register;
ii. freedom of religion is not limited by national security clauses;
iii. governmental discretion in application of religious regulations is
constrained by criteria that accord with international standards, clear
definitions, transparent processes, and procedural protections including
opportunities for affected parties to challenge alleged abuses of discretion;
iv. no Chinese official intervenes in internal religious affairs through
substantive review of ecclesiastical structures, religious appointments, or
- Advocate for the rights to freedom of expression,
assembly, and association for Uighurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
- As part of any health or humanitarian program in
Xinjiangs prisons and detention facilities, monitor conditions and
reports of abuse and raise any concerns with Chinese authorities.
- In all humanitarian programs, distribute in Chinese,
Uighur, and other local languages translations of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, and other international human rights documents.
- Support technical assistance programs to assist the
Chinese government in creating legal clinics serving Uighurs and other
Xinjiang ethnic groups.