Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News - 2013-06-20
The blessed and holy month of Ramadaan is just around the corner. As Muslims wait in anticipation of this month, spare a thought for Uighur students in northwestern China who are banned from fasting during the holy month of Ramadaan.
Chinese authorities have reportedly imposed restrictions on Uighur Muslim students returning for summer vacations in the northwestern region of Xinjiang ahead of Ramadaan. Under the restrictions, Uighur students under 18 are banned from fasting during Ramadan or taking part in religious activities. Students defying the restrictions are being reported to authorities for punishment.
Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based spokesman for the exile World Uighur Congress (WUC), told Radio Free Asia, “"They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won't fast on Ramadan”
“They have also made groups of 10 households responsible for spying on each other, so that if a single child from one family fasts for Ramadan, or takes part in religious activities, then all 10 families will be fined,” Raxit said. "It's called a 10-household guarantee system.”
Religious officials have confirmed that Ramadaan fasting is banned for Uighur Muslim students. "[Fasting] is not allowed," an official at a religious affairs bureau in Hotan's Yutian County told Radio Free Asia. "The students and the teachers have to report to their schools every Friday, even during the vacation. “It’s like regular lessons," he said, adding that the students would also be eating there.
The pre-Ramadaan restrictions come ahead of the fourth anniversary of deadly riots in Xinjiang, which left nearly 200 people dead. Chinese authorities have convicted about 200 people, mostly Uighurs, over the riots and sentenced 26 of them to death.
Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities. The country is very extreme when dealing with its Muslim problem. When the Uighur separatists threatened to disrupt the Beijing Olympics, China shut down their masjids for several months prior to the Games. Muslims are also required to have State-approved imams in all masjids.
The Chinese government enforces a ban on fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan, often force-feeding people if they refuse to eat.