Chinese authorities are utilizing a network of spies, often referred to as “ears,” comprising ordinary citizens, police personnel, and members of neighborhood committees to ensure that Uyghur Muslims do not observe fasting during the sacred month of Ramadan in Xinjiang. This restriction was initiated in 2017 as part of a broader effort to suppress Uyghur culture, language, and religion, including the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in “re-education” camps.
While there was some relaxation in the fasting ban in 2021 and 2022, with allowances for those over 65 to fast and reduced police activities, this year the government has extended the prohibition to all, irrespective of age, gender, or profession.
During the initial week of Ramadan, authorities summoned 56 Uyghur residents and former detainees for interrogation, determining that 54 of them had violated the fasting ban. However, details about the penalties for these violations remain undisclosed.
Local police stations in Turpan have enlisted two to three spies from each village to monitor residents who have previously been interrogated or detained for fasting during Ramadan, as well as those who have been released from detention. These “ears” are drawn from different sources, including ordinary residents, police officers, and neighborhood committees. Language barriers have led to the recruitment of Uyghurs to spy on their fellow Uyghurs.
Furthermore, even Uyghur police officers have not been exempt from this scrutiny, as they have been observed to ensure they are not fasting during Ramadan. Spies within the police force report their findings at weekly political meetings.
This year’s enforcement also includes home searches, street patrols, and mosque searches. Uyghur Muslim families are questioned during patrols to ascertain if they are eating before dawn or congregating for a meal after sunset, both of which are considered violations of the law by Chinese authorities. Violators can face legal education for minor offenses and jail sentences for severe ones.
ranslated by RFA Uyghur. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.
This article is based on information from RADIO FREE ASIA