Uyghur imams targeted in China’s Xinjiang crackdown
New research compiled by the Uyghur Human Rights Project revealed China has imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim reliigous figures since 2014. China would detain the clerics facing broad charges of “propagating extremism, gathering a crowd to disturb social order and inciting separatism” in the crackdown in the Xinjiang region. Many of the actual crimes were preaching, praying or acting as an imam.
The UHRP tracked 1,046 Muslim clerics using court documents, testimony and media reports. In many cases of detainment, corroborating evidence was not available due to China’s control of information. In 630 cases, at least 304 clerics were sent to prison instead of the “re-education” camps associated with China’s mass detention of the Uyghurs. 96% of the sentences were for at least five years, 26% twenty years and 14 life sentences. The research only represented a fraction of the total number of estimated imams in Xinjiang, but shows the targeting of religious figures in Xinjiang.