A new wave of arrests is rolling against the Moslem Uighurs in the north-west of China according to information received by the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV). Family liability is the order of the day and even children are being arrested. "About 150 children have been held for days in the Ba Jia Hu prison in the capital of the Autonomous region of Xinjiang because they took part in instruction on Islam”, reported the GfbV Asia expert, Ulrich Delius, on Wednesday in Göttingen. More than 1000 Uighurs have been arrested since the beginning of the Olympic Games in the towns of Kashi (in Uighur: Kashgar) and Kuga (in Uighur: Kucha). Uighurs had carried out three attacks in August, in which 29 peoples were killed, among them twelve attackers. The GfbV had warned of a new wave of violence in Xinjiang and of an increase in the persecution of Uighurs.
The 150 children being held aged between eight and 14 years are according to information received by the GfbV threatened with a penalty for "illegal religious activities”. They had been sent by their parents in settlement areas of the Moslem minority of the Hui to neighbouring provinces to attend Koran schools.
This is current practice among the Uighurs since Islam instruction in Xinjiang /East Turkestan is forbidden by the Chinese authorities. Only ten of the 160 children originally in custody have been freed because their parents were able to produce the sum of more than 2000 euros for their release.
The wave of arrests strikes particularly hard the relatives of the Uighurs involved in the attacks. It was not only the parents, two brothers and two sisters of Ehmetjan Tohti, killed in the attack in Kucha on 10th August, who were arrested. Also in custody now are the 30 employees of the supermarket run by his elder sister. Only his younger sister has so far been released. The ten-month baby of the 24-year old and his wife, who was also involved in the attack and killed, has been taken away by the police. Information as to the whereabouts of the child has been refused.
Several internment centres have been set up around the town of Kucha (400,000 inhabitants), to which those arrested have been brought, say eye-witnesses. The freedom of movement of the Uighur inhabitants has been severely restricted since the attacks. Anyone wanting to leave the town has to pass five or six road-blocks. Police control all visitors to the mosque. The Imam Adil Qarim was arrested and sentenced last week to life-long imprisonment because one of the attackers came to pray in his mosque.