China destroys thousands of mosques in Xinjiang

Almost half of mosques have reportedly been destroyed in the past three years in China’s Xinjiang province. According to a very detailed report released this Friday, September 25 by the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy (Aspi), a research center created by the Australian government, around 16,000 mosques have been destroyed or badly damaged in the past three years in this Autonomous Region. Uyghur from Xinjiang.

Nearly 10,000 mosques destroyed

The researchers explain that they relied on satellite photos and multiple « extrapolations » according to statistical models. After analyzing 533 mosques over the past three years, researchers have counted the destruction of nearly 10,000 mosques in a territory twice the size of France for 21 million inhabitants.

Some others have seen their domes and minarets removed, according to researchers, who estimate the number of mosques still standing in Xinjiang at 15,500. For months, photos smuggled out of Xinjiang have shown many mosques that have been completely bulldozed or partially destroyed.

More than a million people interned in “camps”

« This report is all rumor and slander “Reacted Saturday, September 26 during a press briefing in Beijing Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, denouncing” lack of credibility “Of the institute and” its funding from abroad “. This study was funded by the US State Department. ” Total number of mosques per Muslim capita in Xinjiang is higher than in many Muslim countries “, He specified.

Struck a few years ago by several bloody attacks attributed to members of the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group, this immense semi-desert territory but rich in natural resources, is the subject of a firm security grip in the name of the fight against terrorism.

→ EXPLANATION. Who are the Uyghurs?

More than a million people were interned there in “camps”, accuse journalists, researchers and human rights organizations. China says it is “Vocational training centers” intended to help the population find employment and thus move away from religious extremism. In 2014, however, leader Xi Jinping said that “ be merciless ” against the ” separatism “And use” all the means of dictatorship To end it.

China to continue its sinization program in Xinjiang

Another ASPI report released Thursday, September 24 had managed to estimate at nearly 380 “The number of suspected detention centers”. The researchers present these establishments, which have sometimes very different functions and sizes, as “Re-education camps”, “Detention centers” or even « prisons ».

The figure is an increase of about 40% from previous estimates and “At least 61 detention sites were the subject of new construction and expansion works between July 2019 and July 2020”, according to the study.

Despite these numerous studies and testimonies on political, cultural and religious repression, Chinese leader Xi Jinping concluded a two-day conference on Xinjiang in Beijing by assuring that “ policy is the right one “And that efforts will have to be stepped up to make the Uighurs good Chinese citizens” deep in their soul ».

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