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War against terrorism’ no justification for restrictions on religious freedoms by Chinese authorities

8 May 2002

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) today expressed concern that governments may use the ‘war against terrorism’ to justify violations of rights and fundamental freedoms. In an intervention at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) (1), MRG raised questions about the Chinese authorities’ treatment of Muslims in the contested territory of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

According to a recent MRG Report, Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang have seen mosques closed and Islamic books and publications vetted. They have faced execution and imprisonment as the authorities have linked separatist movements with ‘unlawful religious activities’. Following the events of 11 September 2001 and the aftermath, the clampdown has intensified, with an increase in detentions of Muslims and restrictions on religious activity. Authorities now claim links between Muslims in Xinjiang and ‘international terrorism’.

At the UNCHR, MRG called on the international community to ensure that the ‘war against terrorism’ cannot become the Chinese authorities’ excuse for human rights violations and restrictions on religious freedoms. MRG urged China to allow religious organizations to function freely, and to recognize the right to freedom of religion and association. It encouraged the international community to deploy full diplomatic efforts to aid China in this respect.

For further information, contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].


(1) Intervention at Item 11 (e): Religious Intolerance. For the full text of this MRG intervention see International Statements page.