In just three years, Chinese authorities have destroyed or destroyed thousands of mosques in the Muslim-majority northwestern province of Xinjiang. The picture emerges from a new Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) study on Chinese oppression of minorities. ASPI released the report on Friday (25 September) based on satellite imagery and field level reports. Chinese authorities claim that there are 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, but the Australian think tank says there are currently fewer than 15,000 mosques in the area. More than half of which have been damaged in various ways. This information came from the report of the British Media Guardian.
Most of the Uygars living in China’s northwestern province Xinjiang are Turkish Muslims. The international media is often reporting on Chinese oppression of this minority population. Human rights groups say more than one million Uigars are being held in hundreds of detention centers in Xinjiang. The Chinese authorities have also been accused of pressuring the Uygars to give up religious practices and customs. However, Beijing has denied the allegations.
The ASPI report states that two-thirds of the mosques in the area were damaged by Chinese authorities. In addition, about half of the protected cultural sites have been damaged or destroyed. Oradam Tirtha, considered one of the pilgrimage sites since the tenth century, has been completely destroyed.
The report says that since 2016, about 30 percent of mosques have been destroyed. In addition, another 30 percent of mosques have been damaged in one way or another. This includes the destruction of architectural monuments such as minarets or domes. Most of the destroyed mosques have been left vacant. The report also said that some places have been converted into roads, car parks or agricultural farms.
ASPI says that Muslim worship sites have now reached their lowest level since the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1990s. Although the mosque was destroyed, a Christian church and a Buddhist temple in Xinjiang remain intact, the organization said.
The Australian agency’s report further noted that apart from various attempts to change the social and cultural life of the Uygars, Chinese authorities are forcing them to change their language, music, home and even eating habits. . The report claimed that Chinese government policy is trying to erase or replace key elements of their rich cultural heritage.