TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — State oppression is surging in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, while religious monuments and sanctuaries are being demolished elsewhere in the country. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now, however, employing “softer” measures to increase pressure on the country’s Muslim population, according to Bitter Winter magazine.
Bitter Winter on Thursday reported that two mosques were recently “merged” in Huangniwan village (黃泥灣鄉), Gansu Province, while a building that housed one of the congregations was repurposed into a shoe-making factory.
A group of ten imams were escorted to Xinjiang to view merged mosques in the region, the report stated, but would not disclose details of the trip upon their return, leading local worshippers to suspect they had been shown how violently dissent is quashed in Xinjiang. The imams stopped joining other congregants to protest.
An anonymous worshipper told Bitter Winter that locals were given little choice over the merger, and said they had been subject to ideological conditioning over three months to persuade them against resisting.
Reporters for the magazine visited Huangniwan village and discovered signs indicating a former mosque had been turned into a shoe-making facility, while religious symbols that previously adorned the structure had been erased, and its Islamic-style red gate replaced with iron doors.
Huangniwan village is in China’s central Gansu Province, which hosts a significant Hui Muslim population. The Hui people are regularly targeted by the CCP in “Sinicization” campaigns which include the destruction of mosques in both Gansui and the neighboring Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Meanwhile in Xinjiang, recent reports have indicated detainees are forced into labor at factories that pay “employees” far less than the legal minimum wage. The factories are reportedly contracted to produce garments sold internationally.