Xinjiang officials, religious scholar reject accusations of oppression, forced labor

BEIJING, Dec 21 (APP):China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region’s officials and religious scholar on Monday strongly refuted claims of forced labour and oppression and said that all the ethnic groups including Uygur enjoy complete equal legal and religious rights.

“People in Xinjiang are just like everyone else in China’s other regions, enjoying the same rights and protected by the law,” Elijan Anayat, spokesman, Information Office of People’s Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at a press conference held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

He was flanked by Xu Guixiang, Deputy Director General, CPC Publicity Department of Xinjiang, Obulhasan Tursunniaz, Khatib of Jama Mosque in Hotan city, Ablajan Ablat, Former Trainee, Vocational Educational and Training Center, Aksu Prefecture, Tursunnisa Ali, Former trainee, Vocational Educational and Training Center, Hotan Prefecture, Shirali Mamtmin, worker, Hotan Prefecture and Pazaliya Tursun, Worker, Aksu Prefecture.

Elijan Anayat informed that 70 percent of the region’s public expenditure is spent on improving the livelihood of local people, from employment and education to medical care.
He explained that by 2020, at least one person in every household in Xinjiang has a job. And for those who hunted for jobs outside of the region, they earned an average of 40,000 yuan annually by the latest count.

He said that all the students of vocational educational and training centers have graduated and most of them have started their own businesses or got jobs.

Obulhasan Tursunniyaz, Khatib at Jamah Mosque in Xinjiang’s Hotan Prefecture said that security cameras were installed in the mosques to protect religious people and prevent terrorist activities.

He refuted the accusation that security cameras are used to monitor Muslims and cited a terrorist attack that occurred in Kashgar in 2014, where Juma Tahir, vice president of the Islamic Association of China and the imam of the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, was stabbed to death by three young male extremists. During the investigation, cameras helped police find the culprits.

He said some people allege the cameras are installed for other reasons. It is nonsense and slandering and and effort to incite tension between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Obulhasan said that in the past years, all religious activities have been conducted normally in the region and out of individuals’ own volition. Even amid the pandemic, with tough COVID-19 preventive measures, activities have continued safely.

Former trainees Ablajan Ablat and Tursunnisa Ali also shared their experience and said they got knowledge of language, basic law and training of different skills during their stay in the educational and vocational training centers.

Two workers, Shirali Mamtmin and Pazaliya said that they are working in clothing factories at their own will and nobody forced them.

They are spending a happy live as they are paid good salaries in accordance with the term and conditions of their contract with the employers.

Xu Guixiang, deputy general of the Publicity Department of Xinjiang, said that through the briefing, they hope to depict a real picture of Xinjiang, a region that has been free of terrorist attacks for four years, sustained a GDP growth of 7.2 percent, and lifted all in the region out of poverty by December.