Woman detained in Xinjiang for ‘religious extremism’

Beijing, China: An elderly Uyghur woman is confirmed to be detained by the China’s authorities in Xinjiang region. The woman was on suspicions of ‘religious extremism’ after she intervened in a domestic dispute between her neighbours.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a police officer in the prefecture-level city of Turpan said that a village elder named Zaytunhan Ismail had recently been arrested.
“I believe it was around January … it’s been quite a while now,” the officer from Turpan’s Chatqal township said of the 67-year-old Ismail.
According to the official, Ismail was arrested for her involvement in an incident a year ago, where someone’s husband ‘came back home drunk’ and the couple ‘exchanged some words’.
“His wife was pregnant, apparently, and she told him not to [fight with her] while she was carrying the baby. The man who’d come home drunk had been cursing [at his wife]. She told him he shouldn’t do that,” the officer confirmed.
The official also said that Ismail has been playing a leading role for years in weddings and funerals and received encouragement and recognition from the local village committee, which saw her as having contributed to social stability in the community, reported RFA.
However, her intervention in that argument was deemed inappropriate by the village committee, which had been sent to break up the fight and she was taken into custody for ‘getting involved in a legal matter’ and then accused of ‘religious extremism’.
Ismail is also an experienced corpse-washer and had previously been commended by local authorities for her work preparing the bodies of Muslims in the community for burial, and “had knowledge of religion”, said the official.
RFA reported that in 2017, authorities in Kashgar sentenced a 67-year-old Uyghur Muslim to 10 years in prison for “religious extremism,” more than a decade after he scolded his son for breaking Islamic custom by drinking alcohol in the lead up to his wedding day.
Almost two million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang since 2017.
After years of denying the existence of the internment camps in Beijing, China in 2019 described the facilities as residential training centres that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalisation and help protect the country from terrorism.
However, several media reports and former detainees have said that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often-overcrowded facilities.
Former detainees have also described being subjected to torture, rape, sterilization, and other abuses while in custody.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, with a handful of countries, the latest being Lithuania, terming the human rights abuses on the ethnic minorities as ‘genocide’.