Chinese authorities have demolished thousands of mosques in Xinjiang, an Australian think tank said Friday, in the latest report of widespread human rights abuses in the restive region.
Rights groups say more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people have been incarcerated in camps across the northwestern territory, with residents pressured to give up traditional and religious activities.
About 16,000 mosques had been destroyed or damaged, according to an Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report. The report is based on satellite imagery documenting hundreds of sacred sites and statistical modeling.
The ASPI report said: “Alongside other coercive efforts to re-engineer Uighur social and cultural life by transforming or eliminating Uighurs’ language, music, homes and even diets, the Chinese government’s policies are actively erasing and altering key elements of their tangible cultural heritage.”
Media reports suggest that most of the destruction had taken place in the last three years. According to the international media reports, the Muslims have saved some mosques from demolition by removing their domes and minarets.
Beijing has been facing consistent accusations of mass human rights abuses in Xinjiang. There are reports that the Communist regime has put more than a million Uighurs and Turkic Muslims in detention camps. China has been facing serious allegations such as accusations of abuse, forced labour, forced sterilisation of women, mass surveillance and restrictions on religious and cultural beliefs, which are collectively labeled as cultural genocide by observers.