Chinese city urges those 'poisoned by extremism' to surrender

Authorities in Xinjiang's Hami city say those who turn themselves in and confess to 'crimes' will be treated leniently.

    China is tightening security in the western region of Xinjiang and cracking down on Muslim Uighurs [Ng Han Guan/AP]
    China is tightening security in the western region of Xinjiang and cracking down on Muslim Uighurs [Ng Han Guan/AP]

    A city in China's far-western Xinjiang region has ordered people who are "poisoned by extremism, terrorism and separatism", in contact with overseas terror groups or behaving in a "conservative" Islamic manner, to turn themselves in.

    Those who surrender to authorities within 30 days and confess to their crimes will be treated leniently and might avoid punishment, Hami's official social media account said.

    Beijing has in recent months faced an outcry from activists, academics and foreign governments over mass arrests and strict surveillance of the Muslim Uighur and other ethnic minorities living in Xinjiang.

    China rejects the criticism saying it protects the religion and culture of minorities and the security measures are needed to combat the influence of "extremist" groups that incite violence in the region.

    "All individuals involved in terrorist crimes and poisoned by the 'three evil forces' are urged to surrender themselves to the judicial organs within 30 days and to confess and hand over the facts of your crime," said the Hami city notice.

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    The message said actions ranging from being in contact with overseas "terror" groups to conservative Islamic behaviour should prompt individuals to surrender themselves.

    Advocating that people live their lives in accordance with the Quran, stopping other people from watching television, or banning alcohol, smoking and dancing at weddings are listed as behaviours that should warrant informing the authorities.

    The list also included openly destroying, rejecting or thwarting the government identification system, as well as rejecting housing provided by the state.

    Those who turn themselves in within 30 days will be treated leniently. And if the information provides a significant clue, they might avoid all punishments, the notice said.

    In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that one million or more Uighurs and other minorities are being held in what resembled a "massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy" in Xinjiang.

    China says it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education.

    Aside from the mass arrests, rights groups also say the Chinese government has significantly raised limitations on everyday religious observances in the region.

    Last month, the capital Urumqi launched a campaign against halal products, such as food and toothpaste, which are produced according to Islamic law, to prevent what it sees as the incursion of Islam into secular life.

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    SOURCE: Reuters news agency