ICC Note: This tragic incident is not entirely unexpected in this region of China. The Chinese government has been trying very hard to suppress the observance of Ramadan among ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and local Muslims have said that similar government suppression of Ramadan activities in other parts of the world would have unleashed similar violence.
By Shohret Hoshur
06/23/2015 China (Radio Free Asia)
At least 18 people are dead following a knife and bomb attack by a group of ethnic Uyghurs on a police traffic checkpoint in northwestern China’s troubled Xinjiang region, sources said Tuesday, amid harsh restrictions on observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
One source said the incident, which occurred Monday in the Tahtakoruk district of southwestern Xinjiang’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city, left as many as 28 people dead, several of whom were bystanders.
The attack comes a week after millions of Uyghurs began observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan under increasing official pressure not to fast.
Uyghur officials and other state employees like teachers have been banned from fasting, and it is against the law for children under 18 to take part in religious activities.
Restaurants in the region are typically required to stay open all day, even if the owners are Muslim, and Uyghur children and young people are often required to attend free lunches in the region’s schools and universities to avoid the dawn-to-dusk fast traditionally observed during Ramadan.
Turkic-speaking minority Uyghurs have complained about pervasive ethnic discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression by Chinese authorities.
Last October, authorities tightened rules forbidding anyone under the age of 18 from following a religion, targeting families whose children studied the Quran or fasted during Ramadan with hefty fines.
Authorities in the Hotan, Kashgar, and Aksu prefectures of Xinjiang have forced Uyghur parents to sign pledges promising not to allow their children to participate in religious activities, the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress exile group has said.