URUMQI – Uighur Muslim students in a Kashgar prefecture college are facing the threat of being expelled if they observed the fasting month of Ramadan as officials in Xinjiang pushed for a larger ban on the fasting of the holy month.
“Our college administration strictly forbids fasting and other Ramadan practices by Uyghur students,” a Uighur student told Radio Free Asia (RFA) Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity, fearing punishment for talking to the foreign media.
“It is clear to us that those who refuse to eat will be warned of expulsion from the college or be deprived of their diplomas,” he said.
Every year, Chinese authorities have repeatedly imposed restrictions on Uighur Muslim in the northwestern region of Xinjiang every Ramadan.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, falls this year between Sunday, June 29, and July 28.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Under the restrictions, all Muslim state employees were forced not to observe the fasting month of Ramadan.
Moreover, Kashgar Normal College in Xinjiang has imposed a ban on the fasting of the holy month of Ramadan among Muslim students and teachers.
Order all the restaurants near campus to close in order to prevent Muslims from breaking their fast at sunset, the college administration has also been distributing free lunch meals and bottles of water.
“Those who refuse are blacklisted and their names forwarded to the ruling Chinese Communist Party chiefs at the various faculties,” the student said.
Take the risk
Despite the expulsion threat, some Muslim students take the risk and fast.
“Although there are strict rules and their activities are closely monitored, some of the Uyghur students continue to secretly fast,” the Uighur student told RFA.
“They leave classes early and bring back food from the college to break their fast at their dormitories.
Some are caught as the college administration staff often check the bags of the students at the exit, he said.
“If the college authorities find any meals in their bags, the students are forced to consume them on the spot,” he said.
Students who wake up early to have their pre-fast meal and recite prayers at their dormitories are also penalized.
“If the students turn on the lights to prepare their pre-fast meals, the college guards will promptly blacklist them,” the student said.
The college has set up video cameras at dormitories and at the corridors of the college to monitor the activities of students,” he said.
“They control all of our activities and private life,” he said.
“Our college is not an academic institution but a political camp. If a student hopes to stay in this camp through the duration of the course, he or she must obey the rules and just remain silent.”
Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.
Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims in the name of counter terrorism.
Muslims accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.
Analysts say the policy of transferring Han Chinese to Xinjiang to consolidate Beijing's authority has increased the proportion of Han in the region from five percent in the 1940s to more than 40 percent now.
Beijing views the vast region of Xinjiang as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.
Related Links:Chinese Hospital Bans Ramadan Fasting
China Stifles Uighur Muslims on Religion
Uighurs Chafe Under Religious Restrictions
Silencing Uighur Muslims
Violence Welcomes China Ramadan