Last month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it will invite Beijing-based European Union diplomats to visit East Turkistan to investigate allegations of human rights violations against Uighur and other Turkic Muslims. However, the European Union rejected the invitation citing “such a visit requires careful preparation in order to be meaningful” and said that “it is open to a future visit, taking into account our expectations.”
This week, Uighur Times has confirmed through credible sources that in preparation for the possible visit of an EU delegation, the Chinese authorities in occupied East Turkistan implemented several measures in order to deceive the investigators.
Among the measures, a few mosques(that survived the ‘mosque demolishing campaign’ since 2016) have been locked down over the last two years were re-opened(just for show) before the arrival of the EU delegation and people were asked to attend mosques at regular prayer times and were threatened to being sent to “re-education” centers if they refuse. However, since the beginning of the “Strike Hard” campaign in 2016, attending mosque has been deemed a sign of “extremism” and people who attend mosques have been sent to concentration camps. As a result, mosques became empty even during regular prayer hours. In addition, Uighur activists recently revealed that many mosques have been either demolished or converted into bars, etc. By one estimate about 90% of the mosques have been destroyed since 2016. The majority of the mosques in the villages and towns are gone. Only a few in the major cities in East Turkistan have survived. Even among those major mosques that survived are either locked down/banned or under heavy surveillance so that no one dares to step inside to pray. Very recently, Canadian student Shawn Zhang discovered through satellite images that the Chinese government destroyed a number of major historical mosques in several cities including the 800-year-old ancient Keriya Id Kah Mosque and another 500-year-old mosque in Kargilik county, Kashghar.
In Urumchi (the capital city of East Turkistan), surveillance cameras were removed. According to the source, the marks of the surveillance cameras could still be seen. Also, a great number of police who dress like regular people and small business owners were scattered throughout the city. With this, the Chinese authorities were trying to create a friendly atmosphere to deceive the investigation. And in order to keep close watch and surveillance in the city, cars without number plates were deployed around the corners for surveillance.
On the other hand, videos shared on Chinese social media showed people who dressed in traditional Uighur clothes(many of them are not even Uighurs) dancing in the Urumchi International Grand Bazaar. Several Uighurs also reported that some of their relatives were suddenly released last week from the concentration camps for “vacation”.