World Bulletin / News Desk
Authorities in China's East Turkestan (Xinjiang) province have officially banned students and teachers from engaging in the Islamic Ramadan fast, in yet another curb on religious freedoms against the region's native Uighur Muslim population.
The Turfan trade bureau on its internet website at the beginning of the week released a statement saying that all public workers, students and teachers were banned from fasting and participating in religious activities.
Bozhou, the region's official radio station, also announced that party members, teachers and youths cannot engage in Ramadan worship.
East Turkestan, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is crucial to China's growing energy needs.
Analysts say that, despite its mineral wealth and billions of dollars of investment, much of the proceeds have gone to majority Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs.
Rights groups complain that Uighurs - who speak a Turkic language - are cut off from economic development because they face hiring discrimination, with jobs going to an influx of migrant workers from other parts of China.
Around 200 people have died in unrest in East Turkestan in the past year or so, the government says.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's repressive policies in East Turkestan, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest, a claim Beijing denies.
China has tightened its grip on public discussion about East Turkestan too.
In January, police detained prominent Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti and charged him with separatism.Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2014, 15:39