Uyghur activists and exiles had hoped a long-delayed UN report into alleged human rights violations by China would make it impossible for the world to ignore their plight


  • Chinese authorities tapped Uyghurs to surveil their own ethnic group
  • A total of 56 Uyghur Muslims were summoned for allegedly violating Chinese law against fasting
  • Uyghur Muslims could face legal education and jail term if they are caught fasting during Ramadan

Since China banned Uyghur Muslims from fasting during Ramadan six years ago, Chinese authorities have been using spies to ensure that the beleaguered ethnic group follows the law.

Chinese police tapped some Uyghurs to conduct surveillance on their own ethnic group, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

The spies, referred to as "ears" by Chinese officials, are comprised of ordinary citizens, police and members of neighborhood committees, a police officer from an area near Turpan, or Tulufan in Chinese, in the eastern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, told RFA.

"We have many secret agents," the unnamed police officer said, claiming that there are "70-80 Uyghur policemen" serving either as "ears" or helping other spies.

"Because of the language barrier, we recruited Uyghurs to surveil other Uyghurs," the police officer alleged.

Chinese authorities also reportedly planted spies among the police force to spy on Uyghur officers and observe whether they would violate China's ban on fasting during Ramadan.

Staff at the Turpan Prefecture Police Bureau told the outlet that the spies would report the results of their activities during weekly political meetings. So far, Chinese authorities have yet to detect officers who practiced fasting during Ramadan.

For this year's observance of Islam's holy month, China has banned everyone from fasting, regardless of age, gender or profession, according to a political official at the Turpan City Police Station.

During the first week of Ramadan, Chinese authorities summoned at least 56 Uyghur residents and former detainees. They were interrogated and accused of violating the law by fasting, according to a police officer from Turpan City Bazaar Police Station.

However, police officers declined to reveal what would happen to Uyghurs who were determined to have violated the Chinese law.

Turpan's police force enlisted two or three spies from each village to monitor Uyghur residents who were previously interrogated and detained for fasting during Ramadan, including those released from prison, officers told RFA.

Aside from summoning Uyghurs suspected of violating the law, police officers are also searching the houses of Muslim families.

"We check if they have carried out illegal religious activities and if there are security threats," the Turpan police station's political official told the outlet.

The political official added that violators who commit light offenses would be punished with legal education, while those who commit severe offenses could face imprisonment.

China is accused of violating the human rights of Uyghur Muslims living in Xinjiang by restricting their freedom of expression and religion or belief.

According to a report by the U.S. State Department in 2021, China committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs, including arbitrary imprisonment, forced sterilization, rape, torture and forced labor.

In 2018, Gay McDougall, the vice chairperson of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, estimated that more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims were detained in China's "counter-extremism centers," Al Jazeera reported.

The two Uyghur former government officials were found guilty of carrying out 'separatist activities' in China's Xinjiang