China Offers Rewards for Beard Informants in Xinjiang
Following the Kunming train station knife attack, which exacerbated ethic tensions between the Han population and Muslim Uyghurs, Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are now offering financial rewards to those who report on their neighbors’ religious or “separatist” activities. Massoud Hayoun at Aljazeera reports:
Informants in parts of Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture, an epicenter of the region’s ethnic tensions, can earn anywhere from $8 to $8,000 for reporting their neighbors’ illegal religious or “separatist activity” — which can now include facial hair, according to Chinese newspaper The Global Times.
“That’s a lot of money for Uighurs in the south [of the region]. There they are very poor. This is an incentive to betray their fellow Uighurs to get some financial gain,” Alim Seytoff, spokesman for the Uighur rights advocacy group World Uyghur Congress (WUC), told Al Jazeera.
[...] Local authorities have attempted to suppress various ostensible signs of Muslim religiosity in the past. But Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said this appeared to be first time officials are comfortable enough with such measures to allow them to be reported in an English-language publication geared toward foreigners.
“What is new and extremely worrying [is that] the Chinese government is so bent on suppressing Uighur Islam that it thinks it’s appropriate to make public these restrictions and to sketch out what behavior is considered suspect by the state,” Bequelin told Al Jazeera. [Source]
Whistle-blowers can report to the public security department or the county-level commission of political and legal affairs about suspect and illegal activities in order to prevent and combat crimes and maintain social stability, according to a notice posted on the county government’s website earlier this month. Verified intelligence would be rewarded, the statement added.
“The notice on the website is a more detailed regulation based on a previous notice from public security authorities,” an official from the local commission of legal and political affairs told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.
[...] Particularly, a reward from 5,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan could be given to whistle-blowers of activities including separatism preaching and training for terror attacks. The reward will also go to those who report intelligence of reactionary organizations overseas or activities to provoke conflicts between religious sects. [Source]
Read more on Xinjiang, via CDT.