A 67-year-old Uyghur man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail in China’s northwest Xinjiang Province for scolding his son over drinking alcohol, his wife has told media.
Heyrinsa Qasim told Radio Free Asia that her husband, Tursun Memet, was given the prison sentence for “religious extremism” because of what he told his son 13 years ago.
Qasim told RFA that she was unaware who informed the authorities over what her husband said on that day, which occurred in the lead-up to their son’s wedding day in 2004.
“My son went out with one of his friends and drank alcohol, and the next day my husband told him: ‘You are going to get married… you should have drunk donkey piss instead of alcohol,’” she said.
“This happened more than 10 years ago!” his wife said.
Qasim said that her son ended up drinking during his wedding day anyway.
The woman said that her husband was arrested in May this year by police in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture’s Yengisar (Yingjisha) County over the scolding.
Not only was Memet arrested over the incident, but so was his son, who has been sent to a political re-education camp, something that RFA could confirm.
— Abdugheni Sabit (@AbdugheniSabit) May 3, 2016
Qasim insisted her husband is not a religious extremist, but practiced his faith by praying five times a day and as also per Islamic custom refrained from drinking alcohol.
Following the September sentencing of her husband, Qasim said she was visited by a local Communist Party official, who told her not “get upset.”
Memet is current being held in a prison in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi.
Two more of their sons have also been sent prison, but RFA said it was unclear where they have been sent to and for what reason.
Qasim said that other people in their area had been warned by officials that parents could not tell their children not to drink alcohol.
What has occurred to the Qasim’s family is part if increasing state repression of the Uyghurs and their customs; for example, men under 60 are not allowed to grow beards.
— Uyghur Bulletin (@UyghurBulletin) November 6, 2017
In September, a young Uyghur woman was sentenced to 10 years prison for allegedly promoting the use of wearing an Islamic headscarf, reported RFA.
There have been many similar arrests for petty reasons, such as how people dress, reported RFA, who said that since April, thousands of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities holding “extremist” and “politically incorrect” views have also been sent to reeducation camps.
“The Chinese authorities are holding people at these ‘political education’ centers not because they have committed any crimes, but because they deem them politically unreliable,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.
“Unjustly detaining and forcibly indoctrinating people will only increase resentment toward the government, not engender loyalty,” Richardson said.
— Abdugheni Sabit (@AbdugheniSabit) November 7, 2017
Chinese officials say their crackdown on Uyghur society is a part of its anti-terrorism efforts. In recent years, state-run media has reported sporadic bomb and knife attacks by so-called terrorists in the province and elsewhere in China.
While there been some reports of Uyghur’s joining radical groups abroad, such as the so-called Islamic State, critics say the Chinese government is overstating the threat from the Uyghurs, who number between 10 and 12 million in Xinjiang.
In the past several decades, there has been high levels of immigration from China’s Han majority to the province. The Han now make up nearly 40 percent of the province’s population of 19 million.