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Full text: Respecting and Protecting the Rights of All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang
2021-07-15 source:Xinhua
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Full text: Respecting and Protecting the Rights of All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang

Respecting and Protecting

the Rights of All Ethnic Groups

in Xinjiang

The State Council Information Office of

the People's Republic of China

July 2021



I. Civil Rights

II. Political Rights

III. Economic Rights

IV. Cultural Rights

V. Social Rights

VI. Rights of Women and Children

VII. Freedom of Religious Belief



Full realization of human rights is one of the great dreams of all humanity, and a goal to which the people of China, including those of the ethnic groups in Xinjiang, have long aspired.

Xinjiang has been home to numerous ethnic groups since remote antiquity, and all the groups in the region are closely related members of the broader family of the Chinese nation. In 60 BC, the Western Han Dynasty set up the Western Regions Frontier Command, and Xinjiang was formally incorporated into the territory of China, becoming an integral part of this unified multiethnic country.

Before the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, the people of Xinjiang suffered oppression from invading imperialist forces, the feudal exploiting class and the privileged religious hierarchy. At the bottom of the social ladder, they were deprived of basic human rights.

In 1949, the Chinese people led by the Communist Party of China (CPC) overthrew the forces of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, and founded the PRC. The people of Xinjiang, together with the rest of the country, were liberated and became masters of their own country.

The PRC regards equality, unity and common prosperity for all ethnic groups as the basic requirements for managing ethnic affairs and handling ethnic relations. It established the system of regional ethnic autonomy in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities in compact communities. By 1954, Xinjiang had established five autonomous prefectures and six autonomous counties. In 1955, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was founded. The establishment of these autonomous divisions effectively guaranteed the democratic rights of people in Xinjiang to be masters of their own affairs, and started a new era of socialist ethnic relations characterized by equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony. Xinjiang ushered in a new stage of economic and social development, and better protection of human rights.

For more than 70 years since 1949, the CPC and the Chinese government have upheld a people-centered approach to human rights protection, treating the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights. Integrating the principle of universal human rights with the country's realities, China has enriched its strategy for the governance of Xinjiang with the following guidelines: governing Xinjiang in accordance with the law, maintaining stability in the region through ethnic unity, nourishing the cultures of Xinjiang, promoting prosperity among the local population, and developing Xinjiang from a long-term perspective. In this process, China has given priority to securing and improving people's wellbeing, advanced various undertakings in Xinjiang, and shared the fruits of reform and development with people of all ethnic groups, so as to guarantee their equal rights to participation and development. Thanks to these efforts, human rights have made steady progress in Xinjiang.

I. Civil Rights

All ethnic groups of the People's Republic of China enjoy equality. All citizens, regardless of ethnicity, gender, occupation, level of education, and religious belief, share the civil rights prescribed by the Constitution and the law on an equal footing.

The right to life is guaranteed. The right to life is an inherent right of humanity, and no person can be arbitrarily deprived of this right. For some time, under the influence of the evolving international situation and the spread of terrorism and extremism around the world, terrorist forces at home and abroad claiming to represent "East Turkistan" have colluded to spread religious extremism behind the smokescreen of ethnicity and religion, taking advantage of people's ethnic and religious feelings. They have incited hatred and discrimination, advocated violence, and plotted and carried out thousands of terrorist acts, resulting in the deaths of large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers. These acts have seriously endangered the lives of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and trampled on human dignity.

In the face of such a severe and complex situation and the urgent need to combat terrorism, Xinjiang has promulgated two local regulations – the Measures on Implementing the Counter-Terrorism Law and the Regulations on Deradicalization. This has been done in full accordance with China's Constitution, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, National Security Law, and Counter-Terrorism Law, and by taking into account the actual conditions in the region. The purpose of the local regulations is to strike hard at terrorist activities that infringe upon human rights and endanger public security, and at illegal and criminal activities that make use of extremism to undermine the law.

Xinjiang attaches importance to preventing terrorism at its source. It has carried out preventive counter-terrorism measures, including the establishment of vocational education and training centers, to protect basic rights. For more than four years since the end of 2016 there has been no terrorist incident in Xinjiang. The infiltration of extremism has been effectively curbed, and the right to life of people of all ethnic groups has been fully protected.

Liberty is respected and protected. Liberty is the inviolable right of citizens to carry out whatever activities they wish within the confines of the law. Religious extremists regard those who do not follow extremist practices as "infidels". They insinuate religious extremism into people's daily lives, inciting and forcing women to wear burqas and men to wear long beards in the name of religion. They try to persuade people not to watch TV, listen to the radio, read newspapers, cry at funerals, or laugh at weddings, and forbid them to sing and dance. They abuse the halal concept to interfere with daily routines and people's right to choose their way of life.

To prevent the infringement of civil liberties, Xinjiang has taken resolute measures to combat extremism, in full accordance with the Constitution, laws and regulations. It has carried out publicity and education campaigns on the rule of law to safeguard the public's right to personal liberty. Citizens, regardless of ethnicity and belief, are free to move, choose their own jobs, and lead the lives they choose as far as the law permits without external interference or constraint. At the same time, Xinjiang has made great efforts to operate radio and television stations, publish newspapers and magazines, and build internet infrastructure and various online platforms, so that citizens can enjoy their right to freedom of expression through smoother channels and in more diverse and convenient ways.

The right to a fair trial is well maintained. Impartiality is the lifeline of the rule of law. Xinjiang's judicial organs pursue social fairness and justice, which are the values of the rule of law. They promote reform to establish a criminal litigation system centering on trials, fully protect the right to a fair trial at all stages from investigation to prosecution, trial, and enforcement of court rulings, and strive to ensure that all people, whatever their ethnic background, experience a sense of fairness and justice in every judicial case.

To provide the public with better access to litigation, the judicial authorities have set up 74 circuit courts, 103 Fengqiao-style [In the early 1960s, the officials and citizenry of Fengqiao Town in Zhejiang Province created the Fengqiao practice, which emphasized solving problems in situ rather than passing them up to higher authorities. The practice has developed over the intervening decades, and is now a model for promoting community-level governance and social harmony.] courts, and 1,645 service stations, circuit trial centers, and offices for case consultations with judges. The average trial period has been shortened by 21.6 days, and the rate of cases ended at first instance is 90.8 percent. In 2020, courts at various levels in Xinjiang heard 604,900 cases, and concluded 587,400 of them, with a settlement rate of 97.1 percent.

Technological tools such as mobile e-court, cloud court trial, and smart enforcement of court rulings are used to file cases online and across geographical boundaries, hold remote court sessions, and mediate online, so that people can engage in legal action without leaving their homes.

Xinjiang has also improved its judicial assistance system to ensure that people in need have access to judicial relief. Courts at all levels in Xinjiang handled and concluded 545 cases of state compensation and judicial relief, and deferred, reduced or exempted litigation costs to a value of RMB26.1 million for needy litigants. In order to fully protect the public's right to information, they have established a platform for judicial openness to release timely information on the hearing of cases and enforcement of court rulings. They are also working to achieve full coverage of lawyers' service in criminal cases to guarantee the right of defense to suspects and defendants.

II. Political Rights

All ethnic groups in Xinjiang, regardless of their population, history, development level and customs, have equal status. They all enjoy the democratic right to participate in the administration of state and local affairs and in community-level self-governance.

A system of regional ethnic autonomy is in place. This system is a basic component of China's political system. Under the unified leadership of the state, regional autonomy is practiced in areas where ethnic minority groups live in compact communities. Organs of self-government are established to exercise autonomy in accordance with the law. Regional ethnic autonomy and autonomous areas are not the exclusive possession of any ethnic group.

Xinjiang practices regional autonomy in five prefectures: Bayingol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, and Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture; and in six counties: Yanqi Hui Autonomous County, Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County, Mori Kazak Autonomous County, Hoboksar Mongolian Autonomous County, Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, and Barkol Kazak Autonomous County.

All the autonomous areas exercise the power to govern their respective local affairs, and participate as equals in the administration of state affairs. According to the Constitution and relevant state laws, the legislature of an autonomous region, while exercising the powers of a provincial-level administrative division, has the power to enact regulations on the exercise of regional autonomy and other particular regulations in line with local conditions.

Since 1979, the People's Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and its Standing Committee have formulated a total of 669 local regulations, with 161 currently in effect. They have passed 54 resolutions and decisions with regulatory functions or on major issues, and approved 239 separate regulations and other local regulations submitted by prefecture-level cities, autonomous prefectures or autonomous counties.

The right to vote and stand for election is institutionalized. As stipulated by the Constitution and laws, Chinese citizens of any ethnic origin have the right to vote and stand for election. The principles in elections are: universal suffrage, equality, combination of direct and indirect elections, and multi-candidate election [In elections for national and local people's congresses, the number of candidates for election must exceed the number of posts available.]. Citizens of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region directly elect deputies to the people's congresses at county and township levels, who then elect deputies to each succeeding level, from the prefecture-level congress, through the congress of the autonomous region, to the National People's Congress (NPC).

The 13th NPC has 61 deputies from Xinjiang, of whom 38 (62.3 percent) are from ethnic minority groups. The NPC Standing Committee also has ethnic minority members from Xinjiang. The 13th People's Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is formed by 548 deputies, of whom 353 (64.4 percent) are of ethnic minority origins. Xinjiang now has 2,488 deputies to prefecture-level people's congresses (including 1,349 of ethnic minority origins, 54.2 percent), 16,960 deputies to county-level people's congresses (including 10,025 of ethnic minority origins, 59.1 percent), and 43,204 deputies to township-level people's congresses (including 31,739 of ethnic minority origins, 73.5 percent).

The right to participate in the deliberation and administration of state and local affairs is guaranteed. Xinjiang is the only region in China that has autonomous areas at all the three levels – region, prefecture and county. People's congresses and people's governments of ethnic autonomous areas exercise autonomy to administer local affairs. The chair of the autonomous region, the governors of autonomous prefectures, and the heads of autonomous counties are all citizens from the local ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy.

Within the framework of consultative democracy, the local committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Xinjiang encourage people from all walks of life and different ethnic groups to participate in state and local affairs. The committees provide timely, accurate, and efficient reporting on public opinion, and guarantee that the people of all ethnic groups enjoy their right to participate in political consultation and democratic supervision.

The 13th CPPCC National Committee has 34 members from Xinjiang, of whom 18 (52.9 percent) are from ethnic minority groups. The 12th Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the CPPCC has 502 members, of whom 236 (47 percent) are from ethnic minority groups. As of March 2021, the 12th Xinjiang Committee of the CPPCC had submitted a total of 2,588 proposals covering politics, the economy, culture, education, science and technology, public wellbeing and other fields.

Community-level self-governance is guaranteed in accordance with the law. Community-level self-governance is a major channel of grassroots democracy in China, and the most effective way to spread as widely as possible the right of the people to be the masters of the country. A number of local regulations provide the legal basis for protecting grassroots democratic rights in the region, including Measures on Implementing the Organic Law of the Urban Residents Committees, Measures on Implementing the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees, Procedures on the Election of the Villagers Committee, and Measures on Making Village Affairs Transparent.

Xinjiang currently has 3,389 urban residents committees and 8,906 villagers committees to run public or welfare affairs, mediate disputes, assist in safeguarding social stability within their respective jurisdictions, and report on the opinions, requests and proposals of residents and villagers to relevant people's governments or their detached agencies. Almost all communities in both urban and rural areas throughout Xinjiang have formulated codes of conduct for citizens. Their capacity to manage their own affairs by involving the local residents in educating and serving the community and exercising public scrutiny is steadily improving.