By Tenzin Tsetan
Guards in Xinjiang. Photo-Reuters_China Daily
DHARAMSHALA, November 26: The residents of “Xinjiang, Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China” have been asked to hand over their passports to the police by the Chinese government in a recent order.
This “passport management policy” is implemented across Xinjiang and requires all residents to turn in their passports for “examination and management”, reported The Global Times,
a state run newspaper on Thursday.
“Anyone who needs the passport must apply to the police station,” an anonymous police officer in the Aksu prefecture of the region told to the Global Times.
Also a Xinjiang official told the paper that the new tightening of policy was intended to maintain social order in the region.
Many human rights groups have criticized the move by the Chinese authorities. Human Rights Watch described this as a violation of freedom of movement. The World Uyghur Congress, a Germany based rights group, said it is a deliberate move to restrict the movements of the Uyghur population.
Xinjiang is home to around 10 million of Muslim Uyghur and other ethnically divided population. While the order is for everyone living in the province many believe that this policy is focused mainly on Uyghur Muslims in the region.
Uyghur Muslim minority communities have many times complained about the discrimination and crackdown they face due to their religion and culture, even being refused documents to travel from the authorities.
"Although the regulations ostensibly target all residents, Chinese authorities in the past have taken clear steps to limit mobility rights for the Uyghur community in particular," the Congress said in a statement.
Chinese authorities often accused exiled separatist groups like East Turkestan Islamic Movement for the violent attacks and unrest in the region.