The Sultanim Cemetery in the center of Hotan City is one of the most famous ancient cemeteries in Xinjiang. It was destroyed between January to March 2019. Photo- CNN
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 5: After state sanctioned demolition of mosques in the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang by China, reports have emerged of systematic demolition of cemeteries belonging to the Uyghur people since as early as 2014.
At least 100 cemeteries have been demolished since 2014, according to a CNN report published Saturday. The destruction of the graves of Muslims in the region increased between 2017-2019. The demolitions of the sacred sites are corroborated through cross referencing old satellite images with latest ones which have been turned into vast empty lands.
The Chinese government which does not deny the incidents said that the cemeteries were “relocated” and not demolished. However, independent right groups showed images of lands where cemeteries stood strewn with human bones indicating demolition of the gravesites. An official for China's foreign ministry denied it saying, "Governments ... in Xinjiang fully respect and guarantee the freedom of all ethnic groups ... to choose cemeteries, and funeral and burial methods."
Rian Thum, associate history professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, told CNN, "It's akin for an American to see Arlington cemetery razed and the tomb of the unknown soldier dug up and paved over."
The communist government’s agenda to wipe out the cultural threads of natives have long been evident with incidents of sheer disrespect shown to people in occupied Tibet as well. The sacred and private funeral rites of ‘sky burial’ in Tibet have been turned into a tourist attraction with bus-loads of tourists brought specifically to witness the last rites of common Tibetans against their wishes.
Xinjiang’s Muslim population is under intense persecution by the Chinese government with as many as 1.5 million ethnic Uyghurs put into concentration camps for political and cultural “re-education” drives by the government. The camps have been described as places for torture, indoctrination and even killing by former detainees who have escaped Xinjiang.