School asks old teachers to shun religious activity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am

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A primary school in Xinjiang has asked retired teachers to pledge not to engage in religious activities.

The No 9 Primary School in Kuerle, also known as Korla, a city in central Xinjiang, called a meeting for old cadres on Wednesday last week and organised for retired teachers to sign a pledge at the meeting, according to mainland media and a copy of a news article on the website of Kuerle's education department. The article had gone by yesterday.

The article said that, in support of Xinjiang Communist Party secretary Zhang Chunxian's policy of maintaining stability, the school had decided to muster its retired teachers 'to resist the infiltration of religion', and 'to oppose ethnic separatism and illegal religious activities'.

The article did not carry the full wording of the pledge, but summarised its as: 'Supporting the correct political direction, opposing ethnic separatism and illegal religious activities, supporting science, promoting atheism, not participating in religious activities, and reporting rule-breaking situations immediately.' Teachers and students in Xinjiang are not allowed to wear headscarves or fast during Ramadan.

Beijing-based academic Professor Illam Tohti, a Uygur, said he had heard about the pledge but had not seen its wording. He said control over religious activities in Xinjiang had become more serious in the past two years, and not only in Kuerle.

'A lot of rules put in place are actually against the government's religious policies or the law,' he said. 'For example, nothing in the civil service rules says civil servants can't participate in religious activities.'

In 2010, a loosely worded list of 23 illegal religious activities was circulated in Xinjiang. They included 'forcing' others to believe in a religion and attending the Haj on non-government-run tours, he said.