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China's passport recall in Xinjiang condemned

Rights group says it's a collective form of punishment that will fuel resentment

November 22, 2016

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The Chinese government's new policy of recalling passports restricts foreign travel for many residents of Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said Nov. 21.

The policy, applicable to residents of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region since at least October, gives police wide power to scrutinize residents' proposed visits abroad.

The government's blanket recall of passports allegedly for reasons of "collective management" follows similar passport restrictions in the Tibet Autonomous Region, but has not apparently been imposed elsewhere in China. Xinjiang is home to 10 million predominantly Muslim Uighurs, and ethnic and religious discrimination against them is rampant, prompting some to flee.

"Chinese authorities have given no credible reason for taking away people's passports, violating their right to freedom of movement," said Sophie Richardson, China director. "Doing so across an entire region is a form of collective punishment and fuels resentment toward the government in a region where tensions are high."

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