According to a new investigative report at least 31 mosques and two Islamic shrines in China's Xinjiang province have been partly or completely demolished since 2016 in Beijing’s clampdown targeting Muslims in the north-western region.
An investigation by the Guardian and Bellingcat, published on Tuesday and based on analysis of satellite imagery, said 15 of the mosques and both shrines appear "to have been completely or almost completely razed".
The rest of the structures had guesthouses, domes and minarets removed, according to the United Kingdom-based newspaper and the investigative website.
"The demolition of mosques is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to China's brutal crackdown on the 12 million Uighur Muslims who live in Xinjiang," said CJ Werleman, a journalist and author who has collected testimonies from dozens of Uighur refugees.
"Credible and corroborated reports and testimony point to evidence authorities are deploying the whole gamut of repressive measures to carry out what can only be described as cultural genocide, including the establishment of a network of concentration camps; accounts of torture, forced marriage, and adoption and sterilisation programmes," said Werleman.
The United Nations human rights panel said last year it has received credible reports that China is holding more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in "mass internment camps".
Beijing calls them vocational training centres aimed at stemming the threat of "Islamic extremism".
According to the Human Rights Watch, Beijing keeps a database of "DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans and blood types of all residents between the age of 12 and 16" in Xinjiang.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk