Language School Shuts Down

Original published by RFA,20 May 2010

By Mihriban

HONG KONG—A Uyghur language school in northern Pakistan has been shuttered following orders from authorities acting on pressure from Beijing, according to school officials.

The Omer Uyghur Language School in Rawalpindi, in the Majha region of Punjab province, closed its doors in April after Chinese Embassy officials spoke with the Pakistani government and the school’s landlord, accusing school officials of maintaining ties with a Uyghur independence group.

The school had also faced fierce competition from a new institute established by the Chinese Embassy called the Big Montessori School—built directly in front of the Omer Uyghur Language School and opened for classes on April 7, 2010, Omer school officials said.

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Travel Ban for Uyghur Scholar

Originally published by RFA, 20 May 2010

By Ding Xiao and  Hai Nan

HONG KONG—Authorities in Beijing have recently informed an outspoken ethnic Uyghur scholar that he will be barred from leaving China, at least for the rest of the year, regardless of his destination.

Ilham Tohti, a prominent economist at Beijing’s Central Nationalities University, said he had been refused permission on eight separate occasions to travel overseas to attend academic conferences and to give lectures since deadly ethnic violence gripped the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region last July.

“Two people [from the state security police] came to visit me and informed me that in the future I wouldn’t be able to travel overseas,” Tohti said. “They gave no explanation whatsoever.”

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China in growth push for restive Xinjiang region

Originally published by Reuters,20 May 2010

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING, May 20 (Reuters) – China will mount a vast investment drive in troubled far-west Xinjiang region, revamping taxes on energy operations in a bid to lift living standards and stifle ethnic unrest, state media said on Thursday.

The package of tax reforms, government investment targets and investment incentives for the tense region bordering central Asia emerged from a conference attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders, state television reported.

Xinjiang’s population of 21 million is mainly divided between Muslim Uighurs, long the region’s majority, and Han Chinese, many of whom arrived in recent decades.

Last July, Uighur protests in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, gave way to attacks that targeted Han Chinese. At least 197 people died in the initial violence, and two days later Han residents held protests and staged revenge attacks on Uighurs.

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Open letter to the Xinjiang’s party secretary

Reporters Without Borders

Mr. Zhang Chunxian
Party Secretary
Urumqi, Xinjiang

Paris, 19 May 2010

Subject: Internet situation in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region

Dear Mr. Zhang,

Reporters Without Borders notes the Xinjiang Autonomous Region’s reconnection to the Internet on 14 May, which has allowed a relative reopening to the outside world, and we urge you to pursue this trend by pressing for less online censorship at the central government’s next meeting to examine the situation in Xinjiang.

Cut off from the world for near 10 months following the July 2009 unrest, Xinjiang was the victim of a discriminatory measure as regards Internet access. It was the longest-ever case of government censorship of this kind. The return to “normal” is a positive sign. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the fact that Xinjiang’s Internet users are subject to filtering by the Great Electronic Wall of China, which prevents access to websites and content regarded as subversive by the authorities.

You recently said that you wanted to “maintain stability at all costs” and that you were ready to crack down on “separatist elements.” The solution to your region’s problems does not lie solely in the application of economic remedies. It also requires increased respect for freedom of expression, to which its inhabitants have a right, and a reduction or elimination of censorship about the Uyghur cause, which cannot be branded as just terrorism.

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Western China: The Internet is restored, but repression continues

The president of the World Uighur Congress calls on China’s government to end policies of repression against Uighurs in Western China.

Originally published by The Christian Science Monitor,21 May 2010

By Rebiya Kadeer

On May 14, residents of East Turkestan rediscovered the Internet – not the Internet of unfettered access that is enjoyed the world over. But a lifting of the most draconian Internet restrictions ever seen so that people could finally access China’s censored version.

For 10 months, starting from the July 2009 unrest in Urumchi, the Chinese government kept the people of East Turkestan isolated from the rest of the world with a comprehensive communications lockdown that not only blocked the Internet, but also affected telecommunications. During those 10 months, a great deal of information about the events of July 2009 was never allowed to surface, and the world was left with a Chinese government account that in no way can be considered impartial.

The communications lockdown was an illustration of the chilling ideology of power that guides the decisions of power brokers in the Chinese Communist Party. In those 10 months, the Chinese government conducted a brutal crackdown on Uighurs largely unseen by the outside world.

The “stable conditions” required to restore the Internet were established through indiscriminate detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, sham trials, and swift executions of Uighurs. Human Rights Watch described the 43 enforced disappearances it recorded in a report, “We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them,” as the tip of the iceberg.

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China hopes development solves region’s tensions

Originally published by Associated Press (AP),21 May 2010

BEIJING — China’s leaders said faster economic development is the needed medicine for one of its most restive regions, announcing a plan Thursday that resembles efforts already under way in equally tense Tibet.

The Xinjiang region was the site of last July’s deadly rioting that was China’s worst ethnic violence in decades and left nearly 200 dead.

President Hu Jintao and other leaders urged an approach to the region that combines heavy-duty investment with “ethnic harmony,” state media reports said.

“Only by resolving the issues of the people’s livelihood can we better bring together the hearts, the knowledge and the strength of the people for Xinjiang’s long-term economic development,” said a People’s Daily editorial, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.

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China to Double Xinjiang Spending to Boost Stability (Update1)

Originally published by Bloomberg Businessweek,21 May 2010

 May 21 (Bloomberg) — Investment in China’s Xinjiang province, roiled by ethnic violence last year, will double in the next five years as President Hu Jintao seeks stability in the country’s second-biggest oil producing region.

Hu pledged to raise per capita gross domestic product in the sparsely populated region to the national average by 2015 and increase incomes and the level of public services to the average of the country’s western region, the official Xinhua news agency reported late yesterday after a three-day meeting on the plan. Shares of companies based in Xinjiang surged.

“The government is trying hard to reduce regional income disparities, which have escalated into a big social problem,” said Li Wei, a Shanghai-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank Plc. “Policy makers are trying to solve this problem through fast economic growth.”

Social stability in Xinjiang, a landlocked province three times the size of France, has been a priority since the provincial capital suffered China’s deadliest rioting in decades in July last year when clashes between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese left at least 197 people dead. To maintain order, China replaced Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief in April and only last week fully restored Internet services cut off during the riots.

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Maligning America — again

Originally published by NEW YORK POST, 18 May 2010

There they go again — bashing America on the world stage.

Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner reports that in recent talks with China, US officials put America’s human-rights record on a par with Beijing’s.

“Part of a mature [US-Chinese] relationship is that you have an open discussion, where you not only raise the other guy’s problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it, about your own [problems],” Posner said.

“We did plenty of that.”

Moreover, he said, “experts from the US side” talked about America’s “treatment of Muslim Americans in an immigration context.”

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