Ending the silence on China’s Uighur repression

Originally published by The Washington Post, 05 July 2010

By Carl Gershman

Uighur women grieve for men they say were taken by authorities in a protest in Urumqi, China, last year.

Uighur women grieve for men they say were taken by authorities in a protest in Urumqi, China, last year. (Ng Han Guan/associated Press)

A year ago today, when Chinese police violently suppressed a peaceful protest by the Uighur minority in Urumqi, the capital of the western region of Xinjiang, the world essentially looked the other way. This is the message of “Can Anyone Hear Us?” a report that the Uyghur Human Rights Project recently issued on the unrest. Drawing on eyewitness accounts, the report details the firing on protesters that led to hundreds of deaths, as well as mass beatings, the arbitrary detention of thousands and a 10-month communications shutdown that cut off the region from the outside world. At a Washington conference last week where the report was released, an eyewitness testified that he saw police handing out steel batons to mobs of Han Chinese, confirming reports that security forces fomented anti-Uighur violence.

Beijing has blamed “overseas hostile forces” for the violence, especially Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, who was exiled to the United States from a Chinese prison in 2005. But the source of the unrest is entirely internal, the immediate cause being an attack on Uighur workers at a Guangdong toy factory 10 days before the Urumqi protests.

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Job discrimination riles China’s Uighurs

Originally published by AFP,05 July 2010

By Marianne Barriaux

URUMQI, China — Tursun’s eyes well up as she describes life as a Uighur in China, which she says is marred by overt discrimination in the job market — a source of much bitterness in the restive city of Urumqi.

“There are so many young Uighurs here who have been abroad, who speak perfect English, perfect Japanese,” the shopkeeper says in the violence-scarred capital of far-western Xinjiang region.

“But they can’t find good jobs despite that,” she says, gesturing to rows of market stalls and the vendors minding them.

“I’ve been for many job interviews here but they wouldn’t hire me because I’m a Uighur.”

Many Uighurs in Xinjiang complain about what they say is a job market openly skewed against them, with many of the better-paid professional and technical jobs going to members of the country’s Han Chinese majority.

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West China city braces for deadly riot anniversary

* Security tight, emotions still high

* China blames overseas agitators for riots

* Grievances behind violence have not been addressed

Originally published by Reuters,04 July 2010
By
Emma Graham-Harrison

URUMQI, China, July 4 (Reuters) – The capital of China’s remote western region of Xinjiang feels like a city under siege, the day before it marks the first anniversary of ethnic rioting which killed around 200 people.

Armed police, some with helmets and shields, elbow through Urumqi’s crowded roadside restaurants, security cameras monitor buses and taxis, guards check the bags of visitors to markets and hotels, the city’s central square is closed for repairs and some shops are shuttered on quieter-than-usual streets.

A year ago ethnic tensions between Han Chinese and Uighur residents of the far-flung city exploded into the worst rioting China has seen in decades, and emotions are still high between the peoples caught up in days of mob violence, who live parallel but largely separate lives.

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China tries to remove Uighur language barrier

Originally published by The Financial Times, 04 July 2010

By Kathrin Hille in Kuybagh

Every day on her way to school, Amargul walks past a large sign. It says: “Chinese is our national language. Learning Chinese is necessary to make the nation strong and the people rich.”

And learn Chinese she does. Late last year, the primary school where the 12-year-old Uighur girl had been educated in her native tongue, a Turkic language, was closed down, and she was moved to an integrated Chinese primary school. The change here in Kuybagh, an oasis town in the poorest corner of Xinjiang, is part of a government offensive to get to the roots of the simmering conflict in the restive region in China’s far west – through education. According to official figures, almost 200 people, most of them Han Chinese, were killed a year ago on Monday in riots in Urumqi, the regional capital, that amounted to the worst ethnic violence in the history of the People’s Republic of China.

Most of those arrested afterwards were Uighur migrants from southern Xinjiang, a region where the indigenous ethnic group still accounts for more than 90 per cent of the population and which has missed out on Xinjiang’s oil and gas-driven double-digit growth. The local economy relies on agriculture, and jobs are hard to come by. Those who leave for the cities lose out in the race for jobs to better-qualified rivals from elsewhere.

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Police on alert in China ahead of riot anniversary

Originally published by Associated Press, 04 July 2010

By ANITA CHANG

BEIJING – Teams of police armed with guns and batons patrolled streets in the western region of Xinjiang on Sunday, part of stringent security precautions put in place ahead of the one-year anniversary of China’s worst ethnic violence in decades.

Though visitors were able to travel freely in the traditionally Muslim region, their bags were checked at airports, train stations and bus stops, as well as government offices, said a receptionist surnamed Fang at the Yilong Hotel in the regional capital of Urumqi.

SWAT teams were patrolling the streets in groups of about 10, she said, many of them armed.

Long-standing tensions between Xinjiang’s minority Uighurs and majority Han Chinese migrants flared into open violence in Urumqi one year ago. The government said 197 people were killed in the unrest, which was triggered by the deaths of Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) factory workers in the country’s south.

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Uighurs in Japan call for freedom in China

Originally published by AFP, 04 July 2010

TOKYO (AFP) – – Members of China’s Uighur ethnic minority and their Japanese supporters Sunday held a rally commemorating the first anniversary of deadly ethnic unrest in China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

“Free Uighurs! We want real freedom!” around 60-70 demonstrators shouted, as they marched from a Tokyo park to mark riots that the Chinese government says killed nearly 200 people after unrest broke out in Xinjiang on July 5.

The marchers carried the large sky-blue flags of East Turkestan, home to Uighurs but crushed by China in 1949. Signs read “We don’t forgive China’s massacre of Uighurs!” and “Stop ethnic assimilation!”

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West China city braces for deadly riot anniversary

Originallly published by Reuters,04 July 2010

By Emma Graham-Harrison

URUMQI China (Reuters) – The capital of China’s remote western region of Xinjiang feels like a city under siege, the day before it marks the first anniversary of ethnic rioting which killed around 200 people.

Armed police, some with helmets and shields, elbow through Urumqi’s crowded roadside restaurants, security cameras monitor buses and taxis, guards check the bags of visitors to markets and hotels, the city’s central square is closed for repairs and some shops are shuttered on quieter-than-usual streets.

A year ago ethnic tensions between Han Chinese and Uighur residents of the far-flung city exploded into the worst rioting China has seen in decades, and emotions are still high between the peoples caught up in days of mob violence, who live parallel but largely separate lives.

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Fear in China’s Urumqi city as riot as anniversary looms

Originally published by AFP,04 July 2010

 
   

(AFP) URUMQI, China – Police told Abdullah not to leave home on Monday’s anniversary of deadly ethnic violence in China’s Urumqi city, where the bustle belies continued deep racial divisions and fears of more unrest.

“They told us we can’t go out on July 5 and they also came around on Thursday to gather all our big knives,” the 46-year-old said, drinking tea at his restaurant in the Uighur quarter.

Capital of far-western Xinjiang region, Urumqi was torn in two on July 5, 2009 as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority vented decades of resentment of Chinese rule with attacks on members of China’s dominant Han ethnic group.

Han mobs took to the streets in the following days seeking revenge. Nearly 200 people were killed and 1,700 injured in all, the government says, in the worst ethnic violence in China in decades.

China blamed “separatists” for orchestrating the unrest.

Tensions in the city again boiled over in September after a spate of syringe attacks — which many victims blamed on Uighurs — led to days of protests that left five people dead.

Uighurs, Xinjiang’s Turkic-speaking, central Asian people, say they live under fear of being detained on suspicion of fomenting trouble, while some Han say they are prepared for the worst if trouble breaks out again.

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