27 Apr 2010 | Press Releases
The Uyghur American Association’s and Uyghur Human Rights Project’s press releases
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1496
On April 24, Chinese state media announced that 57-year-old Zhang Chunxian, formerly the Communist Party Secretary of Hunan Province, had been appointed to the post of Party Secretary for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), replacing 65-year-old Wang Lequan, who has been made deputy secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee. The Uyghur American Association (UAA) believes that while Wang’s removal from East Turkestan may be construed as a positive step toward creating genuine peace and stability in the region, without the corresponding removal of Wang’s heavy-handed policies, Uyghurs will not benefit from the new development programs planned for East Turkestan, and tensions in the region will continue to worsen.
The change in leadership was announced amid decisions by the Politbureau to accelerate economic and social development in East Turkestan, and followed similar pronouncements made by Party leaders at the March 2010 meeting of the National People’s Congress. But plans for development were accompanied by plans to spend 2.89 billion yuan on maintaining law and order in East Turkestan, an 87.9% increase from 2009.
Wang, a long time protégé of president Hu Jintao whose 15-year stint in the top XUAR post exceeded the usual ten-year tenure of provincial party secretaries, ruled the region with an iron fist, and presided over a period of extreme repression for Uyghurs. Wang oversaw a violent crackdown on peaceful Uyghur protestors on July 5, 2009 in the regional capital of Urumchi, and a prolonged crackdown on the region that saw an unprecedented deployment of security forces, mass arrests and “enforced disappearances” of Uyghur men, politicized trials and executions of July 5 defendants, and stepped-up ideological campaigns aimed at stamping out the “three evil forces”.
Incoming Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian, who holds degrees in engineering and management, has been popular among Chinese journalists for his willingness to interact with them. According to state media, Zhang was known as the “Internet Secretary” in Hunan, because he valued public opinion online. A more liberal attitude toward the flow of communications could prove crucial to the re-opening of full Internet access in East Turkestan, which has remained partially closed off after being completely shut down in the wake of the July 2009 unrest. UAA urges Zhang to remain consistent in his liberal communications policies after assuming his new leadership role, and to move media openness in East Turkestan beyond rhetoric into reality.Continue Reading →