Call Issued for Independent Investigation on Maralbeshi Incident by World Uyghur Congress and International Community Urged to Follow Up On Recent Arrests
Violent clashes in Maralbeshi (Chinese: Bachu), resulting in the death of 21 people, were reported last Tuesday [23 April 2013]. Official Chinesemedia were quick to accuse the Uyghurs of “plotting terrorism”.However, there is an increasing degree of skepticism as to the naturenof the incident. As has been the tendency in the past, official statements following the incident suggested that a “terrorist plot” was the cause in order to legitimize state suppression of Uyghurs in the region. This atmosphere is reminiscent of previous strike hard campaigns that resulted in the rounding up of thousands of Uyghurs and that brought further restrictions of their basic freedoms and liberties. While Beijing firmly maintains its iron fist on the region following such events, it has never succeeded in providing convincing elements to the international or local communities proving what it claims has happened. Chinese official reports, relayed by the media, are nothing more than propaganda material.
Similarly, official accounts and policies following the Kashgar incident were no exception. Reports have demonstrated that public information blackouts imposed by Beijing immediately after such incidents mean that journalists have no access to the region. This has allowed for security forces in the region to easily detain, arrest or jail anyone without any explanations or without providing any legal rights. As a result, this policy has created a safe haven for suppressive Chinese policies in and around Kashgar. For over a week, the World Uyghur Congress has received information from independent news agencies and through its own sources, which clearly challenges the Chinese government’s narrative of the incident.
In the week since the incident, the Chinese government has accelerated its process of arbitraty detentions throughout the region. Therefore, the World Uyghur Congress now urges the international community, as well as democratic governments across the world, to increase pressure on China and demand that an independent group of observers be able to investigate the incident. Previous calls from organizations and governments, such as the US State Department, were ignored by Beijing.
Kashgar, the area in which the incidents took place, has experienced an increase in cultural, political and religious suppression in recent years due to the Chinese “Western development project”. The World Uyghur Congress and its partners have repeatedly reported Beijing’s attempts at culturally and religiously assimilating Uyghurs. This practice has been accompanied by demographically threatening Uyghurs through government-sponsored projects promoting Han Chinese migration to the project. The economically disadvantaged, culturally endangered, religiously suppressed, and socially alienated Uyghurs of Kashgar are increasingly becoming a minority in their own cities. Further to Beijing’s allegations that the past week’s incident in Kashgar were the result of a “terror plot”, there has been an increase in arrests on local city dwellers, as well as a tightening of restrictions.
The World Uyghur Congress expresses its utmost concern for those detained in the process without proof or evidence of their wrongdoing. Past incidents such as the ones in Ili in February 1997 and in Urumchi in July 2009 have shown that hundreds of Uygur men and women were victims of forced disappearances. The detainees’ families and loved ones were also threatened, abused and persecuted for seeking information. The new campaign consisting of rounding up Uyghurs in and around Kashgar raises fear once again among local people.
Ms Rebiya Kadeer, President of the Wold Uyhgur Congress, has repeatedly stated that the Uyghur people and international community have every right to be skeptical about Chinese government allegations. The need for a UN appointed team of investigators therefore becomes pressing in order to conduct an independent inquiry on the nature of the incident. China, with its dismal records in the protection of human rights has lost all credibility in terms of providing accounts of such incidents. Uyghur groups will never cease to ask for explicit proof, and neither should the international community. Ms Kadeer also stated that the international community’s memory is the most significant and powerful weapon against China’s attempt to make people forget about the fate of those detained in the region.
The World Uyghur Congress urges the international community to uphold its pressure on China in an effort to see Beijing stop applying its same pattern of information black out, arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances after each incident in the region. As ever, the World Uyghur Congress repeats its commitment to peaceful action. It condemns any form of violence and expresses its readiness to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the region.
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