Uyghurs to Stage Demonstration in Vienna to Protest Hotan Incident
On Monday, 01 August 2011, the Uyghur community in Austria in collaboration with the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) will stage a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Vienna, to protest the brutal and lethal crackdown on Uyghur demonstrators by Chinese security forces in the city of Hotan, East Turkestan, on 18 July, as well as the ongoing social, economic, political and cultural discrimination of the Uyghur population in East Turkestan.
With the protest, the WUC urges the Chinese government to allow international media and observers to freely and independently investigate the incident in Hotan to reveal the real circumstances of the events, and to stop its ongoing crackdown on Uyghurs in all areas of their life to avoid a further destabilization of the region.
Details of the demonstration:
Monday, 1 August 2011, 13-16h
Strohgasse, corner Metternichgasse
1030 Vienna, Austria
Background on the Hotan incident:
According to the official Chinese Xinhua news agency, on 18 July 2011 “thugs” forced their way into a police station in Hotan, where they took hostages and engaged in a gunfight that resulted in several people dead. However, according to witness accounts from Hotan obtained by the WUC, the shooting took place not at a police station, but at the close main bazaar of Hotan, in the Nurbagh area, when more than 100 local Uyghurs peacefully gathered to protest a police crackdown imposed on the city for two weeks preceding the incident. Demonstrators gathered and demanded to know the whereabouts of relatives who had gone missing into police custody. Police opened then fire on the demonstrators, killing at least 20 people. Another 12 people were injured seriously, among them four women and an 11-year-old girl named Hanzohre. In addition, more than 70 people were arrested. The WUC was also informed that the bodies of the people who had been killed in the incident, as well as the injured people have been brought to a military hospital where the public has no access to.
After the incident, the roads to Hotan city have been blocked by Chinese security forces and incoming and out-coming people are controlled and searched and martial law was imposed by the authorities in Hotan.
The Chinese government is, in typical fashion, attributing the Hotan incident to the “three forces” (terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism). The authorities regularly use the fact that the Uyghurs happen to be Muslim to appeal to racist stereotypes that unfortunately exist about Muslims and portray the Uyghurs as religious extremists and terrorists. Uyghurs have long practiced a moderate, traditional form of Sunni Islam, strongly infused with the folklore and traditions of a rural, oasis-dwelling population and religious extremism has no roots in Uyghurs’ practice of Islam and remains scarce among the Uyghurs.
As during the July 2009 events of Urumqi, the Chinese authorities’ distorted portrayal of the Hotan incident is an attempt to avoid dealing with the actual root causes of such events, namely, the crackdown on Uyghur culture, identity, freedom of expression and religion, as well as the ongoing economic discrimination of Uyghurs in East Turkestan. After the July 2009 events, Chinese officials stated that 197 people were killed during the incidents. However, numerous eyewitness accounts provided to Amnesty International, Uyghur human rights organizations, and media outlets have indicated that security forces committed extrajudicial killings of protesters and that in fact around 1000 people were killed.