WUC Alarmed at Police killings in Kashgar
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly condemns the shooting and killing of 14 Uyghur demonstrators, including those of two teenagers, at Saybagh village, Konasheher County (Sayibagexiang village and Shufu County respectively in mandarin) in Kashgar Prefecture. The scant information disclosed leaves a series of questions that require urgent responses. The WUC calls on the Chinese authorities to divulge all information pertaining to the incident and for them to condemn the latest of a string of killings by their security forces of demonstrators in East Turkestan, in what is becoming a new trend of state sponsored violence.
On 15 December 2013, various international media organisations picked up information released by the Tianshan news agency, which is run by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) government, concerning the deaths of 14 demonstrators and two police offices in Saybagh village. The police officers were reportedly attempting to detain some individuals on unspecified charges, when demonstrators, described as “thugs”, allegedly attacked the police with “explosive” devices and “knives”, without providing further information. Two people have been reportedly detained in connection with the incident.
However, the WUC has been able to ascertain from sources on the ground that two of the demonstrators were teenagers, who were killed due to indiscriminate shooting by the security forces. “This further indicates, as in previous instances, that the Chinese security forces show no concern for the safety and wellbeing of demonstrators, rather choosing to shoot first, and ask questions later,” said WUC President and prominent Uyghur human rights activist Ms Rebiya Kadeer.
Although the WUC has not uncovered the reasons for which the demonstrators were protesting, the recent launch of new restrictions on religious observance should provide a clue in that regard; whilst due consideration must also be given to the fact that this remains one of the most repressed for Uyghurs, culminating in the extra-judicial killings of hundreds of Uyghurs, including youths, some of whom were buried without notifying their next of kin. Furthermore, the XUAR government has failed to disclose the reasons why the police were seeking the detention of the unspecified number of individuals. The XUAR government has also failed to specify how 14 demonstrators died so ruthlessly, when other governments around the world are able to both adequately address the desires of demonstrators whilst also peacefully controlling the protests themselves.
The WUC is concerned that the original article by Tianshan has removed its commenting section and curtailed citing of the article on the Tianshan website at the time of writing this press release. The failures to not provide further information via calls to the XUAR government by the media strengthen the importance to answer the questions that remain unanswered surrounding the dearth of official information about the incident.
“In not disclosing all information to the public, the XUAR government is ensuring that it controls the development of the narrative of the incident, leaving them resolutely shielded from the scrutiny of civil society, the media and the general public,” furthered Ms Rebiya Kadeer. The WUC further warns the international community and media to be extra vigilant when reporting on this incident until they can arrive themselves at the scenes. The WUC urges the international media to not be deterred from reporting freely and fairly in light of the Chinese authorities’ current crackdown on journalists’ visas.
This past year has witnessed a consistently worsening increase of such incidents that have captured the attention of the international community. In nearly all of these incidents, serious question marks have been raised by journalists and international observers as to the official version of these events. Most recently, journalists from French television programme l’Effet Papillon at Canal+ were arrested and detained for trying to visit areas where these incidents had taken place, whilst also interviewing people on the ground who presented differing narratives to that of the Chinese authorities.
The WUC calls on the XUAR government to fully disclose all information on this latest incident. The WUC further calls on the Chinese authorities to allow access to the Saybagh village for foreign media and government representatives in order to allow transparency surrounding the narrative of the incident.
The international community should also take note of this latest incident with the utmost concern as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is set to take its seat on the prestigious UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The WUC urges the HRC to call on the PRC to cease its repressive activities and to conduct an open, fair and comprehensive investigation.