WUC Condemns China’s Brutal Crackdown of a Peaceful Protest in Urumchi City

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Contact: World Uyghur Congress,
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July 06, 2009

Munich: The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal crackdown of a peaceful protest of young Uyghurs in Urumchi on Sunday by Chinese security forces. According to Uyghur eyewitnesses, scores of Uyghur protesters were killed and dozens were injured after security forces used lethal force to disperse the peaceful protesters and to stop the spread of this peaceful protest.

The World Uyghur Congress categorically rejects China’s accusation that the peaceful protest was “masterminded by the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer.” The WUC and Uyghur democratic leader, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, had no part in this protest.

“It is a common practice of the Chinese government to accuse me for any unrest in East Turkestan and His Holiness the Dalai Lama for any unrest in Tibet. The Chinese authorities should acknowledge that the peaceful protest was sparked by the unlawful mob beating and killing of Uyghur workers at a Guangdong toy factory more than a week ago. The authorities should also acknowledge that their failure to take any meaningful action to punish the Chinese mob for the brutal murder of Uyghurs is the real cause of this protest.”

According to Uyghur eyewitnesses, several thousand Uyghur youth, mostly university students, peacefully gathered at several locations in Urumchi, such as the People’s Square, the South Gate, and around the Rebiya Kadeer Department Store, to express their disappointment with the authorities’ handling of Shaoguan killings. The peaceful protesters, holding Chinese national flags in their hands, demanded justice for Uyghurs wounded and killed in Guangdong. They also protested against increased racial discrimination they face as Uyghurs across China.

“The fact that Uyghurs were holding Chinese national flags speaks volumes for the nature of this peaceful protest and for what they were demanding – civil rights and equal justice under the law. They are not “outlaws” as accused by the Chinese authorities,” said Ms. Kadeer.

Instead of addressing the legitimate demands of the peaceful Uyghur protesters, the Chinese authorities responded to quell the protest with the deployment of four kinds of police (regular police, anti-riot police, Special Police and the People’s Armed Police (PAP)). The Special Police and PAP used tear gas, automatic rifles and armored vehicles to disperse the Uyghur protesters. During the crackdown, some were shot to death, and some were beaten to death by Chinese police. Some demonstrators were even crushed by armored vehicles near Xinjiang University, according to eyewitnesses.

We, the World Uyghur Congress, call on the Chinese government to cease the brutal crackdown on the peaceful Uyghur protesters and to release those arrested in relation to this protest. We urge the Chinese government to bring those individuals responsible for the injuring and killing of Uyghur workers at the Guangdong toy factory on June 26 to justice. At the same time, we ask the international community to voice their concerns over the violent crackdown and unjustified injuring and killing of peaceful Uyghur protesters. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of founding of the People’s Republic of China, we ask the Chinese leaders to change their six-decade long heavy-handed policies of forced assimilation and cultural genocide imposed upon the peaceful Uyghur people and seek to resolve the East Turkestan Question through peaceful dialogue.