The Shaoguan Mass Incident

(Xinhua)  Guangdong toy factory brawl leaves 2 dead, 118 injured   June 27, 2009.

A dispute led to a fight involving hundreds of people Thursday at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City, a municipal government spokesman said. More than 400 police had to be called in to restore order. The injured were rushed to hospitals, but two workers died, the spokesman said. All the 118 injured were in stable condition, he said. No details about the dispute are available. Police are investigating the incident.

(Reuters)  Ethnic tensions spark brawl at China factory-report    June 27, 2007.

Ethnic clashes between Han Chinese and Uighur workers at a toy factory in China's southern Guangdong province killed two people and injured 118, a newspaper reported on Saturday. In a massive night brawl at the "Early Light" toy factory in Guangdong's Shaoguan city, a group of Han Chinese fought with Uighurs from China's northwestern Xinjiang region who had been recently recruited to the factory, Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper reported. The violence lasted until the early hours of Friday morning and at least 16 were seriously injured, the newspaper reported.

About 400 riot police had to be deployed to quell the unrest as the rival workers battled, some with knives and metal pipes. The violence was reportedly sparked by a spate of crimes at the factory following the arrival of around 600 Uighur workers in May this year, the newspaper said. "Some people carrying metal pipes entered a dormitory to attack Uighur workers. But the Uighurs fought back with knives, leading to a fierce brawl involving hundreds," the newspaper said.

The factory was reportedly owned by Hong Kong tycoon Francis Choi, one of the city's leading toy manufacturers.

Xinjiang's majority Uighur population is a largely Muslim group with a culture close to other Turkic parts of central Asia. Many Uighurs resent Han Chinese rule, complaining they're marginalised economically and politically in their own land, while having to tolerate a rising influx of Han Chinese migrants.

(Associated Press)  Ethnic clash in Chinese factory kills 2, hurts 118    June 26, 2009.

Ethnic tensions between workers at a toy factory in southern China sparked a brawl that left two dead and 118 injured, state media and a government spokesman said Saturday. The official China News Service said hundreds of workers at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City fought for two hours before more than 400 police restored order early Friday morning. A spokesman from the Shaoguan City government said the brawl was due to tensions between Uighurs ¡X Turkic-speaking Muslims ¡X and Han Chinese, who make up most of China's population. The spokesman said the fight started after a Han Chinese girl entered a dormitory where Uighur workers were staying. Uighur workers tried to harass her, and she screamed. The spokesman would not give his name or give details on the two people who died. The news service said 14 among the 118 people who were hurt suffered serious injuries. Fights between the two ethnic groups are rarely reported, but tensions have existed for decades in the Uighurs' far western region of Xinjiang. China has a heavy security presence there, saying militants in the region are seeking to separate it from the rest of the country. The factory could not reached for comment.

What kind of news reporting is this when you don't want to deal with the reason for the massive brawl?  I know that such reporting should be verified, but can't you just say "unconfirmed Internet reports say that the reason was blah blah blah ...?"

Here is such an unconfirmed first-person Internet report:


At 22:00 on June 25, I came back from drinking with my colleagues and we found several police vehicles present at the factory.  At first, we did not know what was going on.  Then we learned that the Uighurs dragged one of my Han sisters into their dormitory and attempted to rape her.  This caused our Han compatriots to become outraged.  They wanted to go and beat up the perpetrator.  But the factory security guards stopped them.  Even when the female victim identified the perpetrator, the factory security guards still refused to arrest him.  This caused even greater public anger as the people upstairs tossed all garbage downstairs.

From the photos, it can be seen how angry we were.  We tossed everything that we could rip apart downstairs.  The factory security guards came upstairs to try to stop us.  A colleague was seriously injured during the two brawls of that process.

Half an hour later, the Shaoguan city government sent another thirty to forty anti-riot police officers as reinforcement.

Soon after the anti-riot police officers arrived, the Uighurs organized several dozen people and armed them with restricted knives and iron rods.  They charged out and assaulted all the Han men and women that they saw, causing severe injuries to many persons.  The anti-riot police officers did nothing.  Since we were unprepared for this eventuality, we retreated into the dormitories.  The Uighurs broke all our windows.

The Han began to search for weapons inside their dormitories.  They dissembled the beds and obtained iron rods and instruments.  Then they charged out of the dormitories and took raging revenge against the Uighurs.  They smashed all the window glass and car windows.  They assaulted every Uighur that they came across, one dormitory room at a time.

Many Uighurs began to flee into the back hill.  The riot continued until 4:30pm.  There were dozens of Uighur casualties.  The anti-riot police officers served only as spectators, eyewitnesses and body haulers.

By 5am, the city government sent in two divisions of anti-riot police officers to escort the Uighurs out.  The riot finally reached an end.

The following is a news report in a Hong Kong newspaper based upon Internet information.

(Apple Daily)  June 27, 2009.

According to a QQ BBS report made by a factory worker, the Early Light factory had hired a large group of Uighur workers last month.  These people committed many robberies and raped a female worker on June 14.  The rapist was only fired from his jog.  Several days later, another female worker was dragged into the dormitory and gang raped.  The suspect was arrested by the police but released several days later.  A third rape occurred in the factory, but the management did nothing.

According to a former female Early Light factory worker, the first rape occurred in the woods behind the factory and the perpetrators were three Uighur male workers.  One week later, another female worker went out for a midnight snack and was dragged into the Uighur dormitory and gang raped.  When the security guards brought her out, she was stark naked.  The factory offered her 10,000 RMB to keep quiet.  This was the last straw for the Han workers.

On the night before yesterday, the Han workers in dormitory buildings number one and two began to chant: "Chase the Uighurs off!"  They began to vandalize things.  The space between the two buildings was littered with garbage receptacles and fire extinguishers.  More than one hundred people went wild and used wood sticks to break the window glass.  Some of them charged into the Uighur dormitory to assault people.  They dragged one Uighur after another one and beat them.

The Uighur retaliated with knives.  The Han summoned more than 200 people and the brawl got vicious.  Since this incident involves an ethnic minority group, the police acted very cautiously because they wanted to avoid a political incident.

The Ming Pao article cited by Reuters also included more details:

The "King of Toys" Francis Choi was interviewed by us yesterday and he said that this was an ethnic conflict problem, mainly because the Uighurs were not accustomed to the lifestyle habits of the Guangdong people.  He said that the government encourages the factories to hire poor people, which was why this factory hired these Uighurs.

... 118 persons were injured, of which 79 were Uighurs.  There were two deaths, both Uighurs.

(Xinhua)  Sixty remain in hospital after China toy factory brawl that leaves two dead    June 28, 2009.

Sixty workers who were injured in a fight among factory workers in south China's Guangdong Province were still receiving treatment in hospital, local authorities said Sunday. A dispute led to a fight involving hundreds of people at around 2 a.m. Friday at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City. Two died and 118 were injured in the fight.  The Hong Kong-invested factory recruited 800 migrant workers in May and June through the labor authorities of Shufu County, Xinjiang.  A working team from the county has reached Shaoguan to handle the incident.

(Reuters)  China police hold man over ethnic brawl-report    June 28, 2009

Police in southern China have detained a man accused of spreading false rumours of rape over the Internet that sparked a deadly ethnic brawl at a toy factory on the weekend. China's official Xinhua news agency reported late on Sunday that the man, a former worker at the Xuri or "Early Light" toy factory in Shaoguan city, Guangdong province, posted a message on a local website claiming, "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls" at the factory. Police said the unfounded claim was behind the massive Friday night brawl between a group of Han Chinese and Uighur workers from China's northwestern Xinjiang region who had been recently recruited to the factory.

The brawl was an outburst of long-standing tensions between Han Chinese and Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group with a language and culture close to the Turkic peoples of central Asia. In the fighting, two workers from Xinjiang were killed and 118 people were injured, Xinhua reported. The man, surnamed Zhu, "faked the information to express his discontent" over failing to find new work after quitting his job at the factory, said Xinhua. The brief report did not say what crime he has been accused of.

(Strait Times)  Toy factory brawl kills 2,  June 28, 2009.

A BRAWL at a toy factory in China ended with two dead and 60 in hospital after a dispute flared between Han Chinese and Uighur workers from the Muslim Xinjiang region, media reported on Sunday. More than 400 police were called to break up the fight involving hundreds of people at the factory in Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong, early Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities. A total of 118 people were injured in the fight, Xinhua reported, adding 60 were still being treated in hospital on Sunday.

It was not clear what triggered the dispute but the two dead were both members of China's Uighur minority, the South China Morning Post reported, adding 81 of the injured were also said to be Uighurs.

Guangdong's communist party chief, Mr Wang Yang, met relatives of the dead to offer his condolences and promise that the provincial government would hunt down and prosecute the killers, the newspaper said. Mr Wang said the incident should not affect Beijing's policy of encouraging firms to hire minorities from the western region to help reduce the income gap between the western region and other parts of China. 'We should not allow such an occasional case to affect economic co-operation between east and west zones or our national unity,' Wang was quoted as saying.

Hong Kong tycoon Francis Choi, who owns the factory through the holding company Early Light International, agreed to reassign Uighur workers to other factories to prevent future disputes, the newspaper said.

The factory recruited 800 migrant workers from Shufu county in Xinjiang in May and June, Xinhua reported.

Xinjiang is home to about eight million Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, and many members of the mainly Muslim community say they have suffered under Chinese political and religious persecution for decades. China has long said it faces a deadly threat from Muslim separatists as justification for extremely tight controls in Xinjiang. -- AFP

(Xinhua)  Rumormonger held over south China toy factory brawl     June 29, 2009

Police has detained a former worker at a toy factory for posting a web rumor that triggered a mass brawl in south China's Guangdong Province. The fight Thursday night was between hundreds of local workers and workers from the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regionat the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City. The brawl left two Xinjiang workers dead and another 118 injured. A post on a local website that said "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory" caused the brawl, a municipal government spokesman said. Police found that the former worker of Xuri, surnamed Zhu, faked the information to express his discontent as Zhu failed to get re-employed after quitting the job. Police found no rape cases at the Xuri Toy Factory.

(Radio Free Asia)  'No Rapes' in Riot Town    June 29, 2009.

 A deadly clash in southern China exposes long-simmering tensions between majority Han Chinese and the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

This video, apparently shot by Chinese witnesses inside the toy factory in Shaoguan city, Guangdong, was posted on, taken down, and republished several times. Voices can be heard commenting on events in Mandarin.

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have said they found no evidence that ethnic minority Uyghur laborers had raped two Chinese girls, a rumor they blamed for last week's ethnic fighting at a toy factory in Shaoguan city. According to official media reports, police also detained a former worker at the city's Xuri toy factory for posting the rumor on the Internet in the first place. "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory," ran the text of the posting, the official Xinhua news agency reported, quoting a Shaoguan municipal spokesman.

The detained man, surnamed Zhu, faked the information to express his discontent after the factory declined to re-hire him after his quit his job, Xinhua said. "Police found no rape cases at the Xuri Toy Factory," the agency said, referring to a factory owned by Hong Kong-listed Lacewood International, which started making toys and handbags in 2007 in Shaoguan with 10,000 employees, one of the largest factories in the north of the province.

At least two people were killed and 118 injured after rival groups of workers fought each other in a pitched battle that began on the streets of Shaoguan last Thursday evening, and ended in the early hours of Friday.

Serious injuries

The official China News Service said 400 riot police had to be deployed to quell the unrest, as hundreds of workers fought each other with knives and metal pipes.

An employee who answered the phone at Shaoguan's Yuebei No. 2 People's Hospital said the hospital had received around two dozen injured workers after the unrest. "Some are quite serious and in critical condition," she said. Asked if she knew the reason for the clashes, she said: "The factory earlier recruited a lot of Xinjiang people. They are so bad and impolite. There were recent rape cases involving Xinjiang people," she said.  "Some young Xinjiang boys are involved in many robbery cases," she added. "They are bad. You know, they don¡¦t know Chinese and we don¡¦t know their language. We can¡¦t communicate with each other."

Another hospital worker, contacted Monday, said all patients wounded in the clashes were majority Han Chinese. "I don¡¦t know where the injured Xinjiang people are hospitalized," the official said. Shaoguan police declined to comment, and calls to the municipal propaganda department went unanswered during office hours. Calls to other municipal government offices and to Lacewood International's Hong Kong headquarters during office hours Friday produced recorded messages.

Xinjiang workers left

A Lacewood worker in Shaoguan who asked not to be named declined to discuss the clash in detail, saying it was "very sensitive." "I know about 4,000 workers left the factory after the incident. That is what I can tell you." Another company staff member on duty in Shaoguan said, "Many reporters are coming to us now. I don¡¦t know much. But all the Xinjiang employees have gone. They won't be back."

A spokesman from the Shaoguan municipal government was quoted as saying that the brawl was due to tensions between Uyghurs from the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, who are Turkic-speaking Muslims¡Xand Han Chinese, who make up most of China's population. The spokesman told the Associated Press that the fight started after a Han Chinese girl entered a dormitory where Uyghur workers were staying. Uyghur workers tried to harass her, and she screamed. The spokesman would not give his name or give details on the two people who died.

But a farmer from Zamin, in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture, said he heard that the clash was touched off by Uyghur boys who refused to tolerate the sexual harassment of Uyghur girls by their Han Chinese handlers. ¡§The kids from [Zamin] were bullied by the Chinese from the factory and other factory employees. Uyghur girls were asked to give them massages,¡¨ the farmer said. He said that the Uyghur boys, who normally protect Uyghur girl workers, were separated and assigned to work in different assembly lines. ¡§Afterwards, the girls were taunted and touched by the Chinese¡KThe Uyghur boys could not tolerate it. Friction accumulated little by little and caused this clash,¡¨ the farmer said.

A Uyghur youth, who works at a different factory in Guangdong, said it was hard to be sure of what caused the clash because authorities had taken the Uyghurs at the Lacewood factory to a hotel in an undisclosed location, cutting off their line of communication. ¡§When we tried to call them, all their cell phones were shut off,¡¨ the boy said.

Photos posted online from Shaoguan during the unrest showed hundreds of people on the streets between tall residential buildings, with rescue vehicles and armed police advancing along the street. Debris and bricks littered the area, with dozens of onlookers crowded into the balconies of the overlooking buildings, from where the photos were apparently taken. More than 60 of those injured were still in hospital, and the 14 critically injured were in a stable condition, Xinhua quoted doctors as saying Sunday.

Uyghur image

Dilshat Rashit, spokesman for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said the incident was very damaging to Uyghurs' public image and cited slander against the man originally accused online of raping a Han woman. "According to my understanding, Uyghur laborers in China have been the targets of long-term policies that are racially discriminatory from both the government and enterprises, and there were a number of restrictions on their lives of various kinds," he said. He said Uyghurs were often forced out of their homelands in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by such policies. "If they refuse any arrangement made on their behalf by the government, they would be put under pressure of different kinds. For example, economic sanctions in the form of fines, or refusal to allocate land, or the allocation of an inferior plot of land," said Rashit, adding that such actions were often carried out under the aegis of "poverty reduction" policies in Xinjiang. "These so-called poverty reduction schemes have forced Uyghurs into other parts of China, whether it be Guangdong or other regions. All of this cheap Uyghur labor is actually forced by the Chinese government, which uses coercive measures to keep up the supply."

Online reports

References to "Shaoguan," "mass fighting," and "clashes" were being sent around the Chinese Web in the aftermath of the incident. "Key words: Guangdong, Shaoguan, mass fighting. I'm not saying a word, just passing it on," wrote Twitter user toopooliu. Another user, leku_johnw, tweeted: "From now on it's likely that a lot of capitalists will rule [against] using ethnic minority labor. However you look at this, it's not a good thing..."

In a comment on the blog post of Tibetan writer Woeser on ethnic discrimination in China, a user identified as "Xiaoxiao" called for harsher punishments for Uyghurs who robbed people in Chinese cities. "I'm not a Han chauvinist. But the fact that there are Uyghur thieves the length and breadth of China is an undisputed reality. I understand totally that they are a 'small minority' and that they don't show us much about what all 'Xinjiang people' are like and so on," she wrote. "My mother was robbed by one of these thieves. The police caught him, made him give back the money, and let him go. When we asked why they didn't treat him more harshly, we were told, 'ethnic policies,'" she added.

Here are the YouTube video clips, including those taken during the incident.





(Shanghai Satellite TV news in Chinese)


(Radio Free Asia)  Armed Assailants Stormed Dorms   July 5, 2009.

Three youths belonging to the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group and now under Chinese government protection after ethnic clashes in the southern province of Guangdong said fighting began when Han Chinese laborers stormed the dormitories of Uyghur colleagues, beating them with clubs, bars, and machetes.

The deadly fighting between Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghurs and Han Chinese at the Lacewood toy factory in Guangdong's Shaoguan city began late June 25 and lasted into the early hours of the following day.

Authorities said two people died and 118 were injured in the clashes, which were sparked by an online report that Uyghur migrant workers at the factory had raped two Chinese women. A Chinese man is now detained for "forging" that report.

Excerpts of interviews with the three men, conducted on a single, hidden cell phone, follow. All spoke on condition of anonymity, and while their accounts cannot be independently verified, they are consistent:

Uyghur Man 1: Who are you?

RFA: Radio Free Asia's Uyghur service. We broadcast in the Uyghur language.

Uyghur Man 1: We do not have any freedom here. If they hear us talking on the phone, they will punish us.

RFA: Where were you when the brawl happened?

Uyghur Man 1: We were taking our meal break after the night shift, when the day shifters [Uyghurs] were sleeping in their dorms. We saw them [Han Chinese] storm into their dorms, pull them out from their beds, and start beating them, hacking and burning.

RFA: What time was it when this happened?

Uyghur Man 1: It was around 12:30 a.m. or 1 a.m.

RFA: How many people stormed in?

Uyghur Man 1: Thousands of Chinese, and 800 Uyghurs were there.

RFA: How do you know there were thousands?

Uyghur Man 1: This factory is very big.

RFA:...Chinese workers attacked you?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes, as long as Uyghurs were around, they attacked us.

RFA: Everyone including female workers attacked you, or only male workers?

Uyghur Man 1: The females, too, were against us, and they were throwing things at us from the tops of buildings.

RFA: Apart from factory workers, were there any members of gangs from outside among the attackers?...

Uyghur Man 1: Yes.

RFA: How many of them were there?

Uyghur Man 1: It was dark, so we could not tell how many.

RFA: How did they attack? Did they just storm into the dorms or did they gather you somewhere?

Uyghur Man 1: When the first floor dorms were attacked, we, the night-shifters who were eating on the second floor, escaped.

RFA: So, only night-shifters who were out eating escaped, and those inside were attacked?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes.

RFA: How many night-shifters were there?

Uyghur Man 1: More than 200 people.

RFA: So, 200 of you escaped.

Uyghur Man 1: Yes.

RFA: Were you aware of what happened to those inside?

Uyghur Man 1: We were not given details. They simply told us that they were in the hospital receiving treatment.

RFA: So you did not see the brawl with your own eyes, correct?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes, we saw it.

RFA: Can you describe it? What did you see, for example?

Uyghur Man 1: I will tell you. It has been eight days since we have been forbidden from leaving.

RFA: How many of you are there?

Uyghur Man 1: More than 400 people are here.

RFA: All them escaped?

Uyghur Man 1: There are those who escaped and those who were moved from the site. We were put here and told that they were protecting us. They are feeding us rice.

RFA: There are 400 people there right now, correct?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes, we are the ones who escaped with few injuries.

RFA: Did you guys respond to the attack? Did you fight back?

Uyghur Man 1: If they had spit, we would have drowned.

RFA: So there were very many people?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes. We were empty-handed. They had bats, bars, clubs, cudgels, machetes, kitchen knives, and axes.

RFA: Can you describe your mental state now?

Uyghur Man 1: Our spirits are very low. We demanded to be allowed to return home. They did not allow us.

RFA: Let¡¦s talk about those who died in the attack. Authorities say there were only two dead and 89 injured. Is it possible that there were so few casualties?

Uyghur Man 1: It is impossible.

RFA: Why do you say it is impossible?

Uyghur Man 1: I cannot say for sure, but we saw that ambulances were blocked. The injured inside [the ambulances] were also pulled out and stepped on, beaten. We were spared because we escaped to the mountains. I believe there are many dead. The injured also were numerous. It was merciless. We are Muslims. We do not shed blood nor take lives, isn¡¦t that so? Our religion forbids this. But they were heartless.

RFA: We have heard that Uyghur girls were raped in the attack. Do you know about this?

Uyghur Man 1: We have heard so, but we did not see it. At least, I did not see it. I do not know if others saw it.

RFA: Are there any girls among the 400 people there?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes, there are girls.

RFA: Why were you forbidden from leaving the hotel for the past eight days?

Uyghur Man 1: Because if there is a Uyghur [on the streets], the Chinese will chase you, slash and kill you. The government is protecting us.

RFA: Who is outside protecting you?

Uyghur Man 1: The police.

RFA: If you were in the mountains, how did they bring you to the hotel?

Uyghur Man 1: When we were hiding in the mountains, military units from Shaoguan city came and stopped the beating. Then we came here with them.

RFA: How long did the brawl last?

Uyghur Man 1: It started between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m., stopping near dawn. At dawn, we were in [the military] vehicle.

RFA: What do you think happened to the other 600 Uyghurs who were left in the factory?

Uyghur Man 1: Perhaps more than half of them are OK, but the others are not.

Uyghur Man 1: Do you know the exact number of dead?

Uyghur Man 1: How can we know since we are [being held] here?

RFA: If there are 400 people there, where are the rest of you? Do you know where the rest are located?

Uyghur Man 1: There is no way we can know.

RFA: There is a report that Uyghurs girls also died. Do you know about this?

Uyghur Man 1: We have heard about it, but since we did not see it with our own eyes, we cannot be sure.

RFA: Do you know the cause of the attack? We have heard that it was because Uyghur men raped Chinese women, and then the Chinese attacked Uyghurs to take revenge. Is that true? Did you find out the reason for the fighting?

Uyghur Man 1: The rape allegation was false. Forged. I can only assume that because there were more injured on the Uyghur side. They said this to hold us responsible for what happened.

RFA: Then what do you think was the real cause of the attack?

Uyghur Man 1: Ethnic discrimination.

RFA: We have heard reports that Uyghur men were separated from Uyghur women in the workplace, and that they were assigned to different assembly lines. There, the Uyghur girls were sexually harassed and were asked to give massages to Chinese co-workers. Is this is true? Were there any incidents of Uyghur women being harrassed or abused there?

Uyghur Man 1: I have heard of it, but I did not see it.

RFA: Did the police come to suppress the fighting? If they did, when did they come?

Uyghur Man 1: They came at the end, when the fighting was almost over. They came at dawn¡Xaround 5 a.m.... Around 20 or 30 of them came before then.

RFA: You are saying that they were unable to stop the attack?

Uyghur Man 1: No, let me put it this way. They are all Chinese, right? I think you can understand even if I do not say the rest. Then, the armed police arrived with big trucks. At that point it was stopped.

RFA: When they stopped the brawl, did they beat you as well, or protect you?

Uyghur Man 1: They just stopped it. At the time we were escaping outside by breaking through a wire fence. We were not there.

RFA: What about the ones who were left inside?

Uyghur Man 1: The rest? They were beaten up by the Chinese, wherever they were taken by them.

RFA: It seems the government did not make any serious move to stop the clash¡Xis that true?

Uyghur Man 1: That is right. They did not stop it in time.

RFA: Is that so?

Uyghur Man 1: Yes, then [the clash] became big.

RFA: Can I talk with someone who was inside?

Uyghur Man 1: Sure, here is someone to speak with.

RFA: You were inside when this attack happened?

Uyghur Man 2: Yes, I was there.

RFA: What did you see? Can you describe the scene?

Uyghur Man 2: It was dreadful.

RFA: In what way?

Uyghur Man 2: The Chinese stormed our dorms and started beating us up.

RFA: Can you describe how they beat you?

Uyghur Man 2: When they beat us they had machetes and other weapons in their hands.

RFA: Did they beat you one by one or as a group?

Uyghur Man 2: They just came together and beat us.

RFA: What were you feeling at that time?

Uyghur Man 2: We thought we were doomed.

RFA: Did you fight back, or did you not have any chance to do so?

Uyghur Man 2: We did not have any chance to fight back.

RFA: They were saying there are some Chinese injured as well. Do you know how they were injured?

Uyghur Man 2: At the beginning were in the dorms. Some of us are wanted to break through their circle and had to fight to escape to the mountains. That is how the Chinese might have been injured. I will now hand the phone to a guy who was injured at the scene.

RFA: OK. Where were you injured in the brawl?

Uyghur Man 3: Above my right eye and eyebrow. I got eight stitches. It was all opened and my skull was exposed.

RFA: What was used to hit you on the head?

Uyghur Man 3: A steel bar... When they chased me, I climbed up to the roof. I had to run upstairs. When I was escaping on the fifth floor, six of them came and started to beat me. When I fell, one of them hit me in the head ... When I fell down, they hit me. Then I got up and ran away.

RFA: Where did you go then?

Uyghur Man 3: I ran outside, away from the fighting, and hid myself somewhere.

RFA: You are injured. Why aren't you in the hospital?

Uyghur Man 3: I went to the hospital. Right now I am resting here.

RFA: Which hospital did you go to?

Uyghur Man 3: I don't know exactly.

RFA: Are there many injured?

Uyghur Man 3: Yes, there are a lot of injured people. But the government did not ask us about our injuries, what kind of compensation we need, or the cause of the injuries. We were just talking to each other about it and went by ourselves to treat the injuries. Nobody from their side asked us what had happened to us or the reason for our injuries.

RFA: How many injured Uyghurs did you see at the hospital?

Uyghur Man 3: They separated us when they took us to the hospital, so I am unsure.

RFA: How many people attacked the Uyghurs?

Uyghur Man 3: I think there are currently more than 6,000 Chinese workers at the company and there were gang members from outside as well. That is for sure. For that we do not have eyewitnesses at the moment, but it is clear that they injured the gatekeepers at the company and stormed into the factory. That is for sure. Even though we do not have any eyewitnesses, every one of us knows that gangs brought machetes and other weapons to hurt us.

RFA: What do you think was the cause of the fighting?

Uyghur Man 3: I do not want to talk about it.

(CCTV)  Production resumes in S China toy factory which was scene of deadly brawl   July 7, 2009.

Production has resumed in the toy factory in south China's Guangdong Province where two Uygurs were killed in a brawl, according to local sources on Tuesday. About 16,000 of the 18,000 workers at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan of Guangdong have returned to work by Tuesday, including more than 700 workers from the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

A dispute among factory workers led to a fight involving hundreds of people on the morning of June 26, leaving two dead and 118 injured.

Jin Ling, a female worker with the factory from Nanchang of east China's Jiangxi province, left the factory on June 27 but returned the next day. "When I came back, I found the production line was open but many workers were absent," she recalled. On that day, only about 3,000 workers went to work.

Sitting in her dormitory, which has a white mosquito tent, a red bedsheet, a round mirror and a textbook of mandarin Chinese, the 21-year-old Uygur girl Aysumgul Memet said she was learning while working. "We were worried after the incident a few days ago, but now we are feeling better every day," she said.

Busa Regul was only 19 years old, but she is already head of a production group, in charge of gathering the products and registering them. Although she said the work was tiring sometimes, the girl was satisfied with the salary -- 1,100 yuan to 1,600 yuan (161.8 to 235.3 U.S. dollars) a month. "I want to learn more so as to find a better job in the future," she beamed.

According to Erbakri Turdi, Party chief of the Minxiang village of Shufu county in Xinjiang, many migrant workers from the region had complaint when they just arrived. "But the local government is trying to comfort them," he said. After the clash, Turdi said that they helped all the Uygur workers to make phone calls to their families. "Unlike reports from some media, most of the workers from Xinjiang are now willing to continue working here," he said. A 24-hour clinic was set up in the factory with instructions in the Uygur language. A doctor said that all the medicines were free of charge.

In the early hours of Sunday, the Urumqi police department got a tip-off that there were calls on Internet forums for demonstrations. The riot began around 8 p.m., when rioters started beating pedestrians and smashing buses. The violence soon spread to many other downtown areas. Police said at least 156 people had died and more than 800 were injured in the riot.

Many workers in the Xuri Toy Factory were dissatisfied seeing some media citing the clash in the factory as the cause of the Urumqi riot on Sunday. "We are so faraway from Xinjiang and I don't know why they make our factory the scapegoat," said Jin Ling, the worker from Jiangxi.

Her colleague Luo Shan also believed that the accusation was "unreasonable".  "The problem in our factory was that we couldn't understand each other's language," she said. "It lies with communication." Despite the dispute, Luo said she would try to keep a good relationship with Uygur workers. "We shared the same goal -- everybody is coming to earn a living," she said. "I'd like to work with my colleagues, Hans and Uygurs alike."

(China Daily)  Peace reigns at toy factory in Shaoguan.  By Liang Qiwen.  July 7, 2009.

In stark contrast to the deadly brawl on its grounds on June 26 that allegedly sparked the latest riots in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi, peace fell upon the toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, Monday.

No police cars or security forces were at the scene. No security guards attempted to stop reporters from entering the factory. But on June 26, the factory was the scene of a fight involving hundreds of people. The riots began about 2 am, leaving two dead and 118 injured.

Xinjiang authorities later said some overseas opposition forces used Shaoguan's brawl to instigate Sunday's riot in Xinjiang.

Monday, the factory was hiring more workers, but applicants had to first show their ID cards to prove they were not from Xinjiang. More than 800 of the factory's 10,000 workers, of the Uygur minority group, were moved to three temporary shelters in the city after the brawl.

The fight broke out after a disgruntled former factory worker allegedly made a false post online that "six Xinjiang boys had raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory," officials said. The rumor was reportedly first posted on, a major website in Shaoguan, and then re-run on many other websites, triggering the brawl.

Police later said no rape cases have been reported since May in the district where the factory is located. Authorities have detained the worker.

The suspect quit working at the factory, then wished to be rehired, but the company refused, police said. Then he faked the rape information to express his discontent with the factory, police said.

Police would not release the man's full name and only gave his family name as Zhu.

About 400 police had to be deployed to evacuate people on the site, with the violence lasting until early morning that day. Those who were injured in the factory brawl have been hospitalized at the Yuebei People's Hospital in Shaoguan. About half of them are of the Uygur ethnic group. Visits to the hospital by China Daily Monday found them being treated in a special ward guarded by police, restricted from the public.

(Xinhua15 suspects detained over factory fight that triggered Xinjiang violence.  July 8, 2009.

Police have detained 15 suspects in connection with a fight that broke out in a south China factory, which is said to have spurred the deadly riot in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Sunday. Thirteen men, including three natives of Xinjiang, were detained for participating in the massive fight between workers at a toy factory on June 26 in Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province, Liu Guoqiang, deputy director of the Public Security Bureau of Shaoguan, said Tuesday. The other two men were arrested for spreading rumors on the Web that Xinjiang employees had raped two female workers, according to Liu. The majority of the detained are Guangdong natives. More than 400 police officers are still searching for more suspects. Government officials say the factory fight was used as an excuse for the riot in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, that killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

(China Daily)  Han, Uygur groups working together at factory    July 8, 2009.

Work has resumed at the toy factory where a deadly brawl is thought to have sparked a chain of events that led to the Xinjiang riots. Workers at the plant said they did not expect the violent dispute at the factory between Han and Uygur ethnic groups to trigger such bloodshed.

"The local Han people's initial actions were meant to express their dissatisfaction. But the issue has escalated unexpectedly," said a man at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, who witnessed the brawl between hundreds of people from the two groups early June 26. The fighting left two dead and 118 injured.

The violence erupted after a disgruntled former factory worker allegedly made a false post online claiming that "six Xinjiang boys had raped two innocent girls" at the factory. The rumor was reportedly first posted on, a major website in Shaoguan, and then re-posted on many other websites, sparking indignation that led to the brawl. Police later said no rape cases had been reported.

Authorities detained 15 suspects in connection with the fight, Liu Guoqiang, the deputy director with the public security bureau of Shaoguan, was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Two of those arrested were accused of spreading the rumors that led to the incendiary situation.

Xinjiang authorities believe overseas groups used the ethnic tension in Shaoguan to incite Sunday's riot in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. At least 156 people have been killed there and more than 1,000 injured.

About 16,000 of the 18,000 workers at the toy factory had returned to work by yesterday, including more than 700 workers from Xinjiang, local sources said. Jin Ling, a female worker from Nanchang in Jiangxi province, left the factory on June 27 but returned the next day. "When I came back, I found the production line open but many workers were absent," she said.

Xuri's officials hired 800 migrant workers in May in Shufu county, which is under the jurisdiction of Kashgar in western Xinjiang, according to a press release issued by the municipal government of Shaoguan.The hiring was in response to the central government's policy of encouraging firms to hire minorities from the western region to reduce the income gap between the area and other parts of China.

"Many people here now feel very upset about the events in Urumqi, as they had never intended to arouse such unrest," the unnamed toy factory worker said.

More than 700 workers from Xinjiang are now taking shelter in a vacant factory in Shaoguan's Baitu town, about 4 km from Xuri's factory. During a visit there yesterday, China Daily found former Xuri workers walking and talking freely while Xinjiang migrant workers guarding the gates.

Police were monitoring the situation.

A 19-year-old Uygur girl said she was satisfied with her work in Shaoguan, the Nanfang Daily reported. The worker said she could earn more than 1,300 yuan ($191) a month at Xuri, but her monthly income in Xinjiang was only 800 yuan ($117). According to Erbakri Turdi, Party chief of the Minxiang village of Shufu county in Xinjiang, many migrant workers from the region had complaints when they arrived "but the local government is trying to comfort them". After the clash, Turdi said the government helped Uygur workers make phone calls home to their families. "Unlike reports from some media, most of the workers from Xinjiang are now willing to continue working here," he said.

(Xinhua)  Uygur victims, family member of dead in factory brawl condemn Xinjiang riot    July 8, 2009.

A family member of a Uygur man who died in a toy factory brawl, which is said to have spurred the deadly riot in Xinjiang on Sunday, has joined injured workers in condemning the riot.

Patigul, 20, an elder sister of the victim Aximujiang Ahmad, told Xinhua Tuesday she was heartbroken when knowing many families lost their loved ones in the riot. "The murders must be punished." She made the remarks one day after Uygur workers who injured in the brawl in south China's Guangdong Province on June 26 condemned the riot in Urumqi. She said her family were grieved about the death of Aximujiang. However, some people staged the violence in Urumqi on the excuse of supporting Aximujiang. The father and mother of Patigul died in 1995 and 2001. Patigul said Aximujiang and the other younger brother received much help from local officials, relatives and neighbors. The two brothers finished junior middle school with funding from the local government of Shufu County in Kashgar. The people who used the death of her brother to stage the violence have ulterior motives, said Patigul. The body of Aximujiang Ahmad was sent back to his hometown by plane on June 29, and was buried on the same day, she added.

Injured Uygur workers in the brawl who were receiving treatment in a hospital in Shaoguan, Guangdong, denounced the Urumqi riot Monday. "The rioters used our injuries as an excuse for their violence," said Atigul Turdi, a 24-year-old woman worker who was injured in the brawl. "I firmly opposed the violence in the name of taking revenge for us." "I believe the government will handle the brawl appropriately," Atigul Turdi said. "Why did the rioters destroy our beautiful and peaceful Xinjiang region in such cruel manners?" Two Uygur workers died and 87 Xinjiang Uygur workers were injured in the brawl. Some people posted calls on Internet forums for demonstrations in Urumqi.

Atigul Turdi said she would stay in Guangdong to work after recovery. As one of the first workers to arrive at the factory from Shufu County, Xinjiang, on May 1, she missed the happy days to work with her colleagues harmoniously. Ebeyjan Ahmad whose arms and head were hurt in the fight was waiting to be discharged from hospital. He shared the worry with Turdi and chose to work in Shaoguan, too.

Police have detained 15 suspects in connection with the factory fight. Government officials said the factory fight was used as an excuse for the riot in Urumqi, which killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000 others. 

(The Wall Street Journal)  Clash at Factory Employing Uighurs Triggered Rioting   By Jason Leow and Gordon Fairclough.  July 8, 2009.

One of the sparks that ignited Xinjiang's ethnic powder keg this week came from a toy factory here in southern China nearly 2,000 miles from Urumqi, the northwestern city hit by the riots.

The trouble started when rumors began to spread that Turkic-speaking, mainly Muslim Uighur migrant workers at the toy plant had raped Chinese women. Allegations also were posted online, and they traveled through the Han community.

Police would eventually say the charges were untrue. But as word spread of further alleged sexual assaults, enraged Han workers attacked their Uighur co-workers. State media say two Uighurs were killed and dozens more injured. Uighur groups say they believe the death toll was higher. Pictures and videos purporting to show that clash and its victims were distributed online.

The deadly attack late last month on the factory grounds and the divergent public responses to it shed a harsh light on the state of ethnic relations in China, where members of minority groups often live on the margins, poorer and less educated than the Han.

The Uighurs' employment at the toy plant was part of a labor program promoted by the government in part as a way to help forge bonds between Uighur migrants and Han Chinese workers in eastern China.

Police said Tuesday that they had detained 13 men, three from Xinjiang and 11 Han Chinese, in connection with the factory clash.

China has 55 officially recognized ethnic-minority groups, which account for about 8% of the country's 1.3 billion people. The other 92% are Han Chinese, who dominate the central government. Interactions between Han Chinese and the Tibetans and Uighurs living on the country's western frontier can be especially fraught. The government, in an attempt to quell resentment among Uighurs and Tibetans, has poured development money into the West to create jobs and economic growth.

The animosity and distrust between Han Chinese and Uighurs has been aggravated by a series of violent acts last year attributed by the government to Uighur terrorists. And many Uighurs complain that ethnic discrimination against them has been rising.

"Many observers see growing ethnic tensions and polarization between ethnic groups," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based advocacy group. "There's widespread cultural prejudice."

Authorities in Shaoguan, an industrial city about 120 miles north of Guangzhou, say they investigated the rape allegations against the Uighurs and determined they were false. Two men have been arrested for spreading rumors online about the alleged rapes, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Still, it appears many of the factory's 18,000 workers and Han Chinese across the country believe the rape allegations are true and the government is covering up the facts to protect minority people and preserve ethnic peace.

The "Chinese government always asks victims to endure the tribulation and suffering" in order to preserve inter-ethnic harmony, said a Han Chinese woman who works for a multinational company in Beijing. She said Uighurs receive preferential treatment "that is totally unfair to our normal Han people."

Many Han Chinese, angered by unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang, say they feel betrayed, since their tax dollars have helped to develop those relatively poorer regions of the country. Many say they think the government should halt affirmative-action programs for minorities.

In online posts about the factory clash, others identifying themselves as Han Chinese argued that the Han workers must have had some justification for the attack. "Even if the rape posting was a rumor, it can't be ruled out that the Han workers suffered a lot from the Uighurs inside the factory," wrote a man who calls himself a "member of the Chinese nation."

The local government invited the toy factory -- which makes dolls, electronic-game consoles and other toys, mainly for export -- to set up shop in Shaoguan even though the city is mostly heavy industry. The factory has escaped China's recent wave of layoffs, and in fact is hiring.

For activist Uighurs overseas, the factory clash has become a rallying event -- one mentioned frequently as a trigger for the continuing unrest in Urumqi by both Han and Uighur residents. One video was posted on YouTube with the title "Chinese Commies Massacre Innocent Uyghur Workers 3," and a caption saying it shows Han Chinese with clubs beating Uighurs as they try to flee. The veracity of the video couldn't be determined.

A Uighur man who said he was present at the factory clash was interviewed by the Uighur-language service of Radio Free Asia, a broadcaster funded by the U.S. government. He denied Uighurs were involved in sexual assaults and said they were unable to fight back when attacked by a large number of Hans. "We are Muslims. We do not shed blood nor take lives, isn't that so? Our religion forbids this. But they were heartless," he said.

Han factory workers say Uighurs receive room and board in addition to their salaries, which Han Chinese do not. Some said they were wary of the Uighurs when they joined the plant's work force earlier this year. "Everyone always said watch out for Uighurs, they'll rob you," said a Han worker from Hunan province. "And they did look aggressive."

"They were always trouble," says a Han man who identified himself by his surname, Chen, and runs a convenience store near the factory gate. "They can't speak Chinese. And they steal."

Huang Yunwu, a press official from the Shaoguan Communist Party propaganda bureau, said the 800 Uighur workers have been moved out of the factory to another location in the city to prevent more conflict. Their Han colleagues said they were unaware of this separation.

Uighurs also often take a dim view of Han Chinese. "If I saw another Uighur getting beat up by Han Chinese on the street, I would jump to his defense," a Uighur man selling bread on a Beijing street corner said. "But if I saw a Uighur beating up a Han, I would stay out of the way."

(Xinhua)  Rumor-mongers express remorse over fabrications about factory brawl    July 9, 2009.

Two people detained on charges of fabricating and spreading rumors of rapes and beatings in connection with a factory fight in Guangdong Province on Thursday expressed regret for their actions. Their unsubstantiated postings on the Internet, saying "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory" in Shaoguan city, Guangdong Province, caused the massive brawl, which left two Uygur employees dead and more than 100 injured on June 26.

Huang Jiangyuan, 23, told a Xinhua reporter at a detention center in Shaoguan, that he was angry at being turned down by the Xuri Toy Factory after applying for a job in June. "I post an article 'Xuri is trash' at a forum on on June 16, saying 'Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory', which quickly spread on the Internet," Huang said. "I just wanted to express my discontent with the factory, but I never anticipated such a tragic outcome," said Huang, who was detained by police on June 28 over spreading rumor and slandering.

Police found no rape cases at the Xuri Toy Factory.

Huang Zhangsha, 19, was detained on June 29 after he published an article the day before on his online chat space, saying "eight Xinjiang people were beaten to death in the factory fight". "I witnessed the factory brawl and heard people say 'Xinjiang workers were beaten to death' and 'Han girls were raped' the next day. I did not check the rumor before writing the article," said Huang, a native of Hunan Province. The article was widely reproduced the following day.

Shaoguan police have detained 17 people on charges of fabricating and spreading rumors in connection with the factory brawl. Some would face up to 15 days in administrative detention, said Kang Zhijian, vice director with the Shaoguan Public Security Bureau.

(Xinhua)  Victim's relative: Shaoguan, Urumqi violence have no link    July 10, 2009.

A family member of a Uygur man who died in a toy factory brawl in Shaoguan, south China's Guangdong Province, condemned the Xinjiang riot and rejected some reports that the two incidents have any link. The brawl between Han and Uygur workers which killed two Uyghurs is said to have sparked Sunday's riot that left 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured thousands of kilometers away in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

Patigul, 20, is an elder sister of Aximujiang Ahmad who was killed in Shaoguan. She told Xinhua she was heartbroken to learn the loss of many families in the violent crimes in Xinjiang. "The murders must be punished", she added. Patigul said the local government of Shufu County in Kashgar had been funding Aximujiang and the other younger brother's education ever since their parents' death. Therefore, the people who used the death of her brother to stage the violence have ulterior motives, she said.

Soundbite: Patigul, sister of Shaoguan incident victim Aximujiang Ahmad: What happened in Guangdong has nothing to do with the riot in Xinjiang. It is the conspiracy of a few violent criminals and those having ulterior motives that lead to the unrest in Urumqi.

Patigul said she is satisfied with the way the government handled the aftermath of the Shaoguan incident. The body of Aximujiang Ahmad was sent back to his hometown by plane on June 29, and was buried on the same day according to the local tradition, said Patigul.

Soundbite: Patigul, sister of Shaoguan incident victim Aximujiang Ahmad: It is those stupid, ignorant people who instigated the incident. I sincerely hope that Urumqi, Kashgar and other places would return to peace and tranquility and our government would calm the Xinjiang violence as soon as possible.

(The Guardian)  Old suspicions magnified mistrust into ethnic riots in Urumqi    By Jonathan Watts.   July 10, 2009.

When the deadly three-hour fight broke out in the Xuri toy factory, employees thought at first that the screams and shouts were the new arrivals dancing.

It was an easy mistake to make. When the first young migrants arrived two months earlier, they did not speak the local language and so danced each night to make friends with their new workmates.

But the jollity was not enough to transcend the huge religious, cultural and geographic divide that separated the new arrivals from the local people.

The Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs had been brought 3,000 miles across China to work and live alongside the Han majority in Guangdong province, the semi-tropical workshop of the world. It proved a lethal combination. On the night of 25 June, two Uighurs were killed by a Han mob. The fury and hatred from that episode was rapidly transmitted back across the country via internet and mobile phone to Xinjiang, the Uighurs' home. Little more than a week later, thousands of Uighur protesters took to the streets of Urumqi, capital of the far western province of Xinjiang, slaughtering Han people in the worst race riots in modern Chinese history. The explosion of violence on one side of China was far deadlier than the distant spark that ignited it.

The first few Uighur migrants arrived at the toy factory on 2 May. Han colleagues initially treated them as a curiosity. "At first, we thought they were fun because in the evenings they danced and it was very lively," said a female worker who gave her name as Ma. "But then many others arrived. The more of them there were, the worst relations became."

Within a few weeks, 818 Muslim Uighurs had been transplanted into the factory under a controversial government programme to encourage migration from poorer western regions such as Xinjiang to wealthy eastern provinces such as Guangdong. The authorities say this is an important step towards closing the gulf in incomes and providing jobs for the estimated 1.5 million surplus workers in Xinjiang.

Exile groups have condemned the policy as an attempt to assimilate Uighurs into Han culture. They see their homeland being stripped of oil, gas, coal and now young people, particularly women, who make up the majority of the migrants.

As the Han have flowed into Xinjiang under the government's Go West policy, some of its population has been nudged east by the declining environment in Xinjiang, government incentives and the lure of a modern life.

Two hundred thousand Uighurs have made the move since the start of 2008. Most are teenagers and leaving home to work for the first time. Typically, they sign a one- to three-year contract then travel to factory dormitories in the humid, semi-tropics.

Monthly pay ranges from 1,000 yuan to 1,400 yuan, on a par with local workers, but many get the additional benefit of free bed and board.

But parachuting in thousands of Uighurs into a very different environment has created tensions. Shaoguan has seen an influx of migrants which has swollen the population to 3 million. Industrial estates are expanding into former farmland. The Xuri toy factory was an orchard three years ago. Today, it employs 18,000 people and had plans to quadruple the workforce.

The centre of this instant community is a giant TV screen sponsored by Pepsi that sits at the base of an electricity pylon outside the factory gate. Hundreds gather here each night to watch kung fu dramas after their shifts. They say the Uighurs made themselves unpopular.

"The Xinjiang people have a low level of civilisation," said a local shop owner. "They ordered beer and refused to pay for it. They pushed and shoved people who passed them on the street, and they chased and harassed the girls all the time."

He said there was a rumour that Uighurs raped at least two women before the factory fight. One of the women killed herself afterwards, he said. "The Xinjiang men weren't punished. There is a different set of rules for them."

The government denies there were any rapes, but the allegation is repeated by almost all of the 20 or so local people the Guardian spoke to, including a policeman who said the government was covering up an incident that could incite racial tensions. But no one could provide evidence or the names of the victims. Whether truth or rumour, the rape allegations had huge consequences, exacerbated by modern technology.

The fight started some time after 11pm on 25 June, when a female worker was said to have called for help after being surrounded by chanting Uighur men, either near or inside their first floor rooms in the workers' dormitory.

A security guard attempted to intervene, but was rebuffed. Agitated Han residents in the floors above smashed windows and rained shards of glass and other objects down below. A mob, initially only a couple of dozen strong, armed themselves with iron pipes, wooden staves and other tools and started fighting with the knife-bearing Uighurs.

As those involved called for reinforcements on their mobile phones, the brawl drew in hundreds. Video footage shot on a mobile phone and posted online shows a savage one-sided assault on Uighurs being severely beaten.

A local man said he took part in the assault because he was furious that the rapes had gone unpunished. "I just wanted to beat them. I hate Xinjiang people," he said. "Seven or eight of us beat a person together. Some Xinjiang people hid under their beds. We used iron bars to batter them to death and then dragged them out and put the bodies together."

Squatting on his haunches in the shadows of a half-constructed apartment block, the Han man ¡V who gave no name ¡V said the government was lying about the death toll. He claims he helped to kill seven or eight Uighurs, battering them until they stopped screaming. He thinks the death toll is more than 30, including a few Han.

"When I see the news and they say only two people died, I am so angry. That must be wrong. How can they not be dead? I saw their heads bleeding."

The Guardian was unable to verify his claims. Nobody else put the death toll as high. The security forces did not arrive until two and a half hours after the clashes started.

A policeman who was among them said only two people had died. "We got there late because it took a long time to assemble sufficient officers," he said. "When we arrived, there was blood everywhere and dozens of badly wounded people lying on the ground. It took two days for them to clear up." The authorities say 118 were injured, many critically.

Hundreds of those involved in the violence then left the next day, locals said, to avoid arrest. For more than a week after the deadly brawl, the only arrest was of Zhu Gangyuan, a man accused of spreading the rumours about the rape of the two women. Police say he was a disgruntled former employee who made up the story to get revenge on the company after it refused to re-hire him.

Every computer screen at the local internet cafe carries a warning: "Do not spread rumours. Do not upload or spread information about the toy factory."

Yet the world's biggest censor has been unable to keep a lid on what happened. Video of the brutality and photographs of the victims were quickly circulated on the internet by Uighur exile groups, along with claims that the death toll was under-reported and the police were slow to act.

Within days of the Shaoguan killings, Uighurs in Urumqi - the capital of Xinjiang - used email to call for a protests.

But the scale of the Uighur protest and its level of violence took everyone by surprise. Witnesses describe a peaceful, but noisy crowd in the Central Square at 7pm that turned into an angry mob that set upon Han passers-by. Many victims were slashed, stabbed and beaten to death. The government says 184 people were killed, including 137 Han Chinese, 46 Uighurs and one from the Hui ethnic group, and more than 1,000 injured. The vast majority were Han.

The state media have published graphic images of the bloodied bodies of Han victims in Urumqi, but pictures and video of the violence against Uighurs in Shaoguan remains censored.

A day after the riots in Urumqi, police rounded up more than 1,000 Uighur suspects. But it was not until the following day ¡V 10 days after the toy factory fight ¡V that the Shaoguan police announced that they had detained anyone suspected of killing the Uighur migrants.

Dousing the ethnic flames will be difficult. The state media have published stories about the return of harmony in Shaoguan and happy Uighurs returning gratefully to work, but the Guardian was turned away from the toy factory, dormitories and hospital. The Uighurs have been relocated to isolated dormitories more than seven miles away and work in a separate factory.

A Kashgar communist party official said 757 left of the original 818 arrivals remain. The rest, he said, had gone home over the past two months because they were unhappy.

Those who are left are guarded by police. The migrants are segregated by fear. A Muslim restaurant in town says it supplies 600 orders of noodles every day. Other restaurants do the same. The food is picked up by officials and taken to the Uighurs' camp. They dare not go into the city.

"They used to come at weekends to walk around," said a drink seller in the leafy Sun Yat Sen park in the centre of town. "But they have not returned since the fight." He said even the Uighur kebab sellers, who are unconnected to the factory group, have moved out.

Two Uighur workers were brought out for a press conference, surrounded by officials. They said they are very satisfied with their new accommodation and workplace. They denied there had been any rapes or that the death toll had been underplayed.

"We travelled thousands of kilometres together to come here and now two bodies have been sent home. Isn't that proof enough?", said Bayi Aikemu, a young man who was a friend of one of the victims.

A Shaoguan government spokesmen Wang Qinxin, called the factory killings "a very ordinary incident", which he said had been exaggerated to foment unrest.

Other officials said harmony has been restored. But the propaganda machine is struggling. At the genesis of the riot, there is little cause for the authorities to feel reassured.

Many factors contribute to the ethnic violence in Shaoguan and Urumqi, but mistrust has been magnified by new technology and old suspicions.

"Sometimes a rumour is like a snowball. It will become bigger and bigger, especially on the internet," said Li Xiaolin, the head of the Shaoguan propaganda department.

"If there is a lack of communication, it will create a market for rumours. If communication goes well, there is no space for rumours."

In Shaoguan, they continue to swirl.

(Global Post)  Uighur workers held behind locked gates  By Kathleen E. McLaughlin.  July 10, 2009.

Three weeks after simmering racial tension escalated to mayhem and a double murder at a toy factory here, about 750 Uighur workers remain largely out of sight, behind locked gates and guarded doors ¡X perhaps because they are at the center of a storm that has brought international attention to a remote Chinese province.

Most of the Xinjiang migrants who arrived at the massive factory in northern Guangdong province in May are apparently being held in a branch workshop 15 miles up the road, after the fight here led to mass protests and killings 2,000 miles away in their home province. Their tightly guarded new home and workshop is sealed off, and requests to visit inside and interview the Uighur men playing pool behind the gates after dark were refused by guards without explanation.

When asked if those inside were allowed to leave, a guard replied sternly, ¡§No, they can¡¦t go out.¡¨ About 10 locals said they haven¡¦t seen the Uighurs outside the gates since they were moved here following the Shaoguan factory murders on June 26, but government officials say they can come and go. Onlookers are quickly shuffled away from the gates and police closely monitor every move.

On July 10, officials from Shaoguan and Xinjiang local governments held a press conference to reveal new details of their investigation into the deadly factory fight, and to discuss the overall situation. They produced two Uighur workers from the toy factory to answer a few questions about their current situation, but many details remain unclear.

The young Uighur man and woman said their new living quarters are safe, but they did not discuss how tightly their movement is controlled. The press conference was time-limited, and the workers, identified only by their Chinese names, were quickly shuffled away when it ended.

¡§I did feel scared right after the incident happened, but now we feel so confident and full of hope for our life and work,¡¨ said the woman, Xiare Kezhi. ¡§Now we have already gone back to work and we all live with peace of mind.¡¨

They do, however, know about the violence that occurred in Urumqi on July 5, when a reported 156 people were killed after locals took to the streets to protest the Shaoguan murders and lack of arrests. The two workers are from Kashgar, where foreign journalists were ordered to leave on Friday.

¡§We have heard about what¡¦s happening in Urumqi; we watch TV news and people are talking about it,¡¨ said the Uighur woman. ¡§We wonder why people connected the two things. We think that what happened here has nothing to do with the Urumqi incident.¡¨

What precisely happened at the massive Shaoguan toy factory on June 26 remains clouded by rampant rumors and anxiety. City officials at the press conference said the fight broke out after a Han woman was harassed and groped by a group of Uighur men when she returned to her dorm from work late on June 25. She reported the incident and the men refused to cooperate with an investigation, said city government spokesman Wang Qingxi, so the fight escalated into a deadly brawl that killed two Uighur men and left 100 people injured.

News of the incident, some of which was apparently exaggerated, quickly spread across the internet. Uighur rights groups globally condemned what happened and a lack of police action. Earlier this week, officials announced they had arrested 15 people in Shaoguan, including three Uighurs, in connection with the factory brawl. Other reports said several people were detained for spreading rumors.

As Xinjiang braces for a crackdown, locals in Shaoguan are full of opinions about Uighurs, race and what really happened here.

¡§Things are back to normal in the factory because there are no people from Xinjiang there anymore,¡¨ said Yang Lin, a 40-year-old factory worker from central China. ¡§We were very surprised by everything that happened, but these were people who wanted to steal things.¡¨

¡§These people from Xinjiang are just wild,¡¨ said another worker who refused to give his name, but who said he believed the rumors that the men raped Han women shortly after arriving at the factory in May.

Those initial rumors, skewering six Uighurs for raping two Han women (a charge later denounced by police), started circulating online in early June. But workers said tension arose shortly after the Uighurs arrived. Hubei native Li Wenlin said there was constant arguing between the Han and Uighur men for weeks, but he stayed out of it.

¡§I¡¦m an easy person to get along with and I thought the Uighurs were fine,¡¨ said Li, who said police in the factory warned against talking about the incident.

Despite the tension and violence, officials said plans to bring several hundred more Uighur workers to the area will proceed. The future for those holed up in the gated toy factory appears unknown.

(Global Post)  Life on Planet Uighur.  By Kathleen E. McLaughlin.  July 14, 2009.

At the heart of a deadly June toy factory clash that sparked mass protests and killings 2,000 miles away in China¡¦s far west lies a government policy that sends thousands of young Muslim Uighurs to fill labor gaps in the southeast.

Experts say despite yawning cultural differences and communication problems between Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese, there typically is little language training or other preparation for young Uighurs before they arrive in Guangdong province for factory jobs. Most come straight off the farm, far even from the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, and are dropped directly into an atmosphere that might as well be a different planet.

Their governments and factory managers ¡X accustomed to hiring millions of Chinese workers from all across the country to work together ¡X may have misjudged the Uighurs¡¦ ability to quickly assimilate. The Uighurs, after all, speak a completely different language, adhere to Islam and don¡¦t eat pork, which is China¡¦s staple meat. They are given separate food choices, but that¡¦s about it when it comes to cultural considerations.

¡§Company bosses don¡¦t care about such things. They only care about money, cost,¡¨ said Xiao Qingshan, who runs an aid group for migrant workers in Guangdong province.

Factory life, seemingly well suited to millions of young Chinese migrant farm kids out on their first big adventure away from home, often fails for the Uighurs, who simply don¡¦t blend easily with Han culture. The wages are attractive to many, as is the sense of fun. But the barriers are tough to overcome.

¡§You can see many Uighurs here on the streets without jobs, because they can't speak Mandarin,¡¨ said Xiao. ¡§They first came and tried to find stable work but instead, they took up small street-side businesses like selling lamb kebabs. Some of them have turned to crime.¡¨

The ¡§surplus labor¡¨ program, designed to move workers from poorer, economically stagnant places like Xinjiang to fill often low-paying jobs others no longer want, has been the subject of controversy specific to Uighurs for several years. Han Chinese move to Xinjiang to work, while Uighurs move out from Xinjiang into other parts of China, creating attempted cultural assimilation via economics.

¡§The government enforces repressive labor policies, including measures that have a disproportionate negative impact on ethnic minorities,¡¨ the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China said about Xinjiang in its 2008 report.

The commission talked about forced labor, where farmers are coerced primarily through financial threats from local governments to send their children to faraway factories. Last year, Nike faced accusations that a Taiwanese factory making its shoes in Huizhou was employing under-aged girls against their will.

Factory workers in Huizhou said three-quarters of the 1,200 Uighur workers there last year went home. The other 300 will leave in August, though the reason for their departure is unclear. One Uighur worker said he was forced to move from Kashgar to Huizhou for work, but would not elaborate on how.

Last Friday in Shaoguan, Ahat Sayet, head of the Shufu district in Kashgar that sent 818 Uighur workers to the toy factory in May, spoke about local labor policies. Despite the killing of two Uighurs during the June 26 brawl in their dorm, Sayet said Kashgar would send more people to the toy factory, after first bolstering education and training for new arrivals.

Still, the hundreds of Uighurs who worked at the factory apparently are being kept behind locked gates 10 miles up the road in an old, heavily guarded factory compound. Local officials say they have resumed toy factory work, but did not allow any independent interviews with Uighurs to discuss either the murders or their current lives and work.

Friends at another factory several hours away said the Uighurs in Shaoguan are not being allowed to leave the gated compound, and are given only limited phone access ¡X via two public telephones. They report that some who were outside when the attack commenced may have escaped, but many more remain inside.

The Uighurs were sent to Shaoguan¡¦s toy factory in May and, workers said, problems began soon after. Rape accusations against the Uighur men were posted online. Though police have said there were no rape complaints, the situation disintegrated. Late on June 25, the police said, a massive, two-hour, bloody brawl broke out that killed two and injured more than 100. Uighurs said they were sleeping when the Han launched an unprovoked attack.

The murderous mayhem could have happened at any of the scores of factories across China¡¦s south where Uighur and Han workers have been thrown together. What remains unknown is how and if the government will continue its labor policy, while making sure to prevent ethnically charged mayhem again.

(Washington Post)  China Unrest Tied To Labor Programs.  By Ariana Eunjung Cha.  July 15, 2009.

When the local government began recruiting young Muslim Uighurs in this far western region for jobs at the Xuri Toy Factory in the country's booming coastal region, the response was mixed.

Some, lured by the eye-popping salaries and benefits, eagerly signed up.

But others, like Safyden's 21-year-old sister, were wary. She was uneasy, relatives said, about being so far from her family and living in a Han Chinese-dominated environment so culturally, religiously and physically different from what she was accustomed to. It wasn't until a local official threatened to fine her family 2,000 yuan, or about $300, if she didn't go that she reluctantly packed her bags this spring for a job at the factory in Shaoguan, 2,000 miles away in the heart of China's southern manufacturing belt.

The origins of last week's ethnically charged riots in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region, can be traced to a labor export program that led to the sudden integration of the Xuri Toy Factory and other companies in cities throughout China.

Uighur protesters who marched into Urumqi's main bazaar on July 5 were demanding a full investigation into a brawl at the toy factory between Han and Uighur workers that left two Uighurs dead. The protest, for reasons that still aren't clear, spun out of control. Through the night, Uighur demonstrators clashed with police and Han Chinese bystanders, leaving 184 people dead and more than 1,680 injured in one of the bloodiest clashes in the country's modern history. Two Uighurs were shot dead by police Monday, and tensions remain palpable.

"I really worry about her very much," Safyden, 29, said of his sister, whom he did not want named because he fears for her safety. "The government should send them back. What if new conflicts happen between Uighurs and Han? The Uighurs will be beaten to death."

Both Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 percent of the country's population and dominate China's politics and economy, and Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority living primarily in China's far west, say anger has been simmering for decades.

By moving Uighur workers to factories outside Xinjiang and placing Han-run factories in Xinjiang, Chinese officials say, authorities are trying to elevate the economic status of Uighurs whose wages have lagged behind the nationwide average. But some Han Chinese have come to resent these policies, which they call favoritism, and some Uighurs complain that the assimilation efforts go too far. Uighurs say that their language is being phased out of schools, that in some circumstances they cannot sport beards, wear head scarves or fast as dictated by Islamic tradition, and that they are discriminated against for private and government jobs.

Xinjiang's labor export program, which began in 2002 and has since sent tens of thousands of Uighurs from poor villages to wealthier cities, was supposed to bring the two groups together so they could better interact with and understand each other. The Uighur workers are lured with salaries two or three times what they could earn in their home towns picking cotton, as well as benefits such as training on manufacturing equipment, Mandarin language classes and free medical checkups.

Several Uighur workers said that they have prospered under the program and that they were treated well by their Han bosses and co-workers. Others, however, alleged that the program had become coercive.

In the villages around the city of Kashgar, where many of the workers from the Xuri factory originated, residents said each family was forced to send at least one child to the program -- or pay a hefty fine.

"Since people are poor in my home town, they cannot afford such big money. So they have to send their children out," said Merzada, a 20-year-old who just graduated from high school, and who, like all the Uighurs interviewed, spoke on the condition that a surname not be used.

A Uighur man named Yasn said his family had no choice but to send his sister, who had just graduated from middle school, to the eastern city of Qingdao to work in a sock factory last year because they could not afford the fine: "She cried at home every day until she left. She is a girl -- according to our religion and culture, girls don't go to such distant places. If we had it our way, we would like to marry her to someone or let her go to school somewhere to escape it," he said.

The Han Chinese owner of a textile factory in Hebei province that has been hiring Uighur workers from the program since 2007 said that in the first year the company participated, 143 female workers came to the company. Liu Guolin said he was surprised to see that they were accompanied by a bilingual police official from their home town who oversaw the details of their daily life.

"Without the policeman, I assume they would have run away from the very beginning. I did not realize that until the local officials revealed to me later. Only by then did I learn most of those girls did not come voluntarily," Liu said.

He said the security officer did not allow them to pray or wear head scarves in the factory workshops. He later learned that some of the girls were as young as 14 and that their ID cards had been forged by the local government.

Bi Wenqing, deputy head of the Shufu county office that oversees the Xinjiang labor export program, denied that any participants had been coerced or threatened with fines. However, he said that although the Uighur workers at the factories have the freedom to worship, the practice is not encouraged.

"We have been trying hard to educate them into disbelieving religion. The more they are addicted to religion, the more backwards they will be. And those separatists try to leverage religion to guide these innocent young Uighurs into evil ways," Bi said.

Tursun, a 20-year-old Uighur man from Kashgar, said he had been lying in bed in the dormitory when "suddenly a bunch of Han Chinese broke into my dorm and beat me."

Liu Yanhong, a 23-year-old Han Chinese who works in the assembly department, said: "I still don't know if I can work together with them, after that thing happened. If they really come back, I will quit my job and go home."

Two days after the deadly riots in Urumqi, officials at the Xuri Toy Factory announced that they had come up with a solution to the ethnic tensions: segregation.

The company opened a new factory exclusively for Uighur workers in an industrial park miles from its main campus. They have separate workshops, cafeterias and dorms.

A Uighur employee named Amyna, 24, said the working conditions at the new factory are "not very good" and the living conditions also are "not very good." But at least, she said, "the Uighurs are living together and don't mingle with Han Chinese."

(New York Times)  Behind Violence in Western China, a Melee at a Toy Factory   Andrew Jacobs.  July 16, 2009.

The first batch of Uighurs, 40 young men and women from the far western region of Xinjiang, arrived at the Early Light Toy Factory here in May, bringing their buoyant music and speaking a language that was incomprehensible to their fellow Han Chinese workers.

¡§We exchanged cigarettes and smiled at one another, but we couldn¡¦t really communicate,¡¨ said Gu Yunku, a 29-year-old Han assembly line worker who had come to this southeastern city from northern China. ¡§Still, they seemed shy and kind. There was something romantic about them.¡¨ The mutual goodwill was fleeting.

By June, as the Uighur contingent rose to 800, all recruited from an impoverished rural county not far from China¡¦s border with Tajikistan, disparaging chatter began to circulate. Taxi drivers traded stories about their wild gazes and gruff manners. Store owners claimed Uighur women were prone to shoplifting. More ominously, tales of sexually aggressive Uighur men began to spread among the factory¡¦s 16,000 Han workers.

Shortly before midnight on June 25, a few days after an anonymous Internet posting claimed that a group of six Uighur men had raped two Han women, the suspicions boiled over into bloodshed.

During a four-hour melee in a walkway between factory dormitories, Han and Uighur workers bludgeoned each other with fire extinguishers, paving stones and lengths of steel shorn from bed frames. By dawn, when the police finally intervened, two Uighur men had been fatally wounded with another 120 people injured, most of them Uighur, according to the authorities.

¡§People were so vicious, they just kept beating the dead bodies,¡¨ said one man who witnessed fighting that he says involved more than a thousand workers.

Ten days later and 1,800 miles away, the clash in Shaoguan provoked a far greater spasm of violence in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. On July 5, a demonstration by Uighur students protesting what they say was a lackluster investigation of the factory brawl gave way to a murderous rampage against the city¡¦s Han residents, followed by a killing spree by the Han.

In the end, 192 people died and more than 1,000 were wounded, according to the government. Of the dead, two-thirds were Han, the authorities said. Uighurs insist the body count among their own was far higher.

Shaoguan officials, who say the rape allegations were untrue, say violence at the toy factory was used by ¡§outsiders¡¨ to fan ethnic hatred and promote Xinjiang separatism. ¡§The issue between Han and Uighur people is like an issue between husband and wife,¡¨ Chen Qihua, vice director of the Shaoguan Foreign Affairs Office, said in an interview. ¡§We have our quarrels, but in the end, we are like one family.¡¨ Li Qiang, the executive director of China Labor Watch, an advocacy group based in New York that has studied the Shaoguan toy factory, has a different view. He said the stress of low pay, long hours and numbingly repetitive work exacerbated deeply held mistrust between the Han and the Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority that has long resented Chinese rule. ¡§The government doesn¡¦t really understand these ethnic problems, and they certainly don¡¦t know how to resolve them,¡¨ Mr. Li said.

In the government¡¦s version of events, the factory clash was the simple product of false rumors, posted on the Internet by a disgruntled former worker who has since been arrested. A few days later, they added another wrinkle to the story, saying the fight was prompted by a ¡§misunderstanding¡¨ after a 19-year-old female worker accidentally stumbled into a dormitory room of Uighur men.

The woman, Huang Cuilian, told the state news media she screamed and ran off when the men stamped their feet in a threatening manner. When Ms. Huang, accompanied by factory guards, returned to confront the men, the standoff quickly escalated.

The Uighur workers have since been sequestered at an industrial park not far from the toy factory. Officials refused to allow a reporter access to the workers, and a heavy contingent of police officers blocked the hospital rooms where two dozen others were recovering from their wounds.

¡§They want to lead a peaceful life and not be bothered by the media,¡¨ Mr. Li, the Shaoguan official, said. He said the government of Guangdong Province, where Shaoguan is located, and the factory would provide them employment at a separate plant.

Officials at Early Light, a Hong Kong company that is the largest toy maker in the world, did not return calls seeking comment.

In the city of Kashgar, the ancient heart of Uighur civilization, the Shaoguan killings have inflamed longstanding anger over the way China manages daily life in Xinjiang. Many Uighurs complain about policies that encourage Han migration to the region and say the government suppresses their language and religion. When it comes to employment, they say coveted state jobs go to the Han; a 2008 report by a United States congressional commission noted that government job Web sites in Xinjiang set aside most teaching and civil service positions for non-Uighurs.

¡§If we weren¡¦t so poor, our children wouldn¡¦t have to take work so far from home,¡¨ said Akhdar, a 67-year-old man who, like many others interviewed, refused to give his full name for fear of reprisals from the authorities.

According to government figures, more than 6,700 people left Shufu County this year for factory jobs in the more prosperous cities of coastal China, as part of a jobs export program intended to relieve high youth unemployment and provide low-cost workers to factories. Nearly 1.5 million Xinjiang residents already employed outside the region. According to an article in the state- run Xinjiang Daily, ¡§70 percent of the laborers had signed up for employment voluntarily.¡¨ The article, published in May, did not explain what measures were used to win over the remaining 30 percent.

But residents in and around Kashgar say the families of those who refuse to go are threatened with fines that can equal up to six months of a villager¡¦s income. ¡§If asked, most people will go, because no one can afford the penalty,¡¨ said Abdul, whose 18-year-old sister is being recruited for work at a factory in Guangzhou but has so far resisted.

Some families are particularly upset that recruitment drives are directed at young, unmarried women, saying that the time spent living in a Han city far away from home taints their marriage prospects. Taheer, a 25-year-old bachelor who is seeking a wife, put it bluntly. ¡§I would not marry such a girl because there¡¦s a chance she would not come back with her virginity,¡¨ he said.

Still, a few Uighurs said they were thankful for factory jobs where wages as high as $191 a month are double the average income in Xinjiang. One man, a 54-year-old cotton farmer with two young daughters, said he was ready to send them away if that was what the Communist Party wanted. ¡§We would be happy to oblige,¡¨ he said with a smile as his wife looked away.

Once they arrive in one of China¡¦s bustling manufacturing hubs, the Uighurs often find life alienating. Mr. Li of China Labor Watch said many workers were unprepared for the grueling work, the cramped living conditions and what he described as verbal abuse from factory managers.

But the biggest challenge may be open hostility from Han co-workers, who like many Chinese hold unapologetically negative views of Uighurs. They believe that they are given unfair advantages by the central government, including a point system that gives Uighur students and other minorities a leg up on college entrance exams.

Zhang Qiang, a 20-year-old Shaoguan resident, described Uighurs as ¡§barbarians¡¨ and said they were easily provoked to violence. ¡§All the men carry knives,¡¨ he said after dropping off a job application at the toy factory, which is eager to hire replacements for the hundreds of workers who quit in recent weeks.

Still, Mr. Zhang acknowledged that his contact with Uighurs was superficial: When he was a student, his vocational high school had a program for 100 Xinjiang students, although they were relegated to separate classrooms and dorms.

If he had any curiosity about his Uighur classmates, it was quashed by a teacher who warned the Han students to keep their distance. ¡§This is not prejudice,¡¨ he said. ¡§It is just the nature of their kind.¡¨

(Far East Economic Review)  Fear Grips Shaoguan's Uighurs by Kathleen E. McLaughlin    July 17, 2009.

Shaoguan, China ¡V When the local government in Xinjiang province dispatched more than 800 Uighur workers to a toy factory here in May, they couldn¡¦t have predicted their fate would blow up into a national crisis. Today, police say two of the Uighur workers were killed and scores more injured in the June 26 events that ignited a firestorm of protest in restive Xinjiang. More mysteriously, some 700 of the original Uighur workers of Shaoguan¡¦s massive electronic toy factory are being held out of sight behind locked gates roughly 10 miles away in an abandoned factory. Their plight, and the lack of quick police action on the initial murders, sparked mass protests and killings on July 5 in the Urumqi, adding the latest cracks in China¡¦s façade of ethnic harmony.

¡§The Uighurs are like wild men,¡¨ said Li Xiaoming, a factory worker from Sichuan province. ¡§They carry knives and steal things, they never do what the bosses tell them.¡¨ His comment is par for the course among Han Chinese factory workers and locals across the manufacturing region. Most Han migrant workers in these parts, with little exposure to the outside world themselves, appear to have deep-rooted bias about Uighurs and what they might do. They appreciate the Uighurs¡¦ dancing and food, but don¡¦t trust them. ¡§I think it¡¦s possible they raped a girl,¡¨ said one factory worker outside an Internet café. ¡§They made people nervous. They didn¡¦t speak Chinese.¡¨

In Shaoguan, rumors and innuendo are the currency of trade. Police have warned everyone repeatedly not to talk about what happened at the Xuri toy factory, but nearly everyone has something to say. Many factory workers and locals are still convinced there is merit to the allegation that six Uighur men raped two Han women shortly after arriving at the factory. Police deny the rapes happened, but Han workers said there was a cover-up and the charges were posted online.

The Uighurs, meanwhile, are nowhere in sight to defend themselves or discuss their version of events from that night. Testy armed guards man the gates of their new compound, apparently a sister factory of the Xuri workshop. All interview requests with them have been refused by the Shaoguan government, but for a few brief questions allowed of two Uighur workers at a government press conference on July 10. The pair spoke cautiously, seated together at a table with several top officials from both Shaoguan and their hometown in Kashgar. ¡§I did feel scared right after the incident happened, but now we feel so confident and full of hope for our life and work,¡¨ said the young Uighur woman. ¡§Now we have already gone back to work and we all live with peace of mind.¡¨ ¡§The government has treated us very well; we very happy,¡¨ the woman continued.

The woman, who did not wear the traditional Muslim head covering worn by most other female Uighur factory workers, was whisked away by officials at the end of the press conference along with her male counterpart. Authorities could not provide her Uighur name, only a Chinese alliteration.

In Shaoguan, the atmosphere remains tense. ¡§Of course, everyone¡¦s been afraid, but it¡¦s getting better now,¡¨ said a restaurant owner who didn¡¦t want to give her name. ¡§At first everyone was nervous to go out.¡¨

Meanwhile, five hours south in Huizhou, Uighur workers at a Nike shoe factory say their friends and neighbors from the toy-factory want to go home but aren¡¦t being allowed to leave. The Huizhou workers were part of the same labor contract as those in Shaoguan, and were sent just by chance to make shoes rather than toys. ¡§I¡¦m very afraid,¡¨ said Kubah, a 24-year-old worker who said he was coerced into moving to Guangdong in the first place. His girlfriend was sent to the toy factory earlier this year, and he says is being held along with the others, not allowed to leave and barely allowed to telephone out.

The local government in Shaoguan, meanwhile, says more than 50 Uighurs from the toy factory who wanted to return home already have; an assertion their friends deny. The official narrative from Shaoguan runs like this: A Han girl was harassed by a group of Uighur men when returning to her dorm at the factory late on June 25. Han Chinese, already inflamed by the rape rumors, stormed the dorms and attacked Uighurs. Amatuer videos posted online show brutal attacks, as Chinese chase Uighurs through the dorm floors. Uighurs maintain it was an ambush that left more than two people dead. Officials characterize it as a mass brawl.

What is certain is that it all began with a controversial plan to ship Uighur workers to Guangdong to fill vacant factory jobs amid a continuing labor shortage. The young workers, whose families have charged they were forced to send their children south, often lack even basic Chinese language skills and find it difficult to fit in with the dominant Han culture. ¡§The government enforces repressive labor policies, including measures that have a disproportionate negative impact on ethnic minorities,¡¨ the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China wrote regarding Xinjiang in its annual report last year.

Even so, the Kashgar government says it will send more workers to Shaoguan¡¦s toy factory, providing better training and language resources beforehand. What isn¡¦t clear is what will happen to the more than 700 Uighur workers already in Shaoguan. Because they are cut off from most contact with the outside, it¡¦s not known whether they are working inside their new camp or just waiting out each day to find out what happens next.

(Xinhua)  Production returns to normal in south China toy factory     July 17, 2009.

The lives and work of 775 Xinjiang employees at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan of south China's Guangdong Province have been back to normal, sources said Thursday.

The factory is where two Uygurs were killed and 118 were injured in a brawl with Han Chinese over an alleged sexual assault, which some say spurred the deadly July 5 riots in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Uygur workers at the factory said they are meeting daily production demands, and requested to send assuring messages to their families by video.

Soundbite: Metrayim said "The living conditions here are good. Mum and dad, please set your hearts at rest."

Soundbite: Tursunjan Tuehong said, "Mum and dad, are you ok? We are fine now, so please do not worry. I eat well and live well. There is no more fighting between Hans and Uygurs. There are no problems with our relationship and everything is fine."

Soundbite: Gulayim Tursun said, "We work eight hours a day, with a monthly salary of 1,200 yuan (about 175 U.S. dollars). The accommodation and meals are fine. So mum and dad, have no worries."

The factory has taken steps to improve the environment since production resumed, such as installing new ventilation fans and fire extinguishing facilities.

(CRI English)  Migrant Workers from Xinjiang Enjoy a Pleasant Life in Coastal Areas   July 18, 2009.

Factories in China's coastal provinces are attracting an increasing number of migrant workers from the country's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. These migrant workers say they are enjoying life there, although they are not quite used to the language, food and customs in the coastal areas.

The Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan of south China's Guangdong Province is a Hong Kong-funded enterprise. The factory has more than 10,000 employees from all around the country, including some 700 from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Most of the migrant workers from Xinjiang received training in their hometowns before coming to work in the coastal region.

Three weeks ago, a dispute among workers here led to a fight involving hundreds of people. The brawl left two dead and nearly 120 injured.

Bayi Akem is one of the workers from Xinjiang. He says he had some quarrels with his coworkers when he first started working at the factory. But soon he realized the arguments were just misunderstandings. He says he now enjoys life in the factory very much. "The factory has provided us with thoughtful arrangements, including accommodations and meals. It takes good care of us. We, all the workers from Xinjiang, lead a pleasant life here."

Working far from home, the migrant workers note they sometimes get homesick. But they say working here has its benefits. The income they earn in the coastal areas is several times what they earn at home. What's more, they improve their skills through the training they receive in the factories.

Shariu Asezi, a worker from southern Xinjiang's Kashgar, says it is good for young people to come to the coastal areas for employment. "Our income rise on the one hand, and on the other hand we can learn advanced skills and culture. We can not only work here, but also take the opportunity to reinforce exchanges with others, learn more and practice more. It is quite good that we can help accelerate the economic development and raise the income of our hometowns."

Higher salaries and a pleasant life in the coastal areas have attracted others from Xinjiang to follow suit. Statistics indicate that by the end of last year, 1.8 million migrant workers from Xinjiang had left the region to find jobs in other parts of the country.

(China Daily)  Xinjiang's migrant workers take job offers on free will.  July 19, 2009.

Stories of success encouraged Ayizemuguli Maimaiti to leave her home in Xinjiang's Shufu County to join the army of migrant workers heading to China's coastal east in May.

"Many people took money home, and told us interesting stories, which we only saw on TV. I was curious so I decided to try my luck," said the 21-year-old Uygur woman, who works in a toy factory in Shaoguan City, south China's Guangdong Province. She said she traveled four days by train to Shaoguan. She tries to learn one new sentence in Mandarin every day. She is one of 775 people from her hometown in Shufu working in Shaoguan, said Aihaiti Shayiti, county head of Shufu.

"One third of them are women, and there are 70 couples among them," said Aihaiti, denying a report in the Washington Post on July 15 that Uygur women were forced to go east to work on pain of their families receiving hefty fines as part of an alleged "labor export program" organized by local governments in Xinjiang. "It is ridiculous to say the workers were forced to do the migrant work, since many of them go with their husbands," he said.

Amutijiang Yiliyasi came to the Xuri Toy Factory with his wife. He said most Uygur migrant workers cannot speak Mandarin, so they rely on local governments for job opportunities. "I can't recognize Han characters for road names and read menus. But My wife and I want to work in Guangdong, so we can earn enough money to build our own house, when we go back home," he said. "We need the government's help to get job offers and training. Otherwise, we have no choice but to stay home and farm," he said.

According to local officials in Shufu, the average per-capita yearly income in the agricultural county is 2,500 yuan ($366 dollars), which is about two months salary for a migrant worker.

A massive brawl in the toy factory, where the Uygur migrant workers work in Shaoguan, left two Uygur employees dead and more than 100 injured on June 26. According to police investigation, an unsubstantiated posting on the Internet, saying "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory" caused the brawl. Two people have been detained on charges of fabricating and spreading the rumors.

Muhetaer, a 20-year-old Uygur man working in the factory, said he would  stay on despite the incident. "I will continue to work in the factory. I can get my pay on time here every month. My parents are happy that I am now able to support them," said Muhetaer, who sent 1,500 yuan home this week.

Coastal cities like Shaoguan are seeing more ethnic arrivals from inland regions. About 1.5 million migrant workers of different ethnic groups work in Guangdong Province, according to the provincial government.

"About 100,000 people of different ethnic groups leave Xinjiang for city jobs every year, said Nur Bekri, chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government, on Saturday. "The job offers are accepted on the principle of free will. The local labor departments consult the parents of young people wanting to do migrant jobs," said Bekri.

Many local governments organized free technology and language training courses to prepare minority people for migrant jobs, he said.

"The regional government spent 300 million to 400 million yuan a year to provide the free courses," said Bekri. "Migrant workers from Xinjiang may take some time to get accustomed to city jobs. Local governments may take some measures out of concern for their safety, such as buying group tickets for travel," he said.

He said everyone's skills faced challenges in a market economy. "People in Xinjiang need to improve their skills to get accustomed to market changes," said the official.

(Global TimesXinjiang migrant-labor plan combats poverty.   By Qiu Wei.   July 20, 2009.

A rural migrant-worker program in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region aims to alleviate poverty and benefit the ethnic minorities culturally, as part of a broader employment stimulus plan in the region, government officials have told the Global Times. The program in the country¡¦s northwestern region is well underway, with demand for migrant workers remaining high, officials said, despite the bloody riots of July 5.

A brawl between Han and Uygur workers at a toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province, on June 26, was used as an excuse by overseas separatists to start the riot in Urumqi that left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured.

¡§Labor service export is a correct policy for Xinjiang. It has functioned as a major means of poverty reduction. Through the program, migrant workers have opportunities to access new ideas,¡¨ said Huang Yu, deputy director of the Xinjiang Department of Human Resources and Social Security, in an interview with the Global Times.

More than 96,000 people from Kashgar, Hotan and the Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture in southern Xinjiang, most of whom are Uygurs, participated in the program during the first half of 2009 and were offered jobs at factories in the coastal areas, according to a copy of the bureau¡¦s statement obtained by the Global Times.

The average minimum income in Xinjiang is around 540 yuan per month, with Kashgar and Hotan among the least developed areas in the region, official data shows. ¡§For those Uygurs who leave their homeland for coastal regions, they can find better-paying jobs to enrich their lifestyles,¡¨ said Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic policy studies at Minzu University of China. ¡§What¡¦s more, their communications with various ethnic groups in other regions can make them more open-minded, which is definitely good for their personal development,¡¨ he said.

Some Uygurs, however, hesitated at first when authorities activated the program in 2002. Linguistic and religious differences are the most-cited reasons why many cast doubt on whether the Turkic-speaking youths would be able to handle life in places such as Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces, thousands of miles away from home.

Tutitur, 57, a father of three children and a villager from Jiashi county, southern Xinjiang, was among those who were doubtful but later made an attitude shift.

One hundred female Uygur workers from Jiashi county went to work in a toy factory in Zhengjiang in March 2006, the first dispatch of female workers from Xinjiang. As well as remarkable economic gains ¡V contracts mean two- or even three-fold income increases for the Uygur workers, with an average wage of 850 yuan ($125) in factories ¡V free vocational and Putonghua training were also given to those who signed up for the program.

Aiyilati, Tutitur¡¦s eldest daughter, decided not to continue her schooling even though she had been admitted by the best senior high school in the county in 2005. Living on a tight budget, Aiyilati dropped out of school and thereafter began to work the land.

It was not until a year later that Tutitur realized that choices may not have been exhausted, as local authorities started to recruit females for manufacturing jobs in Tianjin city. ¡§My daughter wanted to be in the program. I haven¡¦t heard of any compulsory signing-up,¡¨ Tutitur said.

A report in the Washington Post on July 15 said that Uygur rural women in Kashgar were forced to go east to work to avoid their families receiving hefty fines imposed by local governments. ¡§People eligible are free to join the plan. Nobody was forced to sign up. It¡¦s not mandatory,¡¨ said Wu Yunhua, an official who oversees the program in Xinjiang with the Human Resource and Social Security Department.

About 100,000 people of different ethnic groups leave Xinjiang for city jobs every year, said Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Government. It costs the regional government 300 million ($43 million) to 400 million yuan ($58 million) to provide these free courses, he said. ¡§The local labor departments consult the parents of young people wanting to do migrant jobs,¡¨ Bekri said, adding that many local governments organized free technology and language training courses to prepare minority peoples for migrant jobs.

Bilingual county officials, members of local school teaching staff, and chefs are designated to accompany the labor team ¡V composed of youths over 17 ¡V throughout the contract year. ¡§We take good care of ethnic and religious customs,¡¨ Huang said. ¡§But the organization and management is difficult, as most of these workers were far from qualified to fill the positions at first. Our management system is not perfect either ¡V some officials have to improve their working style.¡¨

The labor program, however, has yet to convince Tutitur¡¦s wife and some friends, as many questioned whether the plan would be in line with the religious tradition of the Uygurs, who do not encourage unmarried women to be away from home.

¡§Some of my relatives were really hard on me. They accused me of not being able to raise my daughter. I was constantly reminded that it was probably not the way for a Muslim father to treat his daughter,¡¨ Tutitur told the Global Times through an interpreter. Tutitur said his daughter later insisted on being allowed in the program to financially assist the family. With a hard-won nod by Tutitur, his daughter was eventually given a position, after training, in a textile factory in Tianjin.

¡§It was a hard decision to send their daughters, and even harder for a local religious leader. There are both cultural and communication clashes,¡¨ said Wang Lijuan, human resources head with the county office. ¡§But the economic benefit is not all. The labor-export program broadened their horizons, gave them access to modernization,¡¨ Wang added.

Tutitur said he was overwhelmed by the changes his daughter had undergone after participating in the program and said he had already begun to lobby for the program in his village. ¡§We hope those young men and women can bring new ideas back to their homes after their contracts expire,¡¨ said Wang, adding that local public organizations, including medical clinics and kindergartens, would prefer to recruit them after that.


(Al Jazeera)



(CSR Asia)  The Xuri Problem: Race and ethnicity in China's workforce.  By Maeve Thompson.  July 22, 2009.

The world has been watching this week as violence erupted in China¡¦s westerly Xinjiang province, where clashes between Han Chinese and the ethnic Uyghur community have left 184 dead. The riots have caused one of China¡¦s most pressing social problems to come crashing into the international arena, namely the continuing racial tension between the Han Chinese and China¡¦s ethnic groups, and the failings of integration schemes that have done little to quash old prejudices or bridge the huge cultural divide.

The protests in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, were sparked by an incident in the Xuri toy factory thousands of miles away in the industrially developed Guangdong Province. On the night of the 25th of June, two Uyghur workers were killed by a Han mob, mobilised in response to a rumour that they had raped two young Chinese women, one of whom had later committed suicide. The rumour was later found to have been fabricated by an ex-employee of the factory, embittered by the factory¡¦s refusal to hire him back. By that time, the damage had been done- footage of the attacks had already been transmitted by internet and mobile phone to Xinjiang, and plans put in motion that resulted in the deaths of many more. The protest in Urumqi started peacefully, but transformed at some point into a vengeful mob, attacking any Han passer-by and clashing bloodily with the police. Ethnic death tolls are still much refuted, while official statistics suggest the vast majority killed were Han, Uyghur exile groups claim the numbers to be more balanced than authorities admit. Given the improbability of an independent investigation, it is unlikely there will ever be a definitive answer. One thing is certain, the both the factory murders and the riots themselves were about much more than the rumours in Xuri, and indicative of ingrained prejudices that fail to be addressed.

The question remains why what happened in Xuri came about at all, and whether responsibility for that violence has a wider scope than first appears. The Uyghur workers in the factory were brought across the country as participants in a government employment scheme intended to alleviate the unemployment problem in Xinjiang. This saw massive influxes of Uyghur migrants drafted into almost exclusively Han workforces, without a common language or forum to promote understanding between the two groups. Put in these terms and considering the cultural disparity and history of resentment between the Han Chinese and the Muslim Uyghurs, the resulting violence seems unsurprising, the policy itself almost reckless.

This in turn highlights an often neglected aspect of CSR in China. In a country with 9% of its population classed as an ethnic minority, a similar figure to both the UK and Australia, the idea of diversity initiatives or racial equal opportunities is vastly underdeveloped. Many Chinese minorities have few problems integrating, especially those who are physically indistinguishable from the Han majority, but for others, most notably the Uyghurs and Tibetans, integration has been slow and painful, and has arguably in ways been disastrous. Rapid levels of Han migration into both Xinjiang and Tibet has left a lasting bitterness with the ethnic communities, with local officials sometimes spectacularly insensitive, a deep impression having been made in the Maoist era, where many Muslim farmers were forced to farm pigs.

That Uyghur communities are now being forced to leave Xinjiang to find work further complicates the situation. The government¡¦s attempts to share the wealth of the East with China¡¦s poverty stricken West brings a new challenge for employers, both those based in China and any international companies who rely on a Chinese supply chain. So far around 200,000 Uyghurs in the last year and a half have left Xinjiang for the Eastern provinces, and the incident at the toy factory is not the only instance of unrest between Han and Uyghur workers. That said, a miniscule number of companies enforce any sort of diversity policy or equal opportunities for ethnic minority workers. In fact, it¡¦s hard to find any mention of migrant workers in CSR reports at all.

As recent events have shown, it¡¦s not enough to expect migrant and ethnic minority workers to assimilate into the current working environment, attempts have to be made by employers to actively integrate the workforce, increasing understanding and encouraging fellowship between cultures. Admittedly, it¡¦s up against prejudices that extend in many cases far beyond the factory gates, but with the ethnic minority population of China growing at seven times the rate of the Han, it¡¦s not a problem that¡¦s going away anytime soon. Nor, despite recent pictures released of harmony in the factory restored, one that the workers of Xuri are ever likely to forget.

(Xinhua)  China police arrest man for spreading rumors to fan Urumqi violence    August 5, 2009.

    China's police have arrested a man who allegedly spread rumors that were later used by the World Uygur Congress (WUC) to trigger the Urumqi violence on July 5 which killed 197 people, police authorities said in a statement Wednesday. Kurban Khayum, an intelligence agent of the WUC, was arrested for allegedly spreading rumors by exaggerating the death toll of a factory unrest involving Uygurs in Shaoguan city of the south China's Guangdong Province in late June, the statement said. It did not make clear the exact date the 32-year-old man from Kuqa County in mid-west Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was arrested.

    According to the statement, Kurban Khayum joined the WUC in early 2008. In mid June this year, he was instructed by WUC secretary general Dolqun Isa, to "gather intelligence on separatist activities in China by Uygurs and people of other ethnic order to carry out activities to split China," according to the statement.

    After a factory brawl took place between the Han Chinese and the Uygurs on June 26 in Guangdong's Shaoguan city, Dolqun Isa instructed WUC's intelligence agents, including Kurban Khayum, to gather information on the unrest, which left two people dead and more than 100 injured.  But Kurban Khayum, who was then working as a chef at an Arabic restaurant in Guangzhou, provincial capital of Guangdong, did not go to Shaoguan, the statement said.  Instead, he made up a report and sent to the WUC saying "the factory brawl had caused the death of 17 to 18 people, including three females."  In an e-mail sent to an assistant of WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer, Kurban Khayum wrote, "a massive protest should be staged to let the world know about this bloody incident." 

    The official statement said Kurban Khayum had confessed that his inaccurate reports to the WUC were used to trick many people in Xinjiang and helped trigger the July 5 Urumqi violence.  China's police authorities have repeatedly accused the WUC of arousing antagonism and confrontation between the Uygurs and people of other ethnic groups by spreading fake videos and photographs.

    On July 28, a netizen, who was believed to be a key WUC member, was blamed for spreading online a fake video about "a Uygur girl beaten to death", which was in fact a CNN footage shot in the Mosul city of Iraq on April 7, 2007.  In another case, a photograph produced by Rebiya Kadeer in an interview with Al Jazeera on July 7 to show how "peaceful Uygur protesters" were being cracked down by police during the July 5 Urumqi violence was later found to be cropped from a Chinese news Web site image on an unrelated June 26 protest in Shishou, Hubei Province.

(CCTV)  Fake evidence behind Urumqi riot    August 5, 2009.

The Chinese government says the World Uyghur Congress took advantage of the massive fight between Han and Uyghur employees at a toy factory in Guangdong Province to promote its separatist agenda. The WUC and other overseas groups spread faked evidence through the Internet and other channels. The government says this was a direct cause of July 5 riots in Urumqi.

32-year-old Qurban Keyum worked as a chef in a restaurant in Guangdong Province. He's also the liaison man in China for the World Uyghur Congress.  After the big fight at the toy factory in Shaoguan city, Guangdong, Keyum collected information on the matter under the direction from Dolgun, Aysa and other lead members of the WUC, through email.  Qurban Keyum, WUC member in China, said, "I was busy, so I never thought go to Shaoguan. I just made up some fake information and sent emails overseas."

Keyum wrote that 17 or 18 Ugyhurs died in the fight, and 3 of them were women. On July 2nd, the WUC spread the false information through the world by email. The WUC posted a fake video about a "Uyghur girl beaten to death" on July 3rd. The video was spread by a key member of the WUC. The purpose was to fan ethnic confrontation. In the internet group, the man used extreme words to encourage Uyghurs to "fight back with violence " and "repay blood with blood." In fact, the video of a girl being stoned to death was originally broadcast by the CNN in May 2007. It showed events in the Iraqi city of Mosul the month before.

Still, the leader of the WUC, Rebiya Kadeer insisted that her people were demonstrating peacefully. But the photo she showed has no relation with the July 5th riots in Urumqi. It shows events in Shishou, Hubei Province, in June. Reuters and other media acknowledged their mistake afterwards. But the WUC continued with its manipulations.

On July 8th, AFP published another photo, showing demonstrators holding a photo from the WUC website. The WUC said the photo showed policemen killing people in Xinjiang. But it was actually a photo of a car accident in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in May.

The WUC and overseas separatist forces have consistently faked evidence to mislead the international media. They have also manipulated many people who are unaware of the truth.

Qurban Keyum, WUC member in China, said, "I was busy, so I never 
thought go to Shaoguan. I just made up some fake information and 
sent emails overseas."


(China Daily)  Rumormonger of Urumqi riots arrested    August 6, 2009.

People visit a photo exhibition on the July 5 Riots in Urumqi,
capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region
Wedensday August 5, 2009. [Asianewsphoto]

Police have arrested a man who allegedly spread rumors used to trigger the Urumqi riots on July 5, which killed 197 people, police said Wednesday.

Kurban Khayum, a member of the World Uygur Congress (WUC), was arrested for exaggerating the death toll of a factory unrest involving Uygurs in Shaoguan, Guangdong province in June.

Earlier that month, the 32-year-old had been instructed by WUC secretary-general Dolqun Isa, to "gather intelligence on separatist activities in China by Uygurs and people of other ethnic groups... in order to carry out activities to split China," according to the statement.

After a factory brawl took place between Han Chinese and Uygurs on June 26 in Shaoguan, Dolqun Isa instructed WUC's intelligence agents, including Kurban Khayum, to gather information on the unrest, which left two people dead and more than 100 injured.  Instead of going to Shaoguan, Kurban Khayum made up a report and sent it to the WUC saying "the factory brawl had caused the death of 17 to 18 people, including three females."  In an e-mail sent to an assistant of WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer, Kurban Khayum wrote, "a massive protest should be staged to let the world know about this bloody incident."

China's police have accused the WUC of arousing antagonism and confrontation between the Uygurs and people of other ethnic groups by spreading fake videos and photographs. On July 28, a netizen believed to be a key WUC member, was blamed for spreading a fake video about "a Uygur girl beaten to death", which was in fact CNN footage shot in Mosul, Iraq on April 7, 2007.

Meanwhile, authorities in Xinjiang confirmed that innocent civilians accounted for 156 of the 197 deaths in the riot. Twelve others were shot while committing violence or criminal activities. The identities of the remainder have yet to be determined. Authorities also admitted that some of the detained suspects in connection with the riot have been released as their offences were minor. But they didn't provide the exact number of those who were released.

(South China Morning Post)  Out of harm's way, but far from normality.  By Ivan Zhai.  September 13, 2009.

Food vendors, motorcycles and foot traffic are common sights at the main entrances of the half-dozen factories along Xingyuanbei Road in the industrial zone of Baitu town in Shaoguan , Guangdong - except at the last one.

The area in front of the Early Light (EL) toy factory is practically deserted, and there is a reason. Inside are Uygur workers.

They were moved there from another EL factory 30 kilometres away, in Wujiang district, after a massive fight on the night of June 25 between Han Chinese and Uygur workers that left two Uygurs dead and dozens injured on both sides.

Government officials say the incident was used by overseas Uygur groups to instigate riots thousands of kilometres away in Urumqi  , the capital of the Xinjiang region from where Uygurs come, 10 days later that left 197 people dead and hundreds injured.

According to residents and businesspeople around the Xingyuanbei Road factory, the emotional scars from the fight still need time to heal - even though it wasn't at that factory. Perhaps with new solutions, they say, the divide between the two ethnic groups can be bridged.

"I do not think we can work [with the Uygurs] in the same factory any more," said Yuan Mengjun, one of about half a dozen EL workers interviewed outside the Wujiang factory. "The unpleasant feeling is still there."

A female worker, Su Qin, said the fatal fight could have been the result of a big misunderstanding.

"We just could not understand each other, as few of them could speak Putonghua." She said the language barrier had made it impossible for the two sides to make friends.

Early Light, a Hong Kong-owned company, previously had more than 16,000 workers in Shaoguan. To help improve Xinjiang's economy, it was encouraged by authorities to recruit 800 Uygur workers from Kashgar in May and June.

The topic of the fight is still so sensitive that some workers declined to help locate people they know who had witnessed the clash; others claimed they had seen nothing of the fight because they lived outside the factory, though they had walked straight into it a few minutes later with soft drinks and fruit they had just bought.

The workers said that in the first month after the fight, Han at the factory often discussed what they understood to be the reason for the deadly clash - that young Uygur men had raped Han Chinese women at the factory - but state media rejected that story in early July.

As time passed, even those who had witnessed the fight stopped talking about it, these workers said. The event no longer affected their daily lives because, as a result of the fight, "we are separated", Yuan said.

Immediately after the fight, local-government officials moved all the Uygur workers from the factory in Wujiang to the one in Baitu, whose 700-strong workforce is now exclusively Uygur. Residents say the authorities treat the Uygurs like treasure.

The owners of food booths and a small restaurant serving northern Chinese food close to the Baitu factory said they had not served any of the Uygurs because the Easy Light factory had its canteen cook Xinjiang-style food.

Xinhua reported that the city had opened a clinic, staffed around the clock, at the factory. It also reported that the factory had two new billiard tables and that a soccer pitch and basketball court were being built.

The authorities' top priority, though, is the Uygurs' security. A Uygur man at a nearby supermarket claimed to be a plain-clothes police officer sent from Xinjiang after the fight in June. Colleagues (he would not say how many) had also been sent to the factory to guarantee the Uygur workers' safety.

National and local leaders have put a lot of effort into keeping the peace with the Uygurs since the fight, mostly because they do not want anything to cast a shadow over the October 1 National Day celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Zhou Yongkang , one of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party's highest decision-making body, who is in charge of public security, travelled to Shaoguan early this month.

The biggest obstacle facing the Uygur workers, who live mainly within the factory's fences, is the same one as two months ago - language. Employees at supermarkets and a mobile-phone service store close to the factory said no more than a third of the Uygurs spoke Putonghua.

"Even if you meet them here, you might not have a conversation because most cannot understand you," said Peng Shurong, 29, a Baitu native working at the supermarket.

The Uygur workers, who are mostly in their 20s and 30s, generally came to the supermarket in groups of at least five, two or three times a week, she said. They mostly came during working hours, and never after 8pm. "They're polite, always smiling to me, but most of them can't even say a simple `thanks' in Putonghua."

Residents including Peng said there were good people and bad in every ethnic group and it would be fine for the Uygurs to stay as long as the two groups remained somewhat segregated.

Others were less charitable, saying they wanted the Uygur workers to go back to their own region.

A young motorcycle driver said he still felt angry with the Uygurs for the riots in Urumqi. "Why are the Uygur workers always in groups of 20 to 30 when they go shopping downtown? Because they fear being attacked by angry Han," he said, adding that he had never spoken to the Uygurs.

The Uygurs will continue living at the factory, at least for a while. Officials say that for the sake of the Xinjiang economy, the Uygurs are entitled to jobs in more prosperous parts of the country. Uygur activists claim they have to look for work elsewhere because Han compete with them for jobs in Xinjiang.

With the republic's 60th anniversary at hand, even if social harmony isn't quite achievable, social stability is - even if it takes isolation to do it.

(Xinhua)  11 indicted over factory brawl in south China    September 23, 2009.

Eleven people involved in a toy factory brawl on June 26 that left two employees dead in south China's Guangdong Province have been indicted for intentional injury and group affray, procurators said Wednesday.  Xiao Jianhua and four other suspects were indicted for intentionally assaulting people during the Xuri Toy Factory brawl, the Shaoguan Municipal People's Procuratorate said.  Lu Xiaoqiang and another five allegedly participated in group affray, said the Wujiang District People's Procuratorate of Shaoguan.  The 11 suspects ignored the law and caused heavy casualties and property losses, the procurators said.  Other suspects in the brawl, which left two Uygur employees dead and many injured, are also facing imminent indictment.

(Xinhua)  Man sentenced to death after fatal factory brawl in South China.  October 10, 2009.

One man was sentenced to death and another to life imprisonment over a toy factory brawl on June 26 that left two Uygur workers dead in south China's Guangdong Province, court officials said Saturday.  Two local courts in Shaoguan City, Guangdong, on Saturday also sentenced nine other people to prison terms ranging from five to eight years after first-instance trials regarding the fatal brawl in the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan.  The Intermediate People's Court of Shaoguan held Xiao Jianhua was the principal instigator of the brawl, who incited his co-workers to join the affray between Han and Uygur workers in the factory, and led the assault.

Xiao was sentenced to death and fellow worker Xu Qiqi was given a life jail term after they were convicted of manslaughter. The same court also sentenced three of Xiao's accomplices to prison terms from seven to eight years on charges of assault.  Two Uygur workers from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region -- Aximujiang Aimaiti and Sadikejiang Kaze -- were beaten to death, and three were severely injured and six slightly injured in the brawl.

The court heard the fight started after a Uygur male worker was found by other workers chasing a Han woman intern surnamed Huang in the factory.  Xiao and his accomplices used iron bars to beat the Uygur workers, and obstructed medical workers from treating the injured.

The People's Court of Wujiang District, Shaoguan, on Saturday sentenced three other Han workers who were convicted of participating in group affray to prison terms ranging from six to seven years.  Three Uygur workers who used violence in the brawl were also convicted at the same court of participating in group affray. They were given to prison terms from five to six years.

(New York Times)  China Sets Sentences In Brawl Tied To Riot.  By David Barboza.  October 11, 2009.

China sentenced one man to death and another to life in prison on Saturday for their roles in a deadly toy factory brawl that was blamed for setting off riots in western China¡¦s Xinjiang region this past summer, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Two courts in southern Guangdong Province, where the toy factory was located, also sentenced nine other people to prison terms ranging from five to eight years for taking part in the fights in June, according to Xinhua.

Xiao Jianhua was sentenced to death as the ¡§principal instigator¡¨ in the factory melee that pitted a group of Han Chinese against a group of Turkic-speaking Uighurs from the Xinjiang region.

Mr. Xiao and Xu Qiqi, who was sentenced to life in prison, were both convicted of manslaughter, Xinhua said.

The fight, at the Early Light Toy Factory in Shaoguan City, was incited by rumors that a group of Muslim Uighurs had raped two Han Chinese women. It raged at a factory dormitory through the early-morning hours of June 26, eventually leaving two Uighur men dead and, by some accounts, about 120 other people injured, most of them Uighurs.

The police said no woman was raped. The government said the fight was caused by a misunderstanding involving a woman who accidentally ventured into a dormitory room of Uighur men. According to the government¡¦s account, a Han Chinese man later posted reports of rape on the Internet, setting off a bloody showdown.

On July 5, after reports of the brawl spread to Xinjiang, where most of the country¡¦s Uighur Muslims live, demonstrations and riots broke out. There have been longstanding tensions there between Han Chinese, who have flooded into the area, and native Uighurs.

The government said the Uighurs went on a murderous rampage against Han Chinese, killing more than 200 people and leaving more than 1,000 wounded. Uighurs say the government has not fully accounted for Uighur deaths in the region; and some Han Chinese have said the death toll among their group was higher.

The government eventually put down the riots, but the region remains tense.

On Saturday, the Intermediate People¡¦s Court in Shaoguan City sentenced the men involved in the brawl after a short trial, following their Sept. 23 indictments. In contrast to the accounts that indicated scores were hurt, the court said three other people were severely injured and six slightly injured.

The court said Saturday that Mr. Xiao and his accomplices beat the Uighur men with iron bars and ¡§obstructed¡¨ medical workers from treating the injured.

Of the 11 men sentenced Saturday, three were Uighur men, who were given five to six years in prison.

Xinhua said several other men also faced indictment for their roles in the brawl.

(China Daily)  Death for factory fight inciter.  By Hu Yinan.  October 12, 2009.

The ringleader of a toy factory brawl believed to have ignited the bloodiest riots ever witnessed in Xinjiang has been sentenced to death.

Xiao Jianhua was found guilty of being the main force behind the fight, which resulted in the deaths of two Uygur workers on June 26 at Xuri Factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province. He was sentenced on Saturday at the city's Intermediate People's Court, along with co-accused Xu Qiqi, who was given life in prison. Penalties ranging from five to eight years in jail were also handed out to nine more suspects at two local courts. Xiao incited fellow Han workers to fight Uygur colleagues and led the violence at the factory, court officials said. Aximujiang Aimaiti and Sadikejiang Kaze, both migrant workers from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, were beaten to death in the brawl.

The incident resulted in injuries to 118 people, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Nur Bekri, chairman of Xinjiang, said rumors following the Shaoguan brawl directly led to the horrific July 5 riot in the regional capital, Urumqi.

The court heard the June 26 fight started after a male Uygur worker was seen chasing a female Han intern surnamed Huang through the factory. Shortly after, Xiao and his accomplices used iron bars to beat Uygur workers and obstructed medics from treating the injured, Xinhua reported.

Local police also said an unsubstantiated Internet post alleging six Uygur men had raped two Han women at the factory fueled the violence. Police found no evidence of the alleged rapes after investigation and two people were detained on charges of fabricating and spreading the rumor.

Suspect information was also circulated after the brawl in Xinjiang. A migrant worker named Abdullah in Urumqi told China Daily rumors alleged 300 Uygur women from Shufu county had been forced to leave for Guangdong after the government demolished their homes. They were then sold, enslaved by Han factory owners, raped and killed.

The sensational story was also used by the World Uyghur Congress to incite the July 5 riot. The organization's leader Rebiya Kadeer is accused by the central government of masterminding the riot.

All Uygur workers at the Shaoguan factory are from Shufu, where 98 percent of the population is ethnic Uygur. Since 2006, the Shufu government has run migrant labor programs with Guangdong and other inland provinces in an attempt to lift local residents out of poverty.

The July 5 riot in Urumqi left at least 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured. Police believe hostile overseas forces fueled rumors to fire up Uygur and Han communities.

(Xinhua)  Death penalty sustained to man in south China's fatal factory brawl   October 28, 2009.

A court in south China on Wednesday upheld the sentences of death and life imprisonment on two men involved in a toy factory brawl that left two Uygur workers dead on June 26. The Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province upheld the sentences handed down at the Intermediate People's Court of Shaoguan city on Xiao Jianhua and Xu Qiqi, former workers at the city's Xuri Toy Factory. Xiao, who was convicted of being the principal instigator of the fatal brawl, had received the death sentence at the lower court for intentional injury. His fellow worker, Xu, also charged with intentional injury, had been sentenced to life in prison. Both Xiao and Xu were deprived of political rights for life. Three of Xiao's accomplices had been sentenced to prison terms from seven to eight years on charges of assault.

Two Uygur workers from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region -- Aximujiang Aimaiti and Sadikejiang Kaze -- were beaten to death, and three were severely injured and six slightly injured in the brawl. The lower court heard the fight started after a Uygur man was found by other workers chasing a Han woman intern surnamed Huang in the factory. Xiao and his accomplices used iron bars to beat the Uygur workers, and prevented medical workers from treating the injured.

After sentencing, Xiao Jianhua and Xu Qiqi filed appeals. The Higher People's Court, after an open hearing, determined that the behavior of Xiao and Xu had resulted in the death of two people and left other three seriously injured and six slightly injured. The facts affirmed at the lower court were clear, the evidence was accurate and sufficient, the convictions and sentences were appropriate, and the procedures were legitimate, the Higher People's Court said. The Higher People's Court of Guangdong will submit its decision on Xiao's death sentence to the Supreme People's Court for approval.

On Oct. 10, the People's Court of Wujiang District, Shaoguan, jailed Lu Xiaoqiang, Yarmemetjia Ismail, Osmanjia Obul and Yuwupjia Tur, also former workers at the toy factory, who were convicted of participating in group affray. The four appealed and the Intermediate People's Court of Shaoguan Wednesday rejected their appeals and upheld the convictions and sentences.