The Urumqi Mass Incident - Part 1

July 6, 2009

This just happened on the evening of July 5, 2009.  At this time (just past midnight), it is know that there is some kind of mass incident.  But the reasons are unknown.  However, since the authorities won't make a statement, the space is open to hearsay and speculation.

(Reuters)  Riot hits China's Xinjiang region capital - Xinhua.  July 5, 2009.

Rioters in China's far west Xinjiang region burned vehicles and blocked traffic in the regional capital Urumqi, and police rushed to the scene to impose order, the state news agency reported on Sunday. The report from the Xinhua news agency did not specify the ethnicity of those involved in the unrest.

... The rioters were "attacking passers-by and setting fire to vehicles," the brief report said. "They also turned over [a] traffic guardrail and interrupted traffic on some roads in the city," it added. The report did not say how many people were involved in the unrest or what their grievances were.

(AFP)  Police use 'cattle prods, guns' in Uighar dispute.  July 5, 2009.

VIOLENCE has broken out in the capital of China's mainly Muslim northwest region of Xinjiang, where an unknown number of people attacked passers-by and torched vehicles. The state news agency Xinhua said police are rushing to restore order in Urumqi, capital of the restive Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Activist groups said thousands of protesters from the Uighur ethnic group clashed with police yesterday and two people had died. The information could not be independently verified.

The head of the Japan Uighur Association, Ilham Mahmut, said he'd heard at least 300 people had been arrested. He said the confrontation involved about 3000 Uighur and 1000 police who used electric cattle prods and fired gunshots into the air to try to disband the demonstration.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uighur Congress, said sources told him that more than 100 had been detained. Mr Mahmut said demonstrators were regrouping to continue the protest. "About 400 people are trying to resume the demonstration," he added. He said it was sparked by a recent dispute at a toy factory between Chinese and Uighurs over a rumour that Uighurs had abused a Chinese woman.

(Associated Press)  Protest by Chinese Muslims turns violent.  July 5, 2009.

A protest in China's restive Muslim far west turned violent today, state media reported, and activists said police fired shots in the air and used batons to disperse a crowd that had swelled to nearly 1,000. The late afternoon protest in the city of Urumqi was a rare mass demonstration in Xinjiang province, a region that has seen occasional separatist violence against Chinese rule. More than 300 people, mostly members of the largely Muslim Uighur ethnic group, had gathered to demand an investigation into a brawl June 25 between Uighur and Han Chinese workers at a toy factory in southern China, said Gulinisa Maimaiti, a 32-year-old employee of a foreign company who took part in the protest. Two reportedly died in last month's factory melee in southern Guangdong province, but Gulisina said protesters believed the real figure was higher.

At first, the 300 people held a silent, sit-down protest at the People's Square in Urumqi, Gulinisa said. "We are mourning our compatriots who were beaten to death in Guangdong," Gulinisa said in a phone interview. Accounts of what happened differed, but the violence seemed to have started when the crowd, which Gulinisa said grew to 1,000 people, refused to disperse. The government's Xinhua News Agency said the crowd attacked passers-by, torched vehicles and interrupted traffic on some roads. Xinhua said police were at the scene trying to maintain order, but the report did not provide details. Gulinisa said police pinned protesters to the ground before taking some 40 protesters away. "The police fired shots into the sky. They took people away in cars," he said.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the pro-independence World Uighur Congress based in Germany, said he received calls from Urumqi describing the protest as peaceful until police used force to try to clear the square. "Riot police were using police batons to beat people," he said. One caller he spoke with said police opened fire. Dilxat said some protesters were beaten badly. One of his informants told him that one person was killed. The account could not immediately be corroborated. Video shot from a building nearby and photos from mobile phones taken from the protest showed people running from police and a car on fire. In other shots, smoke rises in the distance and fire engines race to the protest.

The Urumqi police and city government refused or declined comment about the incident.

(Los Angeles Times)  Chinese riot police, Muslims clash in northwestern city.  By Barbara Demick.  July 5, 2009.

A rare public protest in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi turned violent today as thousands of Uighurs took to the streets to vent grievances about discrimination. The official New China News Agency said rioters were "attacking passersby and setting fire to vehicles," but representatives for the Uighurs, a Muslim minority, described a peaceful demonstration that turned ugly because of government brutality.
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Witnesses reported that riot police arrived on the scene in armored personnel carriers, dispersing the crowd with water cannons and tear gas, and firing warning shots into the air. At least 300 people were reported to be arrested. There were unconfirmed reports of deaths and injuries. The rioting began shortly after 3 p.m., when a demonstration was held outside a market.

"Under Chinese law, we should have the right for a peaceful protest again what the Chinese government is doing to our people," Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said in a telephone interview from his home in Sweden. He described the incident as the most serious unrest in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region, where 8 million Uighurs live uneasily among the majority Han Chinese.
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Video that circulated on the Internet for a few hours before being removed by Chinese censors showed thousands of protesters marching on the market. In another scene, a car fire burned out of control, sending billows of black smoke through the city. The images bore an eerie resemblance to those that came out of Lhasa, the Tibetan region's capital, in March of last year when years of suppressed rage by Tibetans erupted in rioting. The Tibetan unrest dragged on through much of the year and threatened to mar the festivities around the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It is unclear at this point whether the Uighurs' protests will have a similar effect during another sensitive year, in which Beijing is planning massive celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of Communist China.

The protests today were triggered by the June 26 killing of two young Uighur men at a toy factory in Guangdong province. According to Uighur sources, the men were beaten to death by a mob, enraged by false rumors that they had sexually harassed Han women.

(Reuters)  Three killed in riot in China's Xinjiang region   By Chris Buckley.  July 5, 2009.

Three people were killed in rioting that erupted in China's restive far west Xinjiang region Sunday, when locals burnt vehicles and blocked traffic in the regional capital Urumqi, the state news agency reported. "The regional government did not say how many people were involved in the unrest, but said they illegally gathered in several downtown places and engaged in beating, smashing, looting and burning," said the official Xinhua news agency. "The government sent police to disperse the crowd and arrested some rioters." The dead were "three ordinary people of the Han ethnic group," Xinhua said. "More than 20 others were injured in the incident and many motor vehicles were burnt." The official reports did not specify the ethnicity of those involved in the unrest, or the reasons behind it, and calls to the Xinjiang region spokesperson's office and Urumqi police were not answered. But a witness and other sources have told Reuters it involved members of the Uighur ethnic minority, many of whom resent the Chinese presence in the region, and the cultural and religious controls imposed by China's ruling Communist Party.

The eruption of anger in Xinjiang's tightly controlled capital brings into focus debate about the long-term viability of those controls. "It started as a few hundred, and then there were easily over a thousand involved," said the visitor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said the rioters overturned traffic rails and smashed buses until thousands of police and anti-riot troops swept through the city, using tear-gas and high-pressure water hoses to disperse crowds. "Now the whole city is on lock-down," he said.

Dilxat Raxit, an advocate of Uighur independence exiled in Sweden, said the unrest was sparked by local anger over a violent confrontation between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in far southern China in late June, which Uighurs said showed the discrimination they face. "There were thousands of people shouting to stop ethnic discrimination, demanding an explanation. This anger has been growing for a long time," said Dilxat Raxit.

The Chinese video website Youku (www.youku.com) showed footage titled "Urumqi riot" that showed smoke rising from an expressway as a firetruck stopped at the scene.

An overseas Chinese news website, Boxun (peacehall.com), showed pictures it said were of the Urumqi riot, including hundreds of civilians pressed against a row of police, burning wreckage on a city street, and anti-riot police in shields and helmets.

(AFP)  Three die during riots in China's Xinjiang region: state media    By Marianne Barriaux.  July 5, 2009.

Three people were killed and more than 20 others injured as rioters swept through the capital of China's mainly Muslim Xinjiang region on Sunday, state media reported.  The dead were from China's majority Han Chinese ethnic group, according to the official Xinhua news agency, with activist groups and a witness saying the violence in Urumqi city pitted thousands of Muslim Uighurs against police. The unrest is the latest in more than a year of violence to hit Xinjiang, home to about eight million Uighurs -- many of whom say they have suffered political and religious persecution under Han Chinese rule for decades.

Citing local government officials, Xinhua said the rioters "illegally gathered in several downtown places and engaged in beating, smashing, looting and burning".  It said many motor vehicles were burnt in the unrest on Sunday afternoon, but did not identify who the assailants were nor give a motive.

But the eye-witness, a Han Chinese bar owner in the city centre where the riots took place, who refused to be named, told AFP there were around 3,000 Uighur protesters and some were armed with wooden batons and knives. She said the rioters broke cars, smashed windows and tried to set some buses on fire. "All shop owners in the street were very scared," she told AFP over the phone, adding order had now been restored.

A local policewoman contacted by AFP confirmed an incident had happened, but would not give any details.

(Guardian)  Uighur Muslims riot as ethnic tensions rise in China.  By Tania Branigan and Jonathan Watts.  July 5, 2009.

The western Chinese region of Xinjiang experienced the biggest display of ethnic unrest in recent memory today as thousands of Muslim Uighurs took to the streets in protest. The protesters smashed up buses, threw stones through shop windows and assaulted Han Chinese passers-by, according to a witness, who said the spark was the recent killing of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong, southern China.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported that vehicles were set on fire and traffic guard rails overturned. Bloodied victims were rushed to hospital in the regional capital, Urumqi, as armed riot police moved in to restore order with tear gas, armoured vehicles and road blocks, according to a foreign student in Xinjiang.

A large section of Urumqi was shut off to vehicles tonight , with police manning roadblocks at the perimeter, and witnesses reported large numbers of armed officers inside the cordon. Mobile phone networks appeared to get cut off sporadically.

There's a terrible situation today. There were big ethnic riots - there was a lot of fighting," said one Han resident. "It's not safe ˇV you can't go anywhere near there. They've blocked it all off. You have to be careful."   "It's very dangerous so you can't go into the centre at all. It's the Uighurs causing violence," complained a Han businessman, who said he was unable to get home because of the blocks.

Shaky amateur video of the protest showed large crowds of people blocking several of the main streets in the city as people watched from rooftops. Other streams have been removed by internet censors. It is not known if there were any casualties but local Han Chinese were terrified, according to witnesses. "I saw a Uighur man kicking a Han or Hui woman," said the student, who wished to remain anonymous. "In the hospital, I saw a Han man arrive with lots of blood over his shirt, but the Uighur staff paid him no attention." "My family didn't dare go out," said Yang Yu, a Beijing-based journalist, whose family live in Urumqi. "They live on the 14th floor but they could still hear the people shouting and the emergency vehicles."

The protests were said to have started when several thousand people rallied in the Grand Bazaar to protest at the death of two Uighur migrants, and injuries suffered by hundreds of others, during an ethnic conflict between workers in a factory in Guangdong last month.

(Times Online)   China in deadly crackdown after Uighurs go on the rampage     Jane Macartney      July 5, 2009.

Police fought to restore order last night after thousands of members of Chinaˇ¦s Muslim Uighur minority rampaged through city streets, burning vehicles and blocking traffic.  At least three people were killed in a rare outburst of violence in Urumqi, the capital of Chinaˇ¦s restive westernmost region of Xinjiang, where many Uighurs chafe at Beijingˇ¦s rule and the limits imposed on their religion and cultural traditions.

Witnesses said that up to 3,000 rioters went on the rampage, smashing buses and overturning police barricades during several hours of violence.  Thousands of police and anti-riot troops later swept through the city, using teargas and water hoses to disperse crowds. ˇ§Now the whole city is on lockdown,ˇ¨ one witness said.

The violence flared days after reports of ethnic clashes between Han Chinese and Uighur workers at a toy factory in the southern Guangdong province in which two Uighurs were killed and 188 wounded.

In the late-night brawl at the Early Light toy factory in Shaoguan city, a group of Han Chinese fought with Uighurs who had been recruited to the factory recently. A rumour that Uighur workers had raped two Han Chinese girls brought swift and violent retaliations from the Chinese workers.  Police have now arrested a Han Chinese for rumour-mongering after he was found to have made up the rape report in a fit of anger after losing his job at the plant.

Riots are rare in Urumqi, where ethnic Han already outnumber the local Uighur population, and the widespread presence of riot police has for years served as an effective deterrent to those wanting to stir up antiChinese unrest.  The latest violence erupted around the cityˇ¦s Sunday market, an important weekly opportunity for Uighurs to meet. Their gatherings take place under the watchful eye of police, always on the alert for any signs of unrest among the populace of Chinaˇ¦s only Muslimmajority region.

Urumqi has for years been one of the most well-controlled cities in Xinjiang because of the high and rapidly growing population of Han and the large presence of security forces.

Uighurs are extremely reluctant to speak openly for fear of police retribution and are anxious that their conversations may be overheard by Chinaˇ¦s all-pervasive secret police. Ilham Mahmut, the head of the Japan Uighur Association, said he had heard through internet communications with China that at least 300 people had been arrested by last night.  He said that the confrontation involved about 3,000 Uighur and 1,000 police who used electric cattle prods and fired gunshots into the air to try to break up the demonstration. Dilxat Raxit, for the Germany-based World Uighur Congress, said sources told him that more than a hundred people had been detained.

Tensions are already running high in Xinjiang. On a recent visit to the fabled Silk Road trading town of Kashgar, The Times saw sullen, scared Uighurs watching with despair and resignation as officials demolished swaths of the ancient city, saying that its centuries-old mud-and-straw buildings could not protect residents against earthquakes.  They will be replaced by modern streets and the Uighurs moved out of their homes into modern apartments on the edge of town. Uighurs feel that Han immigrants to Xinjiang are depriving them of jobs and diluting their unique culture.

Days before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing last year, two Uighurs ploughed a truck into a group of Chinese police border guards on an early morning jog in Kashgar and then attacked the survivors with knives and home-made grenades. At least 17 police were killed. Both were later executed. Xinjiang has had a reputation for unrest over recent years.


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There are also many photos from Urumqi posted on the Internet.  But they are much more suspect than the videos.  Why?  You can fudge one photo easily, but it is a lot harder to fudge an entire video.  Here is an example.  At the Boxun website, there is this photo allegedly coming from Urumqi on this evening:

This photo has been identified to have previously appeared as the fourth photo in this BBS forum at KDS Life as being a Xinjiang thief mutilating himself after being caught on a pedestrian overpass at People's Plaza in Shanghai on August 20, 2008.

To be fair, Boxun probably did not deliberately post this misleading photo.  Rather, it is their editorial policy to accept all submissions without verification because the Internet can sort the truth out eventually.  But, of course, that would be long after the damage has been done and nobody would pay any attention anyway.  Understandably, the Chinese government does not approve of this sort of standards for media ethics.

P.S.  This photo was also used at Anti-cnn.com.

The photos from Chinanews.com.cn do not say much:

The accompanying text said that at around 20:00 on July 5, there was an incident in Urumqi involving assault, vandalism, looting, arson and disturbance.  Certain persons held an illegal assembly around People's Plaza, Liberation Avenue and elsewhere and engaged in assault, vandalism, looting and arson.




July 6, 2009

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CCTV News Report (in Chinese)

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(Xinhua)   Civilians and armed police officer killed in NW China violence     July 7, 2009.

The violence in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has led to the death of "a number of civilians and one armed police officer" on Sunday, sources with the regional government said early Monday.  Some ordinary people and armed police officers were also injured, while many motor vehicles and shops were smashed and burned, the sources said. The situation is under control now, it added.

Previous government report said that three ordinary people of the Han ethnic group were killed in the incident as of 11 p.m. Sunday, in addition to 20 others injured. "They took to the street, not peacefully, carrying knives, wooden batons, brick and stone," said Wang Yaming, who was hacked down by several outlaws, but then saved by a group of Uygur citizens. A taxi driver, whose surname was Zhao, told Xinhua that he was assaulted by some 20 young people with batons in hands rushing out of a lane. "They hit me badly and took my mobile phone and money away, then they smashed the window of my car," he said.

Initial investigation showed the violence was masterminded by the separatist World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer, according to the regional government.  Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman in China, was detained in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail on March 17, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States. "The violence is a preempted, organized violent crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country," a government statement said early Monday. A ccording to the government, the World Uyghur Congress has recently been instigating an unrest via the Internet among other means, calling on the outlaws "to be braver" and "to do something big." Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, said in a televised speech Monday morning that "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism made use of a brawl between Uygur and Han ethnic workers in a toy factory in Guangdong Province on June 26, in which two Uygur workers died, to sabotage the country.

On Saturday evening, some people began to spread information on the Internet, calling for demonstration in the People's Square and South Gate in the Urumqi city. On Sunday, Rebiya called her accomplices in China for further instigation.  Outlaws came to the street at around 7 p.m. Sunday. They gathered, marched and demonstrated, which developed into violent acts of beating, smashing, looting and burning in some places, said the official.

Nur Bekri said the bodies of the two Uygur workers in the brawl have been sent back by plane to Xinjiang for burial. Police in Xinjiang and Guangdong are jointly investigating the brawl, so as to ensure justice.  The government of Shaoguan City, where the toy factory is located, and the factory are trying their best to make Uygur workers go back to work as soon as possible, he added.  The brawl was triggered by a sex assault by a Uygur worker toward a Han female worker, he said.   "We should bear in mind that stability is to the greatest interest of all people in China, including the 21 million-plus people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang," he said.

Xinjiang, the far western autonomous region, is home to more than 10.96 million of ethnic minority people, including Uygur, Mongolian and Hui. 

The Urumqi municipal government issued an urgent notice early Monday morning, announcing traffic control in certain areas to "maintain social order in the city and guarantee the execution of duty by state organs."   "From 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. on July 6, police impose traffic control in certain areas in the city of Urumqi. Passage in these areas is not allowed for any vehicle," the notice reads.  "All the units and individuals shall voluntarily help maintain social order as required by this notice. People who violate the notice will be detained and punished by police according to law. Those whose acts constitute a crime shall be subject to criminal liabilities according to law," says the notice.

So far the government has not disclosed how many people were involved in Sunday's violence.  Police have arrested some rioters, although the exact number of people arrested was still not available.

This year marks the region's 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation. But during the annual "two session" in March this year, Nur Bekri warned the security situation in the region would be "more severe".  "It's a time of celebration for Xinjiang people but hostile forces will not give up such an opportunity to sabotage," said the official.

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TVB News Report (in Cantonese)

(BBC News)

(Xinhua)   Civilians and armed police officer killed in NW China violence.  July 6, 2009.

Violence in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has left at least three civilians and an armed police officer" dead on Sunday, sources with the regional government said early Monday.

    The regional government is still calculating the exact number of casualties in the event. Some civilians and armed police officers were injured and many motor vehicles and shops were smashed and burned, the sources said.  The situation is basically under control, it added. "They took to the street, not peacefully, carrying knives, wooden batons, bricks and stones," said Wang Yaming, who was attacked by several rioters, but then saved by a group of Uygur citizens.

    A taxi driver, whose surname was Zhao, told Xinhua that he was assaulted by about 20 young people with batons rushing out of an alley. "They beat me badly and took my mobile phone and money away, then they smashed the window of my car," he said.

"At around 9 p.m., eight- to- nine Uygurs besieged me near Shiqihu Road. They asked me which ethnic group I belonged to. I told them I was a Han and then was beaten by them," said Wang Kunding, in the regional People's Hospital.  Wang said he was beaten to the ground and suffered fractures of the legs and arms. He was unable to move. He was taken to the regional People's Hospital at 1:30 a.m. Monday in the car of a Xinhua reporter.

    Groups of rioters were seen in the streets in downtown Urumqi at around 8:20 p.m. Sunday. They overthrew isolation guardrails on roads, and began to beat pedestrians of the Han ethic group. They attacked buses with batons and rocks, a Xinhua reporter witnessed.

    An injured person was seen by a Xinhua reporter lying under the Tuanjie Road viaduct, bleeding. On another street, a woman lay dead, with a bag on her back. On Xinhua South Road, a sedan and a truck were overthrown. Their windows were smashed and doors seriously damaged. At the entrance of an alley to the road onlookers, mostly of ethnic minorities, shouted. Rioters also set fire to a hotel near the office building of the regional foreign trade committee. At least 30 buses and sedans were vandalized.

    According to Xinhua reporters at the scene, some people of the ethnic minorities, when finding the Han citizens were attacked, offered to help lead them to safe areas. They also stopped passersby from coming too close to the violence.

    As of 10:45 p.m. Sunday, the regional Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital had received 37 injured people. The head of the hospital said under the condition of anonymity that the injured included people of the both Han and Uygur ethnic groups.  Doctors said attackers used long knives, bricks, rocks or wooden bars. One of the injured was in critical condition while the others had no life-threatening injuries, the hospital head said, adding ambulances were still carrying injured people to the hospital.

    Initial investigations showed the violence was masterminded by the separatist World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer, according to the regional government. Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman in China, was detained in1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail on March 17, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States. "The violence is a preempted, organized violent crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country," a government statement said early Monday. According to the government, the World Uyghur Congress has recently been instigating an unrest via the Internet, calling on supporters "to be braver" and "to do something big."

    Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, said in a televised speech Monday morning that three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism made use of a fight between Uygur and Han ethnic workers in a toy factory in Guangdong Province on June 26, in which two Uygur workers died, to creat chaos. Nur Bekri said the bodies of the two Uygur workers in the factory fight have been sent back by plane to Xinjiang for burial. Police in Xinjiang and Guangdong are jointly investigating the incident.

    The government of Shaoguan City, where the toy factory is located, and the factory are trying their best to help Uygur workers go back to work as soon as possible, he added.  The fight was triggered by the sexual of a female Han worker assault by a Uygur coworker, he said.

   On Saturday evening, information began to spread on the Internet, calling for demonstration in the People's Square and South Gate in the Urumqi city. On Sunday, Rebiya called her accomplices in China for further instigation, according to the government statement. Rioters came to the street at around 7 p.m. Sunday. They gathered, marched and demonstrated, which developed into violent acts of beating, smashing, looting and burning in some places, said the official.  "We should bear in mind that stability is to the greatest interest of all people in China, including the 21 million-plus people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang," he said.

    Xinjiang, the far western autonomous region, is home to more than 10.96 million of ethnic minority people, including Uygur, Mongolian and Hui.

    The Urumqi municipal government issued an urgent notice early Monday morning, announcing traffic control in certain areas to "maintain social order in the city and guarantee the execution of duty by state organs."  "From 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. on July 6, police will impose traffic control in certain areas in the city of Urumqi. Passage in these areas is not allowed for any vehicle," the notice reads.  "All the units and individuals shall help maintain social order as required by this notice. People who violate the notice will be detained and punished by police according to law. Those whose acts constitute a crime shall be subject to criminal liabilities according to law," says the notice.

    Police have arrested some rioters, although the exact number of people arrested was still not available.

    This year marks the region's 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation. But during the annual "two session" in March this year, Nur Bekri warned the security situation in the region would be "more severe."   "It's a time of celebration for Xinjiang people but hostile forces will not give up such an opportunity to sabotage," said the official.


Photo taken on July 5, 2009 shows a shop which is smashed in Tianchi Street in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The violence in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has led to the death of "a number of civilians and one armed police officer" on Sunday, sources with the regional government said early Monday.(Xinhua/Liu Bing)


Firemen put out a fire in Dawannanlu Street in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on July 5, 2009. (Xinhua/Shen Qiao)


Photo taken on July 5, 2009 shows a shop being burned in a street of Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.(Xinhua/Sadat)


An injured man is carried to an urgent care center in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on July 5, 2009.(Xinhua/Shen Qiao)

(Xinhua) 140 dead in China's ethnic clashes  July 6, 2009.

The toll in the ethnic clashes in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has risen to 140, authorities said Monday. Fifty-seven people died at the spot and the others died later in hospital, a spokesman of the regional government said at a press conference Monday. He said the death toll could climb further.

The clashes took place between Uyghurs and members of China's Han community. Several vehicles and shops were also smashed or set ablaze Sunday evening during the violence that the provincial government said was masterminded by the separatist World Uyghur Congress. 'They took to the street, not peacefully, carrying knives, wooden batons, brick and stone,' said Wang Yaming, who was attacked by the mob but saved by a group of Uygurs.

The banned World Uyghur Congress is led by Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman, who was detained in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail in March 2005 to seek medical treatment in the US.

'The violence is a pre-empted and organised crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country,' a government statement said early Monday. Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, said the Uyghur Congress had called on its supporters to hold demonstrations over the death of two Uygur workers in a brawl in a toy factory in Guangdong province June 26.

On Sunday evening, the protesters marched and demonstrated in the city that turned violent after the Uyghurs started beating innocent people. They also looted and vandalised several shops and public properties in some places, the official said.

(Los Angeles Times)  140 slain as Chinese riot police, Muslims clash in northwestern city    By Barbara Demick.   July 6, 2009.

China's worst ethnic violence in years broke out Sunday in the northwestern city of Urumqi, leaving 140 people dead and more than 800 injured, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

The unrest pitted Uighurs, a long-aggrieved Muslim minority, against the Han Chinese, who increasingly dominate the far-flung Xinjiang region. With the death toll climbing over the course of the day, the violence appeared to be far deadlier than that last year in the Tibetan region.

Images from the city of 2 million showed flames raging from overturned cars and black smoke billowing over downtown.

Urumqi was virtually closed down today, with vehicles barred in much of the city, telephone lines and the Internet down.

Chinese bloggers wrote that at least one bomb exploded during the incident and that about 100 public buses were destroyed.

The Chinese government accused Uighur exiles in the U.S. of masterminding what was described by state television as a rampage of "beating, smashing, robbing and burning."

But representatives of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority, countered that they were holding a peaceful demonstration that turned ugly because of government brutality.

"Under Chinese law, we should have the right for a peaceful protest against what the Chinese government is doing to our people," Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said in a telephone interview from his home in Sweden.

He described the incident as the most serious unrest in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region, where 8 million Uighurs live uneasily among the majority Han Chinese.

Witnesses reported that riot police arrived on the scene in armored personnel carriers, dispersing the crowd with water cannons and tear gas, and firing warning shots into the air.

At least 300 people were reported to have been arrested and 828 injured.

The trouble began shortly after 3 p.m., when about 300 Uighurs held a sit-in at People's Square. Later, thousands of Uighurs began marching. By nightfall, riots had spread throughout the city, concentrated around the traditional market area known as Erdaoqiao.

Video from Uighur sources that circulated on the Internet for a few hours before being removed by Chinese censors showed a crowd that appeared to be about 3,000-strong marching through the city. In another scene, people subdued with cuffs and ropes were lying on the pavement.

In what was emerging as a battle of images, Chinese television countered with footage of rioters overturning a police car. Two young women with blood streaming down their faces, who appeared to be victims, hugged each other and wept.

A man said to have been beaten by the mob was quoted by the official New China News Agency as saying, "They took to the street, not peacefully, carrying knives, wooden batons, brick and stone." His name was reported as Wang Yaming.

The imagery bore an eerie resemblance to those that came out of Lhasa, the Tibetan region's capital, in March 2008 when years of suppressed rage by Tibetans erupted in rioting. The Tibetan unrest dragged on through much of the year and threatened to mar the festivities around the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

It is unclear whether the Uighurs' protests will have a similar effect during another sensitive year, in which Beijing is planning massive celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of communist China.

Sunday's protests were triggered by the June 26 killing of two young Uighur men at a toy factory in Guangdong province.

According to Uighur sources, the men were beaten to death by a mob, enraged by false rumors that they had sexually harassed Han women.

"Uighurs have suffered for years under racial profiling and unjust government policies that have painted the entire Uighur population as criminals and terrorists," U.S.-based Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer said in a statement released last week.

The Uighurs say that an influx of ethnic Han Chinese into their traditional homeland has diluted the Uighur culture and led to high unemployment. China considers Uighur activists to be criminals and terrorists for their opposition to Beijing's rule over Xinjiang.

The news agency today quoted an unidentified Chinese government official as saying that "the violence was masterminded" by Kadeer.

Alim Seytoff, secretary-general of the Uyghur American Assn. and Kadeer's spokesman, said in an e-mail from Washington late Sunday that the demonstrators were not separatists and that many had carried the Chinese flag on the march.

"They only asked the Chinese government to stop racial discrimination against Uighurs. . . . However, you will see what kind of brutal force they met," he wrote.

The Obama administration has been struggling in recent months to resettle Uighur detainees who had been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since they were captured in Pakistan in 2001.

(Times Online)  Death toll in Uigher crackdown rockets to 140 and rising   By Jane Macartney.  July 6, 2009.

In the deadliest social unrest in China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown, 140 people have been killed and more than 800 wounded in riots that rocked the city of Urumqi at the weekend.

Running battles raged through the streets of the city throughout Sunday, pitting members of the Uigher minority against ethnic Han Chinese. Witnesses said that up to 3,000 rioters went on the rampage, smashing buses and overturning police barricades during several hours of violence.

State television showed cars in flames in the streets, and others being over-turned by rioters. Other footage showed a number of men attacking a man, apparently a Han Chinese, who lay on the street bleeding from the head and from injuries to other parts of his body. Burnt out busses lay scattered on the streets of Urumqi, the capital of China's restive, westernmost region of Xinjiang.

The death toll from the day of violence was put at 140 by the Xinjiang police, who said 816 were injured. The numbers were announced by the state run Xinhua news agency in an unusually swift revelation of the extent of the violence.

Police said the number of dead was expected to rise. State television said at least one member of the paramilitary People's Armed Police had been killed. It was only after dark and following several hours of violence that the paramilitary police, equipped with tear gas and firing weapons, were able to restore order.

The violence flared days after reports of ethnic clashes between Han Chinese and Uighur workers at a toy factory in the southern Guangdong province in which two Uighurs were killed and 188 wounded.

It is uncertain what sparked the riots, but they may have broken out around the time of the popular Sunday bazaar when thousands of Uighers converge in towns across the region to sell their sheep, goats and horses.

Police have arrested several hundred participants, including more than `10 key figures "who fanned the unrest," Xinhua said. The security bureau said police were still searching for 90 key figures suspected of being behind the single worst day of violence since troops crushed student demonstrations centred on Tiananmen Square in June 1999. It gave no details as to whether those involved were members of the Uigher minority or whether the violence had been triggered by long-standing ethnic tensions in Xinjiang.

Uigher exile groups said the violence started when Chinese security forces cracked down on the peaceful protest.

"We are extremely saddened by the heavy-handed use of force by the Chinese security forces against the peaceful demonstrators," said Alim Seytoff, vice president of the Washington-based Uyghur American Association.  "We ask the international community to condemn China's killing of innocent Uighurs. This is a very dark day in the history of the Uighur people,"he said.

Xinjiang has been shaken by several riots against Chinese rule over the last several decades, although the violence had appeared to abate since the late 1990s. Control has been particularly tight in Urunqi where Han Chinese are now believed to out-number the Uighers.

Last year, just days before the Olympic Games opened in Beijing, two young Uighers ploughed a truck into a group of border police who were on a morning run near their barracks in the fabled Silk Rd city of Kashgar, killing 17. Those men were arrested and later executed.

State media said the latest riot was not a spontanous outburst but was incited by a small group of people intent on stirring up trouble. It gave no other details.

(Telegraph)  China riots: death toll from Xinjiang unrest rises    By Peter Foster.  July 6, 2009.

The death-toll, which stands at 129, marks a major escalation in the casualty figures from the disturbance which broke out on Sunday night after police tried to disperse a demonstration by members of the Uighur Muslim minority in the provincial capital, Urumqi. Initial reports said that just three people had been killed in running battles with police that left burned-out cars and buses and several smashed shop-fronts. Xinhua, the state-operated news service, did not provide any further details as to the composition of the casualty-list between the Uighur minority and ethnic Han Chinese. Hundreds of arrests had been made, including 10 "key figures" it said were involved in the unrest, while authorities were now looking for 90 others responsible for "fanning" the protests, the agency added. Authorities said all traffic was cleared from the streets on Monday morning to retain order. Another witness said the city of 2.3 million which is 2,000 miles west Beijing residents was now effectively "on lockdown".

The disturbances come after a year of rising tensions between the dominant Han Chinese authorities and the Uighur ethnic minority - the historical ethnic majority in Xinjiang - who say they have been socially and economically marginalised by Beijing's development policies. Officials said the riot began when Chinese police tried to break up a sit-in protest calling for an investigation into the deaths of two Uighurs during a fight between Uighur and Han workers at a toy factory in Guangdong province, Southern China last month. The riot has echoes of clashes last March in the neighbouring province of Tibet where there are similar simmering ethnic tensions between the historic Buddhist population and Han Chinese who have migrated to the region in recent decades.

The Chinese government accused the exiled groups including the World Uighur Congress, of fomenting the violence, a claim which was adamantly denied. "The violence is a pre-empted, organized violent crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad and carried out by outlaws in the country," said a statement carried by Xinhua. However Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress in exile in Sweden, blamed police heavy-handedness for the riot, saying the protests were peaceful until the authorities began to forcibly remove protestors from the city's main square. "This anger has been growing for a long time. It began as a peaceful assembly. There were thousands of people shouting to stop ethnic discrimination, demanding an explanation ... They are tired of suffering in silence."

Adam Grode, an American Fulbright scholar studying in Urumqi, told the Associated Press that he heard explosions and also saw a few people being carried off on stretchers and a Han Chinese man with blood on his shirt entering a hospital. He said police used tear gas, fire hoses and batons to suppress the riot as protesters knocked over police barriers and smashed bus windows. "Every time the police showed some force, the people would jump the barriers and get back on the street. It was like a cat-and-mouse sort of game," added Mr Grode, 26.

Alim Seytoff, general secretary of the Uyghur American Association, based in Washington D.C., said police and officials were going through university dormitory rooms looking for students involved in the protest that gave way to the riot. "Urumqi is a tightly controlled city, but the students have access to all sorts of information on the Internet," he said, "There will be a harsh crackdown, but the basic problems won't disappear."

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Chinese troops entering Xinjiang, an act which Beijing describes as a "peaceful liberation" that brought development and economic benefits to the historically poor region which is China's gateway to Central Asia. Uighur groups however say they have been systematically edged out of society by the influx of Han Chinese that have moved into the region to exploit Xinjiang's oil, natural gas and agricultural resources as part of Beijing's "develop the West" policy.

Last year on the eve of the Beijing Olympics Uighur separatist groups attacked a Chinese police post killing 17 police, according to figures released by state media. Two men were executed for the attacks in the Silk Road city of Kashgar last April.

Beijing said that Uighur separatist groups were running terrorist cells in Xinjiang which have received training from Islamist militant groups in neighbouring Pakistan.

The Uighur issue returned to top of US-China relations last month after Washington refused to send four Uighur men released from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp back to China. Despite Beijing's objections the men were relocated to Bermuda as U.S. officials have said they feared the men would be executed if they were returned to China. Officials are trying to transfer 13 other released Uighurs to the Pacific nation of Palau.

(Xinhua)  Commentary: Riot a catastrophe for Xinjiang.  By Zhao Ying and Zhou Yan.  July 6, 2009.

Sunday's deadly riot in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region bruised the beautiful city of Urumqi and shocked the world, barely 16 months after the nightmarish Lhasa violence that still clings to many Chinese minds.

    "Oops! Not again!" was almost the universal response when news of the unrest came Sunday night, when blood tainted Urumqi, with at least 140 lives lost and more than 800 others injured.

    When rioters assaulted innocent people with knives, wooden batons, bricks and stones, smashed vehicles and set fire to buildings and public facilities, we also saw many people of ethnic minority groups extending a helping hand to the victims.

    Love and humanity glittered behind the deadly violence: out of human nature, these brave people helped those who were attacked, and stopped passersby from coming too close to the violent scenes.

    By their heroic deeds, we hope, these people helped remind the rioters and whoever was behind the violence, that riots would only harm the majority of the people.

    History has proven, time and again, that social stability is a blessing and riot a catastrophe. Innocent citizens always suffer the most when stability is shaken, which often leads to social unrest and stagnated economic growth.

    National unity and social stability are in line with the fundamental interests of all Chinese people, including the 21 million-plus people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

    Given its unique location and demography, the northwestern Chinese region has been a target of separatist and terrorist actions, particularly in the past two years.

    On Aug. 4, 2008, just days before the Beijing Olympic Games opened, 17 people were killed and 15 injured in an attack on police by terrorists in Kashgar, Xinjiang. The attack was aimed to sabotage the Beijing Games.

    Six days later, a string of explosions in supermarkets, hotels and government buildings rocked the region's Kuqa County, killing a security guard and a civilian and injuring two police officers.

    On March 7, 2008, a number of terrorists planned to attack a passenger plane with explosives but were thwarted by police. The attempt was found to be masterminded by Eastern Turkistan separatists from abroad.

    Police said that in the first half of 2008, five terrorist rings were busted in Xinjiang and 82 suspected terrorists detained.

    Now the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism are at work again. An initial investigation showed a separatist group made use of the June 26 brawl involving workers from Xinjiang in a toy factory in the southern Guangdong Province to foment Sunday's unrest and sabotage the country. Behind the scheme was the separatist World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer.

    Government investigations indicate that Sunday's unrest was controlled and instigated from abroad.

    "It was a crime of violence that was premeditated and organized," said Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, in a televised speech Monday morning.

    Bekri said that stability was the premise for everything in the region and people should work to maintain the harmonious and stable social and political status -- a result of the long-term efforts by the government and people across the country, "as if protecting your own eyes". For whoever was behind the riot, or for whatever intentions they had in masterminding the bloodshed, one thing is clear: under no circumstances should slaughters be brooked, violence allowed or national security challenged.

(New York Times)  Ethnic Clashes in Western China Are Said to Kill Scores  By Edward Wong.  July 7, 2009.

The Chinese state news agency reported Monday that at least 140 people were killed and more than 800 injured when rioters clashed with the police in a regional capital in western China after days of rising tensions between members of the Uighur ethnic group and Han Chinese. The casualty toll, if confirmed, would make this the deadliest outbreak of violence in China in many years.

The rioting broke out Sunday afternoon in a large market area of Urumqi, the capital of the vast, restive desert region of Xinjiang, and lasted for several hours before riot police officers and paramilitary or military troops locked down the Uighur quarter of the city, according to witnesses and photographs of the riot. At least 1,000 rioters took to the streets, throwing stones at the police and setting vehicles on fire. Plumes of smoke billowed into the sky, while police officers used fire hoses and batons to beat back rioters and detained Uighurs who appeared to be leading the protest, witnesses said.

The Associated Press reported Monday that protests had also spread to a second city, Kashgar, citing eyewitness accounts.

In contrast to last yearˇ¦s unrest in Tibet, where accounts of police and military violence against demonstrators were common, Chinaˇ¦s central government moved swiftly to take command of the public depiction of the Urumqi protests and to cripple protestersˇ¦ ability to communicate. Local Internet service was largely disabled, and online bulletin boards and search engines across China were purged of references to the violence. The social networking service Twitter, which effectively rallied demonstrators in Iran last month, was also disabled. China Mobile, the nationˇ¦s largest cellphone provider, curtailed service in Urumqi, and cellphone calls from some Beijing numbers to the area were blocked.

The casualty numbers in Urumqi appeared to be murky and shifting on Monday. Xinhua, the state news agency, said the toll so far was 140 dead and 828 wounded, citing regional police officials. It was not possible to independently verify the governmentˇ¦s counts. An unidentified official at Urumqi First Peopleˇ¦s Hospital, the closest medical facility to the unrest, said before abruptly hanging up that 40 people had been admitted and that at least one had died. At Urumqi Friendship Hospital, another unidentified official was unable to say how many people had been admitted but said that none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. Both spoke to a researcher on Monday afternoon in Beijing time, more than half a day after troops in Urumqi had quelled the violence.

One American who watched the rioting at its height said he did not see lethal fighting, though he said he did see Uighurs shoving or kicking a few Han Chinese. Images of the rioting on state television showed some bloody people lying in the streets and cars burning.

Dozens of Uighur men were led into police stations on Sunday evening with their hands behind their backs and shirts pulled over their heads, one witness said. Early Monday, the local government announced a curfew banning all traffic in the city until 8 p.m.

The riot was the largest ethnic clash in China since the Tibetan uprising of March 2008. Like the Tibetan unrest, it highlighted the deep-seated frustrations felt by some ethnic minorities in western China over the policies of the Communist Party, and how that can quickly turn into ethnic violence. Last year, in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, at least 19 people were killed, most of them Han civilians, according to government statistics.

Many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group, resent rule by the Han Chinese, and Chinese security forces have tried to keep oil-rich Xinjiang under tight control since the 1990s, when cities there were struck by waves of protests, riots and bombings. Last summer, attacks on security forces took place in several cities in Xinjiang; the Chinese government blamed separatist groups.

Early Monday, Chinese officials said the latest riots were started by Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur human rights advocate who had been imprisoned in China and now lives in Washington, Xinhua reported. As with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, Chinese officials often blame Ms. Kadeer for ethnic unrest; she regularly denies the charges.

The clashes on Sunday began when the police confronted a protest march held by Uighurs to demand a full government investigation of a brawl between Uighur and Han workers that erupted in Guangdong Province overnight on June 25 and June 26. The brawl took place in a toy factory and left 2 Uighurs dead and 118 people injured. The police later arrested a bitter ex-employee of the factory who had ignited the fight by starting a rumor that six Uighur men had raped two Han women at the work site, Xinhua reported.

There was also a rumor circulating on Sunday in Urumqi that a Han man had killed a Uighur in the city earlier in the day, said Adam Grode, an English teacher living in the neighborhood where the rioting took place. ˇ§This is just crazy,ˇ¨ Mr. Grode said by telephone Sunday night. ˇ§There was a lot of tear gas in the streets, and I almost couldnˇ¦t get back to my apartment. Thereˇ¦s a huge police presence.ˇ¨

Mr. Grode said he saw a few Han civilians being harassed by Uighurs. Rumors of Uighurs attacking Han Chinese spread quickly through parts of Urumqi, adding to the panic. A worker at the Texas Restaurant, a few hundred yards from the site of the rioting, said her manager had urged the restaurant workers to stay inside. Xinhua reported few details of the riot on Sunday night. It said that ˇ§an unknown number of people gathered Sunday afternoonˇ¨ in Urumqi, ˇ§attacking passers-by and setting fire to vehicles.ˇ¨

Uighurs are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang but are a minority in Urumqi, where Han Chinese make up more than 70 percent of the population of two million or so. The Chinese government has encouraged Han migration to the city and other parts of Xinjiang, fueling resentment among the Uighurs. Urumqi is a deeply segregated city, with Han Chinese there rarely venturing into the Uighur quarter. The Uighur neighborhood is centered in a warren of narrow alleyways, food markets and a large shopping area called the Grand Bazaar or the Erdaoqiao (pronounced ar-DOW-chyow) Market, where the rioting reached its peak on Sunday.

Mr. Grode, who lives in an apartment there, said he went outside when he first heard commotion around 6 p.m. He saw hundreds of Uighurs in the streets; that quickly swelled to more than 1,000, he said.

Police officers soon arrived. Around 7 p.m., protesters began hurling rocks and vegetables from the market at the police, Mr. Grode said. Traffic ground to a halt. An hour later, as the riot surged toward the center of the market, troops in green uniforms and full riot gear showed up, as did armored vehicles. Chinese government officials often deploy the Peopleˇ¦s Armed Police, a paramilitary force, to quell riots. By midnight, Mr. Grode said, some of the armored vehicles had begun to leave, but bursts of gunfire could still be heard.

In a telephone interview Monday, one Urumqi resident described a scene of deserted streets, an omnipresent police force and almost palpable tension. ˇ§All around the Erdaoqiao area is very very tense,ˇ¨ said a taxi driver who works near the market, but refused to be identified. ˇ§The area is deserted, like youˇ¦re driving around in the wee hours of the morning. This morning when I was driving around, I saw three or four burnt-out cars. Thereˇ¦s ash and glass all over the place. Buses, taxis, vans, all with their windows smashed in, empty.ˇ¨

An ethnic Han woman who lives in an apartment overlooking the Erdaoqiao market said the streets were effectively under a police curfew. ˇ§The area is completely closed off to traffic. The people outside canˇ¦t come in, we canˇ¦t go out,ˇ¨ she said. ˇ§When something big happens, itˇ¦s best to stay home. Nothingˇ¦s open outside anyways, no stores are open. where are you going to go? What they should do is crack down with a lot of force at first, so the situation doesnˇ¦t get worse. So it doesnˇ¦t drag out like in Tibet,ˇ¨ she added. ˇ§Their mind is very simple. If you crack down on one, youˇ¦ll scare all of them. The government should come down harder.ˇ¨

(BBC News)  Incomplete picture of Xinjiang unrest   By Chris Hogg.  July 6, 2009.

China's state-controlled media is portraying the violence in Xinjiang as an orchestrated attempt by ethnic Uighurs to terrorise Han Chinese in the region.  The scenes of violence on television show the crowds attempting to overturn a police car and throwing stones at the security forces. Vehicles are on fire.

Two women, both Han Chinese, are shown looking on in shock. Both have blood on their hands. One wipes the other's face as she tries to comfort her. A man who looks like he has been beaten is shown sitting on the side of the road.

The scenes are being repeated hourly on news bulletins on state television stations. The reports were the second and third item on the national news broadcast at 1800, including a report from a hospital treating some of the injured.

It is clear, though, that the authorities are doing their best to restrict the amount of coverage available from independent sources on the internet, on sites like YouTube and Twitter. Access to Twitter in China appears to have been blocked following the protests. Users outside the country report that some images of what appears to be a peaceful protest, initially at least, have been uploaded onto YouTube. It is difficult to see that footage in China at the moment though, and so impossible to verify where and when it was shot.

YouTube has been difficult to access here for some weeks. The Chinese version of Twitter, Fanfou.com, has not been blocked but efforts to search using keywords like "Xinjiang", "Urumqi" or "riots" return no results.  On other Chinese news sites such as sina.com, sohu.com or 163.com, the official version of the incident in Xinjiang has been posted but internet users are prevented from leaving comments underneath.

China's response to Sunday's violence has been to accuse foreign forces of fomenting the unrest. The country's official news agency, Xinhua, quoted an unnamed Chinese official who claimed the riot had been "masterminded by the World Uighur Congress".

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Uighur groups in the US deny this. They say they are being blamed as a way of distracting attention from the real cause of the Uighurs' discontent, the discrimination they face and the oppression they are subjected to by the Chinese authorities. It is not the first time the Chinese have suggested this kind of violence is the work of "separatists".  They made similar claims after riots in the Tibetan capital Lhasa last year.

The streets of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, are reported to be quiet although eyewitnesses say there is a heavy security presence.  It is also reported to be impossible to access the internet in that part of China at the moment. 

Throughout the morning in China, the official news agency Xinhua offered several updates, revising upwards the estimate of the number killed and injured.  Much of the information came from a news conference in the regional capital given by local officials.

A serious outbreak of ethnic violence like this is, of course, a concern for the authorities. One of the sparks was said to have been an incident last month in southern China in which two Uighurs were killed during a clash between workers from the Uighur and Han communities. Xinjiang is, however, a remote part of the country, some 3,000 km ( 1875 miles) from Beijing, so the violence there is unlikely to have much of an impact elsewhere in the country unless there is a sense that in Urumqi the authorities are losing control.

(The Wall Street Journal: China Journal)  A Dual Strategy on Xinjiang and the Media.  By Sky Caneves.  July 6, 2009.

News of Sundayˇ¦s riots in Urumqi, the capital of Chinaˇ¦s far west Xinjiang region spread quickly on the Internet, where users posted amateur photos and videos of the violence and its aftermath, including images of lifeless-looking bodies piled on the streets. The official death toll keeps rising, from three on Sunday night to the current 140.

The flow of information on Xinjiang stands in marked contrast to the last major incidence of unrest in the region. In February 1997, members of the Muslim Uighur minority rioted in the frontier city of Yining. Those riots were reportedly put down by violence, though details about what happened remain sketchy. The official death toll was nine, though Uighur activists and human rights groups claimed it was much higher, reaching into the hundreds.

But while officials have been quick to revise the death toll upwards, there are also signs of discomfort with the rapid transmission of news from unofficial sources. Urumqi residents reported that they were unable to access the Internet on Sunday and Monday. Internet users in other parts of Xinjiang also reported service disruptions.

Meanwhile, on Monday, as ˇ§Chinaˇ¦s Xinjiang,ˇ¨ ˇ§Xinjiangˇ¨ and ˇ§Chinaˇ¨ were making their way up Twitterˇ¦s top trending topics list, users of the popular micro-blogging service in China reported that Twitter.com was unavailable, though access to Twitter accounts was still possible through third-party software applications. In early June, just before the 20th anniversay of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, Twitter and a number of other Web sites suddenly became inaccessible in China, though access to most sites was restored soon after the sensitive date of June 4.

At the same time, it appears that authorities are also welcoming the mainstream media to report on the conflict. Unlike in the late 1990s, when media was banned from the region, today Xinjiang remains open to foreign journalists. The State Council Information Office has even set up a reception desk in Urumqi for domestic and foreign reporters, where they can check in to receive guidance and schedules of planned press conference, without further restrictions, according to the SCIO.

(Reuters)  China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot  By Ben Blanchard.  July 6, 2009.

China clamped down on the Internet in the capital of China's northwestern region of Xinjiang on Monday, in the hope of stemming the flow of information about ethnic unrest which left 140 people dead. The government has blamed Sunday's riots in Urumqi -- the deadliest unrest since the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy demonstrations -- on exiled Muslim separatists.

Some residents in Urumqi, Xinjiang's regional capital, said they had been told there would be no Internet access for 48 hours. "Since yesterday evening I haven't been able to get online," store owner Han Zhenyu told Reuters by telephone. "No Internet here. Friends said they cannot log on, either," said a mobile phone seller who gave only his surname, Zhang.

The websites of the Urumqi city and Xinjiang regional governments were also down. But the government appears to have thrown the net even wider, with users in capital Beijing and financial hub Shanghai complaining social networking site Twitter has also been blocked.

Fanfou.com, a domestic competitor of Twitter, was still accessible, though searches for key words such as "Urumqi," "Xinjiang" and "Uighur" gave no results.

China has previously shut down communications in parts of Tibet, where ethnic unrest had erupted or was feared, and ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, as the government seeks to control the release of news through only official state media. Yet in China, where a computer-savvy youth has embraced the Internet with enthusiasm, the government has not been able to control all the information seeping out of Xinjiang.

"The incident has largely subsided, but armored cars were still in town this morning," one user, who said he was in Urumqi, wrote on Fanfou.com.

Several popular sites showed images claiming to be from the riots -- including one of a badly-mutilated body whose head had been almost hacked off.

Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the pictures, many of which, like the one of the dead body, were removed after only a short time on the Internet. Still, other Internet users took to the Web to express their anger over the riots.

"Resolutely smash the splitist forces and terrorists!" wrote on person on sina.com.cn, underneath a news report showing pictures of palls of black smoke enveloping Urumqi.  Yet the censor has also been working fast to remove most of the comments about the violence in Xinjiang, apparently to prevent ethnic hatred from spreading or Internet users questioning government policies toward regions populated by ethnic minorities.

By early afternoon, the bulletin board on Shanghai site pchome.net had numerous comments about the unrest, but they all vanished a few hours later, and replaced with the line: "This posting does not exist."

(PC World)  Internet, Twitter Blocked in China City After Ethnic Riot     Owen Fletcher and Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service   July 6, 2009.

China appeared to block Twitter across the country and Internet access in a western province on Monday, after ethnic riots killed at least 140 people in the remote region.  The moves were an apparent bid to stanch the flow of information out of Xinjiang province and to prevent further rioting there. Over 800 other people were injured and the official death toll is likely to rise, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. The government actions added to long-standing efforts to control online discussion of sensitive topics, especially at times of crisis.

"They cut off the Internet to shut down communications," said Wu'er Kaixi, an ethnic Uighur who fled China after helping lead pro-democracy protests there twenty years ago. The Uighurs are a minority concentrated in Xinjiang province that China has struggled to assimilate. Beijing did not want Internet users to upload pictures and videos like they did after deadly riots last year in Tibet, Wu'er said. China locked down communications much faster this time, he said.

Twitter became inaccessible in China around 3 p.m. local time Monday, according to complaints posted by users on the site. Users of Twitter and similar Chinese sites had been posting messages about the riots through the services. The Chinese sites were not blocked on Monday afternoon. Twitter and other foreign Web sites, including Flickr and Microsoft's Bing search engine, were blocked for several days last month. The period included the date when China brutally suppressed the 1989 protests that Wu'er helped lead, an anniversary the government hoped would pass quietly.

China's telecommunications operators also appeared to block Internet access in Urumqi, the provincial capital where the riots occurred.

Wu'er said he had to use his parents' landline to reach them in Xinjiang on Tuesday. "I normally call them on Skype but you can't get through now because the Internet is off," he said.

An employee reached by phone at an Urumqi hotel said Internet access in the building had been down since Sunday evening. Broadband users elsewhere in the city were also unable to get online, he said, declining to give his surname. The hotel gets its broadband service from China Telecom, one of China's three state-owned operators, the man said.

One Twitter user posted what he said was an explanation of the Internet outage from the provincial branches of China Telecom and China Unicom. Service would remain down indefinitely to prevent growth of the riots, the message said. Long-distance call service dropped for China Telecom landline customers in Xinjiang after the riots, the same user said. Calls to the relatively autonomous provincial operators would not connect on Tuesday. A China Mobile spokeswoman said the company's Beijing office had not heard of an Internet blackout in Xinjiang.

Video of the riots posted on YouTube showed buildings burning, police or paramilitary troops running and hundreds of people streaming down streets. YouTube has been blocked in China for months.

China has long sought to restrict the expression of views that contradict official lines on and off the Internet. Chinese state media last month criticized Western cheering for Iranian activists who used Twitter to share information following contested elections. Twitter is increasingly popular in China, but its user base is confined mostly to well-off urbanites.

The Xinjiang regional government blamed a global Uighur organization it labeled separatist for starting the riots, according to Xinhua. But injured people brought to one hospital included both Uighurs and members of the Han ethnicity, who make up the overwhelming majority in China, according to another Xinhua report. Uighurs, mostly Muslims, speak a Turkic language and have more cultural similarities to central Asians than to Han Chinese.

The official death toll from the riots outstrips any unrest in China in many years. "This is very big. The government always alters the death toll but this time the number came in astronomically high," said Wu'er. "That can only mean one thing," he said. "This time it's brutal."

(BBC News)  China clampdown on tech in Urumqi   By Mark Ward.  July 6, 2009.

The Chinese government has made good use of its control over the nation's technological infrastructure to stop the spread of information about events in Urumqi. It is well known that China has a sophisticated system that watches where Chinese people go online and monitors what they say. The control has been extended to search sites, with many people reporting that no results were returned when they typed "Urumqi" into local search engines. It is thought Chinese news sites relied on the official Xinhua news service for updates about events in Urumqi. Many disabled the chance to comment on stories to prevent negative posts about the lack of news.

Shirong Chen, China editor on the BBC's World Service, said the official news was appearing faster than during other times of crisis. "What's also noticeable is that the official news agency, Xinhua, has learned from the Lhasa riot in terms of media management," he said. "To be more credible, it released video footage a few hours after the event, not two weeks."

Within Urumqi many citizens reported that net access was non-existent, as authorities tried to limit the amount of information emanating from the province itself.

Social block

The Chinese government also moved to block access to Twitter as well as home-grown alternatives Fanfou and Youku. The Herdict site brings together reports about inaccessible services around the world and, following the Chinese clampdown, it logged almost 150 reports that Twitter was down in China. "It really looks like the Chinese government is trying to close every way to information," said Clothilde Le Coz, head of the internet desk at Reporters Without Borders. "Lots of information are actually filtered about the riots. Videos were apparently posted first on Chinese video sites, then republished on YouTube. But those Chinese websites are blocked and the internet is not accessible in Urumqi," she said.  But, said Ms Le Coz, information about the situation in Urumqi was getting out to the wider world.

Sites such as drop.io were acting as rally points for some of the material emerging from the province. The site pointed people to feeds of videos on YouTube, news items on Twitter, as well as other microblogging services such as Jiwai.de and zuosa.com.

Harvard professor Jonathan Zittrain, an expert on net censorship and filtering, said the shortcomings of the official Chinese filtering system were exposed during times of crisis. "It is sophisticated but pretty much passive," he said.

Rumour mill

The sheer amount of ways that information can travel, including if people simply talk to each other or pass around data, means that it is hard to stop all information getting out. Too much control of information could be counter-productive too.

"There could be way more rumours floating around in the absence of hard facts. "It does seem that the old strategies are getting leakier and leakier as social media are taking off," he said.

It was clear, said Prof Zittrain, that Chinese people were very good at working around the restrictions. Many, he said, used euphemisms to debate supposedly banned subjects. This was also partly because humans were doing the monitoring and censoring. "If you just see people going after the stuff that explicitly crosses the line, it could let a lot of other stuff through," he said.

At the same time the growing use of blogs, social media, and video sites meant more and more people were equipped with the skills to spread information. Technology was helping too; for example improved translation tools npw makes it easier than ever to read sites not written in Chinese.

"You have people using social media as part of their daily lives, not just at times of crisis," he said. "It's not like people have to get up speed with it or be an activist to do it." This, he said, might make people in the Chinese government nervous, as they see the old ways of controlling information breaking down. It could, he speculated, drive the government to take more aggressive measures and impose harsher sentences for those that visit banned sites or write about forbidden subjects. "If you try to go to a blocked site in China it's like a parking ticket type of wrong," he said.

The Chinese government could start encouraging its supporters to swamp social media sites with the official line to drown any dissent, he said. It could also go further in its monitoring of the net, mobiles and other ways of communicating. "If they want to put a lot of effort into it they could make some progress," said Prof Zittrain. "Given that it's a game of cat and mouse they could bring to bear a lot of cats if they had to."

(Times OnlineUighur riots sparked by fears that separatist dream is dying   Richard Lloyd Parry    July 6, 2009.

Xinjiang, where at least 140 people have died in Chinaˇ¦s worst riots since the Tiananmen Square massacre, is a vast area of desert and mountains, as distinct from eastern China in history, atmosphere and geography as Turkey is from Britain. Even the time is out of joint ˇX while the clocks are required to display official Beijing time, for practical purposes Xinjiang is two hoursˇ¦ behind, so that the streets are dark and deserted at eight in the morning and bright and alive with people at midnight.

Camels still trudge through the desert along the old Silk Route, and lumps of white jade are bought and sold in bazaars beneath the minarets of tiled mosques. The city of Urumqi, where Sundayˇ¦s riots took place, is a large and developed place with the air pollution, ugly construction and modern conveniences of many large Chinese cities. There, immigrant Han Chinese from the East outnumber the local Uighur people. But, as the events of the weekend demonstrate, tension and physical conflict between the two is never far from the surface.

The months preceding last yearˇ¦s Olympic Games saw increasing activity by shadowy separatist organisations who seek to throw off the Government of communist China and establish the independent Islamic state of East Turkistan. Chinese authorities reported a series of terrorist plots, although there were doubts as to whether these were serious terrorist threats or were exaggerated by the Chinese authorities to justify intense security measures.

Then, just before the Games opened, 16 policemen were killed in a frenzied knife and bomb attack by two Uighurs in the city of Kashgar, followed by further deadly attacks in Kuqa and Yamanya. If the past few months have been without major incident, it is not because any of the core grievances of the people behind the attacks have been addressed.

As a people, the Uighurs look more like Afghans than ethnic Chinese. Ethnically, they are a Turkic race whose homeland is at the meeting point of Asia and Europe. The area now called Xinjiang was annexed by the Chinese Empire in the 19th century, although it briefly achieved independence before the Communist victory in China in 1949.

Separatist sentiment has always been present, but the stern censorship and political repression of the Chinese Government have prevented it from forming a large-scale organisation. Small groups operated in secret but only began to make their presence felt in the 1990s, when the liberation of the former Soviet republics and the increasing dominance of ethnic Chinese stirred a new sense of aspiration among many Uighurs.

In 1949 the Han Chinese had made up six per cent of Xinjiangˇ¦s people; today they represent 41 per cent in a population of 19 million, compared to 45 per cent Uighur. Many of them believe that the goal of the Chinese Communist Party, barely concealed, is the complete cultural, religious and linguistic assimilation of the Uighur people.

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, China identified itself as a victim of international terrorism and the Uighur separatist movement as its own al-Qaeda. Uighurs were captured in Afghanistan ˇX four of them were released last month to Bermuda. The Chinese authorities, fearful of violence before the Olympics, announced a raid on a training camp run by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in January last year. Human rights organisations say that the Chinese anti-terror campaign has blurred the lines between genuine men of violence and those who peacefully support independence.

China pays lip service to freedom of religion for Uighurs, but only under its own terms. Imams must be licensed by the state. Public servants, including teachers, are barred from worshipping at mosques on pain of dismissal. Most resented of all, no one under 18 is allowed to worship or to receive religious instruction.

This goes further even than the control exerted over Tibetan Buddhism ˇX to many Uighurs it represents a deliberate attempt to snuff out their religion over the course of a few generations by ensuring that young people grow up fully secularised. There is a small overseas diaspora, but compared to the Tibetan cause the Uighurs have few influential international friends. The chances of realising the dream of an independent ˇ§Uighurstanˇ¨ are slight to non-existent. But, as the latest events have showed, it is a dream that will not die peacefully.

(Associated Press)  Witnesses says China protest spreads to 2nd city.  July 6, 2009.

Witnesses say an ethnic protest has spread to a second city in China's western Xinjiang province after riots rocked the region's capital, killing at least 140 and injuring more than 800. A Uighur man in Kashgar city said he was among more than 300 protesters who demonstrated outside the Id Kah Mosque in the late afternoon. He said they police surrounded them. "We were yelling at each other, but there were no clashes, no physical contact," said the man, who gave his name as Yagupu. Maimaiti, a man who said he worked at the mosque, said he could hear could hear the protesters and police shouting outside. A protest in the provincial capital, Urumqi, on Sunday night turned into the deadliest ethnic unrest to hit Xinjiang region in decades.

(Uyghur American Association)  Statement of Rebiya Kadeer at July 6 Press Conference On Unrest in Urumqi.  July 6, 2009.

Press conference on unrest in Urumchi
July 6, 2009
5:00 pm
Murrow Room, National Press Club

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today is a very dark day for the Uyghur people. Yesterday, in the regional capital of Urumchi, Chinese police and paramilitary forces cracked down on thousands of Uyghur demonstrators, killing hundreds and injuring hundreds more in a massacre that is unprecedented in East Turkestan under the rule of the Peopleˇ¦s Republic of China. Witnesses have confirmed that demonstrators were shot and beaten to death by Chinese police, and some were even crushed under armored vehicles. Today, we have heard reports that more than 100 people have been killed in the southern city of Kashgar, and troops are out in force to suppress demonstrations that occurred in both Kashgar and the nearby city of Hotan.

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) condemn in the strongest possible terms the Chinese governmentˇ¦s use of excessive force against the protestors in Urumchi and Kashgar. We call upon the international community to denounce the brutality used by the Chinese government to suppress the Uyghur demonstrators.

We urgently call for peace, justice and the end of all violence. We call for the Chinese government to ensure the safety of everyone living in East Turkestan. We ask the Chinese government to end its brutal suppression of Uyghurs throughout East Turkestan, and to fully and fairly report on all of the deaths and injuries to demonstrators that have taken place. We ask the Chinese government to release the demonstrators who were arrested for engaging in peaceful protest.

We also condemn, in no uncertain terms, the violent actions of a number of Uyghur demonstrators that have been reported. We absolutely oppose violence in any form. Most of all, we want to condemn Chinaˇ¦s six-decade long state-sponsored violence against peaceful Uyghurs.

The violence that has taken place in Urumchi and throughout East Turkestan reveals deep-rooted, serious problems that the Chinese government has failed to address or mitigate. The killings and beatings belie the constant proclamations of Chinese government officials that Uyghurs are treated fairly and that all ethnic groups live in harmony in East Turkestan.

The immediate cause of the protests in Urumchi and other cities was the lack of government response to the deaths and injuries of Uyghur workers in Guangdong Province on June 26. There has been no official indication that the perpetrators of these deaths and injuries have or will be held responsible for their crimes. According to unconfirmed reports, there were many more deaths than was reported in the official Chinese media.

However, Uyghur demonstrators were doubtless expressing discontent over the severe and comprehensive repression they have suffered for years in East Turkestan. Uyghurs face arbitrary detention, torture, and execution; severe discrimination in the areas of healthcare and employment; religious repression; forced abortion; the removal of Uyghur as a language in schools at all levels of instruction; and the forcible transfer of young Uyghur women and men to eastern China, as millions of Chinese migrants are encouraged by the government to come to East Turkestan to work.

No mechanisms exist by which Uyghurs may express their grievances in response to this repression. Any Uyghur who dares to express the slightest protest, however peaceful, is immediately met with brutal force, instead of any attempt to deal responsibly with the real problems they face.

The Chinese government must change its policy of using only force to deal with all dissent. Uyghurs, Tibetans and Chinese are all victims of Chinese government policy. Until the Chinese government engages in real dialogue with its citizens, and uses the rule of law instead of rule by force, there will be no real peace in China.

I would also like to address accusations leveled against me in the Chinese media regarding my alleged involvement in instigating the protests in East Turkestan. These accusations are completely false. I did not organize the protests or call on people to demonstrate. My only contact with any Uyghur inside East Turkestan in recent days was a call I placed to my brother in Urumchi on Saturday evening Washington time, in which I told my brother that my daughters had seen announcements being circulated widely on the Internet regarding plans to demonstrate in Urumchi on Sunday. I urged my brother to stay at home that day, and to ask my other family members to stay at home as well, fearing that they may be subject to violence at the hands of the authorities if they ventured outside. In no way did I call on anyone, at any time, to demonstrate within East Turkestan.

Thank you.

(China News Service via ifeng.com)  Eyewitnessing the July 5 Urumqi assault-vandalism-looting-arson criminal incident.  July 6, 2009.

Before darkness fell on the afternoon of July 5, this reporter could see heavy smoke and red flames near Xinjiang TV station.  Certain people were in the streets chasing and slashing innocent civilians.  The armed police officers went into action.  As sirens rose all over the city, the Urumqi city government issued an emergency traffic control bulletin that imposed martial law on certain city streets between 1am and 8am.

Near the Gold Silver Avfenue in southern Urumqi, the reporter saw several hundred violent rioters stopping vehicles and assaulting innocent civilians.  Many buses were stopped.  A woman and a man was dragged out of their car and assaulted.  Fortunately, the two were able to flee the scene.  After the car was vandalized, it was set on fire.

The rioters also attacked the businesses along the street.  On the night of July 5, the reporter saw many extremists holding wooden poles attacking a middle-aged female pedestrian near Gold Silver Avenue.  Her son squatted by the roadside and cried: "Don't beat my mother, don't beat my mother."  Afterwards, these extremists used their wooden poles to smash the glass door of the Urumqi Cadre Training Centre.  By early July 6, the broken glass were still scattered on the ground while blood stains could be found on the glass door.  A security guard named Abdullah told the reporter, "They were going crazy.  They were beating everyone that they saw."

Early July 6 morning, the reporter saw a burned out bus on the south side of Urumqi.  Most of the cars were burned down to skeletons and their tires were still emitting hot gas.  At the big curve in Central Ring Road, the reporter saw that a small supermarket had been vandalized and all its wares have been looted.  There were blood stains in front of the entrance.

(China News Service via ifeng.com)  The details of the Urumqi assault, vandalism, looting and arson incident.  July 6, 2009.

(in translation)

... Beginning on the evening of July 4, certain netizens used QQ groups, bulletin board systems and personal blogs to call for a gathering in People's Plaze in Urumqi at 5pm on July 5.  This was in response to the overseas organization Uyghur World Congress's call to demonstrate.  People sent out large numbers of SMS messages to gather in Urumqi too.  The Uyghur World Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer said publicly that there will be a major incident in Urumqi on July 5 and she called for those living in China to pay attention and gather the relevant facts.

At the direction of overseas planners, more than 200 people gathered at the Plaza at around 6:20pm on July 5.  They were persuaded to leave by the local police.  At 7:40pm, more than 300 people gathered near People's Road, South Gate and other areas, but they were dispersed by the police.  At 8:18pm, someone began to assault, vandalize and set fire.  They overturned traffic barriers and vandalized three public buses.  These people were dispersed by the police.  At 8:30pm, the incident escalated.  The rioters set fire to police vehicles on Liberation South Road, Longquan Street and nearby areas, and they also chased and assaulted passersby.  Seven or hundred people headed from the Plaza towards Big and Small West Gates while committing assault, looting, vandalism and arson along the way.  By 9:30pm, it was determined that three persons were dead and twenty six were injured (including six police officers).  The incident became more serious.

In order to protect the social stability of Urumqi, the local government went out to People's Plaza, South Gate, Unity Road, Race Course, Xinhua South Road and other trouble spots.  By 10:00pm, the main streets and commercial centers were basically under control.  But the rioters changed their tactics and split up into many groups.  They gained control of the outer areas and roamed the side streets.  They killed any Han persons that they came across, and they smashed and burned any cars that they see.  The authorities quickly adjusted their tactics.  They maintained a front line, but also divided themselves into small groups to go and rescue citizens and arrest the rioters.

At the moment, people are still inciting and planning on the  Internet in order to create more trouble and escalate the incident.  The local government is working hard to prevent trouble and to maintain control.  They are determined to maintain overall social stability and guarantee the safety of the citizens and their property.

(Xinhua)  Recalling the nightmare: witnesses' account of Xinjiang riot.  July 7, 2009.

    Returning to his Geely automobile store, Guo Jianxin was still frightened by the nightmare Sunday.

    "Fortunately I managed to leave," said the general manager of the store in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

    "It was about 10 p.m. and I found rioters outside," he said. The manager called more than 20 workers from the store, who had already left after a day's work.

    "I asked them to help protect the store, but there were too many rioters...more than 100, holding knives, clubs and stones," said Guo, an ethnic Hui.

    Failing to dissuade the rioters from entering the store, Guo led his workers to flee. They hid on a hill beside the store.

    The three-storey building was ablaze, while more than 30 new cars in the store were all torched. One worker's arm was broken and he was sent to hospital.

    Opposite the store was a shop owned by a Han couple. They told Xinhua reporter that they saw rioters on the streets after 10 p.m., immediately shut the door and escaped.

    When they returned, the couple found that their shop was burned, some 20,000 yuan (2,941 U.S. dollars) and a camera in the counter was gone.

    But they didn't complain much. Next door, a young worker from the southwestern Sichuan Province was beaten to death.

    IN THE HOSPITAL

    China is shocked by a death toll of 140 which is still climbing. Rioters also burned 261 motor vehicles, including 190 buses, at least 10 taxis and two police cars, Sunday evening in the city.

    The People's Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, treated 291 riot victims, among whom 17died later.

    Among them, 233 were Han Chinese, 39 were Uygurs, while the rest were from other ethnic minorities like Hui and Kazak, said Wang Faxing, president of the hospital.

    In the ICU wards on the 13th floor, more than 20 seriously injured were being treated. They, all in comas, had wounds to the head or the chest and limbs.

    Zhu Haifeng is a 16-year-old student from the No. 43 Middle School, who was assaulted on the way home after school. He was knocked on the head and his eyes were swollen.

    According to an unnamed doctor, Zhu's parents had been looking for him after the riot, but failed to contact him via mobile phone as the line was cut temporarily.

    "When they found their fainted son, they could hardly recognize him," said the doctor.

    The 48-year-old Li Quanli with bandages around his head is a police officer. Seeing several Uygur youngsters smashing a No. 7 bus, he hurried to stop them, but was surrounded and beaten.

    SCENES WITNESSED BY XINHUA REPORTERS

    People began to gather in the Urumqi People's Square at 6:20 p.m. Sunday, and some started smashing and looting at about 8 p.m..

    Xinhua reporters saw at about 10 p.m. at the crossing of Xinhua South Road and Tianchi Road that a police station was damaged. A group of young men, appearing to be from ethnic minorities, were chanting slogans and wielding wooden clubs, while several others were distributing hoes.

    Then rioters destroyed barriers on the road and began chasing Han Chinese. Many bus windows were smashed. Some Han passengers were surrounded and beaten as soon as they got off the bus. Many were left with blood dripping down their faces.

    Under a viaduct on the Tuanjie Road, Xinhua reporters saw a man who had been killed by rioters, and some steps away, a dead woman carrying a handbag lay on her stomach.

    They also saw a big wine shop ablaze. In the blaze, window glass blew out, with a loud noise. Later they saw a taxi which had been stopped by rioters, and was now parked on the road. Inside was a Han driver. He was covered in blood. Witnesses couldn't say for sure whether he was alive or dead.

    A 36-year-old woman, whose face was covered by blooded, was wailing while running with her daughter and husband. Xinhua reporters sent her to a hospital.

    When the armed police finally arrived and brought the riot under control, many onlookers, Hans and Uygurs alike, hurrahed.

    BLOOD-TAINTED STREET

    Liu Jie is owner of a supermarket in the Houquan street, which lost more than 900,000 yuan in the riot.

    In the street, five buses and four cars were burned and a driver was missing, said the lady in her 30s, who was still quivering and crying. Her hands and legs were black from dust and ashes.

    "Rioters came at 7:50 p.m....altogether five groups," she said. Next door to the supermarket was a training center. Liu and more than 100 students from the center hid in the basement of the supermarket as rioters were overturning the shelves and smashing bottles.

    Then someone set fire to the market, and those in the basement moved to the yard. "We were scared to death," she sobbed. But nobody dared to go out.

    At about 2 a.m. Monday when they heard that police enter, they shouted "help" and were rescued.

    When they came out, Liu saw many people lying in the street. "Blood was everywhere," she said.

    Xinhua reporters saw in the street that wheels of two cars were still on fire as of Monday noon.

    Several blocks away in the Zhongquan street, within 100 meters there were more than 20 blood stains and some bricks with blood and hair and something like skin on them.

    Pointing at a big pool of blood, Ezmad Abla, vice director of the construction bureau of Tianshan district in Urumqi, said that there was so much blood that if it came from one man then maybe he was dead.

    A few meters away from the blood was a burnt tree, under which a car was torched.

    "The dead person could be the driver, or just a passer-by," he sighed.

    BLOGGER'S PHOTOS

    A blogger, who claimed to have witnessed the tragedy, posted some photos on China.com.

    One of the photos seemed to be the aftermath of the riot. In the dim lamp light, dozens of people were standing, while six or seven people, or bodies, were lying in the road.

    On another, a middle-aged man in a white shirt was trying to stop blood bleeding from a young man, who lay on his back on the road with blood on his neck, on his white shirt and on the ground.

    STILL IN ANXIETY

    Although traffic control was lifted Monday morning in parts of Urumqi and debris has been cleared from the roads, residents were still trembling in fear.

    In the streets most of the shops were still closed and many chose to stay at home rather than going to work.

    "We don't feel safe," said an unnamed woman with a stock company.

    A Mr. Zhao in his late 30s worked late on Sunday to send the injured to hospital.

    "Although the riot was over, I have unspeakable worry," he said.

    His worry was partially from social order. "Is the riot really over?"

    Also, he worried about how the government would deal with their losses, as his car was damaged by wooden and steel sticks yielded by rioters.

    "Who will compensate us?" he asked.

(The Guardian)  Riots in Urumqi, China

(Xinhua)  Eyewitness accounts of Xinjiang riot.  Bai Xu.  July 6, 2009.

    When sunshine fell upon the ruins which used to be a supermarket, Liu Jie, the owner, was still frightened by Sunday's nightmare. The supermarket, in Houquan street, lost more than 900,000 yuan (132,353 U.S. dollars) in the riot. In the street, five buses and four cars were burned and a driver was missing, said the lady in her 30s, quivering and crying. Her hands and legs were black from dust and ashes.

    "Rioters came at 7:50 p.m....altogether five groups," she said. Next door to the supermarket was a training center. Liu and more than 100 students from the center hid in the basement of the supermarket as rioters were overturning the shelves and smashing bottles. Then someone set fire to the market, and those in the basement moved to the yard. "We were scared to death," she sobbed. But nobody dared to go out. At about 2 a.m. Monday when they heard that police enter, they shouted "help" and were rescued. When they came out, Liu saw many people lying in the street. "Blood was everywhere," she said.

    Xinhua reporters saw in the street that wheels of two cars were still on fire as of Monday noon.

    Several blocks away in Zhongquan Street, within 100 meters there were more than 20 blood stains and some bricks with blood and hair and something like skin on them. Pointing at a big pool of blood, Ezmad Abla, vice director of the construction bureau of Tianshan district in Urumqi, said that there was so much blood that if it came from one man then maybe he was dead. A few meters away from the blood was a burnt tree, under which a car was torched. "The dead person could be the driver, or just a passer-by," he sighed.

    Liu Yaohua, head of the public security department, nagged "it was cruel" on the way watching the scene. "I saw at least 12 bodies covered in blood and 15 destroyed vehicles," he said. "I had seen some terrorist attacks before, but not as cruel as this time."     

    SCENES WITNESSED BY XINHUA REPORTERS

    People began to gather in the Urumqi People's Square at 6:20 p.m. Sunday, and some started smashing and looting at about 8 p.m..

    Xinhua reporters saw at about 10 p.m. at the crossing of Xinhua South Road and Tianchi Road that a police station was damaged. A group of young men, appearing to be from ethnic minorities, were chanting slogans and wielding wooden clubs, while several others were distributing hoes.

    Then rioters destroyed barriers on the road and began chasing Han Chinese. Many bus windows were smashed. Some Han passengers were surrounded and beaten as soon as they got off the bus. Many were left with blood dripping down their faces.

    The sky of Urumqi turned dark after 10 p.m., but the night was lit up by vehicles torched by rioters.

    Under a viaduct on the Tuanjie Road, Xinhua reporters saw a man who had been killed by rioters, and some steps away, a dead woman carrying a handbag lay on her stomach.

    They also saw a big wine shop ablaze. In the blaze, window glass blew out, with a loud noise. Later they saw a taxi which had been stopped by rioters, and was now parked on the road. Inside was a Han driver. He was covered in blood. Witnesses couldn't say for sure whether he was alive or dead.

    On the Jinyin Road, rioters were beating a woman with wooden sticks, while her son was squatting helplessly by the road, crying "don't beat my mom".

    A 36-year-old woman, whose face was covered by blood, was wailing while running with her daughter and husband. Xinhua reporters sent her to a hospital.

    Another injured saved by Xinhua was a man. "I was walking on the road while some Uygurs approached me," he said. "I didn't know why they beat me."     When the driver tried to support him, he rejected the offer politely. "My arm was broken," he said. "They were beating everybody as if mad," said a guard named Abdulla.

    By Monday, the air in the Jinyin Road was still permeated with the smell of rubber burning.

    Vehicles from the Xinhua News Agency Xinjiang Bureau were also damaged as rioters tried to smash the windows with clubs. A driver from Xinhua said he sent four injured to hospital Sunday night and the seat of his car is still stained with blood.     When armed police finally arrived and brought the riot under control, many onlookers, Hans and Uygurs alike, hurrahed.

(Xinhua)  Ravaged by riot, Xinjiang's capital in horror.  July 7, 2009.

It was almost an empty city for Urumqi on Monday, which was still in horror after having been ravaged by a deadly riot Sunday evening.

It was sunny with blue sky and white clouds -- a good day for leisure and outing, but few citizens and cars were seen in the streets of Urumqi, a city of 3.5 million people and capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Local authorities tightened security after the riot that left at least 156 dead and more than 800 others injured. Police sealed off major areas and streets where the riot took place.

"The streets have been cleaned. But last night, they were filled with torched vehicles and stones used by rioters to attack others," said a taxi driver surnamed Hou. "Just look at the broken widows of the roadside shops."

"It used to be a rush hour at 8 p.m. in Urumqi and people would drink beer in those small roadside restaurants, but today, the streets are empty and many restaurants are closed," he said.

Local citizens were busy making phone calls or sending text messages to their relatives and friends Monday to comfort each other and advise others to stay indoor as much as possible.

"I didn't dare go outdoors today, although it is Monday and I should go to work," said a woman surnamed Ma who works for a bank. "The bank manager later notified me that I can stay at home because almost no one went to the bank."

At the Xinjiang Autonomous Regional People's Hospital, a 23-year-old Uygur man, who suffered injuries in his head and back, told Xinhua Monday evening that he was still felt dizzy and nervous.

"I was suddenly besieged by a group of young men holding wood clubs and bricks when I was walking to the Erdaoqiao market to visit my elder brother last night. Then they began beating me with no words," said the uneasy-looking man with a pale face, who insisted not being named for fear of revenge. "I saw 2,000 to 3,000 people like them in the streets," he said.

"At that time, I was very, very sad and indignant because I was beaten by men of the same ethnic group. I cannot understand that," he said. "But now, I feel very lucky that I'm still alive because I learned from news reports that so many people died or were injured."

The young man said his medical bills would be covered by the hospital, but he did not dare to tell his brother and his family about his suffering.

"I don't want them to worry about me," he said.

Another witness, a middle-aged man surnamed Hao from a local textile factory who attended to his father-in-law at the hospital, told Xinhua that the rioters were "insane."

"At the beginning, they only beat young men of Han ethnic group, but later, they began to attack people in the streets indiscriminately, regardless of men or women, young or old, Han or Uygur," he said.

During a televised speech Monday morning by Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang autonomous regional government, three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism made use of a fight between Uygur and Han ethnic workers in a toy factory in southern Guangdong Province on June 26, in which two Uygur workers died, to create chaos.

Hao believed it was only an excuse of the rioters.

"They can find another excuse if they really want to create disharmony among different ethnic groups and destabilize the society," he said.

(The Wall Street Journal)  Scores Reported Dead in China After Riots.  By Gordon Fairclough and Jason Dean.  July 6, 2009.

The death toll in riots in China's northwestern Xinjiang region rose sharply Monday, with state media saying that 156 people had been killed in what appears to be one of the deadliest episodes of unrest in China in decades.

Police said at least 828 other people were injured in violence that began Sunday in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Witnesses said the conflicts pitted security forces against demonstrators, and members of the region's Turkic-speaking Uighur ethnic group against members of the country's Han Chinese majority. Many among the predominantly Muslim Uighurs have chafed at Chinese government rule.

The official tally of dead and injured increased Monday as more information came out of Urumqi through the state-run Xinhua news agency, although it appeared that most or all of the violence had ended by the early hours of Monday.

Xinhua quoted Liu Yaohua, a senior police official in Xinjiang, as saying that rioters had burned 261 vehicles, including 190 buses and two police cars, several of which were still ablaze as of Monday morning. Mr. Liu said the death toll of 140 "would still be climbing." Later in the day, Xinhua announced that 156 people had been killed, without giving any other details, the Associated Press reported.

As evening fell in Urumqi Monday, witnesses said that paramilitary troops of the People's Armed Police, backed by armored personnel carriers, were patrolling largely calm city streets. Many businesses remained shuttered and gates of the city's central bazaar, which was the scene of unrest Sunday night, were closed.

Police said they were still searching for dozens of people suspected of fanning the violence. Several hundred people have already been arrested in connection with the riot, police said, and the government said it was bringing "ethnic officials" from nearby areas to help with interrogations.

Uighur activists said hundreds of Uighurs, many of them students, had gathered Sunday to protest racial discrimination and call for government action against the perpetrators of an attack last month on Uighur migrant workers at a toy factory in southern China. In that incident, a group of Han Chinese broke into a factory dormitory housing Uighur workers. State media reported that two people were killed. Uighur groups say the death toll may have been higher.

The protests appear to have spun out of control late Sunday, with clashes between protestors and police as well as ethnic violence around the city. Xinhua's report Monday said that 57 dead bodies had been "retrieved from Urumqi's streets and lanes," while the remaining fatalities were confirmed dead at hospitals.

An official in the nursing department of one of Urumqi's largest hospitals, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region People's Hospital, said the hospital received 291 people injured in the unrest. Seventeen of them died, and more than 20 others were in critical condition on Monday night.

The official said that 233 of the injured were Han Chinese, 39 were Uighurs and the rest belonged to other ethnic minority groups. Seven of the injured had gunshot wounds, she said.

Uighurs have long complained about restrictions on their civil liberties and religious practices imposed by a Chinese government fearful of political dissent in strategically important Xinjiang, which covers one-sixth of China's territory and is also an important oil-and-gas-producing region.

Many Uighurs resent what they see as economic and social discrimination by the majority Han Chinese, who have migrated to Xinjiang in growing numbers. Some Uighurs, seeking independence from China, have waged sporadic and at times violent campaigns against the government.

Pictures said to be of the Sunday's protests distributed by the Washington-based Uyghur American Association showed young Uighurs marching in Urumqi, in some cases carrying the Chinese flag. Pictures also showed phalanxes of helmeted police in riot gear, with shields and batons.

Demonstrators clashed with the police, witnesses said, and rioters smashed shops and attacked buses. "Most were young Uighurs. They were smashing everything on the street," said one Han Chinese man who works as a driver.

Another Han Chinese man, who owns a shop in the city's central bazaar, said he saw Uighurs "with big knives stabbing people" on the street. He said crowds of Hans and Uighurs were fleeing the violence. "They were targeting Han, mostly," he added. "We need to hide inside for a few more days."

The government blamed the unrest on a prominent exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, an activist group. Sunday's demonstration was "instigated and directed from abroad," according to a government statement cited by Xinhua.

Alim Seytoff, vice president of the Uyghur American Association, dismissed the government's claim, saying, "Every time something happens, they blame Ms. Kadeer." He added: "It's really the Chinese government's heavy-handed policies that create such protests and unrest."

Unrest in Xinjiang mounted last year, as some Uighurs sought to emulate widespread antigovernment demonstrations in Tibetan areas. There were several violent incidents around the time of last summer's Beijing Olympics, including an attack on a border-police unit that left 16 dead. Ten militants died after another attack with improvised explosives in a Xinjiang city on the first weekend of the Games.

(The Guardian)  China locks down western province after ethnic riots kill 140   By Tania Branigan and Jonathan Watts.  July 6, 2009.

At least 140 people have been killed and 828 injured after the worst violence in decades swept through the capital of China's restive region of Xinjiang last night, authorities said today. Hundreds were under arrest and thousands of riot officers and armed paramilitary police were keeping tight control of southern Urumqi, following vicious clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. But witnesses reported that protests had spread to a second city, Kashgar, in the north-western region.

In the capital, burnt-out buildings and vehicles were still smouldering in the area around the grand bazaar, where violence broke out. Bloodstains marked the road, along with sprays of broken glass and odd shoes, abandoned by their owners as they fled. Hundreds of victims ˇV predominantly Han Chinese, but also Uighurs and other minorities ˇV remained in hospital having been beaten or stabbed. Officials said that some had also been shot. Four-year-old Aliya, a Uighur boy, lay on a trolley, dazed by his head injury and his pregnant mother's disappearance. He was clinging to her hand when a bullet hit her and surgeons were now trying to save her life.

These are the testaments to the violence unleashed in Urumqi last night, along with graphic photographs, seen by the Guardian, of bloodied corpses lying in the roads. It was not clear how most of the victims were killed.

Witnesses reported Uighur rioters attacking Han Chinese people and state television showed them attacking passing vehicles. Videos ˇV apparently taken in Urumqi last night ˇV have surfaced of people who seem to be Han, being brutally beaten. But Uighurs and other ethnic minorities were also injured last night, and exile groups blamed the government crackdown for deaths.

Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims make up almost half of Xinjiang's 19 million inhabitants. Many resent controls on religion, and increasing Han immigration, which they believe has eroded their way of life.

The Guardian was the only western media organisation on the first official tour of the city. Chinese authorities blamed Uighur exiles for stirring up violence, saying the unrest was "instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country in the region".

The state news agency, Xinhua, reported that the unrest "was masterminded by the World Uighur Congress" ˇV led by Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman jailed in China before being released into exile in the US. But the congress alleged that police shot and beat demonstrators to death, and that some Uighurs were crushed by armoured vehicles near Xinjiang University. It urged the authorities to "cease the brutal crackdown and release those arrested". It said Uighurs had mounted a peaceful protest because authorities had taken no real action over the killing of two Uighur workers in ethnic violence in Guangdong more than a week ago. Kadeer added: "It is a common practice of the Chinese government to accuse me for any unrest in East Turkestan and His Holiness the Dalai Lama for any unrest in Tibet."

Last night's violence had echoes of fatal riots in Lhasa last year which quickly spread to surrounding regions. In that case, too, the authorities blamed ethnic minority exiles for fomenting violence while Tibetans accused the government of a brutal crackdown.

Uighur and other residents were allowed to go about their business in the southern part of Urumqi today, despite the heavy paramilitary presence. Customers gathered in a market, although on many streets, shops were shuttered. But in a central area of town, well away from yesterday's violence, we saw armed officers detain two Uighur men outside a shopping centre and march them away.

Liu Yaohua, the region's police chief, told a press conference in Urumqi that police were searching for 90 key suspects in the city. Only those interviewed on the official tour agreed to be identified. Other residents who spoke to the Guardian would not give their names. "It's not good to talk about it," said one Han worker. But he added: "Before this I felt safe, but a lot of Uighur people don't like us. They say there are too many Han people here."

A Uighur resident added: "It all started because some Uighurs were killed in Guangdong and people wanted to protest. There was a lot of fighting, but it was mostly Uighurs who got hurt. Uighur and Han people here really don't get on."

The size of the security cordon last night meant that few outside the area had any idea of the scale of the violence and destruction, although rumours about what had happened swept the city in the absence of real information.

Residents claimed access to the internet had been blocked across the whole of Xinjiang. Foreign phone numbers were inaccessible and mobile phone reception sporadic ˇX blamed by citizens on the clampdown.

Dr Wang, head of the People's hospital, said 274 patients were still being treated. Doctors had been unable to save 17 people, and 27 remained in critical condition. Most had been beaten or stabbed, but the authorities said seven had been shot. Video shot by officials at the hospital the previous night showed patients with blood streaming down their heads, lying or crouching on the floor because all the beds had long since been filled. Two, bandaged around the head, lay on the fruit barrow that friends had used to transport them. More than two-thirds of the patients were male and the vast majority, 233, were Han. But 39 were Uighur, 15 Hui ˇV another Muslim minority ˇV and four came from other ethnic groups.

"I left my office and took the 63 bus home, but a gang of people stopped it and beat us ˇV they cut me; there were three knives so my arm was cut in three places," said one victim, Liu Hongtao.

On the streets closer to the heart of the violence, red-eyed workers loaded sooty trays of cola bottles onto a trolley at Liu Jie's store, trying to salvage what little remained after the mob smashed its windows and torched the building. Liu's hands were black and her clothing reeked of smoke. Her eyes filled with tears as she described how five attacks came within a few hours, from around 6pm. "It was getting worse by 7pm and I told my workers to go home. When people broke the windows I fled myself. They were using big rocks," she said. "They beat and killed Han people in the street. I was hiding in the courtyard behind the shop and they tried to break the gate, then the second group came. We were attacked five times, the last time at about 11pm and they set [the shop] on fire. We hid in the backyard until the armed police and fire service came to help. There were people killed on the street, they were chased, beaten and knifed. Physically I was not hurt but mentally I was seriously attacked."

(The GuardianUighurs cling to life in People's hospital as China's wounds weep.  By Tania Branigan.  July 6, 2009.

Four-year-old Aliya lay on a trolley, blinking up at the commotion, amid scores of victims who had spilled out of the wards into the corridors. The little Uighur boy was dazed by the hubbub, his head injury and his pregnant mother's disappearance. He was clinging to her hand in the chaos on the streets when a bullet tore into her, said doctors; now surgeons were operating. All he could do was wait.

Twenty six more patients were clinging to life in the People's hospital after the bloodiest violence in decades erupted in the centre of Urumqi on Sunday night, killing at least 156 and injuring 828, the Chinese authorities said. Outside, thousands of riot officers and armed paramilitary police had blanketed the southernmost part of the city, where the riots broke out around the Grand Bazaar.

Trucks full of troops lined streets and armoured personnel carriers were parked on the People's Square in the centre, where we watched as armed officers detained two men outside a shopping centre and marched them away. Hundreds were already under arrest in the capital of China's restive north-western region.

Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims make up almost half of Xinjiang's 19 million inhabitants ˇV but many are resentful of controls on religion, increasing Han Chinese immigration and policies they believe favour the Han.

Despite the underlying grievances and sporadic outbreaks of violence, no one had predicted the vicious ethnic violence which scarred the city.

Around the riot zone burnt-out buses and buildings still smouldered, the noxious smoke drifting in the heat. Odd shoes lay scattered, abandoned by fleeing owners; broken glass was sprayed across the road. Emerald flies glinted on the street corner, lighting on the sticky, brownish patch of blood.

Groups of Uighur men in the traditional four-cornered caps crouched on the pavements.

Ten people died on this street alone, officials said; they handed out graphic footage from the previous night. It showed corpses strewn along the road, blood pouring from their heads, and bricks and rocks tossed away beside them, no longer needed. A pile of bodies heaped up on a corner. But exactly who died, how ˇV and why ˇV remains unclear. While witnesses reported brutal and apparently indiscriminate assaults by young Uighur men on Han Chinese, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities were also injured. "We were all afraid," said one Uighur man.

Already there are conflicting explanations of why an apparently peaceful protest by young Uighurs led to mob violence and slaughter. The Chinese authorities blame Uighur exiles for orchestrating the riots. But the World Uighur Congress allege that police shot and beat to death demonstrators as they crushed a peaceful protest.

"It's not good to talk about it," said one Han worker in Urumqi today. Like many residents, he was reluctant to talk and refused to be identified. Then he added: "Before this I felt safe, but a lot of Uighur people don't like us. They say there are too many Han people here." Down the road, a Uighur agreed that the causes of unrest lay within China. "Uighur and Han people here don't get on," he said. "There was a lot of fighting, but it was mostly Uighurs who got hurt."

The events in Urumqi have obvious echoes of last year's fatal riots in Tibet, which began in Lhasa and quickly spread. In that case, too, the authorities blamed ethnic minority exiles for fomenting violence while Tibetans accused the government of killing scores of people.

But the official response is markedly different. While authorities banned the foreign media from entering Tibet and large swaths of Tibetan areas last year, this time they set up a special media centre, arranged an official tour of the riot zone and the People's hospital, and distributed footage. Stung by the criticism China experienced last year, they want the world to see the aftermath of Sunday's unrest. But internet access was cut off throughout the city ˇV and possibly through the entire region ˇV and calls could not be made to overseas. Some photographers had memory cards, or even cameras, taken from them after photographing armed police.

Despite the heavy security, residents were allowed to go about their business. Customers still gathered in a local market, but many shops were shuttered and residents simply stood and watched as the paramilitary police marched past.

Bright yellow haulage trucks had begun to shift the hundreds of buses and cars torched across the city. But on the forecourt of Guo Jianxing's car showroom, the charred skeletons of a dozen cars were parked neatly in an eerie parody of their former gleaming perfection. The plate glass windows of the building had shattered and fire had consumed the interior. He said a crowd of young Uighur men had swept into the property on Sunday, injuring a worker and causing hundreds of thousands of yuan of damage.

Further along, on Tuanjie Lu, red-eyed workers loaded sooty trays of coke bottles on to a trolley at Liu Jie's store, trying to salvage what little remained.Her hands were black and her clothing reeked of smoke; her eyes filled with tears as she described how she crouched in the courtyard behind her home as the mob returned again and again.  "It was getting worse by 7pm and I told my workers to go home. When people broke the windows I fled myself. They were using big rocks," she said.

"They beat and killed Han people in the street. I was hiding in the courtyard behind the shop and they tried to break the gate, then the second group came. We were attacked five times, the last time at about 11pm and they set [the shop] on fire. We hid in the backyard until the armed police and fire service came to help. There were people killed on the street, they were chased, beaten and knifed. Physically I was not hurt but mentally I was seriously attacked." Liu Hongtao was heading home when the unrest broke out. "I took the bus home, but a gang of people stopped it and beat us ˇV they cut me in three places," he recalled. He staggered to the People's hospital, passing out as he crossed the threshold ˇV one of hundreds of victims who made their way there overnight.

Video footage shot by hospital officials shows the arrival of patient after patient with bloody head wounds. Some limped in supported by friends; others had to be carried. Two victims, bandaged around the head and hooked up to intravenous drips, lay on the fruit barrow that friends had brought them on, still strewn with apples. Dr Wang, the hospital's head, said 274 patients were still undergoing treatment today. All those the Guardian saw appeared to have been beaten, but the authorities said some had been knifed and seven had been shot.

Most of them ˇV 233 ˇV were Han. But 39 were Uighur, 15 were Hui ˇV another Muslim minority ˇV and four came from other ethnic groups. Whatever caused the violence, it has hit every community. There were women in headscarves on the corridors of the hospital and men wearing traditional caps. In the intensive care unit, swollen faces lay motionless on the pillows. Dr Ge Xiaohu stood amid the beds in a rare moment of calm; staff had been working through the night. "We have never had a situation like this. It's terrible," he said. They had failed to save 17 patients; he hoped the rest could survive. Seven floors below, Aliya lay patiently on his trolley. He closed his eyes and awaited his mother's return.

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(World Uyghur Congress)  July 6, 2009.

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

The World Uyghur Congress categorically rejects Chinaˇ¦s accusation that the peaceful protest was ˇ§masterminded by the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer.ˇ¨ The WUC and Uyghur democratic leader, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, had no part in this protest.

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

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

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

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

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

(Radio Free Asia)  Urumqi simmers after deadly riots.  July 6, 2009.

"Police have tightened security in downtown Urumqi streets and at key institutions such as power and natural gas companies and TV stations to prevent large-scale riots," Xinhua quoted Liu as saying.

Uyghur witnesses said the protest began when as many as 1,000 Uyghurs gathered to demand a probe into the deadly fight in Guangdong late last month.

Before the demonstrators reached the Peopleˇ¦s Square in central Urumqi, armed police were in position and moved to disperse them, one witness said.

Police "scattered them [the protesters]," he said.

"They beat them. Beat them, including girls, very, very viciously,ˇ¨ he said. ˇ§The police were chasing them and captured many of them. They were beaten badly."

'Electroshock weapons'


"When the demonstrators reached the People's Square, armed police suppressed them using electroshock weapons and so on,ˇ¨ he said, adding, ˇ§after that, other protests erupted in Uyghur areas of town.ˇ¨

Witnesses said more police moved in with armored vehicles around 5 p.m.

ˇ§When the protest started ... I was near the Bank of China in Nanmen. There were many people. Police surrounded the areas from Döngköwrük to Nanmen," one youth said. "There were police, paramilitary. They were fully armored and they had steel helmets, too."

"One was giving a speech in front of the bank and people were applauding him ... Most of them were students," he said.

"Police circled around them, and we couldn't get inside."

Another youth said the protest began peacefully but became violent after police fired on the crowd, and protesters then attacked cars and shops. His account couldn't be independently confirmed.

City 'now calm'

A police officer contacted by telephone said a curfew had been imposed on Uyghur areas.

"People are dead. This might have planned by evil-minded people," the officer said.

Urumqi is home to 2.3 million residents, including many Uyghurs, who have chafed for years under Chinese rule. The city is located 3,270 kms (2,050 miles) west of Beijing.

Uyghur sources said the protest was organized online and began early July 5  with about 1,000 people but grew by thousands more during the day.

Online messages meanwhile called on Uyghurs in other major cities to stage protests Monday to show support for the Uyghurs who died in Shaoguan.

ˇ§We decided to hold a demonstration and stressed that it shouldnˇ¦t be violent," an organizer of Sunday's demonstration said in an interview.

Security in Urumqi is always tight, including strict controls over information. Witnesses spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity.

The aforementioned RFA report was accompanied by a photograph, as shown in the screen capture below:

Nice photo!  Except that it was taken for the Shishou (Hubei province) incident and was published in Southern Metropolis Weekly magazine on June 26, 2009:

(Yahoo News Photos using search term 'Urumqi')


Residents injured by protesters recuperate at the Urumqi Friendship hospital
in Urumqi, China, Monday, July 6, 2009.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


Medical staff attend to the wounded following riots in Urumqi,
Xinjiang Autonomous Region, in China in this handout photo
which officials say was taken in the late evening of July 5, 2009
and released July 6, 2009. REUTERS/Chinese Information Bureau/Handout


A man is attended by a nurse, after he was injured during riots
 in Urumqi, at a hospital in the city during an official government
tour for the media, Xinjiang Autonomous Region July 6, 2009.
 REUTERS/ Nir Elias


People who were injured during riots in Urumqi, rest in a hospital
in the city during an official government tour for the media,
Xinjiang Autonomous Region July 6, 2009.
REUTERS/ Nir Elias


Zhao Li Hong, right with bruises on her face accompany her husband, Liu Yanghe
whose leg was broken after they were attacked by protesters as they rest
at the Urumqi Friendship Hospital in Urumqi, China, Monday, July 6 , 2009.

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


Huang Zhengjiang speaking to journalists about being attacked
by protesters as he recuperates at the Urumqi Friendship hospital
in Urumqi, China, Monday, July 6 , 2009.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


Waste collector Du Xiaozhan talks about using his hands to
protect his five year old son as protesters beat him unconscious
at the Urumqi Friendship hospital in Urumqi, China, Monday, July 6 , 2009.
 
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


Huan Chen Jiang, 48, who was injured during riots in Urumqi,
is seen in a hospital in the city during an official government tour
for the media, Xinjiang province July 6, 2009.
REUTERS/Nir Elias


A girl who said to be injured during riots in Urumqi, sits in a hospital
in the city during an official government tour for the media,
Xinjiang province July 6, 2009.
REUTERS/Nir Elias


A video grab from Xinjiang TV shows a crying woman carrying
her baby next to a soldier in Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China July 6, 2009.


Residents walk past a smashed up shop front following riots in
Urumqi, western China's Xinjiang province, Monday, July 6, 2009.


A resident stands near a burnt car dealership in Urumqi, China,
Monday, July 6 , 2009.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


People walk past burnt out vehicles following a deadly riot in Urumqi.
(AFP/Peter Parks)


A photograph published on the social networking website Twitter
on July 6, 2009 purported shows police detaining a man on a street
in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region July 5, 2009. Picture taken July 5, 2009.


A photograph published on the social networking website Twitter
on July 6, 2009 shows an overturned vehicle on a street in Urumqi,
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region July 5, 2009. Picture taken July 5, 2009.


A photograph published on the social networking website Twitter
on July 6, 2009 shows what is purported to be bodies lying on a street
following a riot in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on July 5, 2009. 
Picture taken July 5, 2009.


A photograph published on the social networking service Twitter
on July 6, 2009 purportedly shows a dead body following a riot
in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on July 5, 2009.

(The Guardian)  Riots in Urumqi, China  July 6, 2009

(Xinhua)  Uygur victims of south China toy factory brawl condemn Xinjiang riot   July 6, 2009

The Xinjiang Uygur workers injured in a toy factory brawl in south China's Guangdong Province condemned the riot in their hometown, where at least 140 people were killed.

"The rioters used our injuries as an excuse for their violence," said Atigul Turdi, 24, who was injured when she was running out of the scene of the fight on June 26 in Xuri toy factory in Shaoguan City, Guangdong. "I firmly opposed the violence in the name of taking revenge for us."

Two Uygur workers died and 60 Xinjiang Urgur workers were injured in the brawl. Then riot organizers started posting calls on Internet forums for demonstrations in Urumqi, the Xinjiang regional capital.

"I believe the government will handle the brawl appropriately," Turdi said. "Why did the rioters destroy our beautiful and peaceful Xinjiang region in such cruel manners?"

Among the 60 injured workers from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 29 have been discharged from hospital and a dozen others had recovered, said Fan Shiping, a doctor at Yuebei People's Hospital in Shaoguan City. "The rest who were being treated and are in stable conditions," he said. "We are getting along with the patients very well."

Turdi said she would stay in Guangdong to work after recovery. As one of the first workers to arrive at Xuri factory from Shufu County, Xinjiang on May 1, she still missed the happy days to work with her colleagues harmoniously.  "Every one was very happy at a party after our arrival," she said. But she was worried rioters would "do something terrible in other areas besides Urumqi." "My family in Xinjiang are also feared," she said.

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. "As long as I'm safe here, I'd like to stay," he said. "I have made phone calls to my family so that they won't be worried about me."

Doctors celebrated the birthday of the 18-year-old Kurbanjan Abdulla in the hospital. He was presented with a birthday cake and received good wishes from the patients.

The government of Shaoguan and the factory are trying their best to help Uygur workers go back to work as soon as possible, officials said.

The alleged sexual assault on a female Han worker Huang Cuiling by several Uygur co-workers at 11 p.m. on June 25 triggered the fight between Uygur and Han ethnic workers in the Xuri toy factory in the early morning on June 26, said Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, at the press conference on Monday. The deaths of two Uygur workers in the fight were used as an excuse for the riot in the regional capital Urumqi, which Bekri said was masterminded by the forces of terrorism and separatism.

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 up buses. The violence soon spread to many other downtown areas.

At least 140 people had died and more than 800 were injured in the riot, the regional government said Monday.

(Xinhua)  Police have evidence of World Uyghur Congress masterminding Xinjiang riot    July 6, 2009.

Police in northwest China's Xinjiang region said Monday they have evidence that the separatist World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer masterminded the Sunday riot that left 140 people dead. An unidentified spokesman of the Xinjiang regional department of public security said some people used "a number of telephones outside the country" to direct mobs in Xinjiang to stage the violence. 

Police have obtained recordings of calls between overseas Eastern Turkestan groups and their accomplices in the country, the officer said. In the recorded calls, Rebiya Kadeer said, "Something will happen in Urumqi." She also called her younger brother in Urumqi, saying, "We know a lot of things have happened," referring to the June 26 brawl involving workers from Xinjiang in a toy factory in Guangdong Province.

The spokesman said some people started posting calls on Internet forums for demonstrations in Urumqi Saturday evening, in support of protests to be held by overseas separatists.

Within hours after the violence broke out Sunday, Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said all Uygurs were ordered off the streets and armed soldiers seized every Uygur if seen in the streets. The spokesman of Xinjiang police said Dilxat Raxit's remarks were lies that could be easily exposed by people who suffered from the violence.

The World Uyghur Congress also used the factory brawl between Uygur and Han ethnic workers, in which two Uygurs died, to create chaos. It turned a blind eye to facts and said on the Internet that "the incident (brawl) is an organized, preempted, and systematic ethnic cleansing against Uygurs, which is manipulated by the Communist Party of China and conducted by civilians," according to the police spokesman.

However, the Xinjiang Uygur workers injured in the brawl condemned the riot in their hometown. "The rioters used our injuries as an excuse for their violence," said Atigul Turdi, 24, who was injured when she was running out of the scene of the fight and is now recovering in a hospital in Shaoguan, Guangdong. "I firmly opposed the violence in the name of taking revenge for us," she said. "Why did the rioters destroy our beautiful and peaceful Xinjiang region in such cruel manners?"

Among the 60 injured workers from Xinjiang, 29 have been discharged from hospital, a dozen others have recovered and the rest are in stable conditions.

(Al JazeeraUighur exiles deny China riot claim    July 6, 2009

Uighur exiles have rejected Beijing's accusations that they organised riots in China's western Xinjiang province that left at least 140 people dead. Chinese state media reported on Monday that thousands of people fought with police and set fire to vehicles in the city of Urumqi a day earlier after a protest against the government's handling of an industrial dispute turned violent. "It is common practice for Beijing to blame outsiders for any problems in Xinjiang, as it does with problems in Tibet," Alim Seytoff, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress pressure group, told Al Jazeera. "The root cause of the problem is really the Chinese government's long-standing repressive policies," he said.

Local officials blamed Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman who was jailed for years in China before being released into exile in the US where she now heads the World Uighur Congress, for "masterminding" the unrest.
"Rebiya had phone conversations with people in China on July 5 in order to incite, and websites such as Uighurbiz.cn and Diyarim.com were used to orchestrate the incitement and spread of propaganda," said Nur Bekri, the governor of Xinjiang.

'Profound lesson'

Wang Lequan, the region's senior Communist Party official, said that Sunday's violence was "a profound lesson learned in blood". "We must tear away Rebiya's mask and let the world see her true nature," he said.

The protest was originally called after two Uighur workers at a toy factory in southern China were killed in a clash with Han Chinese staff late last month. "This began as a peaceful protest by young Uighurs," Seytoff said. He said that the clashes broke out when armed police and armoured vehicles moved in to forcefully break up the demonstration, opening fire on protesters.

The clashes were the deadliest outbreak of ethnic unrest to take place in Xinjiang for several years. About 800 people are thought to have been arrested in the wake of Sunday's clashes, with police reportedly raiding university dormitories in the hunt for others who they believe organised the protest.

The Xinhua news agency said that the situation in the city was "under control" on Monday, with a nighttime curfew imposed and paramilitary police out in force.

'Powerful measures'

Local residents also reported that internet and mobile phone connections in Urumqi were unavilable - a shutdown that is becoming standard practice in areas of China hit by unrest. "At present, the situation is still seriously complicated, Xinjiang will prevent the situation from spreading to other areas using the most powerful measures and methods and will safeguard regional stability," Nur Bekri said.

One local resident contacted by the Reuters news agency said Urumqi, situated 3,200km west of Beijing, was "basically under martial law".

Witnesses said the protests had spread to Kashgar, a second city in Xinjiang, on Monday afternoon. A Uighur man told The Associated Press news agency that he was among more than 300 protesters who demonstrated outside the Id Kah Mosque before being surrounded by police, who asked them to calm down.

China has blamed ethnic separatists and Muslim extremists for stoking unrest in Xinjiang over the past decade. But critics of Beijing say many Uighurs are angry at political, cultural and religious persecution as well as the apparent growing presence in the region of Han Chinese - China's main ethnic group.

Local Han Chinese told news agencies that they were the victims of much of the violence in Urumqi on Sunday

(Christian Science Monitor Sources in Urumqi? Theyˇ¦re (very) hard to come by.    Peter Ford.  July 6, 2009.

Trying to work out what on earth happened Sunday night in Urumqi, where the government says that at least 140 people died in a riot, is proving about as hard as getting an interview with President Hu Jintao.

The key question is: Who died? Muslim Uighur demonstrators, cut down by the police, as Uighur exile groups claim? Or innocent Han Chinese bystanders, butchered by a mob of Uighurs, as the government-owned media are making out?

Getting any Uighurs in Urumqi to talk on Monday was impossible. Their Internet access had been cut off, most of their phones, too, and those whom foreign journalists reached were too terrified of the government to say anything.

Xinjiang, an allegedly autonomous region, is the hardest place I have ever worked. The atmosphere of repression is Stalinist. For a week last year I tried to gauge ordinary peopleˇ¦s feelings there about the authorities. Not one person I spoke to would give his real name, and most whom I approached wanted nothing to do with me. They knew I was being watched by the Chinese secret police, and they knew they would get into trouble for talking to a foreign reporter. Frankly, I did not call any Uighurs anywhere in China on Monday, for fear of the repercussions they would face for even getting a call from me.

But what was really astonishing was the reluctance of Chinese scholars to say anything about why they thought the riot had broken out. Perhaps because they did not want to diverge from the party line, perhaps because they did not yet know what the party line was, none of the local Xinjiang experts whom I called Monday would talk to me. One simply hung up when I announced who I was. Another ˇV a scholar of Chinaˇ¦s border territories ˇV said that he was working only on Tibet, not on Xinjiang. (When I called him last March to talk about Tibet, he told me that he had nothing to say because he was working only on XinjiangˇK.)  A third, his wife said, had been unexpectedly detained at a conference out of town and was mysteriously unreachable on his cellphone.

So, faced with a sensitive political issue, defenseless Uighur men-in-the-street and well-placed Beijing intellectuals all found themselves in the same boat: voiceless.

(The Guardian)  Death and debris on Urumqi's streets, but in Beijing the blame game begins   By Jonathan Watts.  July 6, 2009.

The Chinese government and Uighur exile groups blamed each other after the deadliest ethnic violence in decades left at least 156 people dead and 800 injured in Urumqi, western China, on Sunday. As armed police cleared bodies, debris and torched buses from the streets, the government launched a media offensive against Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of the exiled World Uighur Congress.

The Chinese authorities claim she and her supporters masterminded the riot that tore through the capital of the Xinjiang region on Sunday evening, the latest escalation of unrest between indigenous Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese settlers. "Rebiya had phone conversations with people in China on 5 July in order to incite, and websites ... were used to orchestrate the incitement and spread propaganda," Xinjiang's governor, Nur Bekri, said in a televised address. "The unrest is a pre-empted, organised violent crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws," a central government statement noted.

China Central Television broadcast images of attacks on Han and Hui Chinese by angry Uighurs, bodies in the streets and bloodied victims being rushed to hospital. State media said the rioters burned 203 shops, 14 homes, 190 buses, two police cars and more than 60 other vehicles.

Overseas Uighur organisations deny incitement and accuse the security forces of stirring up violence by killing peaceful protesters rallying to honour two Uighurs beaten to death in a racial attack by Han Chinese last month.

The World Uighur Congress said scores of demonstrators were shotdead by riot police and crushed by armed personnel carriers in a heavy-handed attempt to disperse the crowd of 1,000 to 3,000, some of whom were waving Chinese flags.

Kadeer drew parallels between the treatment of Tibet and East Turkestan, as many Uighurs call their homeland. "It is a common practice of the Chinese government to accuse me for any unrest in East Turkestan and His Holiness the Dalai Lama for any unrest in Tibet," she said. "The authorities should also acknowledge that their failure to take any meaningful action to punish the Chinese mob for the brutal murder of Uighurs is the real cause of this protest."

Others asked for international support for the Uighurs to peacefully protest against Chinese rule, racial discrimination and restrictions on freedom of religion.

Independent verification of the opposing claims was difficult. Many areas of the city were blocked and mobile and internet communications disrupted. China Mobile's phone service was suspended in the region "to help keep the peace and prevent the incident from spreading further," a customer service representative in Urumqi told Associated Press. Little evidence was presented of incitement and the authorities have not released a casualty list.

Armed police have flooded the city, setting up road blocks and rounding up hundreds of suspects. The police chief, Liu Yaohua, told the state-run Xinhua news agency that checkpoints had been set up to prevent 90 "key suspects" fleeing. He predicted the death toll would rise further.

The Urumqi municipal government issued emergency controls banning traffic in certain areas from 1am to 8am to "maintain social order in the city and guarantee the execution of duty by state organs".

In Geneva, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, urged governments to respect citizens' right to protest. Roseann Rife, Amnesty International's deputy director for Asia and the Pacific, said: "The Chinese authorities must fully account for all those who died and have been detained. There has been a tragic loss of life and it is essential that an urgent independent investigation takes place to bring all those responsible for the deaths to justice."

(Xinhua)  Death toll in Xinjiang riot rises to 156.  July 6, 2009.

Death toll has risen to 156 following the riot Sunday evening in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the regional police authorities said Monday night.  The police put the death toll at 140 as of midday of Monday. Among the 16 newly reported dead, some died in hospitals and others were recovered from street corners, the police said.  More than 700 suspects had been detained by Monday evening.

Police have got clues that some people were trying to organize more unrests in Kashi City, Yili Kazak Prefecture and Aksu City.      More than 200 rioters trying to gather at the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, were dispersed by police at about 6 p.m. Monday.

(Bulloger.com)  Eyewitness record in Urumqi.  July 6, 2009.

(in translation)

According to later official news, there was a mass disturbance involving assault, vandalism, looting and arson in the area of Xinhuanan Road, Erdaoqiao, Shanxi Lane, Zhongshan Road and Dabazha in Urumqi (Xinjiang) around 7pm to 9pm on July 5th.  By 11pm, three Han citizens were killed and more than 20 people were injured.  Many cars were also set on fire and destroyed.

At around 8pm, I was in South Lake (near the Urumqi city government office).  There were quite a number of people in the streets.  Many were cooling down from the daytime heat, strolling in the streets and getting dinner.  Occasionally someone used terms such as "car explosion" or some such.  At the South Lake night market, a dozen or so stalls were starting business, but the city administrators were asking them to close.

Urumqi is two hours behind Beijing, so it was still bright outside at this time.

At that time, I received several calls on my mobile phone.  They said: "There was a small mass incident involving Uighurs at Xinhuanan Road.  Shops in the area were set on fire and Han people were chased down and beaten up."  "Five buses have been set on fire."  Twenty minutes later, an SMS said: "Martial law has been imposed on Zhongshan Road (around the area of the Autonomous Region government office)."  A friend said that "two groups of Uighurs were rioting.  They were smashing every car that they see and beating everyone that saw, so don't go outside at all cost."

By this time, there were fewer cars on Labor Road.  Basically, no taxis were available.  Since the buses were still running normally, I took the 501 bus towards Zhongshan Road, where martial law was reported to be in effect.  The bus had both Han and Uighur passengers as usual.  Occasionally people bent over to look outside the window.  Sometimes police cars passed by.

When the bus reached the stop near the Autonomous Region Party office building, a police told the driver that "martial law has been imposed so get out of here immediately."  I got off the bus and went around Zhongshan Road to People Road and then to Xinhuanan Road.

On the way, there were policemen every ten to twenty meters.  Occasionally police cars by.  Martial law was imposed on Zhongshan Road and no cars were allowed.  Among the pedestrians were Han and Uighur people, who look relatively calm.

When I passed through People's Plaza, I saw police officers, city administrators and local security guards patrolling the area.  My mobile phone could no longer call out and I could send any SMS.

I went past South Gate and then Victory Road, which is where the Uighurs are concentrated.  The street vendors were still hawking their goods.  There were very few cars on the street.  There were only a few Han persons.  The Uighurs were talking with serious expression.  When I reached the mid-section of Victory Road, a dozen or so police officers blocked the way and forbade people to enter the Uighur area.

A middle-aged woman produced her identification and told the police that she lived just past the checkpoint.  But the police refused to let her pass.  Several dozen people stood or sat around the checkpoint.

I went from Victory Road into a side street with the intend of going around the checkpoint.  There were many Uighur small hotels and restaurants on this street.  Uighur people were coming and going.  Several Uighur women were closing shop.  The young Uighor men passing by had serious expressions.

I got to the front of the Commerce Bureau Office.  Five or six people were sitting on the stone ledge in front and discussing.  "Erdaoqiao has been locked down.  It is impossible to pass.  We won't be able to get home.  The shops have been looted.  The armed police are out there."

There were many citizens standing or sitting on the roadside discussing all the things that have happened.  My mobile phone was still not working.

An anti-riot police car passed by slowly.  Police cars and ambulances went screaming by.

On Xinhuanan Road, there were visibly more police.  Police cars and police officers were present at the intersections such as the Tianshan Hotel.

At 11:30pm, I was able to get on the Internet.  I found out that I could still use the line phone.  I could hear the sirens of police cars and ambulances on the street.  In the QQ groups, the Urumqi friends have begun to discuss what they saw or heard.  They uploaded photos and videos.

In the videos, I can see the cars and some buildings that were set on fire.  I can hear the sound of gunfire.  But the number of casualties is unknown.  Erdaoqiao where the Uighurs are concentrated was a trouble spot.  It is suspected that someone was using home-made guns to attack Han homes.  But it could also be warning shots fired by the armed police.

A friend said that there was a close connection between this riot and death of two Uighurs workers in Shaoguan (Guangdong) on June 26.  The Uighurs were dissatisfied with how the government handled that case and therefore they started a disturbance.

On the Internet, there were photos of large numbers of armed police officers wearing helmets and uniforms, anti-riot police vehicles and so on.  There was also the shocking videos and photos of the young Uighur men who were slashed and the terrible blood splattered scene in Shaoguan.

By 12:30am, the Urumqi city government announced the <emergency notice on maintain normal social order> and announced that the public security bureau will impose "traffic control" in certain Urumqi districts between 1am and 8am on July 6.  During this period, no cars were allowed in these districts.

At 1:30am, a netizen friend said that her aunt lives in Guangming Road where disturbances took place that previous evening.  She said that she saw fire everywhere, she heard sounds of explosion, and broken glass and blood could be seen everywhere.  Tanks are rumored to have been sent in.  The husband of my friend has been summoned back to the office and full alert is in place.

It is 1:30am.  I can still occasionally hear the sirens of police vehicles and ambulances passing by.

(Malcolm Moore's Telegraph blog)  Will the Urumqi riots create a new people's hero?  July 6, 2009.

The riots in Urumqi have some large question marks hanging over them.

Urumqi is a world away from the cities that fringe the Taklamakan desert, such as Aksu, Hotan and Kashgar.

In those cities, you can scent the fierce resentment among the local Muslim Uighurs for their Han Chinese rulers. And you can see the tight grip of Beijing everywhere, from the informers in the bazaars to the notices banning under-18s from worshipping in the mosque.

But Urumqi is different. The city is predominately Han, with only a smattering of Uighurs remaining. There have been sporadic reports of ˇ§terroristˇ¨ attacks in Urumqi, but they were never very convincing. The suspicion was that China was drumming up a separatist threat in order to justify a huge security operation in the region.

So the first thought that crossed my mind when I heard Xinhua had released a shocking death toll of 140 was: Why has Xinhua put out a figure so quickly? Last year, during the Tibet riots, it took weeks for a death toll to emerge. When it did, it was generally agreed to have been significantly played down.

The Urumqi figure, by contrast, is enormous. It contradicts some eyewitnesses who said they didnˇ¦t see any bodies in the street and it rose very suddenly, from four casualties on Monday morning, to 129 by lunchtime and then to 140. Was the figure rushed out in order to justify another heavy-handed security operation?

If the death toll is accurate, the next question is how did all these victims die? It seems inconceivable that so many could have been killed without the use of guns. And if there were weapons involved, who fired first?

Itˇ¦s also interesting that Beijing has not blamed terrorist separatists for the latest attack, choosing to point the finger at Rebiya Kadeer instead.

Ms Kadeer was a successful Uighur businesswoman, and a member of Chinaˇ¦s National Peopleˇ¦s Congress, who was jailed for nearly six years as a political dissident and is now living in exile in the United States. Iˇ¦m in the middle of her autobiography, Dragon Fighter, which went on sale in the UK a few days ago.

The authorities have accused her of inciting the riot by making mobile phone calls to dissidents in Urumqi on July 5 and urging them to protest. ˇ§We also must expose Rebiya and those like her. We must tear away Rebiyaˇ¦s mask and let the world see her true nature,ˇ¨ said Wang Lequan, the politburo member and hardliner in charge of Xinjiang.

Whether this is true or not, the effect of the accusation is likely to increase Ms Kadeerˇ¦s fame and allow her to be framed, outside of China, as a kind of Dalai Lama for the Uighurs, a new hero for the West.

(PS: This is a comparison that has already occurred to the publishers of her book - the Dalai Lama has written the introduction).




July 7, 2009

(South China Morning Post)  How a peaceful protest turned into a bloody ethnic vendetta.  July 7, 2009.

What turned a seemingly peaceful protest in the centre of Urumqi into a violent ethnic vendetta is unclear. But what is clear is that most of the victims were innocent men, women and children.  Xinhua reported that people began to gather in People's Square, in the centre of the city, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, at 6.20pm on Sunday.

"We decided to hold a demonstration and stressed that it shouldn't be violent," an organiser of Sunday's demonstration told Radio Free Asia. The radio station said the violence started when armed police moved in to disperse the demonstrators. "They beat them. Beat them, including girls, very, very viciously," a witness told the station. "The police were chasing them and captured many of them. "  Another witness quoted by the radio said the protest began peacefully but became violent after police fired on the crowd. Protesters began attacking cars and shops.

Xinhua said "some started smashing and looting at about 8pm". Some protesters began distributing wooden clubs, hoes and iron bars to fellow demonstrators, who then attacked a nearby police station.  "Then rioters destroyed barriers on the road and began chasing Han Chinese. Many bus windows were smashed. Some Han passengers were surrounded and beaten as soon as they got off the bus. Many were left with blood dripping down their faces," the official news agency said.

Bloggers on the social networking service Twitter blamed both sides. "Both appeared prepared [for conflict]. At first there were only a few hundred Uygurs gathered in the square, but more and more started to join. The police tried to drive them away, but they refused to leave. The two sides started to fight and soon things went out of control and we heard crying from all sides," one blogger wrote.

Reports from Xinhua, western media outlets, Twitter and the Chinese social networking service Fanfou all confirmed that Han and other ethnic minorities were attacked by Uygur protesters. "I saw a Uygur man kicking a Han or Hui woman," a student told British newspaper The Guardian. "In the hospital, I saw a Han man arrive with lots of blood over his shirt, but the Uygur staff paid him no attention."

Broken windows, overturned cars, burned-out buildings and bloodstained streets bore testament to the rage that exploded. Xinhua said rioters had systematically looted shops and business outlets run by Han or members of other minorities.

Shopkeeper Liu Jie said the rioters attacked her store five times. "It was getting worse by 7pm and I told my workers to go home. When people broke the windows I fled myself. They were using big rocks," she said. "They beat and killed Han people in the street. I was hiding in the courtyard behind the shop and they tried to break the gate, then the second group came. We were attacked five times, the last time at about 11pm, and they set [the shop] on fire. We hid in the backyard. There were people killed on the street; they were chased, beaten and knifed."  She added: "I heard they were aroused by events in Guangdong."

The authorities put the death toll at 156 but did not identify any of the dead. The Guardian quoted a doctor at People's Hospital in Urumqi as saying that the vast majority of the victims were Han. The daily said the casualties included a four-year-old boy who was holding his pregnant mother's hand when she was shot.

In the intensive care unit, doctor Ge Xiaohu told the British newspaper: "We have never had a situation like this. It is terrible."

(South China Morning Post)  Censors allow reports on state media, but go to work on internet.  By Vivian Wu.  July 7, 2009.

Government media acted promptly to release information on the Urumqi riots on Sunday night, while unofficial channels of information were strictly censored, a sign that Beijing had learned its lessons from last year's violence in Tibet.

Xinhua first reported events in Urumqi on Sunday night, saying an unnamed number of people had gathered in the city. Since then, the official agency has provided regular updates that have been quoted by overseas media. More reports were released in English than Chinese, and they gave details on casualties and descriptions of the tense situation in the city. Residents were quoted describing the "nightmare experience" and condemning the violence.

China Central Television showed footage of the chaotic scenes in the city, including rioters overturning buses, smashing car windows, beating people on the streets, and setting fire to shops and buildings. On its 7pm network news, the riot was the third news item, behind the reports on President Hu Jintao in Italy and an urban development project in Jilin . Emotional residents, including many Uygurs, were interviewed showing their injuries and ransacked shops.

The provincial government held a press conference yesterday, and reporters from mainly mainland and Hong Kong media were taken to report on the aftermath. The State Council Information Office invited all foreign media based in Beijing for a tour of Xinjiang yesterday.

In contrast with such openness, the authorities strictly controlled unofficial channels of information by closing down a swathe of websites. Posts on internet forums that contained descriptions and pictures of the riot were quickly deleted. A search for keywords such as Xinjiang or Urumqi caused Google to time out while results were heavily filtered on top mainland search engine Baidu. Hou Hanpin, a spokesman for Xinjiang's Government Information Office, said the internet was shut down to stop "terrorists" spreading "evil information" and manipulating the riots. International calls to Xinjiang were also barred.

Many users of Fanfou - the mainland's version of micro-blogging site Twitter - complained of posts referencing the unrest being deleted. Twitter was blocked yesterday, just as it was in the days surrounding the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown last month.

Barry Sautman, an associate professor from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology specialising in the mainland's ethnic politics, said the new approach to the media was a sign the government had learned its lesson from Tibet. In March last year, authorities barred all foreign media from reporting on the riots there.

"In their handling of the Tibet incident, the result was that foreign journalists basically only had one source of information, which was the Tibetan exiles," Dr Sautman said. "The government realised that if foreign journalists went to Urumqi, and saw ... that some of the people involved supported Xinjiang independence, they could shift the blame to Uygur splittist organisations abroad."

(South China Morning Post)  Money not real issue, analyst says.  By Kristine Kwok.  July 7, 2009.

What happened in Xinjiang on Sunday night was the last thing Beijing could have envisaged nine years ago when it launched the grand Go West programme. With the injection of billions of yuan worth of government investment to build massive infrastructure and provide other economic incentives, Xinjiang's living standard has improved. But widened roads and better houses have failed to impress the ethnic minorities, who are predominantly Uygur, residing in the restive region, which accounts for one-sixth of China's territory.

Analysts said the policies had failed to address the pressing issues of ethnic discrimination and uneven distribution of benefits, which brought more grass-roots support for overseas-based Uygur organisations calling for the independence of Xinjiang, made part of China in 1949. Grievances run so deep in the region that analysts said even without the incident in Shaoguan , Guangdong - which Beijing blamed for being the trigger of the bloody rioting - an outburst of such scale was bound to happen.

Billed as the ground zero of the Go West programme, Xinjiang's gross domestic product jumped from 220 billion yuan in 2004 to 415 billion yuan last year, according to state media reports. Its GDP had seen six consecutive years of double-digit growth since 2003.

The number of railroads, major oil pipelines, electricity grids and factories had mushroomed since 2000, making it economically one of the best performing minority-populated regions in China. But despite propagandistic portraits of the positive developments, the Uygurs say they are no happier than before.

Dilxadi Rexiti - a spokesman for the East Turkestan Information Centre based in Duisburg, Germany - said the economic advancement had not benefited the local minorities because of what he called discriminating policies. "The Han Chinese have grabbed most of the jobs available in Xinjiang, and most government-owned companies and organisations won't hire Uygurs," Mr Rexiti said. "It is very difficult for a Uygur university graduate to find a job because of these policies." According to reports, the majority of participants at the rioting on Sunday were students or other young people.

Barry Sautman, an associate professor of social sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, agreed with Mr Rexiti.  "The Chinese government has put forth a lot of efforts to develop Xinjiang, and the development has proceeded rapidly, but the benefits have been differentiated," he said. But given the nature of the development of China as a whole, Dr Sautman said it was inevitable for minorities to feel ethnic differences acutely. "The development is very rapid and industrialised, so it is almost inevitable that there are ethnic differences in terms of development level," he said.

For example, the Han Chinese often reside in urban areas and receive better education, while the Uygurs in the countryside have a lower level of education, he said. "Access to public goods is also better because the Han Chinese are better educated and have a better social network, and they are better able to access social services," Dr Sautman said.

Beijing has bluntly blamed the massive protest as being instigated by the World Uygur Congress, one of the many well-organised bodies based overseas that advocate independence for Uygurs.

Zheng Yongnian , a professor at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore, said the rioting was a combined result of external influence and internal grievances. "In China, many assume that the higher the living standard, the happier the people will be," Professor Zheng said. "But at the same time, when the living standard improves, people will receive better education, and this will raise their ethnic awareness." One of the results of this rise in awareness was an increased eagerness for greater autonomy. "This phenomenon is almost universal in countries that have ethnic issues," Professor Zheng said.

Beijing should come up with a set of more comprehensive policies to deal not only with economic development, but also cultural and political matters, he said.

(Los Angeles Times)  Deadly riots in China highlight ethnic tensions    By David Pierson and Barbara Demick    July 6, 2009.

Reporting from Urumqi, China, and Beijing ˇX With his left cheek the size of a grapefruit, a bloodied Chen Shengli walked out of the hospital Monday night into the eerily quiet city center of Urumqi. A night earlier, the 41-year-old ethnic Han Chinese truck driver was among the victims in clashes between Uighurs, the predominate minority group here, and authorities that resulted in at least 156 dead and 800 injured. Chen, who needed four stitches, said he was pulled from the driver's seat of his flatbed and randomly beaten by a mob of about 20 Uighurs.

It was not yet clear which ethnic group had suffered the brunt of the deaths, nor how many security officers were killed or injured. Official news sources reported that the People's Hospital, one of the largest medical facilities in Urumqi, treated 291 riot victims, including 233 Han Chinese and 39 Uighurs. Of those admitted to the hospital, 17 died.

There were signs that news of the riots had led to additional protests in other Uighur communities. Chinese state media reported that authorities dispersed about 200 demonstrators in Kashgar, a city about 900 miles west of Urumqi on Monday. The protesters had gathered at the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, before authorities secured the area, the report said.

Chinese state media accounts of the violence in Urumqi centered on bands of rampaging Uighurs targeting Han Chinese. Uighur leaders said they were holding a peaceful demonstration in response to the recent killing of two young Uighur men in Guaangdong province that turned violent when security forces intervened.

The rioting might have been the deadliest incident of social unrest in China since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Besides the dead and injured, the other casualty was the myth propagated by the Chinese government that its minorities live together harmoniously.

The inevitable comparison was to rioting in Lhasa in March in which years of unvoiced grievance by Tibetans spilled out into rioting. "Oops! Not again!" wrote a commentator for China's official Xinhua news service.

Like the Tibetans, the Uighurs are enraged by an influx of Han migrants who they believe have taken away land and jobs and are endangering such traditions as their languages and religion. Both Tibetans, who are Buddhists, and Uighurs, who are Muslim, are barred from observing many religious customs if they work as civil servants. Uighurs who work in government jobs, for example, complain that they cannot freely observe the fasts required during the Ramadan period.

But the Uighurs, lacking a charismatic leader like the Dalai Lama, have not drawn the international following of the Tibetans. The linkages, however tenuous, of some Uighurs militants with Muslim radicals across the border in Pakistan and Afghanistan, have also given pause to potential supporters in the West. Uighur separatists have been implicated by Chinese authorities in a number of small terrorist attacks, particularly during the run up to last year's Summer Olympics.

The initial international response Monday to the Urumqi violence was more cautious than after the Tibetan riots, with most calling merely for China allow an impartial investigation of the events. As of Monday evening, Chinese state media reported that 700 suspects had been detained. "Violence and abuses from either the authorities or protesters is in no way justified," said Amnesty International in a statement released Monday.

Few signs of the chaos that unraveled a day earlier remained in China's Xinjiang province Monday. Scores of riot police wearing helmets and carrying shields surrounded city parks and intersections late into the night. Shops in the central business district were tightly shuttered with metal gates hours before they ordinarily closed.

Several main thoroughfares were sealed off to cars, and the empty streets seemed to lure residents out of their homes into the cool summer night. They gathered in groups on the pavement, many to smoke or to slurp on popsicles.
They watched as a steady stream of air-conditioned tour buses carrying police in full riot gear passed by, turning at one main road to head toward a heavily Uighur neighborhood.

"I feel safer with all the police around," said a woman walking her Pomeranian. "I was too scared to go outside before."

Only a few blocks south from where she was standing is Turpan Road, home to a dense Uighur community where many of the angry marchers congregated Sunday outside a market area named "Erdaoqiao," witnesses said. From there they marched north up Xinhua Road.

Truck driver Chen said he was only able to escape after being led to safety by a Uighur woman who urged the rioters to stop. He said he regretted not being able to rescue an elderly man nearby who was being pelted by the crowd.
"They started hitting the truck, and someone threw a huge rock at my face," said Chen, still shaken and flashing scraps and scars across his chest. "If I knew they were rioters, I would have run them over."

The next evening, night stalls in the market near Erdaoqiao were selling watermelons and skewers. Parents strolled the streets with their young children. There were no visible signs of damage.
Nearly two dozen Uighurs in Urumqi declined to be interviewed by an American journalist of Han ancestry. "I don't know anything," was a common refrain.

A 19-year-old Han hotel employee said he was at work late Sunday night when he heard a commotion on Xinhua Road. Jiang said he saw what looked like 1,000 Uighurs marching and chanting in their language.
"They had destroyed a bus and a car," Jiang said. "We were really scared they were going to attack our hotel." Jiang and his co-workers stayed back from the windows and waited for the mob to dissipate. Like many residents interviewed Monday, he said he was shocked by the violence. "This is not about being Uighur," Jiang said. "It's about a few bad people. There's always good people and bad people in every race."

Tony Yu, a 26-year-old native of Urumqi, said small clashes were a way of life. But Sunday's incident was far worse than any others. "It's important that Han and Uighur people can live together," said Yu, an account manager for a tomato paste manufacturer. "But I feel like this incident has broken the relationship and trust."

(Channel 4)  Exclusive interview: Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer   By Lindsey Hilsum.  July 6, 2009.

Today Lindsey Hilsum interviewed Rebiya Kadeer, the President of the World Uighur Congress, the most significant Uighur leader, either in China or abroad, and a hate figure for the Chinese government.

Ms Kadeer used to be a businesswoman in Xinjiang, China's most westerly province, until she was imprisoned for separatist activities. On her release she fled to the USA where she is now based. The Chinese government has accused her of orchestrating  the violence which erupted in Urumqi yesterday.

LH: The Chinese government says you are the one behind all these protests ˇV what's your response?

RK: They are wrong. I represent the voice of the Uighurs to the world and my people recognise me as their leader and we have great love between us, that's why the government accuses me of this. In fact I have nothing to do with this event. Secondly the Chinese government treats Uighurs in such a heavy handed way, especially what happened in Guangdong recently.

LH: But yesterday horrific events happened. We've seen terrible scenes of Uighurs killing Han Chinese on the street. What do you say happened?

RK: You are seeing the scenes of the Uighurs killing Chinese but you don't see the Chinese killing Uighurs, because the power is in their hands. I will tell you now. For instance on the 26th June at midnight to 1 am when Uighurs were sleeping, 800 Uighurs were forced to go to work in Guangdong province. About 10 000 Chinese beat them and killed around 60 of them. [NOTE: this refers to the incident in which a Han Chinese man accused Uighurs at a factory in Guangdong, in southern China, of raping two Han women. Although the rumour turned out to be false, several Uighurs were lynched and killed. The violence in Urunqui yesterday erupted after Uighurs demonstrated ˇV initially peacefully ˇV demanding an enquiry)

RK: I suspect Chinese plain clothes police mixed into the crowd (yesterday) and beat up their own people,  creating such images.  They beat up their own people to show the world those peaceful demonstrators as violent. I can prove to you that these protesters came peacefully because they were holding Chinese flags. We could see this in the video we have. The Uighurs were marching very peacefully, in an orderly way on the street but they deployed 10 000 armed forces using machine guns to brutally crack down on these peaceful demonstrators.

LH: You claim that the demonstration was peaceful, however we have a lot of evidence which you can't deny, that the Uighurs killed Han Chinese. What is your response?

RK: My reaction is that killing is absolutely unacceptable. If people did kill others I condemn it, but the people demonstrated peacefully and the Government used armed force, with machine guns, and were heavy handed and turned the people's protest into violence.    When 800 Uighurs were butchered by 10 000 Chinese in Guangdong the police did nothing, and didnˇ¦t save the Uighurs. And I believe this action created a lot of anger among Uighurs. Chinese people beat up Uighurs and Uighurs beat up Chinese in return ˇV it's China's official policy.

LH:  What should Uighurs do now?

RK: Uighurs should make their demands in a peaceful way. They should understand that it was the Chinese government which created the problems between Uighurs and Chinese, but there shouldn't be this problem between people. The Chinese government should also listen to Uighur people's demands and not oppress the Uighurs. How could Uighurs accept such brutality, killing and arresting innocent Uighurs?

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NDTV interview with Wu'er Kaxi (in English)

(China Daily)  Editorial: Say no to riots.  July 7, 2009.

On Sunday night, people saw bloodstains on the market streets of Xinjiang, the part of China adjacent to Central Asia with a high proportion of Muslim people. There were riots, called for by overseas-based, small groups campaigning for independence. The government of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has earned the nation's support by taking prompt action to quell the violence. There is no question that peace and order will be restored, and more importantly, Xinjiang will never be separated from the People's Republic of China on either racial or religious ground.

The bloodshed is unfortunate. Even more unfortunate is that the event used by separatists to fan violence was a fight between factory workers in distant South China - in a toy factory with Hong Kong investment based in Shaoguan, Guangdong province. The fracas was reportedly caused by an Internet message - posted by a rejected job applicant - alleging rape by some Uygur workers in the factory.

The overnight melee left two Uygur workers dead. With no evidence to support the allegation of rape, the local police have already taken into custody the person believed responsible for making up the rumor. The Chinese press has given full coverage to the incident.  While extending our condolences to the victims, and expressing the hope that the innocent Uygur workers would be treated decently and protected by the factory management and the Shaoguan government, we forthrightly condemn the overseas-based instigators of violence in Xinjiang, in the name of revenge.

The domestic proxies, who led the politically motivated riots in Xinjiang should not be allowed to escape blame for ransacking the cities belonging collectively to the Uygurs, Hans (the Chinese majority), Kazaks, Huis and nine other nationalities, and their flourishing businesses. Now it is all too evident how their irresponsible actions have harmed all people of Xinjiang. The small groups of separatists and their sympathizers abroad should be frustrated in their attempts to sow the seeds of racial and religious hatred in Xinjiang. Xinjiang does not belong to any single nationality; in fact, it never has in the history of the ancient Silk Roads. Their politicizing of the Shaoguan incident, or any isolated street-level or workplace strife, is as dastardly and despicable as the desperate move by a rumor-mongering individual.

It is easy to see the slender thread by which hung the separatists' genuine hope of succeeding in their grand but nefarious scheme. All that they can do now is to stir up violence and grab some media attention - by using the quick-tempered youth in their hometowns as cheap sacrifices. Their destruction and killings are soon to be laid bare as evidence of how these elements pursue their hideous cause. All nationalities in Xinjiang will appreciate the necessity for greater vigilance and stronger security to protect their peaceful lives. At the same time, more explanation and education may be in order for people in Xinjiang and across the country about the painful lessons of any attempt, deliberate or otherwise, to jeopardize the unity of all member nationalities of China.

(New York Times)  In Latest Upheaval, China Applies New Strategies to Control Flow of Information   By Michael Wines.  July 7, 2009.

In the wake of Sundayˇ¦s deadly riots in its western region of Xinjiang, Chinaˇ¦s central government took all the usual steps to enshrine its version of events as received wisdom: it crippled Internet service; blocked Twitterˇ¦s micro-blogs; purged search engines of unapproved references to the violence; saturated the Chinese media with the state-sanctioned story.

It also took one most unusual step: Hours after troops quelled the protests, in which 156 people were reported killed, the state invited foreign journalists on an official trip to Urumqi, Xinjiangˇ¦s capital and the site of the unrest, ˇ§to know better about the riots.ˇ¨ Indeed, it set up a media center at a downtown hotel ˇX with a hefty discount on rooms ˇX to keep arriving reporters abreast of events.

It is a far cry from Beijingˇ¦s reaction 11 years ago to ethnic violence elsewhere in Xinjiang, when officials sealed off an entire city and refused to say what happened or how many people had died. And it reflects lessons learned from the military crackdown in Tibet 17 months ago. While foreign reporters were banned from Tibet, then and now, Chinese authorities rallied domestic support by blaming outside agitators, but were widely condemned overseas.

As the Internet and other media raise new challenges to Chinaˇ¦s version of the truth, China is finding new ways not just to suppress bad news at the source, but also to spin whatever unflattering tidbits escape its control.

ˇ§Theyˇ¦re getting more sophisticated. They learn from past mistakes,ˇ¨ said Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who closely follows the Chinese governmentˇ¦s efforts to manage the flow of information.

Chinese experts clearly have studied the so-called color revolutions ˇX in Georgia and Ukraine, and last monthˇ¦s protests in Iran ˇX for the ways that the Internet and mobile communication devices helped protesters organize and reach the outside world, and for ways that governments sought to counter them.

In Tibet, Chinese rallied behind the governmentˇ¦s assertion that violence there was an effort by the exiled Dalai Lama to break the nation apart. But Chinaˇ¦s global image took a drubbing after Tibetan dissidents beamed images of violence to the outside world from cellphone cameras, and officials barred virtually all foreigners from entering the supposedly peaceful region.

Cellphone videos posted during the Tibet unrest led the government to block YouTube then, a tactic repeated in advance of the Tiananmen Square anniversary last month. YouTube remained blocked this week. Officials are systematically tearing down satellite dishes across the region, eliminating uncensored foreign television and radio broadcasts.

In Urumqi this week, the official response to one of the most violent riots in decades has taken two divergent paths. Internally, censors tightly controlled media coverage of the unrest and sought to disable the social networks that opponents might use to organize more demonstrations. Cellphone calls to Urumqi and nearby areas have largely been blocked. Twitter was shut down nationwide at midday Monday; a Chinese equivalent, Fanfou, was running, but Urumqi-related searches were blocked.

Chinese search engines no longer give replies for searches related to the violence. Results of a Google search on Monday for ˇ§Xinjiang riotingˇ¨ turned up many links that had already been deleted on such well-trafficked Chinese Internet forums as Mop and Tianya.

State television has focused primarily, though not totally, on scenes of violence directed against Chinaˇ¦s ethnic Han majority. Chinese news Web sites carry official accounts of the unrest, but readers are generally blocked from posting comments.

As in Tibet, blame for the violence has been aimed at outside agitators bent on splitting China ˇX in this case, the World Uighur Congress, an exile group whose president, Rebiya Kadeer, is a Uighur businesswoman now living in Washington.

State news agency reports assert that Chinese authorities have intercepted telephone conversations linking Ms. Kadeer to the protests. The exile group has condemned the violence and denies any role in fomenting it.

On the surface, at least, the governmentˇ¦s approach to the outside world has been markedly different. By Monday morning, the State Council Information Office, the top-level government public-relations agency, had invited foreign journalists to Urumqi to report firsthand on the riots.

Arriving reporters were escorted by bus to the hotel downtown, where the media room offered photographers compact discs filled with pictures, videos and television ˇ§screen grabsˇ¨ taken by state news organizations. Reporters were advised to attend a news conference Tuesday morning for an update.

Such services lift a page from the tactics that Western organizations, from the White House to major business groups, employ to get their message to traveling journalists. But at least some of the similarities end there: in Urumqi, journalists were told that they could not conduct interviews on their own, away from government minders. Other details beyond approved news reports were scant.

Even that degree of openness is a departure from a government tradition of closed-mouth reactions to unpleasant news. But just as in the West, Mr. Xiao at Berkeley argued, the aim of controlling what is reported remains the same.

The government ˇ§has revealed what they learned from handling the Tibet situation,ˇ¨ he said. ˇ§For Twitter or the Internet, when they see too many factors they cannot completely control, they shut down and block. But for foreign journalists, they feel that as long as they can keep those people under control, it may serve better the governmentˇ¦s purpose.ˇ¨

(Reuters)  Chinese go online to vent ire at Xinjiang unrest  By Ben Blanchard.  July 7, 2009.

Chinese are venting their anger online after ethnic unrest in the Muslim region of Xinjiang left at least 156 dead but are playing a cat-and-mouse game with censors who appear to be removing some posts and blogs. Many of the comments demanded swift punishment for those involved, echoing remarks in official state media blaming exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer for masterminding the riots in Urumqi on Sunday. Almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people are Muslim Uighurs, but they have long complained Han Chinese reap most of the benefits from official investment and subsidies, while making Uighurs -- a Turkic, largely Islamic people who share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia -- feel like outsiders. Along with Tibet, Xinjiang is one of the most politically sensitive regions in China and in both places the government has sought to maintain its grip by controlling religious and cultural life while promising economic growth and prosperity.

"Destroy the conspiracy, strike hard against these saboteurs, and strike even more fiercely than before," according to an anonymous posting on a blog by a person known as "Chang Qing" on portal www.sina.com.cn. Some warned Hans, China's predominant ethnic group, would take revenge. "The blood debt will be repaid. Han compatriots unite and rise up," wrote "Jason" on search engine www.baidu.com.

Others have sought to invoke the spirit of Wang Zhen, the Chinese general who is reviled and feared by many Uighurs for the repression when he led Communist troops into Xinjiang in 1949 to bring it into the newly formed People's Republic of China. "Study this hard," wrote one posting above a potted history of Wang apparently taken from a Chinese history book.

Still, a few people appealed for greater understanding of Uighur grievances. "If your family members have no rights, no power, are discriminated against and made fun of, not only will your family collapse, you will already have sown the seeds of hatred," wrote "Bloody Knife". One person, called "zfc883919" and writing on Xinjiang portal www.tianya.cn, said he did not understand how the police could have let the death toll rise so high. "What on earth were you doing? That was 156 living beings. I hope relevant authorities really learn a lesson, so that this kind of tragedy is not repeated."

Yet authorities have been working fast to remove comments about the violence, apparently to prevent ethnic hatred from spreading or Internet users questioning government policies toward regions populated by ethnic minorities. Many blogs have simply posted articles from the domestic media about the unrest, but in the section where readers are invited to leave their thoughts is written: "There are no comments at this time" -- unusual, given the popularity of blogs in China with 300 million Internet users.  Some sites which had posted graphic images of beaten and bloody bodies, purportedly taken during or after the riots, also had them swiftly removed.

(Xinhua)  Official: Internet cut in Xinjiang to prevent riot from spreading    July 7, 2009.

Internet was cut in parts of Xinjiang's capital Urumqi following Sunday's deadly riot to prevent violence from spreading, an official said Tuesday.  "We cut Internet connection in some areas of Urumqi in order to quench the riot quickly and prevent violence from spreading to other places," said Li Zhi, the Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of Urumqi.  Li said Chinese authorities had evidence that separatist World Uyghur Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer used the Internet and other means of communication to mastermind the riot.      He didn't say when exactly Internet connection would resume.

Xinjiang police said Monday they had evidence that Rebiya Kadeer masterminded the Sunday riot, and had obtained recordings of calls between overseas Eastern Turkestan groups and their accomplices in the country.  In the recorded calls, Rebiya Kadeer said, "Something will happen in Urumqi." She also called her younger brother in Urumqi, saying, "We know a lot of things have happened," referring to the June 26 brawl involving workers from Xinjiang in a toy factory in Guangdong Province.

(Xinhua)  Protestors surround foreign reporters in Xinjiang, official    July 7, 2009.

A crowd of protestors surrounded a group of foreign journalists in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi Tuesday morning, shouting slogans and creating a chaos two days after a riot killed 156 people and injured more than 1,000.  A regional government spokesman said the foreign journalists, about 60 in number, were in Xinjiang on a reporting trip arranged by the Information Office of the State Council, the Chinese Cabinet. They were visiting a Uygur community near a downtown racecourse when a woman and her child came up, crying and demanding police to release her husband, who she said was under arrest over Sunday's riot, a spokesman with the regional public security department said. He said armed police officers were at site to maintain order and protect the reporters. At least 300 people joined the protest and about 1,000 people were watching, Xinhua reporters saw at the site. As of 12 pm, police had persuaded most of the protestors to leave the scene.

(Telegraph)  China riots: 300 Uighurs stage fresh protest in Urumqi    By Peter Foster.  July 7, 2009.

A convoy of journalists being escorted around the Chinese city of Urumqi in the wake of riots that left 156 people dead has been ambushed by fresh protests. Peter Foster was on the scene. The protests came after Chinese police arrested 1,434 suspects and launched a huge security operation to suppress any further violence in the capital of the far Western province of Xinjiang.

Simmering tensions came back to the surface between the local Uighur Muslims and the Han Chinese when a group of around 200 to 300 Uighur women surrounded a government-organised tour of the Caimacheng district of Urumqi. They demanded the release of their men, who they said had been arrested indiscriminately yesterday following the violent clashes between protesters and police on Sunday.

Perhaps emboldened by the presence of the international media in the western suburb of the city, the group of wives and children suddenly emerged from side streets, many of them waving the identification papers of their absent husbands. Wailing and crying, they approached journalists and began berating two police officers on the scene, who quickly called for back-up. Almost instantly, a squad of several hundred armed riot police arrived on the scene and began advancing on the women in formation, backed up by three armoured cars equipped with water cannons. "Give us our men, give us our men," the women cried out, some of them removing their shoes and throwing them at the police, a calculated insult in the Islamic world. There were small scuffles as women, many of them with small children in their arms, confronted the security forces before they were surrounded by officers carrying shot guns and tear gas canisters.

As journalists were hurriedly shepherded back onto buses, policemen with large attack dogs threatened the women. One policeman berated the assembled media: "Why are you reporting on the Uighurs?" he demanded. "The Uighurs chopped the heads off 100 Han Chinese. Why don't you report that?"

The protest was an unprecedented display of defiance in the wake of one of the most suppressive security campaigns that China has mounted in the city. According to Xinhua, the official news wire, more than 20,000 police officers and soldiers were used to restore the peace in Urumqi on Sunday after a peaceful protest by the local ethnic Uighurs erupted into mass violence.

Yao Chengqing, 42, from Chongqing in Sichuan, was still heavily bandaged and wearing his arm in a sling over a bloodstained shirt. "I went to pick my wife up from work on Sunday evening when suddenly we were surrounded by ten Uighur men, some carrying sticks that were 40cm long. They did not say anything, they just started beating us until we were lying on the ground. My wife, Xie Shenglan, had to have more than 40 stitches and has a broken eye socket."

The tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese have been rising in Urumqi for a number of days ever since two Uighurs were killed by Chinese factory workers in the southern province of Guangdong at the end of last month. Increasingly wild rumours have swirled around Xinjiang ever since, with some people making claims that 4,000 Chinese factory workers murdered 600 Uighurs and chopped them into small pieces. One young woman told the Telegraph she had heard that 400 Uighur women had been raped. "Our menfolk would never forgive such crimes," she said.

The security operation in Urumqi since Sunday's riots has been relentless and Radio Free Asia reported today that a large population of Uighurs living in a shanty town around the old racetrack had been strip-searched and arrested this morning. Guli Nazar, a 15-year-old girl who was protesting in front of the journalists, said her 14-year-old brother had been snatched from his bed yesterday. "We were still asleep in our beds when suddenly the police charged through and started banging on the door. They took my younger brother away and now we are afraid we will never see him again," she said.

(Telegraph)  China riots: Uighurs stage fresh protest in Urumqi.  July 7, 2009.

(The Guardian)  Riots in Urumqi, China.  July 7, 2009.

(euronews)

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(Sky News)  China Riots Resume After 156 Are Killed    July 7, 2009.

Protesters have resumed clashes with riot police in China where 156 people have been killed and more than 800 injured. Uighur protesters fought officials in the capital of China's Muslim region of Xinjiang. Hundreds took to the streets of Urumqi earlier saying family members have been arbitrarily arrested in a sweeping government crackdown. Violence broke out when the demonstrators advanced on anti-riot police carrying clubs and shields.

Abdul Ali, an Uighur man in his 20s who had taken off his shirt, held up his clenched fist. "They've been arresting us for no reason and it's time for us to fight back," he said. Ali said three of his brothers as well as a sister had been among 1,434 suspects taken into police custody for questioning.

More than 200 women wearing ornate flowered headscarves blocked a road, screaming that their husbands and children have been arrested. One woman said she would rather die than live without the husband she had taken from her.

After vehicles and shops were trashed during Sunday's riots the latest unrest is beginning to be played out in view of reporters. Some Xinjiang newspapers carried graphic pictures of the violence, including corpses, at least one of which showed a woman whose throat had been slashed.

Despite heightened security, unsettlement appears to be spreading in the volatile region, where long-standing ethnic tensions periodically erupt into bloodshed. Along with Tibet, Xinjiang is one of the most politically sensitive regions in China. In both places the government has sought to maintain its grip by controlling religious and cultural life while promising economic growth and prosperity.

But minorities have long complained that Han Chinese reap most of the benefits from official investment and subsidies, making locals feel like outsiders.

Clearing the debris of her shattered hair salon, an ethnic Han businesswoman said she has no idea why Uighur residents of China's restive Xinjiang region attacked her and has no desire to understand. Her response to the savage violence - and the equally strident view of some Uighurs who called it a justified comeuppance for the hated Han - illustrates the deep ethnic problems dividing the region.

(San Francisco Sentinel)  More Violent Confrontations Occur Between China and Protestors.  By Tania Branigan.  July 7, 2009.


Journalists stand in front of a car dealership which was destroyed
during Sunday riot in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region July 6, 2009.

Chinese armed police and Uighurs clashed in extraordinary scenes in the capital of the northwestern region of Xinjiang this morning ˇV two days after at least 156 people were killed in vicious ethnic violence. Uighur residents erupted into protests during an official media tour of the riot zone, in the face of hundreds of officers. Thousands of riot and armed paramilitary police have flooded the southern part of the capital.

Women in the market place burst into wailing and chanting as foreign reporters arrived, complaining that police had taken away Uighur men. Authorities have arrested 1,434 people in connection with Sundayˇ¦s unrest.

ˇ§The policemen took away my husband last night. I donˇ¦t know why and I donˇ¦t know where he is,ˇ¨ said Abdurajit. ˇ§Mine was taken too. They still have him,ˇ¨ broke in another woman.

As they streamed out on to the main street, the crowd swelled to around 200, with Uighur men and more women joining them, shouting and waving their fists. And then a single old woman, propped on a crutch, forced armoured personnel carriers and massed paramilitary ranks into a slow ˇV if temporary ˇV retreat.

No one noticed her at first. She emerged slowly from the crowd and moved slowly down the street. A Uighur police officer came forward to escort her away. She could not be persuaded.

As older residents stepped forward and attempted to calm the crowd, she advanced steadily towards the line of armoured vehicles. She halted inches in front of one. The driver started its engine. For a long moment they faced each other. Then the carrier slowly began to roll backwards and the line of officers inched away, back down the road. She walked forward. They inched back. She continued ˇV while the officer pleaded with her to step away. Suddenly he turned to me and grabbed my notebook, ripped out a page and scribbled a note for her; apparently his name and identity number. He thrust it at her. Reluctantly, she agreed to leave.

For now, it seemed, tensions had ebbed in this riven city.

Earlier, the Guardian watched as the crowd surrounded a police van and smashed the windscreen. A woman thrust photographs of her family at a helmeted officer, screaming at him to look at them, but the mood soon turned nasty and hands in the crowd reached out to hit and punch him. He had to be pulled out by fellow officers. Suddenly, the massed might of the Chinese authorities looked very much like one scared and vulnerable man ˇV like many of the young officers stationed around the city. As the crowd grew, paramilitaries began to move down the street and push them back. Officers lashed out with batons and shields, but were restrained by their superiors.

Then the old woman stepped forward. By the time she turned aside, around 30 minutes after the protests burst out, numbers had dwindled to just a few dozen, sandwiched between the paramilitaries and a second line of armed riot police who had emerged behind them. Officials attempted to remove reporters ˇV telling them that it was not safe and did not fit in with media arrangements ˇV as the stand-off continued. ˇ§You see old women and children now. But on Sunday night it was men ˇV you should go to the hospital and see the victims,ˇ¨ said one.

Most of those injured on Sunday night appear to have been Han Chinese, although Uighurs and other ethnic minorities were also injured and a full breakdown of casualties is not yet available. Witnesses described brutal, apparently random attacks on Han people. Uighur Muslims make up almost half of the population of Xinjiang ˇV an area three times the size of France. Many resent controls on their religion and growing Han immigration and accuse the government of eroding their culture. The region has seen sporadic eruptions of violence, but the scale of this weekendˇ¦s mass killings staggered everyone.

The Guardian and other media left todayˇ¦s confrontation only when protestors had left the road, a few at a time, returning to the market area.

Prior to the confrontation, many residents in the mainly Uighur area had been reluctant to talk about what happened on Sunday night. ˇ§Not too clear,ˇ¨ or ˇ§Iˇ¦m not really sure,ˇ¨ several said.

But one young Uighur man said it began because Uighur men were killed in mass violence at a factory in Guangdong last month and said there were other resentments. ˇ§People just wanted to protest peacefully,ˇ¨ he said. ˇ§The Chinese want to keep us down. They will not let us have our own country.ˇ¨

(Associated Press)  July 7, 2009.

Women in flowered headscarves scuffled with armed police Tuesday in a fresh protest in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where at least 156 people have been killed and more than 1,400 arrested in the area's worst ethnic violence in decades. About 200 Uighurs blocked a street, some screaming that their husbands and children had been arrested in the massive crackdown on members of the Muslim minority by Chinese authorities since the violence started Sunday in the Xinjiang capital. The incident played out in front of reporters who were being taken by authorities around the city to see the charred aftermath of the riots. Riot police were at one end of the street, and paramilitary police at the other.

One woman said her husband was taken away and she would rather die than live without him. As they marched down the street, paramilitary police with sticks marched toward them and pushed the crowd back. A woman fell. The brief scuffle ended when the police retreated. More police with assault rifles and tear gas guns took up positions on the other side of the crowd. The women stayed in the street, pumping their fists in the air and wailing. Meanwhile, police tried to weed the men out of the crowd, herding them down a side street. Two boys ran out of an alley, and a policeman barked "Go home" and grabbed one around the neck, pushing him. The 90-minute protest ended when the women walked back into a market area without resistance. Police also tried to shepherd the journalists away.

(AFP)  Chaos in China's Urumqi city, Chinese counter demo     July 7, 2009.

There have been chaotic scenes in China's northwest Urumqi city, two days after unrest here left 156 people dead, state media and an AFP journalist reported. "Chaos was seen in a number of places in Urumqi on Tuesday afternoon," the official Xinhua news agency reported. An AFP journalist near the People's Square in Urumqi where Sunday's riots occurred said he witnessed hundreds of Han Chinese carrying bats, shovels and other implements as they marched in the centre of city.

(Associated Press)  Hundreds of armed Han Chinese march in Urumqi.  By William Foreman.  July 7, 2009.

Hundreds of Han Chinese armed with clubs marched through the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, knocking over food stalls run by Muslims. Police used loudspeakers Tuesday to appeal to the marchers to stop, but about 300 of them were marching down a street about four blocks from People's Square, the starting point of Sunday's riot that left 156 dead. The crowd waved their wooden sticks, lead pipes, shovels and hoes in the air as they marched. As they headed down a back street toward a mosque, several loud explosions rang out followed by rising white puffs of smoke ˇX possibly tear gas that anti-riot squads have used in previous days.

(RTÉ News)  China: Tear gas used on Han protestors    July 7, 2009.

Police in China's Urumqi city have fired tear gas repeatedly to disperse Han Chinese protesters who were armed with makeshift weapons. But the demonstrators, some of whom carried bricks, chains and bats, failed to disperse.

New clashes had flared earlier in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang between ethnic Uighur protestors and riot police. At least 200 Uighurs clashed with police in Urumqi today, two days after 156 people died and 800 were injured in the city.

(Al Jazeera Muslim states 'silent' on Uighurs    July 7, 2009.

A leading Uighur rights activist has criticised Muslim-majority countries for not speaking out against decades of alleged repression and persecution from the Chinese government.

Speaking in Washington on Monday, Rebiya Kadeer, a businesswoman who was jailed for years in China before being released into exile in the US, hit out at what she said was decades of "brutal suppression" of Muslims in China's western Xinjiang region.

Speaking after a day of unrest in Xinjiang left at least 150 people dead, Kadeer pointed to the lack of response from Muslim countries to the violence and the situation faced by the Uighurs.

"Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and a number of other Muslim countries as well as the central Asian states like Kazakhstan Kurdistan and Uzbekistan - they all deported Uighurs who had fled Chinese persecution for peacefully opposing Chinese rule, for writing something, for speaking something," she said. "Those sent back to China were either killed or sentenced to life in jail."

She said the lack of action from Muslim countries contrasted with support given by other governments. "Our only friend is in the West - Western democracies are supporting us and we are very grateful," Kadeeer, who heads the World Uighur Congress, told reporters. "We certainly hope that more Muslim countries will raise our situation."

Kadeer attributed the lack of action from Muslim countries to what she said was the success of Chinese "propaganda" to the Muslim world. "So far the Islamic world is silent about the Uighurs' suffering because the Chinese authorities have been very successful in its propaganda to the Muslim world." That propaganda, she said, sent a message to the Muslim world "that the Uighurs are extremely pro-west Muslims - that they are modern Muslims, not genuine Muslims."

At the same time, she said, to Western countries the Chinese government "labelled Uighur leaders as Muslims terrorists with links to al-Qaeda - so the propaganda has been pretty effective on both sides."

Thelim Kine, an Asia researcher from New York-based Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera that Beijing's accusations of Uighur links to "terrorist" groups had intensified since the 9/11 attacks in the US. "Because they are Muslim they have been accused of carrying out what the government calls 'terrorist activities', as well as being linked to various organisations like al-Qaeda," he said.

'Mastermind'

China's government has blamed Uighur exiles for stoking the recent unrest, singling out Kadeer for "masterminding" the riots ˇV claims she rejected as "completely false". While she admitted that some Uighurs had been carried out attacks during Sunday's unrest, she said the violence was a symptom of Uighur frustration and resentment at China's repressive policies. Her group, she said, has repeatedly called for only peaceful protests and urged all sides to exercise restraint.

As protests continue in Xinjiang and police arrest hundreds after the riots, Kadeer called for an international investigation into the unrest. "We hope that the United Nations, the United States and the European Union will send teams to investigate what really took place in Xinjiang," she said. "We hope the White House will issue a stronger statement urging the Chinese government to show restraint, and also to tell the truth of the nature of the events and what happened, and to tell the Chinese government to redress Uighur grievances."

(People's Daily)  Unveiled Rebiya Kadeer: a Uighur Dalai Lama   By Li Hongmei.  July 7, 2009.

Rebiya Kadeer, presiding over the 'World Uighur Congress' and the 'Uighur American Association,' denied the accusation of masterminding the July 5th Urumqi bloody riots. But what she did, in her so-called exile since 2005, has manifested as clear as daylight that she is an ironclad separatist colluding with terrorists and Islamic extremists and an instigator unceasingly fanning unrest among her followers within and outside of China.

The 63-year-old Kadeer is likened to the Dalai Lama, and the comparison grew more apt when she strived for Nobel Peace Prize, following in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama, who has been revered by Kadeer as the spiritual tutor. Like the Dalai Lama, Ms. Kadeer is also fully cognizant of the importance of P.R. endeavors in a bid to rally the international support. For all these years, she has devoted herself to globe-trotting and lobbying around for the 'rights and interests of the Uighurs.' And in the process, like the Dalai Lama, she is also clad in the religious garment in an attempt to convince others she is just decrying the 'stricture' carried out by the Chinese central government upon the Uighurs and their religion, but whatever she is pushing for, she insisted, is strictly confined to 'peaceful demonstration.'

Most ridiculously, the so-called 'peaceful demonstration' was staged on the Urumqi streets in the form of the most inhumane atrocities too horrible to look at. However, the Kadeer group abroad quickly washed clean themselves pleading ignorance of the beating, smashing, looting and burning incidents which have so far claimed 156 innocent civilian lives, and even recalibrated their gun muzzle toward the Chinese government chiding it for using the same template of accusations as it did in the Mar.14th Lhasa riots. Perhaps, it is none other than Rebiya Kadeer herself who knows fully well why it is so-- simply because she did as much, or more than, as the Dalai Lama and his clique to sow resentment among the ethnic Uighur people and instigate their discontent and hatred toward the government and other ethnic groups, while disregarding the fact that China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region enjoys a time-honored history as a civilized settlement with different ethnic groups living in a compact community and harmony.

Mud is mud, as the old saying goes. When Kadeer made a sensational phone call to her followers in Xinjiang on the very bloody day instructing them to mobilize the local outlaws to launch 'something more courageous and even bigger,' and when she drew upon the Internet in the days gone by to wide spread her separatist ideas and encourage sacrifice of the Uighurs for the 'Independence of East Turkistan,' the true color of a separatist has been thoroughly unveiled. And when, on July 5th and in the apparently preempted and premeditated plot which quickly spiraled into a tragic riot, a baby boy was witnessed smashed to death by a stray brick in his mother's arms, innocent passers-by were mutilated by choppers and swards wielded by the outlaws, and a lot more people were put out of business as their premises and lifework were destroyed within the horrifying three hours, the ferocious terrorist nature of Rebiya Kadeer group has been completely unmasked.

Rebiya Kadeer, in the pursuit of her dream of Nobel Prize, used to hire a shooter keeping a detailed record of her 'colorful personal experiences' and 'epic-like heroic legends.' The so-called autobiography was later published with the title 'Dragon Fighter', and with the foreword written by her much admired tutor, the Dalai Lama. The book has also been labeled by some anti-China political observers abroad as a living force in a fierce defiance of the Chinese government and its policies governing autonomous regions and ethnic minority groups, and Kadeer herself a fearless fighter for human rights and independence of China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, 1/3 of China's territory. Unfortunately, Ms. Kadeer's deeds always betray the 'lofty goal' she is seeking after for dear life.

Before 1999, she was among the galaxy of the 'happy few' who benefited from China's achievements by adopting the reform and opening up policy, and was listed within the then top 10 richest persons in the country, and ranked No.1 with a hoard of individual wealth worth over 100 million yuan. Rebiya, a mother of 11 children from two marriages, rose to fame rapidly as a shrewd businesswoman, and later was elected a member of the 8th National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and meanwhile she was also put in charge of the Chamber of Commerce in Xinjiang. But in 1999, she ended up her glorious days in prison with the charges of tax evasion and criminal acts endangering state secrets. Nevertheless, she did not see through her seven-year term and was released in 2005 for the consideration of her health. The same year, Rebiya applied for a chance to go to the U.S. and join her second husband, a veteran separatist, and gained approval from the government on the conditions that she would never involve in any plot fanning independence of Xinjiang, and subversive activity against the Chinese government, as Rebiya herself pledged repeatedly before her departure.

Obviously, she went back on her word. Since the notorious 'East Turkistan Islamic Movement' was blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the international community after the 9/11 terrorist attack, Rebiya changed her identity with no time to spare and into new forms of 'World Uighur Congress' and 'Uighur American Association,' but what remains unchanged under the bewildering disguise of the assorted names is the core essence of terrorism and violence, and the 'desperate fulfillment' of all her ambitions at the cost of civilians' life and property.

Nobel Prize will lose its luster if it were meted out to the hands stained with innocent blood. No government would have the tolerance when seeing its people are living in the dread of killing and looting. Physical damage could be measured in terms of money, but the trauma will linger on like a ghost. Rebiya, as well as those with the mentality marked by antipathy and gloom, might intend to dislocate the Chinese society and split China, but will be hoisted by their own petard.

(Newsweek)  Bad Press.  By Mary Hennock.  July 7, 2009.

Last weekend's riots in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, represented the worst ethnic tension in China since marches by monks sparked anti-Chinese riots in Tibet last spring: 156 people died, at least 828 were injured, 261 buses and cars were torched, and 203 shops and 14 homes were burned down. Xinjiang's violence seems to have begun with a police crackdown on ethnic minority Muslim Uighurs protesting for justice on behalf of two Uighurs killed in a factory brawl in southern China. Even by the dubious official numbers, the death toll in Urumqi dwarfed last year's toll (22) in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Police have detained at least 1,434 people since Sunday, and there are 20,000 security forces patrolling Urumqi's streets today.

Crisis? What crisis? For perhaps the first time, China is managing the PR with aplomb. It moved just as swiftly to justify its crackdown as it did to deploy the crackdown itself. Party officials know that the riots risk tarnishing China's global image the way Lhasa did, so they have undertaken a swift program of public relations, getting the official version of the story out fast and busing in foreign journalists to visit the riot-torn city center. The Chinese are suddenly looking like credible spin doctors.

This is another step in the learning curve for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, accustomed to the one-party state privilege of going relatively unquestioned. Internet and mobile phones have made full news blackouts like after the 1976 Tangshan earthquakeˇXor the 1997 riots and shootings in Yili (also in Xinjiang)ˇXimpossible, so the CCP has been forced to learn spin.

That's not to say news blackouts aren't in force. To contain the damage to its reputation, China's government has adopted a twin-track strategy with opposite treatment for old and new media. It swiftly shut off the Internet and mobile phones on Sunday to control news and imagery seeping out, while feeding the press and TV with pictures and information. Web connections were still unavailable late Tuesday in Xinjiang; mobile signals and texting services remained intermittent. Twitter has been blocked, too.

These measures are harsher than during the Lhasa riots, where residents remained able to speak to the outside world, though many were too fearful to say much. The contrast reflects Xinjiang's higher level of development and the government's greater anxiety, says Prof. Xiao Qiang at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. "Urumqi is a very wired city. ˇK [If] the government want[s] to control this information, they have no choice" but to enforce a blackout, he says.

Unlike Tibet last year, the riot area remains open to foreign journalists, a sign that Beijing has learned media-management lessons from the globally hostile coverage it got for barring reporters in Tibet. The day after the Urumqi bloodshed, the State Council Information Office set up a Xinjiang Information Office in Urumqi to assist foreign reporters. It went further, inviting foreign media on a trip to Xinjiang to tour the riot zones, visit hospitals, and see the damage for themselves. Journalists were given CDs loaded with photos and TV clips. "They try to control the foreign journalists as much as possible by using this more sophisticated PR work rather than ban[ning] them," says Xiao.

Like Tibet, the presence of foreign reporters triggered a brave protest staged for their cameras. A group of about 200 women surged out of a market demanding the release of detained male relatives. For a moment, violence looked inevitable, but security forces stepped back. It was reminiscent of events in the Jorkang Temple in Lhasa when weeping monks burst in on the foreign press. Whatever the cost to the demonstrators, an unscripted moment was still a major embarrassment for the government.

Beijing has also used the Lhasa experience as a template to shape the message to its main audience, which is domestic. Official media depicts the rioters as thugs rather than people with political grievances. The approach is first to accuse a foreign-based exile group (in this case, the World Uighur Council) of inciting unrest and second to highlight the brutal violence between the region's two main ethnic groupsˇXUighurs, who make up half of Xinjiang's population and speak a Turkic language, and China's national majority, the Han. At the same time, state media ignores the role of the security forces in the body count.

Journalists on hospital visits have been shown Han Chinese with serious head wounds from beatings, and also Uighurs with bullet wounds. Yet the official Xinhua news agency's coverage has given most of its coverage to beatings of Han Chinese by Uighur rioters, such as taxi driver Zhao, who says he was assaulted by a baton-waving crowd of 20 who "beat me badly." The president of the People's Hospital said 233 of the 291 victims taken there were Han Chinese, while 39 were Uighur and some were from other minorities, according to Xinhua. The presence of Hui Muslims, another ethnic minority, among the victims highlights Muslim-on-Muslim violence, a tactic that could limit sympathy for Uighur separatists and undermine the claims of rights groups in the Arab world.

Another tried-and-true technique follows the script used in Tibet: Beijing has blamed exiled businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer for the violence. Kadeer, who heads a Washington-based confederation of exile organizations scattered through the U.S., Germany, Britain, and Australia, denies involvement. The provincial government has said "violence ˇK was instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country." Similar florid language was applied to the Dalai Lama after the Lhasa riots; he was described as a "jackal in monk's robes." The official media "is very unified," says Xiao. "They all point to Rebiya Kadeer, they all have the same narrative, there's no independent reportingˇXit's a very highly controlled version of the story."

A final piece of spin targets the Uighur population directly and hints that the CCP feels it needs to address Uighur grievances. The Urumqi riot began when Uighur factory workers thousands of miles away in Guangdong province were falsely accused of raping Han women by a disgruntled former workmate. A fight broke out, killing two Uighurs and injuring more than 100. Since Urumqi's protest erupted, the government's Uighur-language TV channel has carried a statement from Xinjiang provincial government chairman Nur Bekri promising "strenuous efforts" to investigate the killings in Guangdong. On Tuesday, Xinhua also reported 13 arrests over the false allegations. This attempt at redress segments the message. Awareness of local grievances is aired on regional TV in the Uighur language, while the wider message of Uighur thuggery plays to a receptive national audience. Prejudice against Uighurs often portrays them as violent criminals. "There's this stereotype of Uighurs, that they're thieves or ˇK involved in the drug trade," says Prof. Barry Sautman, a specialist on China's ethnic policies at Hong Kong's Science and Technology University.

To be sure, the CCP can't answer every uncomfortable development. Whereas the Dalai Lama has raised Tibet's profile over many years, the Xinjiang riots threaten to highlight a previously obscure ethnic issue. Critics of China's treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority had already made headway in the U.S., which is still searching for a country willing to accept 14 Uighurs released from Guantánamo Bay. (U.S. judges agreed with the detainees' lawyers that they risked execution if sent back to China, where the courts deal harshly with anyone suspected of opposing Beijing's rule over Xinjiang, whose 10 million Uighurs make up half the region's population and speak a language close to Turkish.) With 1,434 fresh Uighur detainees, China puts itself back in the cross hairs of international human-rights groups. Beijing may have learned spin doctoring, but it's unlikely to buy the adage that there's no such thing as bad press.

(Bloomberg News)  Protestors March in China's Urumqi City with Machetes.  By John Liu.  July 7, 2009.

An estimated 100 men were seen marching today with knives and machetes in Urumqi, capital city of Chinaˇ¦s westernmost province Xinjiang and scene of the countryˇ¦s most violent ethnic clashes in more than a year.

An estimated 100 ethnic-Han men marched along Jiefang Road in downtown Urumqi at about 3 p.m., urging construction workers on both sides of the thoroughfare to throw them sticks and bricks to use as weapons. Earlier today, scores of ethnic-Uighur women marched to protest against police detention of their relatives after a July 5 riot left 156 people dead.

Han Chinese make up more than 90 percent of Chinaˇ¦s 1.3 billion people and are accused by some Uighurs of colonizing Xinjiang and threatening their culture, more akin to central Asiaˇ¦s Turkic people. The Han make up about 40 percent of Xinjiangˇ¦s population of 21 million people. Most Uighurs are Muslims.

Uighur protesters smashed a police van this morning while they marched to demand the release of their relatives after the weekendˇ¦s clashes.

Ethnic-Han clerks at the Urumqi branch of Huaxia Bank Co. armed themselves with sticks and metal pipes, as they braced themselves for confrontation. At the Hai De Hotel across the road from Huaxia Bank, hotel security donned helmets and armed themselves with batons and shields.

Han marchers today tore down banners hanging by the roadside that exhorted residents to preserve social harmony in the city.

Some shops have closed their shutters today. Shopkeepers have started sealing their windows with duct tape to prevent them from being broken.

Police erected a blockade along the main road of the city, firing tear gas canisters to disperse marchers. Theyˇ¦ve cordoned off the main section of downtown Urumqi.

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(ChinaReviewNews)  Blood-soaked images: Evidence of crimes committed on July 5, 2009.   July 7, 2009.

(Telegraph)  Han Chinese mob takes to the streets in Urumqi in hunt for Uighur Muslims    Peter Foster.  July 7, 2009.

Thousands of Chinese protesters armed with axes, machetes and hammers have taken to the streets in Urumqi, Xinjiang, in an escalation of the violence that has claimed 156 lives so far. Police set up roadblocks and fired tear gas into the crowd of up to 10,000 people to prevent them reaching People's Square, the heart of the city. The Han Chinese protesters streamed down North Jiefang road and into the alleys behind a central mosque in a bid to hunt down any local Uighur Muslims.

Protesters said they were seeking revenge after hearing rumours that ethnic Uighurs had broken into Urumqi's hospitals and killed several patients. "We want revenge for our dead," the mob chanted, between choruses of the Chinese national anthem. Several groups in cars raced up and down the streets, with people hanging out of the windows.

One woman, armed with a five-foot wooden stake, said: "We heard from the television that Uighurs had killed hundreds of Han Chinese, including children. We cannot bear it anymore. We cannot live our lives in this city. We will show the Uighurs that the Han people can join our hands together also." Behind her, tear gas canisters skittled and exploded as the crowd waved red flags and shouted "Qian shou!" or "Hold your hands together!" Another man said: "We heard that some Uighurs had broken into the hospital and killed patients. Now we are helping the police to crush the separatists." Policemen used loudspeakers to urge the mob to "Calm down, don't smash buildings and back off. Let the police do their job." However the crowd showed little sign of dispersing. Waves of excitement rippled through the protesters as local shopkeepers and office workers cheered them on.

Chinese reports suggested the local Han Chinese, unhappy with the level of protection they had received from police, were now taking matters into their own hands.

The riots, which began when a peaceful protest by ethnic Uighurs spiralled out of control on Sunday, appear to be increasingly fuelled by wild rumours spread over the internet and by word of mouth. Local Uighurs said they had heard that Han Chinese factory workers in Guangdong had killed 600 Uighurs and chopped them into small pieces.  Others claimed that 400 Uighur women had been raped by Han Chinese.  "Our menfolk will never forgive this," said one Uighur woman.  Meanwhile, Han Chinese vented their fury over the internet. "Destroy the conspiracy, strike hard against these saboteurs, and strike even more fiercely than before," said a poster calling himself Chang Qing on Sina.com, one of the most popular portals. "The blood debt will be repaid. Han compatriots unite and rise up," said another commentator on Baidu.com, a search engine.

(Associated Press)  Curfew declared in restive Chinese region  By William Foreman.  July 7, 2009.

Chinese state media say that the government in the restive western region of Xinjiang has declared a curfew following the violence of recent days that has killed at least 156 people and paralyzed the main city of Urumqi. The official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday that the curfew from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Wednesday was needed to "avoid further chaos," according to Wang Lequan, Communist Party boss for Xinjiang. Xinhua said Wang had also called for avoiding confrontation between ethnic groups.

(Xinhua)  Fresh chaos erupts in Urumqi.  July 7, 2009.

Chaos was seen in a number of places in Urumqi Tuesday afternoon, nearly two days after a riot that killed 156 people. With clubs and knives, thousands of protesters marched along the Youhao Street and Guangming Street toward Erdaoqiao Road in downtown Urumqi Tuesday afternoon. The protesters, mostly Han Chinese, were shouting "protecting our home, protect our family members". Police armed with guns and shields guarded intersections.

A Xinhua reporter saw a police officer crying while he followed the march. Many of the protesters gathered at the Urumqi South Railway Station, Changjiang Road, Yangzijiang Road and some other places. People ran in panic and roadside shops were shut down.

Residents of some community compounds were holding bats for self-defense. "We will not hide up anymore. We will fight back if they (the rioters) come," said a man standing in front of a building in Shihezi.

Crowds of people rushed to the municipal people's hospital to take shelter. Many nurses were trying to call their relatives to make sure they are safe. An adult who was coughing up blood and a young man whose head was covered in blood were rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. The regional hospital of traditional Chinese medicine received about three Han Chinese with fresh wounds on their bodies in the afternoon, the president of the hospital told Xinhua.

Witnesses said a group of people gathering around an outlet of the Quanjude roast duck restaurant at Changjiang Road were beating a man at about 2 p.m. Police managed to stop the attack and rescued the man.

Someone drove a car into a police wagon during a standoff with police at Tuanjie Road at about 1:30 p.m.. Police have arrested a number of people. The number of arrests in the latest outburst is unknown at this time.

(The Guardian)  Riots in Urumqi, China

Al Jazeera interview with Rebiya Kadeer:

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(Los Angeles Times)  Han Chinese groups demand blood in revenge for deadly riots    By David Pierson and Barbara Demick.  July 7, 2009.

Reporting from Urumqi, China, and Beijing -- Thousands of Chinese, many wielding sticks, clubs and knives, marched today through Uighur neighborhoods of the northwestern city of Urumqi chanting "blood for blood'' and singing the Chinese national anthem.

Chinese police and paramilitaries deployed by the thousands struggled to contain escalating tensions in the worst outbreak of ethnic violence the country has seen in years. The marchers, who appeared to be ethnic Han, the majority in China, were demanding revenge for rioting by the Turkic-speaking Uighurs on Sunday in which 156 died.

``Let the government take care of this,'' pleaded a local Communist official, Li Zhi, who stood on top of a van, shouting through a bullhorn. When he continued, "Han and Uighurs need to live in harmony,'' the crowd jeered him.

Loud booms, which some witnesses said were tear-gas canisters, could be heard in the distance although it was unclear who they were directed against. Earlier in the day, Uighur women and children had marched in protest against the arrests of about 1,400 Uighur men.

By the afternoon, the streets of Urumqi -- a city of 2 million people that the Chinese government had extolled as a showpiece of ethnic harmony -- were gripped with an air of palpable fear. Families rushed, and stayed, indoors. Shopkeepers sent their employees home and barricaded storefront windows. Taxi drivers refused to pick up passengers.

Roving mobs of Han Chinese -- men, women and teenagers -- wandered the streets with weapons they had managed to pick up. A giggling teenage girl carried a board with a rusty nail protruding from it. A middle-aged woman wielded a chair frame. Others held cleavers, baseball bats, and garden hoses.

The escalating violence belies China's claim of having quickly subdued the violence, which began Sunday afternoon after what was supposed to be a peaceful march by Uighurs about discrimination in the workplace. The Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic people, predominantly Muslims, who claim what the Chinese call Xinjiang as their traditional homeland and often bristle at Chinese rule.

(Times Online)  Chinese Han mob marches for revenge against Uighurs after rampage   By Jane Macartney.  July 7, 2009.

Thousands of Han Chinese roamed the streets of the western city of Urumqi today looking for vengeance after Sunday's deadly riots as China's leaders struggled to regain control of the country's only Muslim-majority region. Men and women of all ages, girls in high heels and young men in smart white shirts, brandished wooden staves, billiard cues, iron bars and even machetes as they surged towards the main city bazaar. They were determined to attack the business heart of the Muslim Uighur minority blamed for the carnage in which 156 were killed and more than 800 injured.

The streets were lined with black-clad riot police and thousands of paramilitaries in camouflage and bulletproof vests who barred the mob's way to the central market. Occasional bursts of tear gas failed to deter the angry crowd.

At one point the Urumqi Communist Party secretary, the most senior official in the Xinjiang capital, climbed on to the roof of a Landcruiser to address the mob. Li Zhi used a megaphone to respond to shouts of "punish the killers". He said: "I have heard what you want and we will do this. We will punish them severely." The crowd shouted back: "Words are not enough." Li replied: "But you are behaving in just the same way as they behaved. Please go home. Thank you." A huge roar erupted from the mob, who turned away, beating their sticks on the road as they made their way down People's Road in search of another entry to the market. One angry Han shouted at a foreign reporter: "Don't speak to foreigners. Foreigners get out." He then referred to the exiled Uighur leader whom the Government blames for inciting Sunday's unrest. "Rebiya Kadeer is Osama."

Many of those in the crowd complained that the Government had been too restrained in its response to Sunday's violence, most of the victims of which appear to have been Han Chinese cut down by Uighurs armed with knives. One young man in his twenties carrying a wooden stave said: "The Government is far too soft. They don't dare to go out even though a hundred people have been killed." He said that his parents run a shop that had not been damaged but many neighbours' properties had been. "We donˇ¦t feel safe. We have to protect ourselves."

Several times the crowd were halted by police cordons blocking roads to sensitive government buildings. As they marched they chanted in unison: "Stand up! Stand up!", "Strength comes from unity", "Protect Xinjiang!" and "We Han must unite together". The police stood firm. Those in the second line of the cordon were armed with crossbows, although it was not clear what the bows were designed to fire. One man told The Times: "There is an order not to use firearms."

Earlier, about 300 Uighurs confronted riot police to demand the release of family members they said had been arbitrarily arrested in the crackdown after the weekend's bloodshed. Offiicials say 1,434 people have been arrested. One woman, Maliya, said: ˇ§My husband was taken away yesterday by police. They didn't say why. They just took him away." Another girl described how her teenage brother was grabbed from his bed in a midnight police raid. Abdul Ali, a Uighur man in his twenties who had taken off his shirt, held up his clenched fist. "They've been arresting us for no reason and it's time for us to fight back." He said three of his brothers as well as a sister had been among the suspects taken into police custody for questioning over the riots. Local residents complained that police were making indiscriminate sweeps of Uighur areas.

Scuffles and fights broke out when the Uighurs advanced on the police carrying clubs, just as journalists were being escorted to the area to see the damage inflicted on the city in the rampage by Uighurs protesting against Beijing rule at the weekend. The police backed away, apparently to prevent an escalation of violence, and the crowd gradually dispersed.

Hours earlier, Wang Lequan, the Communist Party boss of Xinjiang, said that the unrest had been quelled. However, he warned that "this struggle is far from over".

The streets of Urumqi, which is nearer Tehran than Beijing, were almost deserted except for the mobs of Han Chinese. At one point the tensions spilled over. On a street near the cityˇ¦s main Peopleˇ¦s Square, paramilitary police in bulletproof vests had forced two Uighurs face down on the ground, their hands behind their necks. Angry crowds of Han men shouted and tried to reach them. The police bundled them into a small van. Several Han then attacked the bus with their sticks, trying to beat the two men with their staves through the open windows. They were pulled back by the police who drove the two Uighur men to safety.

The Government has declared a three-day holiday since the riot on Sunday, the deadliest single day of social violence in China since the 1989 crackdown on student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

(Washington Post)  Ethnic Clashes Continue in Chinese Region.  By Ariana Eunjung CHa.  July 7, 2009.

Chaos and panic spread throughout the capital of the far western region of Xinjiang on Tuesday, two days after ethnic clashes between the region's Muslim Uighur minority and the dominant Han Chinese in the city's bazaar left over 150 dead and more than 1,000 injured. Despite the ubiquitous presence of police and paramilitary troops, security checkpoints, the closure of mosques, a curfew, and the detention of over 1400 people the government deemed instigators of the rioting over the weekend, pockets of unrest broke out all over the central part of city.

In the early morning, a group of several hundred mostly female Uighur protesters in headscarves gathered to demand that their husbands and brothers who had been detained be released and their dead accounted for. Midday, Uighur and Han Chinese men traded blows at the train station until riot police dispersed them with tear gas. In the late afternoon, hundreds of Han Chinese men armed with everyday items such as kitchen knives, shovels, hammers, and pipes began smashing Uighur food stalls and stores and headed to a local mosque.

At around the same time, the No. 2 People's Hospital was under siege as protesters demanding the bodies of the dead, which have not yet been released to the families, clashed with police who fired warning shots at the crowd.

Zhao Zongyu, a 45-year-old a shoe seller who is Han Chinese said on Tuesday he witnessed dozens of Han Chinese beating up about 5 young Uighurs for the simple reason that the attackers felt they were being "too happy and arrogant." He said he was worried that some of his Han Chinese colleagues believe it is time to payback the Uighur rioters for the damage caused on July 5. "I beat you and you beat me. I don't know when the revenge will finish. This is the big problem facing all of us," Zhao said.

Witnesses reported casualties in Tuesday's clashes but the local government did not immediately say how many had been injured or killed, if any.

The continuing violence underscored the extent of the mistrust between Uighurs and Han Chinese and how close to another major bloody clash the city remains. The clash on Sunday was set off by a vicious rumor that led to the death of two Uighurs from Xinjiang in southern China where they were working at a toy factory. A Han Chinese man who had been upset about Uighurs taking his job posted on the Internet that some Uighur men had raped two Han Chinese women -- setting off a fight in the factory's dormitories.

In a sign of how far the ripple effects of the violence in Urumqi are reaching, protests broke out in Kashgar, Yili and Aksu and other major cities in Xinjiang. At the Chinese embassy in Amsterdam, demonstrators threw stones and eggs and burned a Chinese flag and at the Chinese consulate in Munich, tossed "combustibles" at the front gate. A third international protest was planned for Tuesday at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Chinese government's propaganda has sought to downplay any role government troops had in the killings and instead have focused on violence by rioters against Han Chinese. In one segment repeatedly aired by the state-run CCTV station, a Han Chinese woman is shown bleeding on a street as Uighur men throw bricks at her. Local officials have declined to release the full ethnic breakdown of the dead and injured by have said that at one hospital, the People's Hospital, 233 of the 291 victims were Han, 39 were Uighur and the rest were from other ethnic groups.

On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman described the Uighur protest as "evil." While this news has exacerbated fear and anger in Han Chinese, it has infuriated Uighurs -- a number of whom say that the Chinese government is trying to manipulate the story of violence that was caused by jittery soldiers shooting at what had for hours been a peaceful protest. One Uighur man in Urumqi who asked that his name not be used because he feared arrest said that police have cordoned off Uighur neighborhoods and have been raiding homes to arrest people at random.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the Sweden-based World Uyghur Congress, said that his organization believes 200 Uighurs died in the violence but that the number may rise because "it takes time for us to identify the bodies as many of them are not recognizable." He also accused Chinese soldiers of taking some of the bodies and hiding them.

At lunchtime on Tuesday at one end of the Uighur quarter, where stores and restaurants had just reopened, things looked almost normal with people running their daily errands when at around 1:50 p.m. word spread through phone calls, text messages and people driving past in cars that "The Han are coming!" Within minutes, the place was empty as entire blocks of people ran in different directions. On a bridge in a Han area a half hour later, people began to flee when a man raced across and shouted, "The Uighurs are coming!"

On Changjiang Street, a mostly Han cluster of shops located in between the train station and the Grand Bazaar where the rioting took place on Sunday, thousands of men and women of all ages stood with weapons on the streets in the afternoon after the local government ordered their stores closed in an effort to headoff any violence.

In one cluster of about a dozen people, one man stood banging his stick on the ground talking about how some Han Chinese beat up three Uighur and that "If we see Uighur people we will beat them -- except the women." The others cheered. Lin Dengguan, 45, a Han Chinese businessman who sells jewelry and has lived in Urumqi for 15 years and was standing nearby agreed that "If the armed police weren't around, mobs would be beating more Uighurs."

Not everyone was armed for an offensive attack.

As they waited on the street for someone to take them home, two siblings -- a woman armed with a wooden stick and the brother with a shovel and a box cutter -- warily scanned the street for signs of unrest as they waited for someone to pick them up. "You can't say all Uighurs are bad, but some are cruel. You have to protect yourself and your family," said the 21-year-old college graduate who asked that only their last name, Li, be used to protect them from possible retaliation.

A group of fierce looking young Han Chinese men shouting "Unite together," "Protect our country and our home," "Anti-violence, anti-separatism" marched through the streets and at first headed to the Grand Bazaar and Uighur businesses. When they were stopped by paramilitary forces, they turned a different direction towards a mosque. There they dispersed before any violence began after several men broke ranks and said that enough is enough.

The official New China News Agency reported that this display of pride and force was so powerful that a police officer was crying as he followed the march. aaaaaaaa

(BBC News)  In pictures: Xinjiang protests go on    July 7, 2009.

(Caijing)  Traffic control imposed in Urumqi tonight.  July 7, 2009.

(in translation)

Based upon the unstable situation in Urumqi, the Chinese Communist Party Central Political Bureau member and XUAR party secretary Wang Lequan said on television on July 7 that full traffic control will be imposed in Urumqi from 9pm to 8am.

An English-language Xinhua report at 5am was the first to announce this information.  In his televised speech, Wang Lequan asked all department leaders to go to the frontlines and mobilize the family relatives of their works back to their homes as opposed to furthering ethnic divisiveness in the streets.

...

A second Caijing reporter arrived at the Urumqi airport at 1:40pm on July 7.  The plane landed normally and the airport was in an orderly state.  But as soon as the reporter entered the city, trouble was apparent.  Almost no taxis were willing to go into the city.  Since certain roads were either blocked or considered dangerous, several taxis took their passengers back to the airport.

Two hours later, a taxi driver drove the reporter to the train station but no further.  At this time, the airport and the train station were major areas of attention and therefore the police presence was strong.

But in the absence of transportation, many people can only wait anxiously in the train station, including women with children.  Many armed policemen were patrolling the area, some of them being equipped with tear-gas rifles.

The Caijing reporter also noticed that certain Han citizens were walking down the streets in a group, carrying sticks.  Upon information, many neighborhoods have formed self-defense groups.

Virtually no Uighurs can be seen on the major streets.  Most of those seen were Han citizens.  The reporter saw construction workers wearing safety helmets and carrying steel bars.  There was also a Han girl leading a big dog for protection.

According to information, several thousand Han people gathered in the People's Plaza around noon.  The city party secretary Li Zhi spoke to these citizens and he asked them to exercise restraint.  He said that the government will try to calm things down as soon as possible and restore normal life to the city.

In order to avoid further chaos, the government finally decided to impose full traffic control on the night of July 7.

(Caijing Urumqi Sweeps Up after Deadly Rioting    July 7, 2009.

Armed security forces and police were patrolling the Urumqi airport when Caijing reporters arrived early July 7, two days after bloody rioting rocked the city. Downtown, streets that usually bustle with people well into the night were nearly empty. And as the sun rose, the city appeared peaceful. Crowds soon returned to the streets ˇV but not rioters. These were people rushing to work. Yet many stores remained closed.

Urumqi authorities held a midday press conference after up to 60 Uighur women and children gathered on the streets, claiming police had detained their male relatives. Li Zhi, secretary of the Urumqi Communist Party Committee, said the men had been arrested for involvement in the riot, adding police would protect the rights of the women and children.

Meanwhile, police vehicles regularly rolled down streets, although residents said the police presence had fallen since the height of the unrest, which left 156 people dead, including 129 men and 27 women, as well as 1,080 injured, according to Li Yi, publicity director for the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's committee of the Communist Party.

Two auto dealerships on Dawan South Road were in shambles. Every car and car part had been burned, and shattered glass covered the ground. One dealership owner told Caijing that many unidentified people had broken in during the riot, set fire to the cars and smashed the store. Two employees were beaten. Another victim of the violence was Yang Zhaosheng, a 51-year-old migrant worker from Sichuan Province. He shook nervously while describing the riot scene but he said he would stay in Urumqi, after finding a safer place to work.

Sporadic unrest was reportedly continuing downtown. City authorities controlled traffic in selected areas between 9 p.m. July 6 and 8 a.m. July 7. Internet access was blocked to cut ties between foreign hostile political and religious forces and the domestic mobs, and prevent any attempts at another coordinated riot, according to a statement from the information office of the government of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xinjiang police had been informed that riots were being plotted in the cities of Kashgar, Yili and Aksu. Police dispersed about 200 people gathered outside a mosque in Kashgar at about 6 p.m. July 6 and set up checkpoints along a road between the airport and commercial areas, according to Xinhua.

Li, the party spokesman, said police had detained 1,434 suspects in Urumqi for alleged involvement in the unrest. They included 1,379 males and 55 females under investigation for crimes including murder, looting and arson.

(DPA)  Taiwan condemns China's suppression of riots in Xinjiang   July 7, 2009.

Taiwan's opposition party and civic groups condemned China's bloody suppression of the riots in Xinjiang Tuesday, warning the same could happen in Taiwan once Beijing gains control over the island. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) issued a statement condemning China's crackdown which has left at least 156 dead, more than 1,000 injured and more than 1,000 arrested.

"This is the repeat of the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 and reveals China's true colors. If President Ma Ying-jeou leads Taiwan to unification with China, such bloody suppression could happen in Taiwan," DPP lawmaker Tsai Tong-jong said. Tsai said China's recent arrest of dissident Liu Xiaobo, its plan to introduce internet-filtering software and the suppression of Uigurs proves China has not improved its human rights. "President Ma should not remain silent. He must issue a statement denouncing the suppression in Xinjiang," DPP's acting spokesman Chuang Shuo-han said. But Ma does not plan to issue any statement. "It should be handled by the Mainland Affairs Council," presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said.

Taiwan's pro-Tibet organization, Friends of Tibet, issued a statement in support of the minority Uighur in western China. Though different in each case, China has launched a campaign to crash the separatist forces in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang to prevent hem from seeking independence. "For a long time, China has been suppressing and exploiting people who are not Han, the largest ethnic group in China, pushing their cultures to the edge of extinction. The riot in Xinjiang is the tip of the iceberg," it said. The group demanded China respect minority ethnic groups' ways of life and abandon Beijing's colonialists' thinking.

Wu'er Kaixi, one of the student leaders in the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Beijing, also condemned China's handling of the riots in Xinjiang. Wu'er Kaixi is a Uighur but grew up in Beijing. He fled to France after the Tiananmen Massacre, married a Taiwanese student while studying in the US and has settled down in Taiwan. "Some Taiwanese, after having visited China and met with Chinese leaders a few times, came back thinking they understand China. They praise China's reforms and improvement in human rights. China's suppression of the riots in Xinjiang should wake them up," he said on cable TV channel FTV.

(Xinhua)  Journalists from more than 60 overseas media come to Urumqi after riot    July 7, 2009.

More than 60 overseas media have sent journalists to Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang region, after a riot broke out in the city Sunday, leaving 156 people dead and 1,080 others injured. "We disclosed information shortly after the incident. We welcome domestic and overseas journalists to come and see what happened," Hou Hanmin, deputy head of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang regional committee, said Tuesday. "As long as security can be guaranteed, we will try our best to arrange interviews," the official said, adding the country was moving ahead on information disclosure.

Sixty overseas news media and 80 domestic news media organizations attended a press conference Tuesday afternoon, at which the Urumqi mayor said identification of the dead in the riot is underway.

"The government adopts a much more open attitude toward the media after the incident, compared with that after the March 14 unrest in Tibet and the Sichuan earthquake last year," said Ted Plasker in fluent Chinese. He is a journalist with The Economist who has been in China since 1989. "I saw tight security and very little traffic in the city," said Plasker, who arrived in Urumqi Monday afternoon. I have been to the scene and the hospitals. It's horrible to see the people drenched in blood and the shattered shops. Many people who had been attacked told me they did not understand why it happened."

Plasker said he himself wanted to know why such a violent riot had happened. "Some places in the city were surrounded by policemen and traffic control could be seen," he said. "But I understand it's for our safety."

Choi Yoo Sik, a journalist from South Korean daily Choson Ilbo, said the Chinese government was very open on the incident. "We foreign journalists can interview anybody, Han or Uygur. I have got enough information for my stories." However, when speaking about the situation in the street, he frowned and said, "it is still dangerous at the moment."

Urumqi authorities have opened a news center, equipped with more than 50 computers with Internet access, to both Chinese and foreign journalists since Monday afternoon.

(Sydney Morning Herald)  Crowd vents fury at police after bloodshed    John Garnault.  July 7, 2009.

CHINA'S far-western Xinjiang province was again at flashpoint last night after a large crowd of distraught Uygur women carrying their babies confronted riot police in the heart of the provincial capital, Urumqi.

About 100 women in traditional Uygur dress and headscarves openly defied Chinese police - many carrying revolvers, rifles and tear-gas guns - to punch their fists in the air and demand the release of their sons and husbands, who they said had been beaten by police and taken to unknown destinations. "Release our husbands, free our sons," chanted the women in the Uygur language. The crowd was swelled by hundreds of local residents who at one stage were beaten back by riot police with batons. Further bloodshed was narrowly averted - directly in front of the Herald - when a small group of Uygur men held back the crowd when it coalesced in a line to advance on riot police who were brandishing batons and advancing on them.

The line of riot police was engaged in a violent skirmish before being ordered to retreat. Later, senior police officers shouted amid the mayhem to restrain their troops, many of whom were armed and visibly angry. A teenage Uygur boy next to me picked up a brick, broke it in half on the kerbside and moved to throw it at police before being persuaded to drop it.

Yesterday's extraordinary protests were fuelled by unconfirmed rumours that police had opened fire in a nearby area on Sunday night, killing many, and that mass arrests were continuing late yesterday. The majority of protesters appeared beyond caring about their own physical safety despite, or perhaps because of, Xinjiang's recent history of protesters and rioters being met with brutal police reprisals.

The Chinese Government said 156 people were killed on Sunday night, mainly in Urumqi, by far the biggest officially acknowledged death toll from any civil unrest since the massacre in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago.

One Uygur onlooker told the Herald he had seen police shooting protesters on Sunday night - he said hundreds had been killed - but the Herald was been unable to verify any of the claims. Yesterday's protests began about 11am local time, and within 30 minutes police separated the protesting men and chased them down an adjacent lane.

The women and children remained to stage a sit-in on the bitumen of Dawen South Road, sandwiched between approaching lines of armed police in military camouflage and riot police with loaded tear gas canisters. One young man who had incited the crowd was taken away in handcuffs but the Herald witnessed no further arrests. The women were leaving the scene about 11.45am when the Herald and other foreign journalists were asked to leave.

The incident appeared to have been inadvertently triggered and then constrained by the presence of foreign journalists who had been taken there by bus by the Government. The tour had been intended to display the damage to burnt out car yards from Sunday and show that the tension was under control. Before the protests, a worker at the Geely car yard, who gave his name as Mr Xi, showed bruises on his arm and abdomen from rioters who swept through the area on Dawan South Road on Sunday night.

"I was protecting the yard with about 10 others when a couple of Uygurs entered," he said. "I thought I could stop them but they chased me into the basement, where I hid under cars. But they dragged me out and beat me before I escaped back under the car again. I couldn't see clearly - I was covering my head - but I was beaten with sticks, rocks and other objects." He said there were about 600 or 700 people in the crowd on Sunday night. While the Herald interviewed him, before yesterday's protests, police shouted at Uygurs to disperse as I approached them, making it difficult to report their side of the story.

One young Uygur man, Atili, showed me a large bruise on his arm, which he said he received on Monday afternoon when police beat him while he was attempting to sell naan bread on the side of the road. I asked if he had seen TV footage of the riots and he replied: "Our electricity has been cut off; we have not been allowed out even to get food." Other Uygurs confirmed they were hungry and had not been allowed out since Sunday, even though the official police curfew applies only at night.

The short guided tour of Dawan South Road confirmed beyond doubt that large numbers of Xinjiang's Uygurs, who comprise nearly half the autonomous region's population, are fed up with decades of what they say is political, economic and physical repression under the tight leash of the Chinese Communist Party.

The cycles of protests, police violence, riots and further police repression have not ended. Yesterday at 3.20pm more than a thousand angry Chinese vigilantes marched down the road outside the Haide Hotel and past the People's Square, one of Urumqi's most heavily guarded areas. They were all armed with heavy, metre-long wooden and metal poles and some carried large carving knives. "I've volunteered to protect the streets," said one man, carrying a wooden pole. An elderly man chanted: "Protect the fruits of development." After marching for four blocks the vigilante crowd was dispersed with tear gas, according to witnesses.

(Forbes.com)  China Embraces The 24-Hour News Cycle    By Gady Epstein.  July 7, 2009.

As Chinese police in Urumqi gave foreign journalists a rare up-close display Tuesday of how they can control a mob, Chinese leaders were also showing all of us what they have learned about how they can control information. And how they can't.

The Communist Party understands that although it can block Twitter and cut off mobile communications to a hot spot like Urumqi--as it has done in the wake of Sunday's riots--it can no longer prevent a big story from getting out to the rest of the country and the world. So officials put out their own story right away, immediately invited foreign journalists to Xinjiang and let nationalist Chinese netizens (some of whom are on the payroll) do much of the rest for them, spinning the news online.

In public relations speak, they set out to define the story before the story defined them. What is remarkable about this is that Party leaders were able to act so promptly and so decisively on multiple fronts: the comprehensive security lockdown, the timely (if terse) official news reports, the Internet and communications controls, the deft handling of foreign media. The government was ready to handle a PR crisis with a sophisticated authoritarian strategy, and clearly has been crafting this strategy since the disastrous handling of the Tibet unrest last year.

Virtually everything substantive about the government's reaction to the Urumqi protests is a replay of Tibet, only now at broadband speed. The government moved swiftly to put down Sunday's protests with an overwhelming show of force and more than 1,000 arrests, and state media shortly reported a death toll of 129 (now higher) and cast the story as mostly Uighur violence against Han Chinese. The government blamed separatists and foreign interests for stirring the trouble, naming and vilifying a ringleader, the exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, who has disavowed any role in the Xinjiang protests. And the government invited the foreign media to come look for itself.

All of this happened after Tibet, but not in the 24-hour news cycle. By the time the government got around to executing a media strategy, it was too late to control the damage. Western media accounts, some erroneous, had established the story for the outside world. Ironically, the one early foreign report that best made China's case was from the lone Western journalist who happened actually to be in Lhasa when the violence erupted. Chinese officials took note, and that may well be why foreign journalists were welcomed in Urumqi just one day after the protests.

Now that Communist Party leaders have embraced the 24-hour news cycle, will they come to regret it? I suspect not. Domestically, the government still tightly controls its message, and has little to worry about from its mostly Han Chinese audience. Internationally, crisis PR works in your favor especially when you have a reasonable storyline to push, and for now the reports coming out of Urumqi indicate that many of the killed and injured Sunday were Han Chinese and, as state media reported, "innocent victims" of rioters.

That doesn't change the fact that Uighurs have legitimate grievances against Chinese government policies, and as in Tibet, it doesn't appear that Chinese officials feel moved to address the root causes of ethnic unrest in Xinjiang. The foreign media will continue to report that angle of the story, regardless of how the government spins it. Accounts of a menacing Han response in Urumqi Tuesday also will not sit well with authorities, as ethnic tensions threaten to escalate out of control while the cameras are rolling.

It will be interesting to see, though, if granting access to foreign journalists results in more sympathetic coverage overall, helping the Communist Party to avert a public relations catastrophe months before celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic. This is what PR professionals at firms such as Ogilvy and Hill & Knowlton have tried to impress upon Chinese officials in seminars conducted in more serene times: Being customer-friendly pays dividends. We'll find out soon enough if they're right.

(Spiegel)  Chants of 'Death to Uighurs' Echo Around Urumqi   By Andreas Lorenz.  July 7, 2009.

Women are crying, civilians have armed themselves with clubs and axes. Fear and chaos rule in Urumqi. The Han Chinese are bent on revenge on the Uighurs and the police are struggling to keep order.

All of a sudden, Urumqi is a city of wooden clubs. Everyone has one, men and women, police and civilians, Uigurs and Han Chinese. They all want to protect themselves -- the Han Chinese from the Uighurs, the Uighurs from the Han Chinese, the civilians fear the police and vice versa.

In the searing midday heat a leaden calm has descended on the capital of Xinjiang, the remote province in northwestern China.

On Friendship Street, a broad boulevard, shops are shuttered and groups of people have gathered in the entrances. Uniformed guards and civilians are wielding clubs, some even have axes.

All seem to be bracing for new demonstrations by the Uighurs but then it becomes clear who they're afraid of. Suddenly groups of Han Chinese march through the streets in increasing numbers.

They too are armed with clubs and iron bars. Most of them are young men but there are women in the crowd too. Some are chanting "Death to the Uighurs." They are bent on revenge for the violence of the past few days.

Some 200 of them are marching towards a mosque. Uighur women flee into a courtyard followed by the crowd. Windows shatter in a hail of stones. Military trucks and police cars arrive. Soldiers cordon off the mosque. Police with loudspeakers urge the crowd to disperse. "Please leave, thank you for your cooperation."

After another volley of stones, the demonstrators obey. The party chief of Urumqi, Li Zhi, climbs on the roof of a police car and urges people to stay calm. His words, it seems, have an effect, for now.

Earlier, even trained riot police using tear gas had failed to disperse Han Chinese protestors who were attacking businesses owned by Uighurs. The demonstrators had broken through a police line separating the two warring ethnic groups.

The provincial government of Xinjiang has imposed a curfew to restore order. All inhabitants in the province must remain in their homes between 9 p.m. local time (1 p.m. CET) and 8 a.m.

Police Powerless Against Crowds

But despite the orders of the city's party chief, despite the hastily imposed curfew, the clashes with security forces continue into the early evening. The police, demonstratively beating their shields with their truncheons, are met with shouts from the crowd. Military convoys race through the city with sirens blaring. In the press center on People's Square, imams condemn the violence.

The Urumqi city government has allowed foreign journalists to visit the city. That's in marked contrast to the handling of the Tibetan crisis last year when the city of Lhasa was sealed off. Authorities in Urumqi want to show the world how violently the "Uighur terrorists" are rampaging.

There are no international phone connections and it's impossible at times to make phone calls within the city. A total of 156 people have died in the riots, two senior officials say, more than 800 have been injured and some 1,000 people have been arrested. Authorities cancel a planned press tour to see some injured people in hospital.

"Everything happened so suddenly," says Mrs. Qian. She had sold Geely autombiles until Sunday afternoon when a mob burnt down her two car stores on 166 Dawan South Street. She doesn't know why the protestors attacked her business. She isn't a Uighur but she belongs to the Hui minority, which is another Muslim ethnic group. She's fingering a red sales banner, the only thing that remains of her business. Everything else is gone.

In the street, soldiers squat down between military trucks and armored vehicles. But then the journalist trip backfires for the authorities.

'Nobody Protects Us'

In a side street reporters come across crying and screaming Uighur women who are stretching clenched fists into the air. On Monday their husbands and sons were "arbitrarily" beaten up and taken away by police, the women say. "One old woman was beaten," they say. "They even took an eight-year-old boy."

Men complain that the Uighurs are discriminated against. There are two laws, says one man with a long black beard. "Nobody protects us."

The atmosphere grows increasingly tense. Finally some 150 women in headscarves march onto the main street. They are quickly encircled by green-uniformed officers from the armed People's Police and by the normal police in black uniforms. Water cannon and armored vehicles arrive, and some policemen have drawn their pistols. There's screaming and pushing and then the women disappear into the side alley. The reporters are pushed away by police.

A little later authorities confirm the arrest of "around a hundred people" in this area. All are under suspicion of arson, plunder, assault and destruction, officials say. But women and children are of course protected by the authorities, they add.

(New York Times)  New Protests in Western China After Deadly Clashes    By Edward Wong.  July 7, 2009.

Rival protesters took to the streets again on Tuesday, defying Chinese government efforts to lock down this regional capital of 2.3 million people and other places across its western desert region after bloody clashes between Muslim Uighurs and security forces that were mostly Han Chinese. The fighting, which erupted Sunday evening, left at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded, according to the state news agency.

Paramilitary forces fired tear gas Tuesday at Han Chinese protesters armed with clubs, lead pipes, shovels and meat cleavers. The mob was trying to reach this cityˇ¦s Uighur enclave in the afternoon to exact revenge for Han civilians killed in the rioting on Sunday, when the Uighurs had rampaged through parts of the city.

In an attempt to contain Chinaˇ¦s worst ethnic violence in decades, the authorities had imposed curfews, cut off cellphone and Internet services and sent armed police officers into neighborhoods after the first riot, but protesters massed across the city as rumors spread of fresh violence being committed by both sides.

In the morning, hundreds of Uighur protesters crashed a state-run tour of the riot scene that had been arranged by the authorities for foreign and Chinese journalists. A wailing crowd of women, joined later by scores of Uighur men, marched down a wide avenue Tuesday with raised fists, tearfully demanding the release of Uighur men who they said had been seized from their homes after the violence Sunday. Some women waved the identification cards of men who had been detained. As journalists watched, the demonstrators smashed the windshield of a police car, and several police officers drew their pistols before the entire crowd was encircled by officers and paramilitary troops in riot gear. ˇ§A lot of ordinary people were taken away by the police,ˇ¨ said a weeping, 13-year-old protester named Qimanguli who wore a white T-shirt and a black headscarf. She said her 19-year-old brother was detained on Monday, long after the riots had ended.

The initial confrontation on Tuesday later ebbed to a tense standoff in a Uighur neighborhood pocked with burned-out homes and an automobile sales lot torched during the Sunday riots. About 100 protesters, mostly women, some carrying infants, confronted riot police officers in black body armor and helmets who had tear-gas launchers at the ready.

In midafternoon, however, thousands of furious Han Chinese armed with simple hand weapons marched from a central square, South Gate, toward the main Uighur neighborhood, where the riots had begun on Sunday. The first wave engaged in a brick-throwing battle with Uighurs who had taken to the rooftops of the neighborhood, while paramilitary troops watched. The troops later fired tear gas from cannons atop armored personnel carriers to push back the Han protesters.

Li Zhi, the head of the Communist Party in Urumqi, appeared at the South Gate plaza to beseech the protesters to go home. But his speech angered some of them even more, especially when he repeatedly yelled, ˇ§Strike down Rebiya!ˇ¨ ˇX a reference to Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman and human rights advocate in Washington whom the Chinese government blames for the Sunday rioting. At a railway station, a group of Uighur men also armed themselves with makeshift weapons threatened and chased down Han Chinese in the area, The Associated Press reported.

The bloodshed here, along with the Tibetan uprising last year, shows the extent of racial hostility that still pervades much of western China, fueled partly by economic disparity and by government attempts to restrict religious and political activity by minority groups.

The rioting had begun Sunday as a peaceful protest calling for a full government inquiry into an earlier brawl between Uighurs and Han Chinese at a factory in southern China in late June. It took place in the heart of Xinjiang, an oil-rich desert region where Uighurs are the largest ethnic group but are ruled by the Han, the dominant ethnic group in the country.

Protests spread Monday to the heavily guarded town of Kashgar, on Chinaˇ¦s western border, as 200 to 300 people chanting ˇ§God is greatˇ¨ and ˇ§Release the peopleˇ¨ confronted riot police officers about 5:30 p.m. in front of the cityˇ¦s yellow-walled Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China. They quickly dispersed when officers began arresting people, one resident said.

Internet social platforms and chat programs appeared to have unified Uighur anger over the way Chinese officials handled the brawl in June, thousands of miles away in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province. There, Han workers rampaged through a Uighur dormitory, killing at least two Uighurs and injuring many others, according to the state news agency, Xinhua. Police officers later arrested a resentful former factory worker who had ignited the fight by spreading a rumor that six Uighur men had raped two Han women at the site, Xinhua reported.

But photographs that appeared online after the battle showed people standing around a pile of bodies, leading many Uighurs to believe that the government was playing down the number of dead Uighurs. One Uighur student said the photographs began showing up on many Web sites about one week ago. Government censors repeatedly tried to delete them, but to no avail, he said. ˇ§Uighurs posted it again and again in order to let more people know the truth, because how painful is it that the government does bald-faced injustice to Uighur people?ˇ¨ said the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the government. A call for protests spread on Web sites and QQ, the most popular instant-messaging program in China, despite government efforts to block online discussion of the feud.

By Tuesday morning, more than 36 hours after the start of the protest, the police had detained more than 1,400 suspects, according to Xinhua. More than 200 shops and 14 homes had been destroyed in Urumqi, and 261 motor vehicles, mostly buses, had been burned, Xinhua reported, citing Liu Yaohua, the regional police chief. Police officers operated checkpoints on roads throughout Xinjiang on Monday. People at major hotels said they had no Internet access. Most people in the city could not use cellphones.

At the local airport, five scrawny young men wearing black, bulletproof vests and helmets stood outside the terminal, holding batons. The roadways leading into the city center were empty early on Tuesday, except for parked squad cars and clusters of armored personnel carriers and olive military trucks brimming with paramilitary troops. An all-night curfew was imposed.

Residents described the central bazaar in the Uighur enclave, where much of the rioting took place, as littered with the charred hulks of buses and cars. An American teacher in Urumqi, Adam Grode, and another foreigner said they had heard gunfire long after nightfall Sunday.

Chinese officials did not give a breakdown of the 156 deaths, and it was unclear how many of them were protesters and how many were other civilians or police officers. There were no independent estimates of the number of the death toll. At least 1,000 people took part in the initial protest on Sunday. Photographs online and video on state television showed wounded people lying in the streets, not far from overturned vehicles that had been set ablaze. Government officials gave journalists in Urumqi a disc with a video showing bodies strewn in the streets.

The officials also released a statement that laid the blame directly Ms. Kadeer. It said the World Uighur Congress, a group led by ˇ§the splittistˇ¨ Ms. Kadeer, ˇ§directly ignited, plotted and directed the violence using the Shaoguan incident in Guangdong.ˇ¨ The statement said bloggers first began calling for the protest on Saturday night and also used QQ and online bulletin boards to organize a rally at Peopleˇ¦s Square and South Gate in the Uighur quarter of Urumqi.  The World Uighur Congress rejected the accusations and said that it condemned ˇ§in the strongest possible terms the brutal crackdown of a peaceful protest of young Uighurs.ˇ¨ The group said in a statement on Monday that Uighurs had been subject to reprisals not only from Chinese security forces but also from Han Chinese civilians who attacked homes, workplaces or dormitories after the riots on Monday.

The violence on Sunday dwarfed in scale assaults on security forces last year in Xinjiang. It was deadlier, too, than any of the bombings, riots and protests that swept through the region in the 1990s and that led to a government clampdown.

Uighurs make up about half of the 20 million people in Xinjiang but are a minority in Urumqi, where Han Chinese dominate. The Chinese government has encouraged Han migration to many parts of Xinjiang, and Uighurs say that the Han tend to get the better jobs in Urumqi. The government also maintains tight control on the practice of Islam, which many Uighurs cite as a source of frustration. But an ethnic Han woman who lives in an apartment near the central bazaar said in a telephone interview that the government should show no sympathy toward the malcontents. ˇ§What they should do is crack down with a lot of force at first, so the situation doesnˇ¦t get worse, so it doesnˇ¦t drag out like in Tibet,ˇ¨ she said after insisting on anonymity. ˇ§Their mind is very simple. If you crack down on one, youˇ¦ll scare all of them. The government should come down harder.ˇ¨

(Telegraph)  Eyewitness: tensions high on the streets of Urumqi.  By Peter Foster.  July 7, 2009.

The phrase "harmonious coexistence" is a favourite of China's ruling Communist Party when it comes to describing inter-ethnic relations. But in the Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang the brittle façade of unity cracked for all the world to see.

Two days after 156 people were killed in a vicious outbreak of ethnic mob violence, the streets of the ancient Silk Road city of Urumqi hung thick with tear gas and poisonous rumours as two rival communities called openly for each other's blood.

On one side the Muslim Uighurs, the historic Turkic-origin people of China's far West, who claim that for the last 60 years they have suffered discrimination and oppression under by Beijing's heavy-handed rule.

On the other, the majority Han Chinese population who have migrated to Xinjiang as part of Beijing's policy of 'developing the West' and yesterday were openly despising their Uighur fellow-citizens as 'murderers', 'terrorists' and 'spongers'.

"Kill the Uighurs! Kill all Uighurs!" chanted a crowd of more than ten thousand Han that surged back and forth through the streets armed with any weapons that came to hand: there were claw-hammers and wrenches; axes and scaffolding poles; snooker cues and baseball bats.

Women and young boys were among the throng demanding vengeance for the deaths and injuries they say were inflicted on hundreds of Han people on Sunday night. "We can't live like this any more, we lock our doors at night and live in fear now," said a thickset Han woman holding a length of steel pipe, "the Uighurs will learn now that the Han people can also join forces. They must suffer too."

As she spoke, the streets were shaken by the explosion of tear gas grenades as police tried to prevent the crowd from storming a nearby Mosque, sending them running in the opposite direction, clanking like a medieval army as they dragged their homespun weapons after them.

"Didn't you hear, these Uighurs they chopped the heads off a hundred Han and left their bodies in the streets," volunteered a man wielding a table leg, "They killed even the small children, they are barbarians and the government must act to crush them now." Police and senior officials moved in to try and calm the crowd who demanded harsh punishment for Uighur rioters. The local Party-secretary, Li Zhi, risked his dignity by standing on the roof of a police car with a megaphone beseeching the crowd to go home.

"Punish the Uighurs! Punish the Uighurs!," the crowd chanted. "We will punish them harshly, now please go home" replied Mr Li, joining his hands in the Chinese symbol of a humble request. By early evening most had obeyed.

Although the authorities have declined to breakdown the dead on ethnic lines, reports of casualty lists from some hospitals and a gathering amount of eyewitness testimony suggest that many of the victims of Sunday's violence were indeed Han.

Yao Chengqing, a 42-year-old blanket shop owner from a mixed area of Urumqi was still swathed in bandages when he spoke to The Daily Telegraph, his shirt collar caked in now-brown blood that had spilt from a gash to the head.

"I went to pick up my wife from work on Sunday night at about 10.30pm and we were attacked by ten Uighurs," he said. "We never even spoke a word to them; they just attacked, beating us and screaming 'We hate the Han, we want to kill the Han'."

Mr Yao, who moved to Urumqi from the south western city of Chongqing ten years ago, added: "My wife is lying in hospital with 40 stitches and is blinded in one eye. She is too frightened to live here any more. I never thought I would see this day." However on the other side of this divided city, another story was being told that sought to explain the deep well of Uighur anger and resentment that appears to have found such brutal expression last Sunday night.

It began almost two weeks ago with reports that a Han Chinese mob had beaten a group of Uighur toy factory workers in the southern province of Guangdong and, crucially, had been allowed to get away with it.

In the Sai Ma Chang (Racetrack) District this was taken as another example of institutionalised Han favouritism against the Uighurs and soon the internet rumour mill was turning fact into fiction, feeding latent anger which is never far from the surface in Xinjiang.

"Didn't you hear? There were 4,000 Han people who chopped the heads off 600 Uighurs and then threw their body parts in the dustbin," said Gu Li, a 19-year-old student. "I heard there were videos on the internet. It's true." It is not, but the damage has already been done and now it seems that it will take long time for the wounds of Sunday's communal violence to heal.

On Monday night, Chinese police entered the Sai Ma Chang shanty and rounded up 100 suspects, bursting through doors and pulling men and boys from their beds, according to the Uighur women who took to the streets to protest yesterday.

They emerged from the dirty backstreets, wailing and beating their breasts, many clutching grubby-faced children dressed in the cheap clothes and holding up the identity cards of their arrested husbands, fathers and brothers.

Visibly poorer than the Han demonstrators roaming the other side of the city, the women in their headscarves swore vengeance on the ranks of police that quickly confronted them, throwing their shoes (a gross insult in Islam) and chanting "Release our men! Release our men!"

"They took my brother and he is only 15 years old," screamed Guli Nazar, 16, over the police sirens. "He did nothing and they still took him. We don't know what they are doing to our men, but we are afraid we will never see them again."

(TIME)  Foreign Reporters Visit Prompts New Demonstration in Urumqi.  By Austin Ramzy.  July 6, 2009.

Austin Ramzy, who is in Urumqi called to report that he is witnessing a new protest that is currently underway, apparently sparked by the presence of foreign reporters. He says that the Foreign Ministry and local government officials took six buses of reporters, about 50 in all, on a trip to see a burned out car dealership on Dawangnan Road. The reporters spoke to some victims and witnesses to Sunday's events for about half an hour. Then a Uighur woman with a small child (or two children; the situation is still confused) suddenly appeared and started complaining about her missing husband very loudly. Soon a crowd of around 30 Uighurs, mostly women in headscraves had gathered, many of them weeping, all complaining about their missing relatives: husbands, fathers, grandfathers, even one 14 year old boy, one mother told Austin. (The authorities say they have arrested some 1400 people).

Before long the crowd had swelled to several hundred and a group of riot police (members of  the People's Armed Police) carrying shields and long truncheons and accompanied by several armoured personnel carriers began to try and clear the protesters. Some of the protesters sat down for a time. Most refused to move. That's where the situation stands now. All of this being witnessed by a crowd of reporters stuck more or less between the police and the protesters. A core group of some 75 women are refusing to move (many others have been hustled down sidestreets by police) and chanting slogans which bystanders tell Austin mostly are calling for the release of their husbands other male relatives.

Final update: most of the protesters have dispersed or been dispersed and Austin is being pretty much dragged away by his minders.

****

At one point, Austin says he was dragged down a side street by some of the women who wanted to show him something. They said the police swept through their neighborhood Monday and seem to have arrested any males. They said the men were forced to take off their shoes and trousers before being taken away and showed Austin a pile of some 60-70 pairs of shoes. He wonders whether the authorities may have been clearing the neighborhood for the visit by reporters, not figuring that the mass arrests would spark a reaction by the Uighur women.

(Something similar happened (without the presence of foreign reporters) in Hetian, a town in the far south of Xinjiang after the Lahsa protests in March of last year prompted mass arrests of males apparently aimed at heading of possible demonstrations. On the market day after the arrests hundreds of women protested, itself prompting and even greater clamp down. My story here.)

The following photos were cross-posted at MITBBS.com.  They were originally posted at the Tianshan BBS based in Urumqi.  Of course, at this time, all Urumqi-based websites are offline due to the fact that the Internet has been cut off.


(ESWN)  I would like to think that I have been trying to be a recorder of history so far while injecting little or not personal opinion.  But here is where I feel that I have to make a statement.

One of the very few comments that I have made is about the photo used by Radio Free Asia.

My ground for objection is that it was clearly a photo of another mass incident in another place at another time taken by Southern Metropolis Weekly magazine (the place is Shishou county, Hubei province and the date of publication is June 26, 2009).  Here is the screen capture from the SMW website.

Yes, but so what?  Media organizations often get deceived by so-called "eyewitnesses," especially anonymous Internet users who upload photos and stories.

Well, I ask you to look at the Al Jazeera interview with Rebiya Kadeer.  At around 2:35 into this interview, she picked up a previously prepared placard of a photo to show the interviewer.  Yes, this was that same Southern Metropolis Weekly photo.

ˇ@

Screen capture:

Does anyone care about what politicians say anymore?  Do we have to hold them accountable for what they say to the public?  Or maybe nothing matters anymore after Sarah Palin came on?

P.S.  While I am at this, I would also like to direct your attention to this other interview with Rebiya Kadeer:

(Channel 4)  Exclusive interview: Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer   By Lindsey Hilsum.  July 6, 2009.

...

LH: But yesterday horrific events happened. We've seen terrible scenes of Uighurs killing Han Chinese on the street. What do you say happened?

RK: You are seeing the scenes of the Uighurs killing Chinese but you don't see the Chinese killing Uighurs, because the power is in their hands. I will tell you now. For instance on the 26th June at midnight to 1 am when Uighurs were sleeping, 800 Uighurs were forced to go to work in Guangdong province. About 10 000 Chinese beat them and killed around 60 of them. [NOTE: this refers to the incident in which a Han Chinese man accused Uighurs at a factory in Guangdong, in southern China, of raping two Han women. Although the rumour turned out to be false, several Uighurs were lynched and killed. The violence in Urunqui yesterday erupted after Uighurs demonstrated ˇV initially peacefully ˇV demanding an enquiry)

Wow, 10,000 Chinese beat [...] and killed 60 [Uighurs]!!!  Would the western media care to follow up with this previously unknown scale of atrocity?  Or is this standard hyperbole common to all western politicians?




 CONTINUE TO The Urumqi Mass Incident - Part 2 for July 8-10, 2009 news; The Urumqi Mass Incident - Part 3 for July 11 to September 1, 2009 news; and The Urumqi Mass Incident - Part 4 for September 2, 2009 and later.