The Urumqi Mass Incident - Part 3

(AP via The Australian)  Uighurs ignore mosque ban in riot-torn Urumchi.  July 11, 2009.

BOISTEROUS crowds turned up at mosques in riot-hit Urumqi yesterday, despite orders that Friday prayers be cancelled in the wake of ethnic violence that has killed at least 156 people. Chinese authorities had banned gatherings at mosques for the principal day of prayer for Muslims, as security officials tried to prevent further violence in the Xinjiang region. But at the popular White Mosque, about 100 men argued with guards, demanding they be allowed in for prayers.

A Uighur policeman guarding the mosque, who would not give his name, said: "We decided to open the mosque because so many people had gathered. We did not want an incident." Nearby, a group of about 40 Uighur men and women began to march, shouting, crying and pumping their fists in the air as they walked. Within minutes a group of 10 police in bulletproof vests and helmets, and armed with batons and stun guns, blocked their march. Shortly after, several dozen more police surrounded the group and forced them to squat on the sidewalk. Police pushed journalists away from the area.

It was not known how many of the mosques across the city of 2.3million people were opened. Chinese authorities had taken the rare step of trying to restrict prayers in an apparent attempt to deter any large, emotional gatherings at the mosques.

The ban was to apply to all mosques in the city, where 156 people were killed and more than 1000 injured when Uighurs rampaged through the streets baying for the blood of Han Chinese last weekend. At one mosque, a notice said prayers were cancelled "because of the complicated situation at the moment and to safeguard the security of the Muslim masses and to protect the property of the mosque and so as to give no opportunity to violent terrorists".  It concluded: "We hope the Muslim masses will understand this and will notify each other."

The violence in Urumqi began on Sunday, when Uighurs clashed with police while protesting deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in another part of the country. The crowd then scattered throughout Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, burning cars and smashing windows. Thousands of security forces have been patrolling the streets, but that was not enough to keep vengeful Han Chinese mobs from hunting down Uighurs on Tuesday.

Uighurs generally practise a moderate form of Sunni Islam that was prevalent in Central Asia under Soviet rule. More militant and austere forms of Islam have made inroads in recent decades. But the Chinese government controls the appointments of clerics, helping to deny a pulpit to imams who disagree with official policies. Restrictions on their religion already rankle among Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who have complained about the influx of Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of China's population, in the remote western region.

Other cities in Xinjiang, such as Kuqa, where bombs were set off before the Olympics last year, said mosques were open. In Kashgar, a frontier city in southwestern Xinjiang, near Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, reporters were told to leave the city yesterday, but there was confusion on whether the order would be carried out. A group of about 10 journalists was taken by government officials to the airport. They were later told they may be allowed to stay, but had not been allowed to leave the airport.

(The Australian)  China crucible    By Rowan Callick.  July 11, 2009.

CHINA has taken a strikingly different path towards a prosperous future than the West. This week's dramatic events at opposite ends of the country, 5000km apart, suggest the world's last great one-party state already may be testing the limits of its formula for success.

The hasty return of China's President Hu Jintao, who chairs the central military commission, to Beijing from the Italian town of L'Aquila on the eve of the meeting of the Group of Eight - without even participating in the scheduled G2 summit with US President Barack Obama - is helping provoke such questions.

The repercussions of the arrest in Shanghai of one of Australia's leading business representatives in China, Rio Tinto's Stern Hu, with three Chinese citizen colleagues, Liu Caikui, Wang Yong and Ge Minqiang, and of the violent ethnic conflict in the northwestern Xinjiang region, are amplified by China's failure to establish an independent and transparent legal system.

These events underline how far China is from the normal country it aspires to be. This is a burden its rulers have brought on themselves. As the sole source of authority in China, the Communist Party assumes not only credit for what goes right - and much has gone right in the past three decades - but also the blame for what goes wrong.

China's rulers have chosen to accommodate for theirbig-picture purposes - to absorb as far as they can - the cultures of its 55 minority ethnic groups, including that of Xinjiang's Uighurs, and of the Western business world. But they tend to leave those elements that cannot be comfortably aligned with the state's dominant ethos. The rule of law is one such element, China's legal system being subordinated to its collegiate party structure.

Hu Shuli, the influential founder and editor of Caijing, China's most prominent business magazine, wrote this week: "The dark cloud of economic crisis still looms, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China is upon us (on October 1). We need to alleviate social discontent and reduce the frequency and seriousness of conflicts."

She says "inept officials disregard the basic rights of individuals", adding: "Mass incidents highlight the characteristics of a society in transition and relate to improper use of public power without oversight. They also leave a lasting imprint on a government's credibility. A process is needed for advancing democratisation ... building a more effective system of checks and balances.

"Society needs the rule of law as a reliable stabiliser. The road to this goal is long and arduous, but it is reachable by supporting an independent judiciary."

Stern Hu will not be arraigned in front of such a judiciary. Indeed, the words used by China's spokesman Qin Gang to describe his predicament at Thursday afternoon's regular Foreign Ministry press conference appear to foreshadow his conviction: "Hu is suspected of stealing China's state secrets for foreign countries. Competent authorities have sufficient evidence to prove they (Hu and his colleagues) have stolen state secrets and have caused huge losses to China's economic interests and security."

There are many good reasons international organisations appoint Chinese-born managers such as Hu to run operations in China. They are often focused, connected and capable. But they are vulnerable to the depredations of Chinese politics.

The Chinese economic sectors with which Australia has gained its much-vaunted "complementarity" are state dominated. Hence almost any offence that may be viewed as strictly commercial in Australia may be characterised in China as a suitable case for the Ministry of State Security, the department that arrested Hu and his colleagues.

The politics within the iron ore and steel sector - the engine room of industrial growth, on which the party-state's legitimacy heavily rests - have been seething this year, with the government surprising most of the industry by pushing the China Iron and Steel Association to the fore to negotiate the annual iron ore benchmark price, and intensifying its efforts to prevent "leakage" of ore to some smaller mills at non-authorised prices.

State news agency Xinhua says the US generates about 100,000 classified documents annually, China several million. It says that state secrets refer to "classified information concerning major policies and decisions of state affairs, national defence and activities of the armed forces, diplomatic activities, national economic and social development, science and technology, activities to safeguard state security and the investigation of crimes, and other items that are classified as state secrets by the state secret protection departments". In other words, almost anything that officials choose to brand as secrets. Rio now will have fewer secrets from Beijing, certainly any held by its Shanghai office.

The arrests have not prompted any sense of panic among other Australian businesspeople in Shanghai or elsewhere in China. But given the political nature of all authority in China, there are events that require a political response. Is Hu's case one such? Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull believes so. Kevin Rudd disagrees. "The key thing is not for politicians like Mr Turnbull to begin trying to politicise issues like this," he says, echoing Qin's advice. "It's improper to exaggerate this individual case or even politicise it, which will be no good to Australia."

Just as it suits the Chinese, and the Australian, government to lay the blame for its economic slowdown on foreign countries, so it tends to accuse overseas influences for provoking domestic upheavals. Last year the Dalai Lama was blamed for the riots in Tibet. This year Rebiya Kadeer, once China's most successful businesswoman but now the US-based president of the World Uighur Congress, is blamed for the turmoil inXinjiang.

This assigning of blame offshore serves the purpose of absolving the state of any responsibility. A Xinhua commentary this week says: "Initial investigations attributed the brutal violence to the separatist WUC led by Rebiya Kadeer, who is using terrorism and separatism to destroy Xinjiang's stability and prosperity.

"Resources rich, the region has been an active player in the country's Great West Development Campaign launched in 2001. The 21 million local residents have found their living standards steadily improving."

That most Uighurs, as with most Tibetans, are not satisfied with development alone - that they seek greater political, religious and cultural autonomy than the millennia-long centralised Chinese state can concede - is a redress to the core unwritten contract through which Deng Xiaoping established the post-Mao Zedong legitimacy of the communist government: we ensure constantly improving living standards, you let us rule in the traditional manner.

The government's control of the mass media and policing of the internet damage the credibility of official information and provide a spurious acceptability to blogs and Twitter messages that manage to penetrate the state's barriers. Beijing swiftly shut down most communications with Xinjiang this week, although its canny State Council Information Office showed it had learned from Tibet last year by flying foreign journalists from Beijing to Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, putting them up in a hotel and allowing them internet access. The coverage has thus mostly come from inside China rather than, as in the Tibet case, from foreign sources.

But the message remains essentially the same: the empire is fraying.

(TIME)  China's War in the West    By Simon Elegant and Austin Ramzy.  July 20, 2009.

Xinjiang is China's most exotic region. A vast, remote landmass three times the size of Texas and studded with mountains and deserts, the province once stood at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road. Its capital, Urumqi, is far closer to Kabul than it is to Beijing. Xinjiang's population of 20 million is one of China's most diverse, with Uighurs, Kazakhs, Mongols, Tajiks and ever growing numbers of Han Chinese. Beneath the desert sands, reserves of oil, minerals and natural gas abound.

Xinjiang is also China's most troubled region. The Uighurs, who are Muslim and of Turkic origin, are the single largest ethnic group. But over the years, their culture has undergone a whittling away, amid a steady influx of Han Chinese, who now dominate the local economy. Today, about 70% of Urumqi is Han. The result: resentment and unrest. The past decade has seen a string of bombings by suspected Uighur separatists — the U.S. has classified one organization, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, as a terrorist one — and stern crackdowns by the Chinese authorities. Around last year's Beijing Olympics, an attack in the historic Xinjiang town of Kashgar killed 17 Chinese police. But the region's most serious outbreak of violence took place in Urumqi over three days beginning July 5, when rioting left at least 156 people dead and over 1,000 wounded.

The protests were peaceful enough at first. A crowd of some 1,000 Uighurs marched toward Urumqi's central People's Square chanting slogans about alleged police inaction after a Chinese mob recently beat to death two Uighur factory workers in the southern coastal province of Guangdong. What happened next at People's Square is unclear. Some reports have the police baton-charging or using more forceful means against the demonstrators. But the upshot was that hundreds of young Uighur men spilled onto Urumqi's streets, smashing vehicles, ransacking shops and attacking Han residents. One witness said that of more than a dozen bodies he saw, all appeared to be Han. Hospitals said some two-thirds of the wounded were Han.

The government flooded the city with thousands of police, who detained at least 1,400 people, mostly Uighurs. During an official tour for Chinese and foreign journalists, the fear and anger of both the city's Han majority and Uighur minority were palpable. A 65-year-old Han man originally from China's central Henan province said he retreated to his second-floor apartment as a mob of about 50 Uighur youths attacked a Chinese car dealership nearby. "We spent more than a day inside our house," said the retired farmer, who declined to give his name. "We were too terrified to come out." As the journalists toured the burned-out car dealership, a large group of Uighur women assembled. They demanded the return of their arrested husbands, sons and brothers. "Grandparents, children, they've all been arrested," said one Uighur woman. "I have a younger brother. He's 14, and I don't know where he is."

Things nearly turned even worse. Shortly after noon on July 7, groups of Han in their hundreds, then thousands, began mobilizing in the northern parts of the city. Armed with knives, hammers and staves, they marched toward Uighur districts in the south of Urumqi, apparently intent on retaliation. Security forces massed to prevent the Han entering the Uighur areas. The mobs would congregate and sprint to one area, then retreat and run in another direction. Tear-gas canisters exploded through the alleyways. Though there were rumors of Uighur deaths, the huge security presence managed to restore a semblance of order by the end of the day. Still, the possibility of fresh violence remained real — to the point that President Hu Jintao canceled his attendance at the G-8 summit in Italy and rushed home.

Many Uighurs complain that they have become second-class citizens in their own homeland. Government authorities limit the numbers of Muslim Uighurs allowed to go on pilgrimage to Mecca and handpick clerics to deliver politically approved sermons at Friday prayers. Teaching of the Uighur language, which is written in the Arabic script, has been curbed so that Uighurs can more easily assimilate into the wider Chinese society. Yet Uighurs say that they are discriminated against by Chinese companies that operate in Xinjiang. They face restrictions on their travel abroad and even within China itself; repeated stories in the media over the past year, describing attacks and plots by "terrorist" Uighur separatists, have deepened Han Chinese suspicion to the point where many hotels in coastal cities will refuse Uighur custom. "The Uighurs are the very bottom of the heap economically in China," says Dru Gladney, a professor of anthropology at Pomona College in California and an author of numerous articles and books on Xinjiang. "There's a very deep sense of frustration, especially among the young, unemployed men."

Other parts of China are witnessing similar disaffection among angry, unemployed youth. But Xinjiang, like Tibet, is crucially different. With their sizable non-Han populations, unrest in those two regions conjures up one of the Chinese leadership's worst nightmares: the rise of a separatist movement that would presage the breaking up of the whole country. Given the enormous economic and social challenges China faces, Beijing values stability above all, and will do practically anything to maintain it.

For their part, however, both Uighurs and Tibetans resent the same large-scale Han immigration, the same economic discrimination, the same decades of suffocating control, the same steady erosion of their cultures. In Tibet, that simmering anger erupted in March 2008 when initially peaceful protests degenerated into attacks on Han Chinese shopkeepers and passersby in Tibet's capital Lhasa. The violence left some 20 dead, mostly Han according to the authorities; the Tibetan government in exile said scores of Tibetans were gunned down.

Beijing blamed the exiled Dalai Lama for masterminding the Lhasa protests, a charge he has strongly denied. This time, official media said the unrest in Urumqi was fomented through Internet social-media sites and online forums by members of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a group based in Washington, D.C., and particularly by its head, Rebiya Kadeer. A controversial Uighur entrepreneur who moved to the U.S. in 2005 after being jailed for five years by the Chinese, Kadeer told TIME: "I have nothing to do with the demonstrations. I reject the Chinese accusations. They are doing it to cover their own actions. The demonstrations started peacefully, and some [Uighurs] were even carrying Chinese flags. The Chinese government has already branded me as a separatist; they want to connect the demonstrators to me so they can punish them severely."

Severe punishment. Even tighter control over the lives of Uighurs. Those seem to be the only policies Beijing is willing to contemplate. Yet this strategy has left Uighurs feeling trapped and desperate, says Alim Seytoff, a WUC spokesman: "If we speak up, we get killed. If we don't speak up, we will be wiped out." Nicholas Bequelin, a China researcher for New York City – based Human Rights Watch, says that a sense of helplessness — and hopelessness — drives the Uighurs to demonstrate: "They knew the terrible consequences of protesting for themselves and their families and yet they went out anyway."

Given the level of desperation, says Bequelin, "the government needs to ask itself why it faces such opposition in ethnic areas and consider very seriously changing those policies." Otherwise, Xinjiang and similar regions like Tibet might prove inhospitable for all. The retired Han farmer in Urumqi says his faith in Xinjiang's future has diminished. "It's been developing really fast," he says. "But now I don't know. We've never had this before."

(Bermuda Sun)  Human rights expert: Don't listen to Chinese propaganda    July 11, 2009.

A human rights expert urged Bermuda to ignore Chinese propaganda about the deadly riots in Xinjiang and be proud that they had done the right thing in welcoming 'some of the world's most oppressed people' to Bermuda.

Images released by China this week showed Han Chinese women bleeding from the head and being attacked by Uighur protesters during the uprising in the troubled region. The Chinese have blamed the violence on the Uighurs and claimed it was orchestrated by a U.S. based campaigner named Rebiya Kadeer - a two-time Nobel peace prize nominee, who has been compared to the Dali Lama.

Hans Hogrefe, special assistant to U.S. congressman James McGovern on the influential Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Capitol Hill, laid the blame for this week's violence, which left at least 156 people dead, squarely at the door of the Chinese, who are reported to have turned their fire on protesters in a brutal crackdown.

He said the portrayal of Kadeer was symptomatic of the Chinese tactic of labeling any dissent as 'terrorism'. And he said the 'ridiculous' Chinese claims about such a respected world figure should serve as further evidence that similar assertions about the Bermuda Uighurs could be dismissed.

"Bermudians should feel a strong sense of pride that they have stood up and given a home to some of the most oppressed people in the world. No matter what the Chinese PR and spin says after this incident. No matter what pictures the Chinese allow to be sent around the world or what Chinese propaganda says about the Uighurs, there is no doubt that Bermuda has done the courageous and compassionate thing in standing up to China and welcoming these men."

He said China had a history of equating any kind of dissent with terrorism and had used the 'war on terror' to step up their repression of minorities like the Uighurs, under that guise. "There is no question that there is some armed resistance, but the Chinese Government reviews every peaceful expression about political views of cultural autonomy as terrorism." He added that there were now grave concerns for the lives of Uighurs who had been involved in this week's process amid fears that they will be blamed for the violence and tortured and executed without trial.

Over 1,000 have been arrested and the Chinese Government have already warned that they could face the death penalty.

Since the four Uighurs arrived in Bermuda a month ago questions have been raised about why they could not return home if, as the U.S. claims, they are not guilty of any involvement in terrorism. The brutal put-down of this week's uprising and the potential consequences for the Uighurs who were involved in what began as a peaceful process appears to provide a deadly answer.

Mr. Hogrefe added: "The harsh suppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang is to blame for what has happened this week. Uighurs are suppressed and tortured in Chinese prisons and often executed without trial or without their families even being informed. They have no freedom of religion or education, their cultural traditions are being eroded..."

PLP senator Walton Brown, meanwhile, said he hoped the events of this week would, at least, remind people of the lack of credibility of the Chinese propaganda machine. It would be utterly incredible if any responsible news organization or democratic country would give any credence to the claim that the Uighur community seeking religious independence from the Chinese Government are engaged in terrorist activity. It's no different from the actions of the Chinese in 89 in Tiannamen Square."

He warned against anyone being taken in by Chinese propaganda and said he hoped enemies of the Government would not use potentially negative imagery of the Uighurs to score political points. "This is a humanitarian issue that goes beyond local politics. I look at it as wider issue of a correct decision to give a home to four innocent men who had spent seven years in prison."

(AFP)  China's Xinjiang death toll rises to 184    July 11, 2009.

The death toll from violence in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang region has risen to 184, the official Xinhua news agency reported Saturday, quoting the regional government. "Among the dead, 137 were Han people, including 111 men and 26 women. Forty-six were Uighur people, including 45 men and one woman. A man of Hui nationality also died", the report said. China had earlier given a toll of 156 dead and more than 1,000 injured when Muslim Uighurs rioted Sunday in the restive western region.

(AFP)  Thousands may have died in China violence    July 11, 2009.

The leader of the exiled Uighur community from China's northwestern Xinjiang region says thousands may have died in violence in recent days. Rebiya Kadeer, the Washington-based head of the World Uighur Congress, says it is difficult to come up with a comprehensive toll from the region, where the native Uighur ethnic group has long complained of repression.

"According to unconfirmed reports we get on the ground, now the number is up to 1000 or some say 3000," Ms Kadeer told a news conference at the US Capitol. She said the deaths occurred not only in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, but also across the vast region, saying there had been "mob killings in different cities such as Kashgar". Ms Kadeer, who spent about six years in a Chinese prison before being released under US pressure in 2005, estimated that another 5000 people had been imprisoned.

Chinese state media said 184 people were killed in Urumqi, as Uighurs attacked people from China's dominant Han ethnic group on Sunday. But Ms Kadeer said security forces over-reacted to peaceful protests and used deadly force. Beijing has accused exiles of exaggerating the death toll and fomenting the violence, charges Ms Kadeer denies. "I'm against all violence. I have not done this and I will not do such a thing," she said.

Ms Kadeer appeared alongside two members of Congress who introduced a resolution that would condemn China for its "violent repression" of "peaceful Uighur protests". The resolution also calls on China to end its "slander" of Ms Kadeer. Chinese authorities accuse her of masterminding the violence and of ties to "terrorists" among Uighurs, who are largely Muslim.

"I believe that statement by the Chinese government reveals more about the Chinese government than anything about Mrs Kadeer," said Congressman Bill Delahunt, a member of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party. "This it just offensive and repugnant," he said. "We are calling on the Chinese government to desist in slandering this woman who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three separate occasions." "I think what it demonstrates is the desperation of this particular regime in terms of dealing with what clearly is becoming a public relations disaster," he said.

(Associated Press)  Turkish PM compares violence in China to genocide   July 11, 2009.

Turkey's prime minister on Friday compared ethnic violence in China's Xinjiang province to genocide, escalating criticism of Beijing following this week's killing of at least 156 people — including Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uighurs.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strong words came amid daily demonstrations in Turkey protesting the clashes in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi between Han Chinese and minority Uighurs, who share ethnic and cultural bonds to Turks. Hundreds of Turks prayed for the victims and set Chinese flags on fire on Friday in protests in Ankara and Istanbul.

"These incidents in China are as if they are genocide," said Erdogan. "We ask the Chinese government not to remain a spectator to these incidents. There is clearly a savagery here."

The Chinese government has already imposed curfews and flooded the streets of Urumqi with security forces to avoid a repeat of the running street battles earlier in the week.

Turkey itself is extremely sensitive to the use of the term "genocide." Armenia says 1.5 million Armenians were slain by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I in what Armenians and several other nations recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey vehemently rejects the allegation, saying that the death toll was inflated and that Armenians died in civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

Erdogan, the leader of the Islamic-rooted government, has been urged by some Uighurs and opposition parties to speak up for Uighurs as he did for Palestinians during Israel's offensive against Gaza militants earlier this year. In late January, Erdogan stormed off a stage he shared with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, after telling Peres, "You kill people."

Turkey says it is concerned about the Chinese treatment of Uighurs. Some Uighurs favor independence or greater autonomy for Xinjiang province, which takes up one-sixth of China's land mass and borders eight Central Asian countries. The Han — China's ethnic majority — have lately been flooding into Xinjiang as the region becomes more developed. Erdogan, however, stressed that Turkey respects China's territorial integrity and has no intention of interfering with that country's internal affairs.

And despite the country's vocal criticism of Beijing, Turkey's Foreign Ministry on Friday reaffirmed Turkey's commitment to develop ties with China in every field. "Turkey gives importance to the fact that all ethnic and national groups be living in peace and prosperity," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We expect China to provide the necessary environment of peace and security for Uighurs who constitute a bridge of friendship between China and Turkey."

The violence in Urumqi began Sunday when Uighurs clashed with police while protesting the deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in another part of the country. The crowd then scattered throughout Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, burning cars and smashing windows. Riot police tried to restore order, and officials said 156 people were killed and more than 1,100 were injured.

(ESWN Comment:  I had to check multiple sources to make sure that the Turkey PM actually invoked 'genocide' because it is perhaps the single most sensitive term in Turkey (see

Wikipedia: Armenia Genocide: The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Calamity, refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterised by the use of massacres, and the use of deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of Armenian deaths generally held to have been between one and one-and-a-half million ...

The Republic of Turkey's formal stance is that the deaths of Armenians during the "relocation" or "deportation" cannot aptly be deemed "genocide," a position that has been supported with a plethora of diverging justifications: that the killings were not deliberate or were not governmentally orchestrated, that the killings were justified because Armenians posed a Russian-sympathizing threat as a cultural group, that Armenians merely starved, or any of various characterizations recalling marauding "Armenian gangs." ...

Efforts by the Turkish government and its agents to quash mention of the genocide have resulted in numerous scholarly, diplomatic, political and legal controversies. Prosecutors acting on their own initiative have utilized Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code prohibiting "insulting Turkishness" to silence a number of prominent Turkish intellectuals who spoke of atrocities suffered by Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. These prosecutions have often been accompanied by hate campaigns and threats, as was the case for Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian intellectual murdered in 2007.)

(The Armenian Weekly)  Editorial: If Your House Is Made of Glass…    July 13, 2009.

On July 10, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted to the killing of the Uighurs—an ethnically Turkic group—in China by likening the atrocities to genocide. More than 150 people died during the ethnic clashes earlier this week, including many Uighurs. “These incidents in China are as if they are genocide,” Erdogan said. “We ask the Chinese government not to remain a spectator to these incidents. There is clearly a savagery here.”

Doubtless, the events in China should be condemned. Yet, there is another factor at play here, which reminds us of the saying, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

Turkey has its own legacy of genocide and denial, as the killing of 1.5 million Armenians remains unrecognized. It also has Kurdish blood on its hands. For the Turkish prime minister to have the audacity to compare the killing of a few dozen Uighurs to genocide while it continues to spend millions to deny the killing of a million and a half Armenians is—if we must put it mildly—ridiculous.

But it also begs the following: Would the prime minister—who seems quick to use the term genocide to refer to the Uighurs or, before that, the atrocities in Eastern Europe and the Palestinian territories—refer to the “events of 1915” as genocidal? After all, even by the official Turkish account, there were more than 150 people who were killed in 1915…

(South China Morning Post)  Riot dead raised to 184, mostly Han.  July 11, 2009.

Mainland authorities have finally issued a breakdown of the deaths in China's worst ethnic violence in decades. Early today, they raised the number killed in the riots in Urumqi , capital of the Xinjiang region, to 184.

"Among the dead, 137 were Han [Chinese], including 111 men and 26 women. Forty-six were Uygurs, including 45 men and a woman. A man of Hui ethnicity also died," Xinhua reported.

The authorities had last updated the death toll on Monday, when they said 156 had been killed and more than 1,000 injured when Muslim Uygurs rioted on Sunday.

Witnesses have said the riots followed a protest on Sunday in a square in central Urumqi by Uygurs over a brawl on June 25 at a Hong Kong-owned toy factory in Shaoguan , Guangdong, between local and Uygur workers in which two Uygurs were killed and 118 people, most of them Uygurs, were injured.

Yesterday the sound of weeping filled the funeral parlours in Urumqi yesterday as families rushed to claim the bodies of loved ones killed in the deadly riots. Some found the bodies had been mutilated.

A Han Chinese man, surnamed Wang, said his brother-in-law had been so badly beaten that a DNA test was needed to confirm the identity of his remains.

"You would never understand our pain. You can't imagine how he was terribly mutilated beyond recognition," Mr Wang said. He said his family started searching for his brother-in-law on Monday after he failed to return home after work on Sunday.

"We called the police and searched through all the hospitals. My sister is a doctor so she has access to all the intensive care rooms, but we still couldn't find him," he said.

The police finally called the family on Thursday and told them a body that bore a "certain resemblance" to their missing family member had been found. A DNA test later confirmed the body's identity.

Some families waiting to claim bodies at the Urumqi No2 funeral parlour were Hui Muslims. The presence of several families may cast doubt on the official figure of only one Hui killed. They were particularly anxious to get the bodies back because their tradition requires that the dead be buried within three days.

Hu Fulin, a Hui Muslim, said he had borrowed money to bury his brother-in-law as soon as possible. "It has already passed the three-day period and we can't wait," he said, referring to the tradition.

With the help of friends, relatives and some government workers, the body was carried to a suburban mosque for a religious ceremony before being hastily buried. Mr Hu said it was unfortunate that his brother-in-law could not be buried within the first three days, but he did not blame the authorities.

Mr Wang was still seething with anger over his brother-in-law's death and said his trust in the government was lost. "They still could not tell us how he was killed, when he was killed and by whom," he said. "We are thinking about moving away from this place, our hatred towards the Uygurs will last for generations."

"You will never understand this," he said as a pregnant woman from another family came out from the funeral home wailing over the death of her husband.

(South China Morning Post)  Survivors recall the last moments before loved ones disappeared   By Choi Chi-yuk and Al Guo.  July 11, 2009.

Five days after the riots, the authorities early this morning raised the death toll and released details on the ethnicities of the victims. Choi Chi-yuk and Al Guo interviewed some of the victims' family members

MA JINRONG

Li Cunxiang , 33, and her relatives arrived at a bus terminal near the Erdaoqiao area on Monday morning, looking for news of her husband, Ma Jinrong , 35, who had not returned home after a late shift the night before.

Ms Li found a pair of shoes he had worn that day and then found his bicycle.

"I suddenly sensed that something bad could have happened to my husband," Ms Li said. His body was found in a pile of rubbish 30 metres from the bicycle.

Ma had left at 11pm on Sunday evening and was confronted by a group of Uygurs carrying weapons, according to two co-workers who had escaped.

Ma, an ethnic Hui from Gansu , had an eight-year-old son. "I'm not able to read or write and my son is so young." Ms Li said. "I don't know how this family is going to survive without my husband."

The government announced yesterday that families of victims would receive 200,000 yuan (HK$227,000) in compensation.

"No matter how much, I sincerely hope the government could hand the money down to us in a timely manner," Ms Li said, adding she owed friends 6,000 yuan and needed to pay for her son's summer schooling.

KUX TOR

The parents of 19-year-old Kux Tor will always regret allowing their son to leave the house that Monday. Tor, a Uygur, went out to check on the condition of the restaurant where he worked as a cook.

"He was afraid he may be scolded by his boss for missing work if, by any chance, the restaurant had reopened," said his mother, Mah Pirat, 34. Tor left home at 6pm on Monday and has not returned. His mobile phone is off and his parents have had no word from him.

Violence broke out in the family's neighbourhood on Sunday night, and the family locked the door.

"My husband, my son and I all understood very well that we should stay away from that sort of trouble as nobody really knows what actually happened out there," she said.

It was not until late afternoon on the second day the parents felt it would be alright for their son to go out. "The restaurant is not far from our home at all. So I thought it may be OK for him to have a quick look and then run back home," she said.

But Tor didn't return home. His parents later heard that more than 1,000 people who took part in the riot had been arrested. They went to check with police but didn't receive any answers. They registered his name on a list of missing people at a police station.

"I don't know why we deserve this kind of torture. We have always been law-abiding citizens in this great city," his mother said. For now, they can only pray their son was arrested, as the alternative is too much to bear.

THE ZOU FAMILY

Zou Liyang , four, is too young to comprehend the tragedy that hit her family on Sunday night.

Zou Honglian, Liyang's aunt, said the girl's father, Zou Yuqiang , 38, mother, Wang Zeping , 37, grandfather, Zou Huocai , 69, and grandmother, Fan Zhilan , 67, were killed when the car they were travelling in was blocked by a group of rioters and they were repeatedly kicked and beaten.

Ms Zou said they were only 100 metres from home when they encountered the mob. Liyang and her 15-year-old brother, Zou Haoyi, were also in the car but got out alive. Haoyi is in critical condition in hospital while Liyang suffered slight injuries.

Witnesses told Ms Zou that Zou Yuqiang had escaped the mob, but when he saw they were attacking his parents he went back to try to save them. She said her niece had been asking her relatives to phone her parents. According to Ms Zou, Liyang had even said: "Please bring them back home, I promise I won't be naughty any more."

THE ZHANG FAMILY

Five members of the Zhang family were stabbed to death and the shop they were hiding in was set alight on Sunday night, relatives said. Another family member is missing.

For the last eight years, Zhang Mingyin ran a grocery store selling rice, cooling oil, alcohol and cigarettes in a neighbourhood that was 80 per cent Uygur. Zhang Mingfu , his older brother, phoned him at 8pm on Sunday warning him to be careful because of the riots.

Mingyin told his brother he had already closed his shop and was hiding inside with his 84-year-old mother, his wife, Yu Xinli; his 13-year-old son, Zhang Yu; and his nephew, Liu Kunpeng. The only one of Mingyin's immediate family who was not in the shop was his 10-year-old daughter, who was visiting Mingfu.

"My brother was wrong to think the metal shutters of his shop could protect them from the assault," Mr Zhang said. Mr Zhang said he went to see whether they were safe the next morning. When he saw his mother, his brother, his sister-in-law and two nephews burned beyond recognition, he almost collapsed. Mr Zhang said he could barely identify them save for a few items of clothing and shoes that had survived the fire. "I dare not tell my niece the truth."

(Times Online)  Han Chinese emerge as the main victims as Urumqi riots death toll rises    By Jane Macartney.   July 11, 2009.

China yesterday revealed the ethnicity of those killed in rioting in the western city of Urumqi last week, and increased the official number of dead to 183.

State media said that 137 Han Chinese and 46 minority Uighurs were killed when an Uighur mob took to the streets on Sunday, burning cars and buses, smashing shops and provoking tit-for-tat reprisals in what the Government says was the worst ethnic violence in decades.

President Hu Jintao was forced to return from the G8 meeting in Italy, where Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, described the crisis as “a kind of genocide”.

Security forces have restored a semblance of calm to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, but tensions remained high yesterday as the authorities locked mosques and tried to cancel Friday prayers to stop violence flaring up again.

At the front gate of the White Mosque, not far from where the riots erupted, a group of around 100 Muslim men gathered in white skullcaps to prepare for the most important prayers of the week. They demanded to enter until the gates were finally opened. The policeman at the gate told The Times: “We decided to let them in because they were too many. There could have been trouble.”

Word spread and hundreds more converged on the site. The mosque authorities had no choice but to allow an abbreviated service. “They had to let us in,” one man said. “It is Friday. That is what our faith demands. But we are peaceful people, we are good people.”

Many Uighurs complained that relatives who had nothing to do with the violence on Sunday had been arrested in police sweeps of the city that have so far taken in more than 2,000 suspects. Others said that those who took to the streets were only taking revenge for mistreatment of Uighurs in other parts of China.

The spark that set off the tinderbox that is the relationship between Han Chinese and ethnic Uighur Muslims came from 2,000 miles away. Rumours of the rape of two Han Chinese employees by Uighur workers at Xuri Toy Factory in Guangdong province led to retribution attacks in which two Uighur men were killed and dozens were injured.

Word of the Han assault reached Uighurs in their Xinjiang homeland, and rumours spread that hundreds of their kind had died and Uighur children had been chopped up.

Anything seemed credible. Resentment between Han and Uighurs has bubbled in the Xinjiang region of western China for decades. One shopkeeper said: “They mistreated our women over there. We have to protect ourselves.”

Urumqi has long appeared to be among the most peaceful cities in the region, with its booming economy raising the living standards of both Han and Uighur residents.

Uighurs here show little interest in extremist calls for independence and increasing numbers work for the Government and state-owned companies. Many, however, are unhappy at the influx of Han Chinese chasing job opportunities offered by the development of regional oil and gas fields.

One Han Chinese said: “My Uighur friends joke with me saying, ‘You Han have come from so far away, so very far away, and now you are taking our natural resources’.”

Nicholas Becquelin, of Human Rights Watch, said that the riots appeared to pit the poorest of the Uighur poor against similarly poor Han incomers from other provinces who are directly competing to eke out a living. Relations between the better-off were less strained.

In a hillside slum on the edge of Urumqi where raw sewage runs down alleys between mud-brick shacks, a group of Uighurs said that none of them could find jobs, apart from occasional day labour. Maimat Ali said: “We are very sad about the innocent Han, but we are frightened too. We dare not go down into the town. And here we have no work.”

Some Uighurs are also furious at the razing of swaths of their ancient neighbourhoods in the Silk Road city of Kashgar. Nervous that tension could spread there, foreign journalists were ordered to leave yesterday “for their own safety”.

Others resent the limits placed on religious practices. Anyone wanting to go on the haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, must join a group; imams are discouraged from attending weddings; anyone under 18 is not allowed to attend mosque.

Mr Becquelin said: “The tragedy is that most people who died were killed as a result of accumulated resentment of state policies. The rift between the two groups is huge, but the Government has the tools to heal this.”

(Xinhua)  Woman behind Xinjiang riot caught self-contradictory   By Yu Zheng.   July 11, 2009.

    Denying their role in the bloodbath in Urumqi that killed 156, a woman in exile and her Washington D.C.-based organization were busy before and after the tragic killings.

    Rebiya Kadeer, 62, chairwoman of the World Uygur Congress (WUC) that has close contact with terrorist organizations, was found making phone calls before the riot to her brother in Xinjiang to "predict" that "something big would happen." And after the riot, she was busy meeting the international press.

    But very too often, Kadeer was caught self-contradictory when making accusations against the Chinese government and disseminating "unconfirmed" reports from anonymous sources.

    While repeatedly grumbling about the government's shutdown on telephone lines and Internet access and soliciting international pressure for transparency, she boldly asserted "hundreds of Uygurs are now dead" based on her alleged contacts from capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

    One significant source of her is "within East Turkestan," a hotbed of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which was listed in 2002 by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. And the WUC was formed by two organizations, one of which was the Uygur Youth Congress, also labeled a terrorist organization.

    In a Tuesday interview with Al Jazeera, Kadeer showed a testimonial photo which purported to show "peaceful Uygur protesters" in Urumqi and how they were treated by the police. The photo was later found to be cropped from a Chinese news website image on an unrelated June 26 protest in Shishou, Hubei Province.

    Another enlarged photo held by members of the World Uygur Congress in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, after the riot to expose street violence, however, was just a traffic accident scene from May 15 thousands of kilometers away in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

    The WUC and Kadeer should have been very meticulous about such important image "evidence" intended to accuse the Chinese government of "rampant atrocity."

    Besides these, the WUC went on to author a lengthy opinion piece with Kadeer bylined on the Wall Street Journal in English on July 8, criticizing the rule of the central government in Xinjiang and appealing to outside forces to intervene in this domestic issue.

    Just as they could have expected, the article became an instant hit. But to their dismay, they were also exposed to the scrutiny of millions of international readers.

    One of the nearly 100 comments posted on the newspaper's webpage found that the accusation against China's ethnic policy does not hold water at all, because Kadeer has been one of the primary beneficiary of the policy itself, and her past was, paradoxically, something of an American dream, albeit played out in China.

    Kadeer built her business empire within just one decade, from stall-keeper to millionaire. She was once comfortable with participating in the governmental establishment that she later harshly criticized. She enjoyed the celebrity status of being the richest Uygur woman and served a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

    A post by "Benchi Sun" said that the fact that she had 11 children (others said 6) confirms that Uygurs are not subject to China's one child policy; her life story in China proves that Uygurs in China are not excluded from political life, nor deprived of the opportunity to thrive economically.

    The World Uygur Congress, of which Kadeer is president, also urged Uygurs, many having connections with the ETIM, in cities across the world to attack Chinese embassies and consulates. Four violent Uyghur protesters who pelted stones on the Chinese embassy in The Hague on Monday have been sentenced to one week in prison, Dutch media reported Thursday.

    While eulogizing the U.S. as having "always spoken out on behalf of the oppressed," Kadeer urged the country, in the Wall Street Journal article, to intervene.

    However, Kadeer was quickly reminded by another post entry that she had been arrested in China "because she provided funding to Eastern Turkestan and carried out activities in China following instructions from Eastern Turkestan," which is labeled a terrorist organization by most countries including the United States, Russia and China.

    The discredited Kadeer surely loves the spotlight and photo-op, but she should also bear in mind that greater publicity may do her more harm than good, if she keeps telling lies.

(Mail and Guardian)  Clinging to life in the People's Hospital    By Tania Branigan.    July 11, 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 northwestern region.

Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims make up almost half of Xinjiang's 19-million inhabitants -- 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 that 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 a 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 lay heaped up on a corner.

ut exactly who died, how and why remains unclear. Although 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 alleges that police shot and beat to death demonstrators while crushing a peaceful protest.

"It's not good to talk about it," said one Han worker in Urumqi. Like many residents, he 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 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 whereas Tibetans accused the government of killing scores of people.

But the official response is markedly different. Whereas 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 -- and possibly throughout the entire region -- and calls could not be made overseas. Some photographers had memory cards and 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, 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. We were attacked five times, the last time at about 11pm and they set [the shop] on fire.

"We hid in the back yard 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 -- they cut me in three places," he recalled. He staggered to the People's Hospital, passing out as he crossed the threshold -- 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. Many appeared to have been beaten, but the authorities said some had been knifed and seven had been shot. Most of them --233 -- were Han. But 39 were Uighur, 15 were Hui -- another Muslim minority -- and four came from other ethnic groups.

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 lost 17 patients; he hoped the rest would survive.

(New York Times)  A Strongman Is China’s Rock in Ethnic Strife   By Michael Wins.  July 11, 2009.

As ethnic Han gangs roamed the streets of Urumqi on Tuesday at dusk, seeking revenge against Muslim Uighur rioters who killed scores of Han two nights earlier, a balding Communist Party bureaucrat abruptly appeared on the city’s television screens to call for calm.

The nine-minute speech by the bureaucrat, Wang Lequan, was mostly government boilerplate: the riots were no homegrown problem, but “a massive conspiracy” to sabotage ethnic unity; Urumqi citizens should “point the spear toward hostile forces at home and abroad,” not at their neighbors; attacks on Han or Uighurs alike were heartbreaking.

Then he turned to the Han who were on the streets, repaying the riots’ blood debt. “Comrades, to start with, such action is fundamentally not necessary,” he told them briskly. “Our dictatorial force is fully able to knock out the evildoers, so there is no need to take such action.” Mr. Wang, 64, the Communist Party secretary and absolute power in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, is largely unknown outside China, and until lately stayed in the shadows even at home. But China’s leadership elite, and perhaps especially his patron, President Hu Jintao, have put their faith in him: they have let him run Xinjiang for 15 years, well beyond the usually strict limit of a decade in one powerful post. They have elevated him to the Politburo, the ruling party’s inner sanctum.

They have made him their go-to expert on policies toward minorities, which account for the more than 100 million of China’s 1.3 billion citizens who are not ethnically classified as Han. Those in power are reputed to have given him leading roles on senior advisory groups that coordinate and oversee ethnic policies. They have placed his protégé, Xinjiang’s former deputy party boss, in charge of restive Tibet.

They have done all this, those who watch Mr. Wang say, because of performances like the one on Urumqi television.

The government media may call this week’s rioting the worst outbreak of ethnic violence in recent Chinese history, killing at least 184 and injuring more than 1,000. But Mr. Wang is fully able to knock out the evildoers. He did so in 1997, quelling riots in Yining, near the Kazakhstan border, at a cost in lives that remains unknown.

Iron fist and velvet glove, he has suppressed Islam, welcomed industry, marginalized the Uighur language, built roads and rail links to the outside world, and spied on, arrested and jailed countless minority citizens in the name of stopping terrorism and subsuming Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) into a greater China.

Even his detractors allow that he has done a masterful job. His nickname is “the stability secretary” — a tribute to his ability to step into chaos and haul it to order.

“He consolidated a piece of territory that is one-sixth of China, and for centuries has been a headache for Beijing in terms of ethnic trouble and stability,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher based in Hong Kong for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch and a sharp critic of Mr. Wang’s ethnic policies. “He firmly rammed into the ground the state’s control there. This is something that has weight in the political system in China.” A signal question now is whether it will continue to have weight. For China is entering a period of backroom political jockeying, as Communist leaders prepare to name successors in 2012 to President Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Some China analysts suspect that the violence in Xinjiang, and in Tibet last year, may become weapons in the struggle over China’s future.

At a simple level, the question is whether Beijing’s leadership will judge the quashing of riots in China’s two least-tamed regions as military successes or policy failures. But Chinese politics are rarely simple; they are a tangle of alliances based on loyalty, self-interest and ideology. Mr. Wang’s success or failure will be shared by his friends and mentors, and at the top of that list is Mr. Hu.

As leader of the influential Communist Youth League in the mid-1980s, Mr. Hu recruited talented league members as allies, including Mr. Wang, who at the time ran the group’s operations in Shandong Province, in eastern China. As president, Mr. Hu has moved dozens of league officials into the Politburo and other top government posts.

Mr. Wang and Mr. Hu share a second tie: Mr. Hu was the party boss in Tibet when Mr. Wang was moved from Shandong to Xinjiang in 1991. They embrace a hard line on minority issues. Mr. Hu’s sudden elevation to the top echelons of power in 1992 was sped by his swift action in crushing an uprising in Tibet in 1989.

Some China scholars say they suspect that Mr. Hu’s abrupt return to Beijing this week from an economic summit meeting in Italy was a mission to shore up support among Politburo members and to ensure that the riots out west did not lead to political conflict within the leadership.

Yet it is not at all clear that the Xinjiang riots will be viewed as a black mark. China’s leaders see success and failure very differently from, say, American leaders.

“No one is going to engage in any fundamental rethink of policies toward ethnic minorities unless those policies fail to produce stability,” said Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing analyst who closely follows issues in China’s leadership elite. But in Politburo terms, stability has a special meaning.

“It’s not about stability in the streets,” he added. “It’s about legitimacy.” Mr. Wang has also amassed his own political capital, much of it based on his reputation as an efficient, if pitiless, troubleshooter of Beijing’s most daunting problems.

Mr. Wang “is one of the major figures in the hard-line faction who thinks that more than an economic downturn, ethnic issues are the potential Achilles’ heel of this regime,” Mr. Moses said.

Mr. Wang was born in Shandong, China’s industrial and petroleum capital. At 21, he was sent into the countryside as a laborer during the Cultural Revolution. When he returned in 1966, he joined the Communist Party and began a 25-year rise to vice governor.

His familiarity with the oil industry may have played a role in his transfer to Xinjiang, an oil-rich region. But he made his mark there by combining relentless economic development with punishing social policies to remake Turkic Xinjiang in Han China’s image.

Mr. Wang arrived in Xinjiang as the Soviet Union was dissolving, its central Asian pieces shedding their colonial chains. Millions of Han citizens transplanted by Mao after China’s army occupied the region in 1949 were leaving. Beijing feared that Xinjiang’s growing Muslim Uighur population would try to follow its Soviet neighbors into independence.

Mr. Wang’s antidote was a heavy dose of modernization for the ancient Uighur culture. He opened the region’s oil and gas fields to drilling, laid pipelines east to the Chinese heartland and west to Kazakhstan, and turned the Production and Construction Corps, a creaky make-work project for mustered-out Han soldiers, into a moneymaker listed on the Shanghai stock exchange.

Han workers began flowing back, lured by industry and government jobs that Uighurs say were disproportionately parceled out to Han migrants. During the 1990s, Mr. Bequelin of Human Rights Watch said, about two million Han relocated to Xinjiang.

At the same time, Mr. Wang tightly constrained Uighur culture and religion. He substituted Mandarin for Uighur in primary schools, saying minority languages were “out of step with the 21st century,” and banned or restricted Islamic practices among government workers, including the wearing of beards and head scarves and rituals like fasting and praying while on the job.

Yet Mr. Wang’s efforts intensified after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Within months, he began a campaign against terrorism and separatism that he linked to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a little-known Uighur group. The Bush administration agreed, adding the group to its list of allies of Al Qaeda in 2002.

In later years, Xinjiang waged a series of “strike hard” campaigns, dragnets that swept up thousands of Uighurs accused of terrorism or religious extremism.

The same year that the campaign began, Mr. Hu rewarded Mr. Wang with a Politburo seat.

“Wang Lequan came in and cracked heads, launched a ‘strike hard’ campaign, and lo and behold, he gets elevated to the Politburo,” said Dru C. Gladney, a China expert and president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College.

Now that Xinjiang has exploded in violence, Western critics may contend that Mr. Wang’s hard-nosed rule has failed, much as urban race riots in 1960s America were seen as a failure of social and legal policies then.

As yet, there is no sign such arguments will move Beijing’s leaders.

Mr. Wang’s deputy in Xinjiang, Zhang Qingli, became party secretary in Tibet in 2005 and quickly became known for the same unbending policies that are Mr. Wang’s hallmark. In 2008, Tibet suffered its worst unrest in decades. Today, Mr. Zhang sits on the party’s central committee.

(Washington Post)  Death Toll Debated In China's Rioting    By Ariana Eunjung Cha.  July 11, 2009.


A policeman makes an arrest in Urumqi, in the far western region of Xinjiang,
as authorities sought to maintain calm after deadly ethnic clashes.
(By Nelson Ching -- Bloomberg News)

The Yu siblings could hardly bear to look at the police snapshots of the dead -- the images so full of anger and cruelty. So they took turns sifting through them in search of their brother, who had been missing since ethnically charged riots shook this city in far western China on Sunday.

Yu Xinqing was the one who found him, victim No. 46.

Yu's elder brother, Yu Xinping, had been finishing his shift when a protest by Muslim Uighurs turned violent and some went on a rampage, attacking Han Chinese in the city. His body was mangled from multiple knife wounds and was badly burned.

"When I saw his picture, I couldn't help crying," said Yu, 35. "If you give me a gun, I will rush out and shoot all the Uighurs I meet. I won't look at them in the same way, no matter how good of an explanation there is."

Chinese authorities on Friday raised the official death count to 184 and said more than 1,000 people were injured in the rioting Sunday, making it the deadliest clash in the far western region of Xinjiang since Chinese troops arrived here 60 years ago and one of the worst in the country's modern history. Additional people were victimized in retaliatory attacks in the following days.

Of the dead, 137 were Han Chinese, 46 were Uighur and one was part of the Hui Muslim minority group. But other details are scarce.

Local officials have declined to release information about how they died or were hurt.

Nearly all of the 150 or so police snapshots of the dead appear to be of Han Chinese. Most have gashes or cuts on their head. Only about 10 appear to be Uighur, at least three with apparent bullet wounds near their hearts -- a detail that lends credence to charges by Uighur leaders that Chinese national security forces fired into the crowd of protesters.

But the faces of several victims were so swollen or injured that they were unrecognizable. At least three bodies were completely burned.

Some Uighur residents of Urumqi, however, say the number of Uighur victims in the official group of pictures is low because the bodies of all Uighurs are not being tallied. Uighurs -- members of a Turkic-speaking group that is culturally, religiously, linguistically and physically different from the Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 percent of China's population -- have long complained of government policies that they say are repressive.

Leaders of Uighur exile groups say that China is grossly misrepresenting the number of people killed and that the melee occurred because security forces overreacted to what had been a peaceful protest. On Friday, Rebiya Kadeer, the Washington-based head of the World Uighur Congress, said that by her organization's tally, based on unconfirmed reports from family members and community leaders, the number of dead Uighurs could be in the thousands. The Chinese government has accused Kadeer of inciting the violence, a charge she denies.

Two Han men in Urumqi who were searching for relatives said they believe that the government may be hiding bodies in an effort to minimize the death count. In separate interviews, they said they went to all 23 hospitals in the area and checked the police pictures, but they could not find their brothers, who where near the city's bazaar when the rioting began.

"The government is worried that if they announce the real statistics, it will raise the national anger," said Wang Haifeng, 21, who last heard from his 18-year-old brother, Wang Haibo, a real estate agent, when he called Sunday during the riots to say he was walking home from a date and was scared. Then the phone went dead.

The Urumqi government said Friday that families of "innocent" people killed in the unrest will each receive about $29,300 in compensation, but it was unclear how officials would make that determination.

Interviews with Han and Uighur victims and their families over the past few days and visits to hospitals where many of the injured are being kept in ethnically segregated wards reveal that the violence was often barbaric and random -- and it went both ways.

Some of the injured and dead appear to have been bystanders.

Chinese troops had locked down this city of 2.4 million by Wednesday, separating Han Chinese from Uighurs and establishing a tense peace. But the accounts from victims speak to the long-standing mistrust between the ethnic groups and how explosive that hatred can quickly become.

Liu Yonghe, 44, a businessman, and his wife, Zhao Lihong, 23, were among the Han victims admitted to a hospital. They had just finished up work and were on a bus en route to shops about 8 p.m. Sunday when it was stoned by a mob. They tried to escape but were beaten with sticks. Liu suffered head injuries, and his leg and two ribs were broken. His wife sustained brain injuries.

In another part of the city's bazaar that day, a Han couple on their way to pick up their granddaughter ran into Uighur protesters. Deng Yimin, 66, and Xiao Xianzhi, 65, said they were beaten until they were bleeding and collapsed.

In a retaliatory attack against Uighurs on Tuesday, Ali, a 21-year-old Uighur laborer was on his way to his company to collect his salary at 4 p.m. when he was jumped by about 50 people. His fingers were broken, and he suffer a concussion and gashes on this back and legs. The same afternoon, Nuryeraly, 25, was running errands with his brother when someone yell that Uighurs were nearby. Several hundred people then began to beat the brothers. The last thing he heard before he passed out was his brother calling for his mother, who was not there. "I don't know where he is now -- if he is alive or not," he said.

But there were signs of kindness across ethnic lines that has triggered soul-searching.

Ali said that before he was beaten, a Han man begged others in his group not to hit him even as the crowd turned on him and cursed him.

Zhao, who has lived in Urumqi for six years and is a shop assistant, said she was not injured as severely as she might have been because a Uighur man pulled her into the shadows of a nearby building while the attackers turned their attention on the Han men.

"I don't blame the Uighurs for all of this," she said. "There is no difference between Uighurs and Han. There are only good people and bad people."

And Xiao, who was on her way to pick up her granddaughter, said she is grateful to two Uighur men who put themselves between an angry mob and Xiao and her husband.

"They shouted at the group of people and pushed them away," Xiao recalled. "They were shouting in the Uighur language, so I didn't know exactly what they were talking about. Then they pulled us up and walked away with us."

Yu, who grew up in Urumqi and said he had no animosity toward Uighurs before this week, is not among those who say they can be friendly with his Uighur neighbors again.

"If the Uighurs are dissatisfied with the government, they should protest to the government instead of killing innocent people. Although I understand that there are bad people and good people in Uighurs, I still have a barrier in my heart," Yu said. The death of his brother, the second of six children, "is such a big hurt for our family."

(Los Angeles Times)  China's flood of fortune seekers unsettles Xinjiang.  By Barbara Demick and David Pierson.  July 11, 2009.

Reporting from Urumqi, China, and Beijing -- Wearing a dirty striped T-shirt, scuffed loafers and dusty cargo pants, Liu Xiuyi arrived in Urumqi last week after a 56-hour train ride that took him from the east coast to the farthest reaches of China's northwest.

Like the young Americans who in the 19th century followed Horace Greeley's imperative to "Go west, young man," the 26-year-old Liu left home in search of a job, space and opportunity. He knew nothing about the Xinjiang region except rumors that you could make more than $400 a month here, almost twice as much as back home in Jiangsu province.

"I heard everything was great here, but when I got in, everything was scary," Liu said in a thick country accent.

What Liu didn't realize when he boarded the train was that ethnic tensions in Xinjiang were exploding, fueled in part by the westward migration of people like himself.

At least 180 people have been confirmed dead in street fighting between the Han, China's dominant ethnic group, and the native Uighurs of Xinjiang.

 
Record numbers of migrants have been pouring into Xinjiang, spurred by the global financial crisis that is closing down export-driven factories in the east and curtailing new construction in Beijing and Shanghai. The Chinese government says 1.2 million people migrated here last year.

And that's not counting the hundreds of thousands who come to pick cotton and potatoes, recruited by the quasi-military Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which has extensive farmland.

This year especially, local governments fearing social unrest caused by unemployment have played a role in organizing trips. The city of Chongqing in central China announced that it was sending 100,000 people to Xinjiang this year. In March, one county in Ningxia, in northern China, held a large ceremony for 3,200 peasants who were being sent out.

In effect, they chose to export instability to western China.

The Uighurs, a Turkic people whose majority here has been slipping away, complain that the outsiders are gobbling up the best jobs. Many employers here refuse to hire Uighurs for even the most menial positions, whether picking cotton or working in mines.

"Room service staff needed, 18-40 years old. Junior high school degree required. Han only," read an advertisement last week on a bulletin board at a government-run labor agency in Urumqi.

Han migrants often get free transportation, insurance, housing and help in finding jobs or starting businesses.

The ruling Communist Party's restrictions on government employees practicing religion keeps many Uighurs, who are Muslim, out of jobs as bureaucrats, police officers or teachers; if they are caught attending mosque or fasting during Ramadan, they can be dismissed or demoted.

Uneducated Uighurs are handicapped by their language, which is closer to Turkish than Chinese.

"It's hard for Uighurs to find jobs. No Han is going to hire me if I go into their shop," said a 36-year-old tailor who gave his name as Mijiti and barely spoke Chinese. He wore tattered dress slacks and a dirty white shirt, squatting in a familiar pose of resignation.

He had used almost all his money to buy fabric, but now the shop was closed. He was trying to figure out how to support his wife and 8-month-old son with the equivalent of $4 in his pocket.

Nearby was a strip of Han-owned auto dealerships that had been vandalized in the riots. Windows were smashed, brand-new sedans overturned.

Bilingual university graduates also find it difficult to compete with native speakers of Mandarin on tests that require knowledge of thousands of Chinese characters. Although Uighur students applying to Chinese universities are admitted with lower test scores, job applicants don't have such an advantage. And since 2000, most public schools have shifted the primary language of instruction to Chinese, which has thrown tens of thousands of Uighur teachers out of work.

A college graduate in his 20s living in Kashgar said he was unable to get a job teaching English at home even though he speaks almost native Chinese and flawless English.

"Of course Uighurs should learn Chinese. We are in favor of bilingual education, but not if it means we are shut out of the job market," said the man, who asked not to be named.

He said Uighurs are resentful when they see the opportunities available to newly arrived Han.

"All we want is the same opportunity," he said.

Liu, the fresh-off-the train migrant, is a case in point. Although the job he'd planned on fell through, the day after he arrived he lined up another -- collecting flowers for a manufacturer of herbal medicines.

"It's possible they hate us because we're taking their jobs," said Liu, pointing nervously down an alley near the railroad station where he'd heard that bodies had been discovered. "I'm really scared of the Uighurs now. When I look into their eyes, I see wolves."

The Chinese government doesn't release figures on unemployment among ethnic groups. But a leading Uighur intellectual, Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, has estimated that 1.5 million Uighur workers -- the equivalent of half the adult males -- are unemployed.

In an interview aired by Radio Free Asia in March, he warned that there could be "no peace without equal development between Han immigrants and native Uighurs." Tohti has since disappeared from public view and is believed to be under house arrest.

Xinjiang (the name means "new territory" in Chinese) is the equivalent in modern Chinese mythology of the American Wild West -- a vast, desert-like terrain with oil and mineral deposits that have inspired a gold-rush mentality. After the Communists came to power in 1949, the military sent demobilized soldiers here.

For centuries the Uighurs were renowned as traders and money-changers. With their cities built on oases of the old Silk Road, they had access to the lucrative trade between Asia and Europe. Trade soared in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union and China's manufacturing prowess.

But after 2001, China tightened borders, fearing that separatists were receiving arms and training from Islamic militants.

Massive urban-renewal projects resulted in the demolition of the mud-brick labyrinthine alleys where Uighurs ran shops out of storefronts attached to their homes. Relocated to Chinese-style apartment complexes in the suburbs, they are unable to raise money to open new businesses.

Chinese migrants today come willingly to Xinjiang, drawn by annual growth rates of more than 10%. Over the last decade, the central government has invested more than $100 billion to make Xinjiang more appealing.

"There's a special army going to the west," the railroad ministry boasted on its website in March. It said 109 trains had carried 210,000 people from three cities in central China to Urumqi to work in construction, energy and agriculture.

It is likely that the passion for heading west has cooled in the last week.

Perhaps the only consolation for unemployed Uighurs is that thousands of the newcomers are trying to flee -- if they can get tickets from scalpers who are charging five times the normal prices for bus and train tickets out of town.

(AFP)  US lawmakers rally behind Uighur leader  By Shaun Tandon.  July 11, 2009.

US lawmakers came to the defense of Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of exiles from China's Uighur minority, after Beijing accused the US-based activist of fomenting the country's deadliest ethnic violence in decades. Two lawmakers, one from each US political party, appeared alongside Kadeer at the US Capitol and announced they were introducing a resolution in Congress to condemn China for its "violent repression" of "peaceful Uighur protests."

Congressman Bill Delahunt, a member of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party, said Beijing's allegations against Kadeer have been "offensive and repugnant." "We are calling on the Chinese government to desist in slandering this woman who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three separate occasions," Delahunt told the news conference. "I think what it demonstrates is the desperation of this particular regime in terms of dealing with what clearly is becoming a public relations disaster," he said.

Chinese authorities have accused Kadeer of orchestrating the ethnic bloodshed in Xinjiang, a vast western province native to the Uighurs but which a growing number of settlers from China's Han majority have made home. Beijing has said Kadeer, head of the World Uighur Congress and Uighur American Association, is also supported by "terrorists" among the Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslim.

Kadeer, who spent six years in a Chinese prison before she was released in 2005 under US pressure, adamantly denied the charges. "I'm against all violence. I have not done this and I will not do such a thing," she said next to the congressmen.

Kadeer has made Washington a base for activism. She met former president George W. Bush at the White House and her groups are backed by the National Endowment for Democracy, which is privately run but funded by Congress. Asked if she was engaged in improper activities, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Thursday: "I'll just say very simply that we don't have any information to substantiate these kinds of claims by the Chinese government."

Kadeer, a 62-year-old mother of 11, was once a department store magnate said to be the richest woman in China and hailed by Beijing as a model for the Uighur minority. But she was arrested in 1999 on her way to meet a delegation of US congressional researchers after running afoul of authorities for her complaints about the treatment of the Uighurs.

Chinese state media says that 184 people died, most of them Han, when Uighurs "rioted" on Sunday. But Kadeer alleged that the death toll could be in the thousands, saying she has heard accounts of "mob killings" across the vast region which Uighurs call East Turkestan. She said that security forces used deadly force on peaceful protests Sunday, triggering the backlash in which thousands of Han Chinese took to the streets with meat cleavers and other makeshift weapons vowing vengeance.

The resolution introduced to the US Congress expresses "sadness at the loss of both Han Chinese and Uighur life during the recent upheavals." "Certainly we condemn anyone who is committing violence against someone else on the basis of their race, religion of anything else," said Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican. "But remember, this friction is caused by an intentional policy of Beijing to try to destroy the Uighur homeland," he said. "In the long run, this is a policy of the Beijing government to commit genocide against the Uighur people."

Many Han Chinese bristle at such accusations, saying that Beijing has brought "modernization" to Xinjiang and the neighboring restive region of Tibet.

(Boston Globe)  Beijing’s wages of intolerance    July 11, 2009.

IF CHINESE leaders want to blame someone for inter-communal riots pitting Uighur Muslims against Han Chinese in the western province of Xinjiang, they need only look in the mirror. The mayhem that caused China’s president, Hu Jintao, to quit a G-8 summit in Italy and fly home to impose order was the inevitable consequence of rigid, repressive government policies.

In Xinjiang as in Tibet, the labels Beijing applies to its treatment of non-Chinese peoples bear no resemblance to the reality. Official propaganda pretends that the People’s Republic of China has nothing but respect for Tibetan Buddhists or the Uighurs of Xinjiang. Party myth has it that all China’s minorities enjoy complete equality with the Han majority that makes up 92 percent of the country’s population. And the government has long promised to endow so-called autonomous regions with economic development that will make the “backward’’ or “feudal’’ minorities happy to shed their traditional ways.

Like the Tibetans, the Uighurs have seen their region swamped by Han Chinese migrants. After the 1949 seizure of power by the Communists, the first colonizing waves were due to governmental population transfers. After the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 and the economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping were underway, Han migrants were drawn to the oil-rich land of the Uighurs by economic incentives. After 60 years, the Han portion of Xinjiang’s population has gone from 6 percent to 40 percent.

This submerging wave of Han immigrants might have been tolerable if the Communist authorities had not also acted to restrict and suppress the Uighurs’ practice of Islam, and to force grade schools to teach Chinese and stop teaching the local Turkic language. To add insult to injury, Uighurs who dare protest this Chinese chauvinist attempt to efface their culture are denounced as “splittists,’’ a transgression akin to treason.

What’s more, the economic opportunities that were supposed to accompany the Han migration to Xinjiang have been mostly for the migrants. In part, this is because the local party and government bosses are Chinese, and in a system tilted toward those with connections to officialdom, Uighurs have been at a great disadvantage.

If Hu Jintao and his party comrades want to achieve harmony and stability in Xinjiang, it is not enough to fill the streets with security forces and hand out death sentences to Uighur rioters. The bosses in Beijing will need to grant religious freedom to the Uighurs - and the rest of China. They will have to allow the Uighurs to perpetuate their language and their culture. And they will have to ensure equal opportunity for all. In other words, the Chinese Communist leopard must change its spots.

(People's Daily)  I will not read The Wall Street Journal anymore.  By Ding Gang.  July 11, 2009.

[in translation]

As of today, I am no longer a reader of The Wall Street Journal.  I have deleted the URL of this newspaper from my web browser's bookmarks.  I have also marked the daily subscription of the electronic Chinese language of The Wall Street Journal to go into the junk mail folder.

I will use every opportunity to ask my friends and colleagues not to read The Wall Street Journal, not to visit the website of The Wall Street Journal, and not to post comments on its website.  I will tell every Chinese colleague not to cite any report or comment from The Wall Street Journal.  I will tell all the Chinese people who subscribe to The Wall Street Journal that you are wasting your American dollars.

More than ten years, I had been a loyal reader of The Wall Street Journal and I read this internationally reputable newspaper on a daily basis.  Even when I was working overseas, I still continued to subscribe to it and I obtained a lot of useful information from it.  Right until I wrote this essay, my electronic mailbox received the Chinese edition of The Wall Street Journal every day.

Frankly, I was becoming more and more disappointed with the recent reporting in The Wall Street Journal because it contained much ignorance and bias.  But considering that its financial news and commentary still had some value, I did not give up reading this newspaper.  But the reporting in The Wall Street Journal on the July 5 incident in Urumqi was insufferable for me.  It was no longer just looking at China with bias and ignorance, for it was taking an open stand with the terrorists and becoming their spokesperson.

In recent days, I read several reports in the Asian edition of The Wall Street Journal.  Some used the term "protestors" for the Uighurs but "mob" for the Han people; some reports called the riot event "bloodshed" and said that it was triggered by Uighors protesting against "unfair treatment" ... at first, I thought that this was caused by the prejudices of the western media.  But the developments on July 8 at the website were impossible to tolerate.  The World Uighor Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer's head portrait figured prominently with a link to her essay <The real Uighur story>.  Another essay by an unnamed author was titled "The uprising in Urumqi" with the sub-title "Beijing suppressed Muslim minority."  There is no need to quote more from these essays, because the translation of these nonsense talk is a serious offense against the eye and the mind.

Yes, the editors of The Wall Street Journal may argue that they are being fair and balanced.  But have they ever thought that if a certain Chinese media were to use a headline such as <Revenge in New York -- Muslim minorities fight back against American hegemony> in the aftermath of 9/11, would they still consider it was being fair and balanced?

Please remember these thugs who did not even spare children who are only several years old are thugs and terrorists under any set of laws in any country with rule of law!

As I read these reports and commentaries, I felt insulted.  I can tolerate prejudice, but I cannot endure being insulted.  I believe that no reader in the world is willing to read a newspaper in order to be insulted.  The Wall Street Journal may not care about a reader like myself, but I absolutely care about my character and the dignity of my people.

Of course, I can write essays or post comments to rebut these reports an comments.  But I feel that it hurts my reputation and image to debate with the spokesperson for terrorism.  The best way is to give up reading The Wall Street Journal.  If I do not read it, I will not get annoyed and I can have have peace of mind.

As of today, I will say "Thank you!" to every Chinese who no longer reads or writes for The Wall Street Journal.

(Xinhua)  Thirteen lucky number for 700 during Xinjiang riot   July 11, 2009.

"Thirteen is an ominous figure for some westerners, but it was lucky for us on July 5," said head of Xinjiang Art Theater Kamil Tursun, when he spoke of the riot that killed 156 people in Urumqi. More than 700 dancers and audience from 13 ethnic groups were enjoying the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's third dancing contest at the theater when a man rushed in at about 8 p.m., breathless from running. "There are rioters outside," he said.

Kamil decided to suspend the contest and went upstairs to the eighth floor. "Through the window I saw rioters on the road, beating passersby and setting fires on vehicles," he said. "It was all a mess."

He told the Han people, the elderly, women and children to stay in their seats, while the others from ethnic minorities were asked to gather in the hall. "I had never thought the young people would support me so much," he said. "They all promised to protect everyone in the theater."

Boys who had prepared to go on stage for competition stood at the gate to form a defense line. They were still wearing their costumes. "There was hell outside the line, and heaven inside," he said.

Surveillance videos showed the theater opened the gate several times that night to receive scared survivors outside.

The next question was: What to eat? "When I told them that I found 200 steamed breads in the canteen, everyone laughed," he said. "That was the first time I saw them laugh that night. They had been relaxed."

Kamil asked the canteen staff members to cut the breads into pieces and distribute them to each person. "Everyone queued for water and food, which was handed out within 10 minutes. No one complained or scrambled." "I saw people share one piece of bread and pass bottles of water to each other," he said. "People from 13 ethnic groups just formed one family."

As smoke and shouts hovered over the city in the blood, people in the theater began to sleep. The elderly were arranged in VIP rooms, women and children in comfortable offices. People cuddled up to each other, and went to sleep.

Dil Nur, 39, who was nine-months pregnant, slept on a bed used as a prop. The pillows and quilts were all props. "Everything seemed to be going on as a drama. But it was real," she said. "I cannot imagine what would happen to me if I had to walk home that night."

For a whole night, Kamil and several staff members sat and walked in the light at the center of the stage. "Thus everyone could see me. They would not be worried as the theater head was present," he said.

The next morning, Urumqi was silent. People in the theater began to go home at 9 a.m.. Since the riot began, it had been 13 hours.

(CCTV)  Bakery shelters people in Xinjiang riot    July 11, 2009.

 

Amidst all the violence in the Urumqi, there are have also been stories of courage amidst difficulty. Surveillance footage taken during the riots, shows employees of a bakery providing shelter for people.


Surveillance footage taken during the riots, shows employees
of a bakery providing shelter for people.

As staff were preparing for a shift change, the manager noticed something was wrong. Shopkeeper Chen Dongshan said, "Many people rushed to hide in our shop around eight. And many rioters were outside beating policemen. We just locked the door for fear they'd break in." Everyone in the bakery feared for their lives. Shopkeeper Chen Dongshan said, "It was horrible. They threw stones and bricks at us."


Shopkeeper Chen Dongshan 

A cashier said, "We had both Han and Ugyur customers in the bakery for dinner. We were nervous so we took them upstairs."


Broken windows

Nearly 60 people crowded into the second floor of the bakery. Staff then led people to the dormitory and the manager's office. A cashier said, "There were so many people. It was hot and stuffy. I told them not to go outside and to stay calm. Then we locked all the doors and windows."

After they saw the police arrive, everyone felt relieved. They all made it home safely.

Chen Dongshan finds it hard to believe what had happened. He says people of various ethnic groups have lived peacefully with each other in the city. Shopkeeper Chen Dongshan said, "All ethnic groups need unity. Now is a time to unite further. That's where our power comes, as a big family." Chen says the violence shows the vicious intentions of the separatists. He believes Chinese people will never let them win.

(Sun Bin)  The Han/Uyghur demographic trend in Xinjiang.  July 8, 2009.

For the past 10-20 years, following the change in economic activities and the apparent political integration and first hand experiences, people from Hong Kong I know seem to be a lot more knowledgeable about things in mainland China. However, prejudice might have largely gone now, ignorance is still widespread.

...

Here is a chart for Han/Uyghur population as a % of total in Xinjiang from 1978-2006 (source), showing an initial decline (repatriation of the youth sent there during Mao era back to the cities such as Shanghai after 1978) and gradual rebound after 1990s (business opportunity pulled) ... 1977-1978 was about the peak time since we know that people were sent there in the early to mid-1970s.

Han % in 1978: 41.6% , 1990: 37.6%, 2006: 39.3%.

Note: Wikipedia: Xinjiang -- According to the 2000 census, there were 8,345,622 Uighurs (or 45.21%) and 7,489,919 Hans (or 40.58%).

(ESWN addendum)  What about the city of Urumqi, which is the capital of the XUAR?   Here is the spreadsheet (see information from fyjs, Wikipedia: Xinjiang and Wikipedia: Urumqi):

Year Total Uighur %Uighur Han %Han
1949 100,710 18,310 16.99 67,588 62.29
1950 121,746 21,074 17.30 77,554 63.70
1951 125,275 21,955 17.52 78,902 62.98
1955 171,897 31,769 18.48 109,842 63.89
1960 634,844 76,496 12.04 477,321 75.18
1965 615,189 62,439 10.14 463,804 75.39
1968 679,165 72,339 10.65 511,547 75.31
1972 765,788 73,265 9.56 587,813 76.75
1975 930,430 91,708 9.85 716,550 77.01
1980 1,060,502 108,239 10.20 812,557 76.62
1985 1,172,335 138,546 11.81 868,789 74.10
1990 1,384,300 173,200 12.51 1,007,355 73.30
1996 1,478,922 188,327 12.73 1,076,319 72.77
2000 2,081,834 266,475 12.80 1,567,621 75.30

(Global Post)  Confused about the Xinjiang riots? Follow the money.   By Josh Chin.  July 11, 2009.

For Kasim Tuman, a Uighur activist living in California, the explanation for the long-simmering resentment between his people and the Han Chinese that boiled over into deadly ethnic riots in northwest China last week is a matter of two numbers: 6 and 40.

The first is the percentage population of Han Chinese in Xinjiang, the Uighurs’ native province, prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The second is that percentage today.

“The influx of immigrant Han Chinese is so large that Uighurs have become a minority in their own land,” said Tuman, the West Coast coordinator the Uighur American Association.

Beijing’s explanation for last week’s violence is equally simple: It was the work of overseas Uighurs like Tuman — terrorist organizers, the government says, who manipulated their fellow Muslims back home to embark on a bloody rampage.

As columns of Chinese troops maintain a semblance of calm in Urumqi, the provincial capital where at least 156 died and hundreds more were injured in the deadliest episode of ethnic violence in modern Chinese history, attention both in China and abroad has turned to the question of why.

The riots appeared to have grown out of protests over the killing of Uighurs by a mob of Han Chinese factory workers in Guangdong province angry about the rumored rape of two Han Chinese women in the factory. But as with the Rodney King trial and 1992 Los Angeles race riots, the Guangdong incident was a catalyst for the violence, not an explanation for the violence in and of itself.

Tension between Han Chinese and mostly Muslim Uighurs dates back centuries. In recent years, the struggle has come to be seen by some as an issue of religion. This is thanks in large part to the government’s classification of independence-minded Uighurs as terrorists (a shift in rhetoric linked to China’s acquiescence in the George W. Bush’s War on Terror). But observations by scholars, the reactions of regular Han Chinese and the experiences of Uighurs themselves suggest the conflict is less about Islam and more about economics.

The Urumqi riots produced an explosion of indignation inside China itself. As with riots in Tibet in March of 2008, much of the commentary focused on preferential economic policies directed at the region.

“How many other countries treat minorities as favorably as China does?” one YouTube user wrote in Chinese under a video depicting the riots. “Why are some people still unsatisfied? They don’t understand gratitude.” Since the start of its “Go West” campaign in the year 2000, Beijing has invested tens of billions in Xinjiang in an effort to develop its rich stores of oil (China’s second-largest), uranium, gold and other minerals. Such investment is described in Chinese state media as a boon to Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang — a sort of ethnic minority stimulus plan. While the region’s GDP growth has hovered in the teens, however, the practical benefits to Xinjiang natives have been meager.

(Paowang)  21 photos of Urumqi after the riots, including this one:

(The Guardian)  'I asked them to find my husband, but no one dared to go outside'   By Tania Branigfan.  July 11, 2009.


Dong Yuanyuan, a Han Chinese woman whose husband is missing
after they were injured during ethnic clashes involving the Uighur minority in Urumqi, western China.
Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Dong Yuanyuan should be on honeymoon, sightseeing in Shanghai with her husband. But late last Sunday night, their bus stopped when a set of traffic lights in Urumqi turned red.

A few seconds earlier and the newlyweds might have escaped the ethnic riot sweeping the city. Instead, the hail of rocks and sticks that crashed down on them began an ordeal that would leave the 24-year-old teacher with injuries to her head, neck, arms and legs – and without her husband.

"I really hope to find him, no matter whether he's dead or alive. At least I would know something. Now I know nothing. We had just got married and our new life was about to start. Now everything is…" She did not finish her sentence.

As the capital of China's north-western Xinjiang province appears to be settling into an uneasy calm, policed by a security force of about 20,000 paramilitary, riot and regular officers, Dong is one of thousands counting the cost of the past week's vicious inter-ethnic violence.

After scouring hospitals, her parents have found one body and one unconscious patient who they believe could be Liang He, 29. They cannot be sure until Dong is well enough to be discharged from Urumqi's People's Hospital and to look herself.

The government today raised the death toll to 184 and offered the first ethnic breakdown of the dead: 137 Han Chinese – the dominant ethnic group – and 46 Uighurs, who make up almost half of Xinjiang's population of 21.3 million. One Hui Muslim also died. More than 1,000 people were injured.

Officials had said that 156 people had died on Sunday when peaceful protests over Han killings of two Uighur workers in Guangdong, in the south, turned into a mass riot and apparently indiscriminate attacks on mostly Han Chinese.

The state news agency, Xinhua, did not say whether any of the deaths happened last Tuesday, when vengeful Han mobs took to the streets armed with shovels, iron bars and cleavers and savagely assaulted Uighurs. Paramilitaries eventually dispersed them with tear gas.

Some Uighurs in the city voiced disbelief at how few alleged deaths they had suffered. "That's the Han people's number. We have our own number," Akumjia, a Uighur resident, told Reuters. "Maybe many, many more Uighurs died. The police were scared and lost control."

Independent evidence to back claims by exiled Uighurs that the authorities beat to death and shot dead peaceful protesters has not come to light, despite the presence of foreign journalists. But Uighur witnesses told one reporter they had seen police shoot dead two Uighurs.

Many Uighurs reported gunfire and the People's Hospital said it treated people for gunshot wounds. The government has said rioters were armed.

Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation, saying China had presented "a skewed and incomplete picture of the unrest" that had not included attacks on Uighurs or fully accounted for the role of security forces. The authorities accuse Uighur exiles of orchestrating the violence. They deny the claims.

Dong was caught by a group of young Uighur men as she fled the bus with other passengers, losing sight of her husband in the crush. "They thought I looked like a Han, not a Uighur. The people came and started to beat me. I ran away but they dragged me back. I fell to the ground. Some people punched me as they didn't have rocks."

She came around hours later in the darkness, covered in blood; shaken awake by a Hui Muslim woman who hid the newlywed in her home. "I asked them to find my husband," said Dong. "But they said there were many people lying out on the streets and the Uighurs were still there. Nobody dared go out to rescue people."

Instead, Dong lay listening to the sounds of breaking glass, fire spreading through torched vehicles and the roar of the mob sweeping back and forth before police finally suppressed the riot. "When I was young, many Uighurs were my neighbours and classmates. Nothing like this ever happened. We've had very good relations," said Dong. "Now my Han female friends and I feel a bit scared when we see Uighur men because we were all hurt by them. I'll still be nice to the friends I know well, but I may feel scared by strange Uighur men."

The sense of bewilderment is common to many Han in the city. Several said that government policies – such as the one allowing minority couples to have more than one child – favour Uighurs.But Uighurs resent mass Han immigration and strict controls on their religion. Unemployment is high and many feel the Han look down on them,

"We feel pressure," said a young man in a Uighur part of town, who requested anonymity. "Our standard of living is lower than Han . We are not comfortable here. We are attacked. We are hassled." But there is nothing good in this fighting. I want ethnicities in Xinjiang to unite. A quiet life would be good for us."

It is a longing widely shared despite the seething fear and enmity here. Thousands took part in the rioting; but most of Urumqi's people want life to return to normal.

For Dong, crouching on a hospital bed, perhaps it never will. Despite her bloodied eye, bandaged head and widespread scarring, all that bothers her is the fate of her husband. "My physical injuries may heal soon, but my emotional wounds won't heal for a long time," she said

(Xinhua)  Opinion: Who would plead guilty in Xinjiang riot    July 11, 2009.

    Nearly a week after the deadly riot bruised Urumqi and sent residents fleeing its major streets, it was quite a relief to see people gradually return to normal life.

    The first weekend after last Sunday's riot seemed peaceful in Urumqi, with residents strolling in downtown parks with their families, banks reopening after a five-day business suspension and business owners looking to the future. Some people began holding funeral rites for the dead, while soldiers in riot gear stood guard nearby.

    A group of photos filed by my colleagues in Urumqi Saturday showed snow white pigeons, the symbol for peace, swaggering in a square near the city's major bazaar. On one of them, a woman was crouching, reaching out an arm to cuddle one of the birds while a baby rests in her other arm. From the looks in their eyes I read lust for life as it is.

    Canadian teacher Josph Kaber said he sensed tension when some Uygur-run stores on the campus of Xinjiang University were closed after Sunday's riot. "The very next day, young couples were seen strolling by the artificial lake again, and I knew things were getting better." But for those bereaved of their beloved ones in last Sunday's riot, the worst to have hit the Uygur autonomous region in six decades, the trauma would probably take a lifetime to heal.

    Chinese people customarily think the seventh day after death is an important occasion for families and friends to mourn the deceased. Now on the eve of this special mourning day, as shock and terror at the bloodshed give way to anguished quest for the cause of the tragedy, we all feel their grief and are ourselves eager to find out the black hand behind the terror.

    It is not surprising that Rebiya Kadeer is in the spotlight. If not for what happened in Urumqi last Sunday, most Chinese people knew little of the former businesswoman who built a fortune in Urumqi and became a rising star on the country's political arena, got jailed for stealing national secret, and fled to the United States in 2005.

    People continued to bombard Kadeer Saturday: some said the World Uygur Congress leader was seeking to become a Dalai Lama much needed by the East Turkestan, while others made a mockery of her photo with the exiled Tibetan monk.

    In an interview with Xinhua Saturday, former chairman of Xinjiang's regional government Ismail Amat said the woman was "scum" of the Uygur community and was not entitled to represent the Uygur people.

    For most people, the Uygur woman's profile was blurry, stuck in the dilemma of her rags-to-riches legend and her separatist, sometimes terrorist, attempts. Kadeer took advantage of China's reform and opening up policy to build her fortune, but ended up building connections with East Turkestan terrorists and selling intelligence information to foreigners.

    When the rioters in Urumqi's streets, in an outrageous demonstration of violence, slaughtered innocent civilians and left thousands fleeing or moaning in agony, the "spiritual mother of Uygur people" touted by East Turkestan terrorists insisted they were "peaceful protesters".

    To illustrate her point Kadeer ironically showed a photo in a Tuesday interview with Al Jazeera, which later proved to have been cropped from a Chinese news website on an unrelated June 26 protest in Shishou of the central Hubei Province. Until Friday, she was still spreading rumors in an interview with AP, most of which centered on what she called "Chinese brutality".

    As I read this I recalled vividly a text message a friend sent me via cell phone from Urumqi shortly after the riot. "I feel like crying," wrote the man of 26, "to see the mobs beating up and killing the innocent, and setting fire to vehicles and stores... I hate myself for not being able to do anything to stop them. Even a police officer is crying."

    I worry what Kadeer and her World Uygur Congress are doing will worsen the situation for folks in Xinjiang, already bruised by the deadly riot.

(Xinhua)  After horrible riot, Xinjiang people hope to mend tainted relations of ethnic groups.  July 11, 2009.

AKSU, Xinjiang, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Nearly one week has passed since the deadly violence in far northwestern China's Urumqi City, the shockwave of the riot still can be felt even in a farmhouse 1,000 km away from the capital of Xinjiang. Standing in his vine-covered yard on the outskirt of Aksu City in the south Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Abudukeyimu Yibulayin said he was still shocked and saddened by what happened on July 5, though none of people he knows got hurt.  "I watched TV news (about the incident). I never thought they (the rioters) could do such cruel things to innocent people. They by no means represent our Uygur people, but I'm afraid it hurts our relations with Han people now," the 51-year-old Uygur farmer told Xinhua Saturday.

The death toll from the riot in Urumqi rose to 184 as of 11 p.m. Friday, according to the information office of the regional government. Among the dead, 137 were Han people, including 111 men and 26 women. Forty-six were Uygur people, including 45 men and one woman. A man of Hui nationality also died.

The Chinese government said the violence in Urumqi had a "profound" political background, and it was a serious crime masterminded and organized by the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism at home and abroad.

"I agree. We Uygur and Han people have been living together peacefully for many years. The perpetrators must be strongly condemned," Abudukeyimu said.

Aksu is home to some 1.82 million Uygur people, almost 75 percent of the total population. Well-known for its glorious past as a key town along the ancient Silk Road, the city is emerging as a big fruit producer and exporter in Xinjiang. Business went as usual on Saturday around the city, with almost all shops opening and markets crowded with stands selling meat, fruit and vegetable. However, armed police were seen at several major intersections in the downtown.

"Aksu has a long history of coexistence of various ethnic groups because it's situated on the central part of the Silk Road. The Han and Uygur people have been used to living like neighbors," said Du Meiju, curator of the Aksu Museum and an ethnic Han. "For example, we invite people to celebrate both Muslim festivals such as Ramadan and the Han Spring Festival," she said.

Abudukeyimu often brings fruit and vegetable from his orchard in Duolang Village to a nearby bazaar to sell. "Many buyers are Han people. We bargain price and talk jokes a lot. It's so natural and comfortable for us to do so because we've been living as neighbors for decades. "These days they still come to buy. But I don't know how to face them, though I know the viol ence has nothing to do with most of Uygur people. I have a feeling I owe something to them," Abudukeyimu said. "This is really a bad experience."

Abulajiang, also living in Duolang Village, worried about negative results in a long run. "If our society is unstable, investors will be scared away and tourists stop coming. It will do no good to anyone here," said the29-year-old man. "Our life is getting better and better. Now a small group of people began to do damages. I really don't understand," he said. Abulajiang planned to open a cotton processing factory this October if he can obtain a low-interest loan of two million yuan (about 293,000 U.S. dollars). He believed the business would have a good prospect because the government provides subsidies to the business.

Ma Changzheng, a Han businessman from Urumqi who is currently in Aksu, said he believed the ethnic relationship will resume, though it would take time. "I grow up in Xinjiang. I know very well that no ethnic group can live alone without others," he said.

Abudukeyimu also expressed his belief that the difficult situation at present will pass as long as "perpetrators are punished according to law and their attempts to sabotage are clearly known by all the people." "I hope this process won't take too long," he added.

(ChinaNews)  Two telephone conversations between victim family and rioter.  By Wang Jinsheng.  July 11, 2009.

If it were not for the night of July 5, 40-year-old Urumqi resident Yang Chuanhong would be a father in about half a month's time.  He was a trucker and he was transporting a truckload of bricks that evening.  On Zhongquan Road, he was killed by a bunch of rioters who took all his money.

On July 11, our reporter met Yang Chuanhong's widow Luan Xingyan in the lobby of the Urumqi Global Hotel's 7.5 incident reception center.  She sat in a corner with red eyes and a baby who was expected to be delivered on August 1.

Yang Chuanhong was born and raised in Urumqi.  In 2005, he began a truck delivery service.  On July 5, he went out in his just repaired Dongfeng truck.  At noon, he called his wife and asked if she had lunch yet.  At 7pm, his wife called him and asked when he will be home.  He said, "I am loading at Xinjiang University and I should be home around 10pm."

But no one ever expected that this would be the last conversation between the husband and the wife.  Luan Xingyan had came from Bole city in western Xinjiang to work in Urumqi city.  In 2007, she married Yang Chuanhong.  She does not have a regular job.  In her eyes, her husband is a honest and hardworking person who makes about 6,000 RMB per month as the sole income-earner of the family.

"My husband's family is in serious economic hardship since the parents have no income.  Yang Chuanhong's younger brother has kidney problems and he transplanted his right kidney to the younger brother last year."  Luan Xingyan cried as she told the reporter and wondered why the heavens want to bestow all the misfortunes upon her husband's family.

At 10pm on July 5 after the severe violent crimes occurred in Urumqi, Luan Xingyan called her husband but could not get through.  She kept calling until she finally got through at 2am.

"Where are you?  Come home quickly!"  Luan Xingyan anxiously said.

"Are you about to deliver?"  The party on the other side said.

This reply made Luan Xingyan realized that it was not her husband on the line.  Instead, it must be a thug who participated in the major violent crime!  He also knew that she was pregnant.

"When the thugs assaulted my husband, he must have begged for mercy and told them that his wife was due," Luan Xingyan told the reporter.  The thug sounded intoxicated on the phone, but it was likely that they had taken her husband's phone.

Then the thug hung up.  That one response shook Luan Xingyan up.

Luan Xingyan kept comforting herself.  Maybe the thugs only took her husband's mobile phone but he was safe.  Several minutes later, he called her husband's mobile phone again.

"Can you please fetch my husband Yang Chuanhong."

"Ha ha, he was scared to death!  He is dead!"

The line was then hung up.  When Luan Xingyan called again, the phone was offline already.

At 4pm on July 8, the bad news came.  A worker from the Urumqi government called the family of Yang Chuanhong to identify his body.

(The Market Oracle)  Is Washington Playing a Deeper Game with China?   By F_William_Engdahl   July 11, 2009.

After the tragic events of July 5 in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, it would be useful to look more closely into the actual role of the US Government’s ”independent“ NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). All indications are that the US Government, once more acting through its “private” Non-Governmental Organization, the NED, is massively intervening into the internal politics of China. 

The reasons for Washington’s intervention into Xinjiang affairs seems to have little to do with concerns over alleged human rights abuses by Beijing authorities against Uyghur people. It seems rather to have very much to do with the strategic geopolitical location of  Xinjiang on the Eurasian landmass and its strategic importance for China’s future economic and energy cooperation with Russia, Kazakhastan and other Central Asia states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The major organization internationally calling for protests in front of Chinese embassies around the world is the Washington, D.C.-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC).

The WUC manages to finance a staff, a very fancy website in English, and has a very close relation to the US Congress-funded NED. According to published reports by the NED itself, the World Uyghur Congress receives $215,000.00 annually from the National Endowment for Democracy for “human rights research and advocacy projects.” The president of the WUC is an exile Uyghur who describes herself as a “laundress turned millionaire,” Rebiya Kadeer, who also serves as president of the Washington D.C.-based Uyghur American Association, another Uyghur human rights organization which receives significant funding from the US Government via the National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED was intimately involved in financial support to various organizations behind the Lhasa ”Crimson Revolution“ in March 2008, as well as the Saffron Revolution in Burma/Myanmar and virtually every regime change destabilization in eastern Europe over the past years from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine to Kyrgystan to Teheran in the aftermath of the recent elections.

Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, was quite candid when he said in a published interview in 1991: "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit foundation, but it receives a yearly appropriation for its international work from the US Congress. The NED money is channelled through four “core foundations”. These are the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, linked to Obama’s Democratic Party; the International Republican Institute tied to the Republican Party; the American Center for International Labor Solidarity linked to the AFL-CIO US labor federation as well as the US State Department; and the Center for International Private Enterprise linked to the US Chamber of Commerce.

The salient question is what has the NED been actively doing that might have encouraged the unrest in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and what is the Obama Administration policy in terms of supporting or denouncing such NED-financed intervention into sovereign politics of states which Washington deems a target for pressure? The answers must be found soon, but one major step to help clarify Washington policy under the new Obama Administration would be for a full disclosure by the NED, the US State Department and NGO’s linked to the US Government, of their involvement, if at all, in encouraging Uyghur separatism or unrest. Is it mere coincidence that the Uyghur riots take place only days following the historic meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

Uyghur exile organizations, China and Geopolitics

On May 18 this year, the US-government’s in-house “private” NGO, the NED, according to the official WUC website, hosted a seminal human rights conference entitled East Turkestan: 60 Years under Communist Chinese Rule,  along with a curious NGO with the name, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO).

The Honorary President and founder of the UNPO is one Erkin Alptekin, an exile Uyghur who founded UNPO while working for the US Information Agency’s official propaganda organization, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as Director of their Uygur Division and Assistant Director of the Nationalities Services.

Alptekin also founded the World Uyghur Congress at the same time, in 1991, while he was with the US Information Agency. The official mission of the USIA when Alptekin founded the World Uyghur Congress in 1991 was “to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics in promotion of the [USA] national interest…” Alptekin was the first president of WUC, and, according to the official WUC website, is a “close friend of the Dalai Lama.”

Closer examination reveals that UNPO in turn to be an American geopolitical strategist’s dream organization. It was formed, as noted, in 1991 as the Soviet Union was collapsing and most of the land area of Eurasia was in political and economic chaos. Since 2002 its Director General has been Archduke Karl von Habsburg of Austria who lists his (unrecognized by Austria or Hungary) title as “Prince Imperial of Austria and Royal Prince of Hungary.”

Among the UNPO principles is the right to ‘self-determination’ for the 57 diverse population groups who, by some opaque process not made public, have been admitted as official UNPO members with their own distinct flags, with a total population of some 150 million peoples and headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands.

UNPO members range from Kosovo which “joined” when it was fully part of then Yugoslavia in 1991. It includes the “Aboriginals of Australia” who were listed as founding members along with Kosovo. It includes the Buffalo River Dene Nation indians of northern Canada.  

The select UNPO members also include Tibet which is listed as a founding member. It also includes other explosive geopolitical areas as the Crimean Tartars, the Greek Minority in Romania, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (in Russia), the Democratic Movement of Burma, and the gulf enclave adjacent to Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and which just happens to hold rights to some of the world’s largest offshore oil fields leased to Condi Rice’s old firm, Chevron Oil.  Further geopolitical hotspots which have been granted elite recognition by the UNPO membership include the large section of northern Iran which designates itself as Southern Azerbaijan, as well as something that calls itself Iranian Kurdistan.

In April 2008 according to the website of the UNPO, the US Congress’ NED sponsored a “leadership training” seminar for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) together with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Over 50 Uyghurs from around the world together with prominent academics, government representatives and members of the civil society gathered in Berlin Germany to discuss “Self-Determination under International Law.” What they discussed privately is not known.  Rebiya Kadeer gave the keynote address.

The suspicious timing of the Xinjiang riots

The current outbreak of riots and unrest in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang in the northwest part of China, exploded on July 5 local time.

According to the website of the World Uyghur Congress, the “trigger” for the riots was an alleged violent attack on June 26 in China’s southern Guangdong Province at a toy factory where the WUC alleges that Han Chinese workers attacked and beat to death two Uyghur workers for allegedly raping or sexually molesting two Han Chinese women workers in the factory. On July 1, the Munich arm of the WUC issued a worldwide call for protest demonstrations against Chinese embassies and consulates for the alleged Guangdong attack, despite the fact they admitted the details of the incident were unsubstantiated and filled with allegations and dubious reports.

According to a press release they issued, it was that June 26 alleged attack that gave the WUC the grounds to issue their worldwide call to action.

On July 5, a Sunday in Xinjiang but still the USA Independence Day, July 4, in Washington, the WUC in Washington claimed that Han Chinese armed soldiers seized any Uyghur they found on the streets and according to official Chinese news reports, widespread riots and burning of cars along the streets of Urumqi broke out resulting over the following three days in over 140 deaths.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said that protesters from the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority group began attacking ethnic Han pedestrians, burning vehicles and attacking buses with batons and rocks. "They took to the street...carrying knives, wooden batons, bricks and stones," they cited an eyewitness as saying. The French AFP news agency quoted Alim Seytoff, general secretary of the Uighur American Association in Washington, that according to his information, police had begun shooting "indiscriminately" at protesting crowds.

Two different versions of the same events: The Chinese government and pictures of the riots indicate it was Uyghur riot and attacks on Han Chinese residents that resulted in deaths and destruction. French official reports put the blame on Chinese police “shooting indiscriminately.” Significantly, the French AFP report relies on the NED-funded Uyghur American Association of Rebiya Kadeer for its information. The reader should judge if the AFP account might be motivated by a US geopolitical agenda, a deeper game from the Obama Administration towards China’s economic future.

Is it merely coincidence that the riots in Xinjiang by Uyghur organizations broke out only days after the meeting took place in Yakaterinburg, Russia of the member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as Iran as official observer guest, represented by President Ahmadinejad?

Over the past few years, in the face of what is seen as an increasingly hostile and incalculable United States foreign policy, the major nations of Eurasia—China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan have increasingly sought ways of direct and more effective cooperation in economic as well as security areas. In addition, formal Observer status within SCO has been given to Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia. The SCO defense ministers are in regular and growing consultation on mutual defense needs, as NATO and the US military command continue provocatively to expand across the region wherever it can.

The Strategic Importance of Xinjiang for Eurasian Energy Infrastructure

There is another reason for the nations of the SCO, a vital national security element, to having peace and stability in China’s Xinjiang region. Some of China’s most important oil and gas pipeline routes pass directly through Xinjiang province. Energy relations between Kazkhstan and China are of enormous strategic importance for both countries, and allow China to become less dependent on oil supply sources that can be cut off by possible US interdiction should relations deteriorate to such a point.

Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a State visit in April 2009 to Beijing. The talks concerned deepening economic cooperation, above all in the energy area, where Kazkhastan holds huge reserves of oil and likely as well of natural gas. After the talks in Beijing, Chinese media carried articles with such titles as “"Kazakhstani oil to fill in the Great Chinese pipe."

The Atasu-Alashankou pipeline to be completed in 2009 will provide transportation of transit gas to China via Xinjiang. As well Chinese energy companies are involved in construction of a Zhanazholskiy gas processing plant, Pavlodar electrolyze plant and Moynakskaya hydro electric station in Kazakhstan.

According to the US Government’s Energy Information Administration, Kazakhstan’s Kashagan field is the largest oil field outside the Middle East and the fifth largest in the world in terms of reserves, located off the northern shore of the Caspian Sea, near the city of Atyrau. China has built a 613-mile-long pipeline from Atasu, in northwestern Kazakhstan, to Alashankou at the border of China's Xinjiang region which is exporting Caspian oil to China. PetroChina’s ChinaOil is the exclusive buyer of the crude oil on the Chinese side. The pipeline is a joint venture of CNPC and Kaztransoil of Kazkhstan. Some 85,000 bbl/d of Kazakh crude oil flowed through the pipeline during 2007. China’s CNPC is also involved in other major energy projects with Kazkhstan. They all traverse China’s Xinjiang region.

In 2007 CNPC signed an agreement to invest more than $2 billion to construct a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China. That pipeline would start at Gedaim on the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and extend 1,100 miles through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to Khorgos in China's Xinjiang region. Turkmenistan and China have signed a 30-year supply agreement for the gas that would fill the pipeline. CNPC has set up two entities to oversee the Turkmen upstream project and the development of a second pipeline that will cross China from the Xinjiang region to southeast China at a cost of some $7 billion.

As well, Russia and China are discussing major natural gas pipelines from eastern Siberia through Xinjiang into China. Eastern Siberia contains around 135 Trillion cubic feet of proven plus probable natural gas reserves. The Kovykta natural gas field could give China with natural gas in the next decade via a proposed pipeline.

During the current global economic crisis, Kazakhstan received a major credit from China of  $10 billion, half of which is for oil and gas sector. The oil pipeline Atasu-Alashankou and the gas pipeline China-Central Asia, are an instrument of strategic 'linkage' of central Asian countries to the economy China. That Eurasian cohesion from Russia to China across Central Asian countries is the geopolitical cohesion Washington most fears. While they would never say so, growing instability in Xinjiang would be an ideal way for Washington to weaken that growing cohesion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization nations.

(Associated press)  Uighurs dispute China's contention that 184 riot dead were mostly from Han Chinese majority.  By Gillian Wong and William Foreman.  July 11, 2009.

China released a breakdown Saturday of the death toll from communal rioting, saying most of the 184 killed were from the Han Chinese majority - an announcement that only fueled suspicion among Muslim Uighurs that many more of their people died.

Identifying the ethnic background of the dead for the first time since last Sunday's unrest in western Xinjiang, the government's Xinhua News Agency cited provincial officials as saying 137 victims were Han while 46 were Uighurs and one was a Hui, another Muslim group.

Uighurs on the streets of the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, and from exile activist groups disputed the new figures, citing persistent rumours that security forces fired on Uighurs during Sunday's protest and in following days.

"I've heard that more than 100 Uighurs have died, but nobody wants to talk about it in public," said one Uighur man who did not want to give his name because the city remains tense and security forces are everywhere.

Dispelling such suspicions has become another challenge for the government as it tries to calm the troubled region and win over critics in the international community. Turkey - whose people share an ethnic and cultural bond with the Uighurs - has been particularly critical with the prime minister likening the situation to genocide.

Uighurs have repeatedly told foreign journalists in Urumqi that police shot at crowds. The accounts have been difficult to verify, except in isolated cases, making it unlikely that Uighur deaths numbered 500 or more as some exile activists have claimed. Security forces have shown discipline in dealing with agitated and angry crowds of Uighurs and Han in the days following the riot.

Nearly a week after last Sunday's disturbance, officials have yet to make public key details about the riots and what happened next. How much force police used to re-impose order is unclear. Xinhua's brief report, which raised the death toll by nearly 30, did not say whether all were killed Sunday or afterward when vigilante mobs ran through the city with bricks, clubs and cleavers.

China's communist leadership has ordered forces across Xinjiang to mobilize to put down any unrest, adding a note of official worry that violence might spread elsewhere. The state-run China News Service said that authorities last Monday arrested an unspecified number of people plotting to instigate a riot in Yining, a city near Xinjiang's border with Kazakstan.

In a separate report, the news agency said that some of the rioters in Urumqi came from Kashgar, Hotan and other cities in the region, which abuts Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of Central Asia.

In Urumqi, some Chinese held funeral rites for their dead Saturday. At a makeshift funeral parlour along an alley, friends paid respects at an altar with photos of the dead: a couple and her parents, all beaten to death in the riot.

Security forces patrolled the city in thick numbers. Paramilitary police carrying automatic weapons and riot shields blocked some roads leading to one largely Uighur district. White armoured personnel carriers and open-bed trucks packed with standing troops rumbled along main avenues.

In one Uighur neighbourhood, a police van blared public announcements in the Uighur language urging residents to oppose activist Rebiya Kadeer, a 62-year-old Uighur businesswoman who lives in exile in the U.S., whom China says instigated the riots without providing evidence. She has denied it.

Kadeer, president of the pro-independence World Uyghur Congress, and other overseas activists say that many more Uighurs have accused authorities of downplaying the toll to cover up killings by Chinese security forces. "We believe the actual number of people dead, wounded and arrested is much higher," she said in an interview Friday in Washington.

Kadeer has said at least 500 people were killed while other overseas groups have put the toll even higher, citing accounts from Uighurs in China.

China has said its security forces exercised restraint in restoring stability but has not provided details nor explained why so many people died.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey - where daily protests have voiced support for the Uighurs - urged Beijing to prevent attacks on the minority group.

"These incidents in China are as if they are genocide," said Erdogan. "We ask the Chinese government not to remain a spectator to these incidents. There is clearly a savagery here."

The violence last Sunday followed a protest against the June 26 deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in southern China. The crowd then scattered throughout Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, burning cars and smashing windows.

Many Uighurs who are still free live in fear of being arrested for any act of dissent.

Thousands of Chinese troops have flooded into Urumqi to separate the feuding ethnic groups, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting.

A report in the Urumqi Evening News on Friday said police caught 190 suspects in four raids the day before.

The government believes the Uighurs should be grateful for Xinjiang's rapid economic development, which has brought new schools, highways, airports, railways, natural gas fields and oil wells in the sprawling, rugged Central Asian region, three times the size of Texas.

But many of the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, with a population of 9 million in Xinjiang, accuse the dominant Han ethnic group of discriminating against them and saving all the best jobs for themselves. Many also say the Communist Party is repressive and tries to snuff out their Islamic faith, language and culture.

(Newsweek)  The Economic Roots of Xinjiang's Unrest.  By Melinda Liu.   July 11, 2009.

The latest victims of the global financial crisis are casualties of the violent unrest sweeping China’s minority enclaves—most recently in Xinjiang, where Muslim Uighurs constitute the largest single ethnic group. China is still booming nationwide, but many export-dependent cities are hurting, so it’s no wonder that last week’s riots had roots in coastal Guangdong, the source of about one third of China’s exports. Earlier this year a Guangdong toy factory shipped in 800 Uighur workers as part of a government affirmative-action program. This angered Han Chinese workers, who did not receive the same access to free room and board as the Uighurs did. In June, a resentful Han worker spread rumors that Uighur workers had raped two Han women, according to state media. In revenge, a Han mob attacked Uighur workers, and as authorities dithered in arresting the attackers, Uighurs in Xinjiang took to the streets in protests that ended in violence.

The recent bloodshed was China’s most serious civil turmoil since 1989, when worries over inflation and official corruption were a key trigger for the Tiananmen protests and subsequent crackdown. Now, even though inflation isn’t a problem, perceptions of inequality are creating deep social rifts in China. The country has seen a sharp uptick in grassroots unrest: in 2008 the state reported 70,000 “mass incidents,” an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2005. In Xinjiang, race-based economic grievances play out across a huge canvas—the region constitutes nearly one sixth of the country’s land mass. Many Han believe Uighurs are ungrateful for the treatment they get from Beijing, including preferential job placement, less rigorous requirements on college-entrance exams, and less strict enforcement of the one-child-per-family rule.

Uighurs, in turn, see their livelihoods threatened by Beijing’s calls on Han Chinese to “go west” and develop Xinjiang. Since 1949, the Han have grown from 6 percent to more than 40 percent of Xinjiang’s population. Even many well-off Uighurs are now critical of Beijing. Former entrepreneur Rebiya Kadeer—once touted by Beijing as the richest woman in China—says she was a big government backer until she realized official policies were designed to “keep many Uighurs poor and badly educated.” After Kadeer publicly criticized religious curbs and prison abuses in Xinjiang, she was jailed in 1999 on charges of revealing state secrets; when she was released in 2005, she was immediately flown into exile in the United States.

Last week Chinese Netizens vented angrily against the economic breaks given to Tibetan and Uighur minorities, especially now that provinces with large minority populations are receiving a generous share of stimulus funds. With economic competition intensifying, any hint of unequal treatment is likely to trigger more resentment at the grassroots, regardless of race. This is shaping up to be a long, hot summer for the Beijing regime.

(James Fallows, The Atlantic)  July 11, 2009.

In response to three previous posts (here, here, and here), a series of reactions and updates. First, from a reader with a Chinese name*, a measured discussion of some of the reasons behind the frequently thin-skinned, defensive, 愤青 (fenqing, "angry youth") reaction from China to critical comments from abroad:

"You discussed Chinese people's "tone of response to outside criticism" in recent posts. I agree that many Chinese people do not react well to outside criticisms, and that's certainly something worth their self-reflection. But around this particular event-time, it would be helpful to put these people's emotions within the context of many foreign media's portraits of the unrest in Xinjiang:

"1. Initial western media reports tend to gave readers/viewers the impression that most of the dead must have been Uighur demonstrators killed in police gunfire (this might have been most western journalists' assumption, as Christian Science Monitor's Peter Ford conceded). And when it was later discovered that actually most of the dead were Han Chinese (often murdered brutally), many western media reports only mentioned this crucial fact in passing (often buried deep in the middle of their reports), or simply ignored it (e.g., NBC's July 10th Nightly News). The impact of such portraits on the public opinion in the West is clear: numerous people on Twitter, perhaps the majority of the commentators in the first couple of days, condemned the perceived Chinese police's slaughtering or even genocide of Uighurs. Wouldn't an ordinary Chinese person get emotional over such media portraits and the resulted public perception?  
 

"2. It's clear that the coverage of the Chinese domestic media on Xinjiang is censored. But crucially one important aspect of the censorship (admittedly not the only aspect) is to frame the unrest as a criminal act, not ethnic conflict---and this was done in the light of preventing the rise of Han Chinese nationalism. How else could one interpret things like the removal of grim pictures/videos of the dead from Chinese websites, and CCTV's reports about some ethnic Uighurs providing shields to ethnic Han Chinese in the riot? I'm not saying such censorship is necessarily the best way to promote ethnic peace in China, but some western media's assertions that the Chinese propaganda machine has been censoring the Chinese media in order to incite Han Chinese anger at ethnic Uighurs are quite disturbing.
 
"3. China's policies in Xinjiang can and should certainly be examined and debated, but let me make an imperfect analogy: would/did the western media condemn US policies right after the 911, or did they initially show enormous (and well-deserved) sympathies to the US government and people after 911? Why in China the whole thing is reversed? (On the other hand, it might be a good thing for China not to have sympathies to squander, unlike the US government.)

"The Chinese government and Chinese people should certainly do some serious self-reflection, but I am afraid so should many Western media practitioners.  Whether such self-reflection is worth the trouble when pandering to the market is the overriding concern of media organizations is of course a different issue."




(Taipei Times)  Chinese oppression of minorities.  By Paul Lin.  July 12, 2009.

The unrest in Urumqi and the massacre of Muslim Uighurs once again highlighted the instability of Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) cruel, merciless nature.

At 11pm on June 25 in Shaoguan City in Guangdong Province, a fight broke out between Han Chinese workers and Uighur workers over rumors that a Uighur had raped a Han Chinese girl at a factory. The result was that two Uighur workers were killed and 118 people injured, 79 of them Uighurs. Armed police did not intervene until after 4am. With the CCP’s ability to stop protests even before they get started, this was a very slow response, which in effect meant the party approved the beating of Uighurs. The Chinese government’s long-term nationalistic propaganda aimed at giving the Uighurs a bad name has resulted in most Han Chinese viewing Uighurs as suicide bombers, splittists and terrorists.

After the incident, Chinese authorities did not release any news on how they intended to stop the ethnic conflict. When a group of Uighurs protested in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi last Sunday, it turned into a bloodbath. How this peaceful protest turned into conflict remains a mystery because the CCP had blocked all information in and out of the area, including telephones and the Internet. News reports at around midnight on July 5 said only two people died, but the morning after, officials announced that the death toll had jumped to 140 with 828 injured. Not long after the second set of figures were released, Beijing announced that the death toll had increased to 156 and yesterday raised it to 186 — with many believing that the real figure is much higher.

Thanks to the authorities rapidly “calming the unrest,” many people were killed that night and their corpses quickly disposed of, with thousands more arrested. Reporters from outside of Xinjiang were then allowed into designated areas for interviews, while the government laid all the blame on the president of the World Uighur Congress Rebiya Kadeer, a 62-year-old Uighur businesswoman who lives in exile in the US. The surprising effectiveness of the Chinese government’s actions imply that the incident was carefully planned in advance to draw the Uighurs out and give them a beating without leaving any traces behind.

The Uighurs have been wrongly accused and even with reporters from other areas and abroad arriving on pre-arranged tours, there were brave people who — like the monks last year in Tibet — directly exposed the CCP’s tricks and violent acts, saying troops drove directly at protesters in armored cars and raided the houses of innocent Uighur civilians taking away all able-bodied men.

This is the second mass slaughter conducted by the CCP after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Is this how Beijing has “improved its human rights” record as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has claimed? Because China is a powerful country, the international community has been relatively silent in its response. The UN should step forward and investigate these racially motivated killings. While an investigation team may be deceived by the CCP, at least it would force the CCP to restrain itself somewhat.

If the CCP really views Uighurs as Chinese, blood should prove to be thicker than water and the CCP should stop the killings. If however, the CCP views the Uighurs as some foreign tribe, they should be given the right to self-determination.

The reaction of the Taiwanese media was slow and television talk shows did not even touch on the issue on Monday evening. Have they forgotten all about the 228 incident? Last year and this year, the 228 Memorial Foundation held international symposiums on Xinjiang and invited Kadeer to provide a written statement. This year, I submitted a report on the latest state of human rights in Xinjiang and said Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) concept of hexie (和諧), or harmony, is not applicable to the Uighurs and that the current secretary of the CCP in Xinjiang, Wang Lequan (王樂泉) and his empire have deliberately stirred up tensions to increase conflict. Judging by the recent developments, I was right.

Taiwanese should open their eyes and see what is happening. If Taiwan is swallowed up by China because of Ma’s surrender to the CCP, the Han Chinese — who long have been brainwashed into viewing Taiwan with hostility — will sooner or later be manipulated to kill Taiwanese and another 228 incident will become a reality.

(Express Buzz)  An unending tale of respression.  By Claude Apri.  July 12, 2009.

On the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6, the news flash said that in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang (The New Dominion in Chinese), violence had erupted the previous day, resulting in at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded. The background to the bloodiest-ever riot in this restive region is still not clear. Apparently, it started with a peaceful protest which later turned violent. Uighur students were protesting against the killings of two Uighurs by Han Chinese workers in a factory in south China.

At one point the crowd (between 1,000 and 3,000 people, according to agency reports), angered by the brutal reaction of the People’s Armed Police (PAP), started overturning vehicles, attacking houses and clashing with police. A few hours later, Chinese TV began showing images of the riots. According to Wu Nong, a spokesperson for the Xinjiang provincial government, 260 vehicles were attacked or set on fire and 203 houses damaged. The figures seem quite astonishing. The number of dead or wounded and the material damage appears to be extraordinarily high compared to the number of participants.

Tensions are not new to the province that has been flooded by millions of Han settlers over the past decades. Part of the Republic of East Turkistan till 1949, the Uighur, Muslims of Turkish origin have demonstrated their resentment against the Han colonisation. Today, the majority of Urumqi’s 2.3 million inhabitants are Han Chinese.

The Communist Party’s local satraps were quick to blame the deadly riots on a ‘foreign’ hand. Xinjiang CCP boss and Politburo member Wang Lequan said the incidents in Urumqi showed the violent and terrorist nature of the separatist World Uyghur Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer. When unrest erupted in Tibet in March 2008, the Dalai Lama was similarly called a ‘wolf in monk’s dress’ by Zang Qingli, the Tibet party chief.

In an interview with Xinjiang TV, Wang said that “the terrorist, separatist and extremist forces cheated the people to participate in the so-called Jihad.” Though the CCTV footage showed more ordinary citizens than hardcore jihadis, Wang’s conclusion was: “All party members should take the strongest measures to deal with the enemies’ attempt at sabotage and maintain regional stability.”

With tens of thousands of the PAP called in as reinforcements in the New Dominion (and President Hu Jintao rushed back from Italy without attending the G8 Summit), there is no doubt that ‘extreme measures’ will be taken. Two days after the incidents, Beijing endorsed Wang’s position. The People’s Daily commented: “The 63-year-old Kadeer is likened to the Dalai Lama… the so-called ‘peaceful demonstration’ was staged on the Urumqi streets in the form of the most inhumane atrocities too horrible to look at. 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.”

It was categorically denied by Kadeer who in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal said: “I unequivocally condemn the use of violence by Uighurs during the demonstration as much as I do China’s use of excessive force against protestors.” However, for The People’s Daily, China’s official mouthpiece, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region “enjoys a time-honoured history as a civilised settlement with different ethnic groups living in a compact community and harmony.” This is the crux of the matter. The fact is that for decades there is more hatred and distrust than ‘compact harmony’ between the Uighur and Han populations. One can easily understand why.

Their country has been invaded by waves of migrants and the Uighurs have become second class citizens in their homeland. Both in Tibet in 2008 and Urumqi in 2009, the unrest was fuelled by a deep resentment against the millions of Han settlers. When ordinary people risk demonstrating against a repressive totalitarian state like China, it means that they are desperate. For the past 60 years, Tibetans and Uighurs have undergone a similar fate: they have had no say in the affairs of their respective provinces. In both cases, Beijing has reacted similarly: put the blame on ‘foreign hands’ for the unrest and used force to counter ‘splittist’ elements.

In Xinjiang, however, there is a difference: the swiftness of the repression. The PAP did not wait a couple of days to react in Urumqi; the repression was fast and ferocious, perhaps even more brutal than on the Roof of the World. Interestingly, this comes at a time when China has started to hurl insults at India. On June 11, the Global Times wrote: “India is frustrated that China’s rise has captured much of the world’s attention.”

A week later, in an editorial The People’s Daily, Li Hongmei affirmed that India was “proud of its ‘advanced political system’, India feels superior to China. However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China’s.” Well, it does not seem so. During the same period, a speech purportedly by General Chi Haotian, former minister of defence and vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission circulated on the Internet. He would have declared in 2005: “Hitler’s Germany once bragged that the German race was the most superior race on Earth, but the fact is, our nation is far superior to the Germans.”

It is not India alone, but China’s own ‘nationalities’ are also objects of Beijing’s aggression and condescending attitude. Since the time of the Nationalist Revolution, this has been known by non-Han in China as the Great Han Chauvinism. Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal, the first Tibetan Communist who was instrumental in bringing the PLA into Tibet in 1950, realised that Han chauvinism “is one of the most serious hindrances to our nation’s current work on nationality relations.” He warned several generations of Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Zyiang and Hu Jintao.

After the Urumqi incidents, the Western powers have remained cautious. While they are vociferous against the Burmese junta, in the present case, they are more than subdued. To quote the spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “We are worried about the situation. Obviously, we are calling for the end of the violence. We are having consultations with our European partners on the events (in Xinjiang). We regret the number of victims and we wish a return to peace as soon as possible.”

President Hu’s quick return to China demonstrates great nervousness; this coupled with the age-old Chinese complex of superiority renders the situation in China extremely unstable, not to say explosive. For the last few years, Hu has been obsessed with ‘stability’. The leadership, particularly Hu, often speaks of a ‘harmonious’ society, probably in contrast with the ‘chaos’ so greatly feared by the ancient emperors. The Chinese word for ‘chaos’, luan meant society’s condition when it fell into an uncontrolled state. The emperors used to lose Heaven’s Mandate to rule when ‘chaos’ prevailed.

The problem is that the present emperors do not know any method other than force to solve internal issues, and force has never worked in the long run.

(New York Times)  Rumbles on the Rim of China's Empire.  By Edward Wong.  July 12, 2009.

Its name alone indicates what the western region of Xinjiang means to the Chinese state: it translates as New Frontier or New Dominion, a place at the margins of empire. For centuries, the rulers of China have sought to control and shape Xinjiang, much as the dry winds of the vast deserts here sculpt the rocks.

A history exhibition in the main museum in this regional capital goes one step further. “Xinjiang has been an inalienable part of the territory of China,” it asserts, implying that Beijing or Xian or some other imperial capital has for time immemorial held sway over this land at the crossroads of Asian civilizations.

But many Uighurs, a Turkic race of Muslims that is the largest ethnic group among the 20 million people of Xinjiang, have their own competing historical narrative. In it, the region is cast as the Uighurs’ homeland, and the ethnic Han, who only began arriving in large numbers after the Communist takeover in 1949, are portrayed as colonizers.

Mechanisms typical of colonial control — the migration of Han, who are China’s dominant race, and government policies that support the spread of Han language, culture and economic power — provided tinder, some scholars say, for the conflagration of the past week in Xinjiang.

The fighting quickly turned into the deadliest outbreak of ethnic violence in China in decades, and has forced Uighurs and Han across the region to question not only their relations with each other, but also the relationship of the Chinese state to the frontier, or, as some would put it, the imperial power to the colony.

The upheaval began with young Uighurs marching last Sunday in this regional capital to protest a case of judicial discrimination. That exploded into clashes with riot police and Uighurs rampaging through the city and killing Han civilians. Then, for at least three days, bands of Han vigilantes roamed Urumqi, attacking and killing Uighurs. The government said at least 184 people were killed and 1,100 injured in the violence, with most of the dead being Han, a statement that Uighurs dispute.

One Uighur university graduate told of hiding in her apartment for most of the last week. “This is Xinjiang,” she said. “This is our homeland. Where are we going to live if we leave this city? Where are we going to go?” Xinjiang has always been a great melting pot, a former hub on the Silk Road that today has 13 sizeable ethnic minority groups and borders eight countries. The concept of homeland is at the heart of the conflict. Uighurs shy away from openly framing the issue as one of independence and national sovereignty, but they ask: Who is the guest here? And whose culture and way of life should take precedence?

Though many Uighurs claim to be the indigenous people of the region, foreign historians say the Uighurs did not migrate from the Mongolian steppes to what is now Xinjiang until the 10th century. They eventually built tribal societies here, mostly around oasis towns along the southern edge of the large desert depression called the Tarim Basin.

Archaeological finds, especially recent excavations of amazingly well-preserved mummies, show that the first people to live in the region were likely West Eurasians, some of whom seem to have worshipped cows. The oldest of those mummies date back 3,800 years.

“I say the Tarim Basin was one of the last parts of the earth to be occupied,” said Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania who has been a leading scholar on the mummies. “It was bound by mountains. They couldn’t live there until they had certain irrigation technologies.” The race of first settlers, the Tocharians, herders who spoke an Indo-European language, died out long ago, Mr. Mair said, and there are no descendants to make historical claims on the land.

As for signs of the Chinese empire, the most prominent Chinese gravesites were discovered at a place called Astana, believed to be a former military garrison. The findings there date from the 3rd to the 10th centuries, ending with the Tang Dynasty, when trade along the Silk Road was at its height. But for that period and for centuries afterward, ethnicities, tribes and power centers in the region remained in flux, with no one culture exerting long-term rule.

The Chinese empire did not exercise full political control over the territory in its current shape until the Qing Dynasty, ruled by ethnic Manchus, annexed the region in 1760 and later gave it the name Xinjiang, according to the scholars James A. Millward and Peter C. Perdue.

“By first establishing military and civil administrations and then promoting immigration and agricultural settlements, it went far toward ensuring the continued presence of China-based power in the region,” the two professors wrote in a 2004 volume of essays by 16 scholars, “Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland.” Mr. Millward wrote in an e-mail message that the emperor Qianlong had conquered Xinjiang because efforts to rule it through Mongolian and Uighur proxies had failed.

Xinjiang’s location, bordering the nomadic areas of Central Asia, had already made it a strategic place for military garrisons during earlier periods when the Chinese empire had tentative control. Each time, the military would reclaim land for farming and build irrigation works, according to Calla Wiemer, another of the 16 essayists.

But the Qing dynasty brought the practice to a new level, greatly expanding the region’s economy. More than 50,000 demobilized troops were offered benefits if they stayed and farmed, and free land and seeds were given to Chinese willing to move here from the interior, Ms. Wiemer wrote.

It was a precursor to the policies of the Communist Party, the ones that have modernized Xinjiang but also contributed to its fractious ethnic landscape. In the early 1950s, the central government established the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, an enterprise to manage large farms and construction projects called bingtuan and provide jobs for demobilized soldiers.

The bingtuan are hugely profitable, and an estimated one out of every six Han in Xinjiang — about 1.3 million people — belongs to one. But Uighurs rarely get work there.

Government incentives as well as market forces have spurred a flood of Han migration, and the Han now make up at least 40 percent of the population, compared with 6 percent in 1949. Most of the settlers are from poor rural areas.

“We were farmers in Henan, and we wanted to make a better living,” said Lu Sifeng, 47, a street fruit vendor whose son was killed by a Uighur mob on July 5.

Uighurs resent not only the increased competition for jobs, but also the tightening of cultural policies since the 1990s, implemented partly because the Chinese government feared that the collapse of the Soviet Union would lead Uighurs to identify with Turkic nationalist causes or Islamic fundamentalism. The result, many Uighurs say, is a set of problems that shred their dignity: a lack of jobs for non-Han; strict limits on the practice of Islam; a need to subsume their own language to Mandarin in order to get ahead economically.

“Real colonization only started with Mao after the liberation,” said Nicholas Bequelin, an Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The Chinese government points to the fact that the gross domestic product of Xinjiang doubled from $28 billion in 2004 to $60 billion in 2008. With that has come a rise in living standards and more jobs overall, and better education for every ethnic group, including the Uighurs. Officials say there is no need to change policies, no need for true autonomy, and that Xinjiang is an example of the future in borderlands of China, with ethnic minorities and the Han prospering side by side.

It is, they say, the best that one can hope for from a new frontier.

(South China Morning Post)  Official death toll may surpass 184, as relatives look for the missing   By Choi Chi-yuk and Al Guo.  July 12, 2009.

Without offering additional details, the Xinjiang government yesterday raised the official death toll for the riots to 184, although with many families still looking for missing relatives, that number could climb.

Government spokesman Li Chunyang said 184 people had been confirmed dead during the riots, as of yesterday. But he said the number could rise further as some victims in hospitals were still in serious condition.

According to the first breakdown of the victims' ethnicities given by Xinhua yesterday - 137 of the dead were Han, 111 men and 26 women. Forty-six were Uygurs, 45 men and a woman. "A man of Hui ethnicity also died."

But the death toll could be far from accurate, at least in terms of the Hui victims. Hu Fulin , a Hui, said in Urumqi that at least four Hui he personally knew of had been killed during the rioting. Besides his brother-in-law Ma Jinrong, whose body was buried on Friday, he witnessed three other friends killed whose bodies were buried yesterday.  "I don't know how they [the government] got the number, but I'm pretty sure they are deadly wrong in counting the victims of our Hui people," Mr Hu said.

A Han woman in her 30s also thought the death toll could be too low as many of her friends have been missing since the riot.  "We have been everywhere to check out their information, but nobody seems to know where they are," said the woman, who identified herself only as Ms Liu. "The police said my friends were not on the list of those dead so far."

The Xinjiang government said on Monday that 156 had died but did not say how many were missing. Even in yesterday's latest death toll, no mention of missing people was made.

Mr Jiang, a Han in his early 20s, said one of his close friends was seen being killed in his car, but the body went missing the next day. "Several eyewitnesses saw him being killed inside his car, but when his family went to the spot the next day, his body was gone," Mr Jiang said. They reported the case to police but have received no update.

Officials revised the death toll from 156 to 184, but have not clarified if those just added were killed in Sunday's violence, or in the days after. As of yesterday, only Xinhua and China Central Television were reporting the news about the death toll. Other mainland media only repeated that news.

(South China Morning PostUrumqi bans public gatherings ahead of mourning for victims    By Kristina Kwok and Will Clem.  July 12, 2009.

The government in Urumqi yesterday issued a ban public gatherings as the city's Han Chinese approached a sensitive day of mourning, to be held today.

It is a tradition for Han to mourn their loss on the seventh day after a death, and there were signs last night that authorities were shoring up security in sensitive areas such as People's Square ahead of mourning for those killed in riots last Sunday. Officials say 184 people died and that 137 of them were Han.

The government started posting notices in public places in the Xinjiang regional capital yesterday afternoon, warning that no demonstrations or gatherings would be allowed in the city without authorisation and that anyone found at a gathering holding any kind of weapon faced detention and the confiscation of the weapon.

"Assemblies, marches and demonstrations on public roads and at public places in the open air are not allowed without permission by the police," Xinhua quoted the notice as saying. "Police will disperse such illegal assemblies according to the law and are entitled to take necessary means." At least one helicopter with a searchlight - an unusual sight - was circling low, and it appeared there had been an increase in the number of police stationed in areas near the city government office.

Some families said they planned to mourn their loved ones where the riots took place.

Urumqi party secretary Li Zhi said many rioters who took part in last Sunday's violence had come from from Kashgar and Hotan, two mainly Uygur cities 1,500km from Urumqi. He said the riots were well planned. Some protesters had started to gather in People's Square at 6.30pm to draw attention, while others started smashing and looting on major roads and at a famous tourist attraction, the Grand Bazaar, half an hour later.

Han took to the streets on Tuesday to protest at the government's inability to protect them during last Sunday's riots - the worst ethnic violence in China in decades - but the Urumqi government managed to control the gathering through public appeals and the use of riot police.

Although the city appeared calm and some businesses have reopened, some residents are still gripped by fear. Some Uygurs said they were afraid to go out, while Han were avoiding Uygur areas.  "None of us dare to go out of our district, especially not at night," said one 19-year-old. "We never had any problems with Han Chinese people before, but now they look at me and think I am a terrorist."

(South China Morning Post)  Love bridges ethnic divide in Urumqi   By Kristina Kwok.  July 12, 2009.

It's a case of love imitating art. A Uygur boy meets a Han Chinese girl, and the encounter on a rainy day becomes an Urumqi version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Abulitipu Mita, who was a taxi driver at the time, saw Chen Hao, a beautician desperately trying to catch a cab in the pouring rain. Mr Mita, who already had a passenger in his cab, stopped, picked her up and the pair exchanged numbers.

Since that day their relationship has blossomed and they say it is an example of how love and understanding can break down cultural differences and prejudice.

But when the riots broke out last Sunday after years of simmering ethnic tension, it was the first time since they met three years ago that the couple felt fearful about meeting in public. Mr Mita and Ms Chen, both 26, decided to meet less often, fearing that they would draw hostility from both sides of the street.

"After the riots, I felt some Han Chinese strangers in the streets would look at me in a different way, but now I think things are back to normal and everything will be fine," Mr Mita said.

Marriages between Uygur and Han Chinese are rare in Xinjiang , even though the ethnic groups comprise the majority of the region's population of 20 million.

There are differences in religion, as most Uygurs are Muslim, and lifestyle. There is also the social stigma associated with dating outside an ethnic group.

The couple first had to win support from their family and friends.

"When my friends first knew I was going out with a Han girl, they asked what was wrong with me. There are so many beautiful Uygur women, they said, so why would I choose a Han Chinese?" Mr Mita said.

But his friends gradually accepted his Han Chinese girlfriend after socialising with Ms Chen. She said her family and friends accepted Mr Mita relatively quickly.

"Of course, my parents were a bit concerned, but they still respected my decision," she said. "My first boyfriend was a Han, and we split up due to some differences. Seeing a Han is not necessarily better."

But winning the hearts of the Mita family has not been as easy for Ms Chen.

"My family was not very supportive at the beginning and is still a bit wary now," he said. "But I am sure this can be resolved as religion is the only issue that is bothering them now. I am quite confident I can convince my girlfriend to convert."

However, it was when marriage was on the cards that Ms Chen realised she would have to dramatically change her lifestyle.

Ms Chen, who moved to Urumqi from her hometown in Hami five years ago, was slightly taken aback as she realised what marrying Mr Mita involved.

"I didn't think too much about it until we started planning to get married. To marry a Uygur man, a woman has to be a Muslim, too, and this means I have to convert," said Ms Chen, an atheist. "My lifestyle will have to change completely, as I will need to wear a headscarf, speak their language, pray regularly and, in the summer, I can't wear sleeveless tops. And if we have children, I am not sure how they will think about their ethnic identity."

Speaking flawless Putonghua, Mr Mita is within a small Uygur elite who received a university education and is now a businessman who has many Han Chinese friends. Most Uygurs, the biggest minority group in Xinjiang, remain in rural areas and receive little education.

Ms Chen said she still needed some time to think it over thoroughly, but still intended to marry Mr Mita. "My parents are a bit worried whether I can overcome all these changes and if I might give up halfway through," she said.

"I think I can handle all of these. I am an optimistic person."

Despite the ethnic rift, the couple remain confident their relationship will be strong enough to withstand the prejudice.

"This is not going to affect us. Not everyone in our ethnic groups is like them," said Ms Chen, referring to the violence of protesters from both sides.

(Washington Post)  Now the Uighurs    July 12, 2009.

IF THE reports of deadly riots and repression in a far-off region of China sounded familiar last week, it's because you have heard them -- or something much like them -- before. The uprising by ethnic Uighurs in the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang province was the third such popular protest by Uighurs in the past 20 years, and it looked a lot like the trouble that broke out last year in Tibet. What began as a peaceful protest by an aggrieved minority turned to rioting after police responded harshly. Then followed a brutal crackdown by security forces, accompanied by revenge attacks by members of China's Han majority.

As always, Chinese authorities have been unsparing in the force used to silence the protests. As always, they are blocking communications from the region (though some Western journalists were allowed to travel to Urumqi) and fomenting Han nationalism with xenophobic diatribes in the state-controlled media. Once again an exiled leader is blamed, without evidence, for fomenting "terrorism" -- in this case Rebiya Kadeer, the World Uighur Congress leader, who lives in Fairfax County. And -- as always -- China is doing and promising nothing to remedy the underlying cause of the unrest, which is its treatment of both Tibet and Xinjiang as if they were colonies, populated by captive nations.

One reason China's Communist leadership rejected the political reforms undertaken by the Soviet Union in the 1980s is a fear that Xinjiang would follow the path of neighboring Soviet Central Asian republics -- some of them also populated by Turkic ethnic groups -- that became independent nations. But Beijing is simply repeating all of the mistakes of the Soviet Union and other colonialist powers. It has systematically suppressed Uighur culture and language; practice of the Muslim religion is also tightly controlled. Millions of Han Chinese have moved to the province over the last half century, turning the 8 million Uighurs into a minority in their own land. As in Tibet, Han Chinese hold a privileged economic position in the cities, while Uighurs are regarded and often treated as an inferior race.

The United States and other Western countries have tried for years, in vain, to persuade Chinese leaders to change policy in Tibet. Unlike the Dalai Lama, Uighurs get little love in Paris or Hollywood; mostly they are known for the alleged militants held at the Guantanamo Bay prison, who have been found to pose no threat but who (with four recent exceptions) have not been released, for lack of a place to send them. But this minority, too, deserves support. The brutal suppression of the Uighurs' legitimate demands for justice will not make them go away; it will only weaken China's ability to hold on to the territory in the long term.

(Strait Times)  Calm amidst tension.  July 12, 2009.

THE centre of the riot-hit city of Urumqi was tense but calm Sunday, one week after ethnic fighting began that left 184 people dead and alarmed China's communist leaders.

Armed paramilitary police were on guard in People's Square, the site of the June 5 protest by minority Uighurs that escalated into deadly attacks on Han Chinese, including people who were pulled off buses and beaten. More than 1,000 were hurt in the violence.

The government says most of the dead were from the Han Chinese majority, but the largely Muslim Uighurs suspect that many more of their people died.

The official Xinhua News Agency has cited provincial officials as saying 137 victims were Han while 46 were Uighurs and one was a Hui, another Muslim group.

Xinhua also reported an oil tank blast Sunday morning at a chemical plant in the western city, but it was not clear if the explosion was connected to the ethnic violence. It said the blast was triggered by a fire and that there no casualties.

The Urumqi Public Security Bureau published a notice late Saturday banning illegal assembly, marches and demonstrations.

The notice said the situation was 'basically under control' but that there was 'still sporadic illegal assemblies and demonstrations in some places,' Xinhua reported.

Some roads to the main market were still closed Sunday, and the market remained guarded by armed military police. An officer was teaching them simple greetings in the Uighur language.

Officials have yet to make public key details about the riots and what happened next, including how much force police used to re-impose order. Officials and Xinhua have not said whether all the victims were killed Sunday or in later days, when vigilante mobs ran through the city with bricks, clubs and cleavers.

The violence broke out following a protest against the June 26 deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in southern China. The crowd then scattered throughout Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, burning cars and smashing windows.

Thousands of Chinese troops have flooded into Urumqi to separate the feuding ethnic groups, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting. -- AP

(Sunday Herald)  China focuses on blaming US ‘dragon fighter’ as Uighur riots shatter myth of racial harmony.  By Bill Allan.  July 12, 2009.

AS THE Chinese government responds to some of the worst ethnic rioting in decades, its propaganda organs have run a relentless campaign to vilify a self-proclaimed "dragon fighter" who speaks for the country's Uighur minority from exile in the United States.

This new twist in the extraordinary life of Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur mother-of-11 from China's Xinjiang region, comes as the ruling Communist Party tries to restore order and apportion blame for the violence that has left at least 184 people dead and 1080 injured in the regional capital, Urumqi.

The rioting in Urumqi is the second major incident involving violence between ethnic minorities and the Han Chinese majority over the past 18 months, following widespread riots and ethnic clashes in Tibet last spring.

The unrest has shaken the ruling Communist Party's myth of ethnic harmony, which is the subject of countless propaganda campaigns in minority areas. The party portrays Tibetans, the Uighurs in Xinjiang and other minorities as socially backward groups liberated by its benevolent economic and social development policies.

"China is a united nation of 56 ethnic groups," the government said in a recent publication, referring to the majority Han Chinese population and the 55 ethnic minorities officially designated by the state.

The minorities total about 100 million, or 8% of China's 1.3 billion population, with the Han Chinese forming the 92% majority - thus much of the country is virtually monoracial.

Last week's unrest among Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, mainly Muslim group, resulted from the "accumulation of historical factors" in Xinjiang, said Chen Qianping, a historian at China's Nanjing University.

She added: "It is not a simple problem, but one which is involved with cultural, historical and religious factors."

Those factors came together last Sunday, when thousands of Uighurs gathered in Urumqi to protest over the government's handling of the murder of at least two Uighurs by a mob of Han Chinese at a toy factory in the southern city of Shaoguan on June 26.

Hundreds of Uighurs rampaged through parts of the city in groups armed with sticks, knives and other weapons. They clashed with police and began attacking Han Chinese at random, smashing shops and setting fire to cars and buses.

Some reports by Uighur exile groups claimed the violence was sparked by the police opening fire, while the Chinese government accused Kadeer and other overseas-based Uighur leaders of organising the rioting.

A Han Chinese worker at a hotel close to People's Square, in the centre of Urumqi, said he heard intermittent gunfire on Sunday and saw armoured cars deployed to quell the rioting.

The government abandoned its normal caution and aim for secrecy, allowing state media to report the "July 5 incident" on Monday, with a focus on the attacks on Han Chinese. It was surely not expecting the backlash from gangs of Han vigilantes the next day.

"They beat whoever they saw on the street as long as they were Uighurs," a Uighur teacher in Urumqi said of the Han gangs, who she claimed had entered several Uighur schools.

State media also reported the reprisals - but the government has not increased its official casualty toll since then. It has still neither confirmed nor denied whether police opened fire on the Uighur protesters.

Foreign reporters were allowed into Urumqi from Monday, but most internet and outgoing telephone services were unavailable in the city.

Friday prayers were suspended at several mosques as the government used police, troops and public appeals in an attempt to prevent more conflict. "The official word is that they're open but we went to four different mosques, and they all say they're closed," said a photographer working in Urumqi.

A spokeswoman for Urumqi's religious affairs office denied that the government had ordered the mosques to stay closed. "The Uighurs may have decided themselves, for their safety, not to go the mosques," she said.

The government linked the Uighur rioting to the "three evil forces" of religious extremism, separatism and terrorism in Xinjiang. But Dru Gladney, a US expert on the region, said the Uighur exile leaders had "rejected violence and radical Islam".

In Yale University's YaleGlobal publication, he wrote: "After the riots in Tibet last year, the world is beginning to see that Xinjiang faces many problems related to sovereignty and Chinese rule, and that these problems have less to do with religious conflict than with social justice, ethnic relations and equal opportunity."

Sophie Richardson, the Asia advocacy director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said: "Both Uighurs and Han have engaged in violence in recent days. But the cycle of violence will only erupt again if the government doesn't acknowledge its repressive policies' role in creating the volatile atmosphere of resentment in Xinjiang."

Rebiya Kadeer, like many experts - and ordinary Uighurs and Tibetans - sees strong parallels between the unrest in Xinjiang and that in Tibet, including China's demonisation of those advocating greater autonomy or independence. She said China's accusations against her were "completely false". "I did not organise the protests or call on people to demonstrate," she said in Washington.

In April, the 62-year-old former Nobel Peace Prize nominee published a book in English, Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China. She was imprisoned in 1999 after she was accused of "providing state secrets", but rights groups said she was convicted only of sending newspaper clippings from Xinjiang to her husband in the US. China released her on medical parole in March 2005 and allowed her join her husband, but it later accused her of plotting terrorism.

Some Uighurs who favour independence from China have staged small-scale terrorist attacks. But Uighur exiles and international rights groups accuse China of using the global fight against terrorism to crack down on political and religious dissent in Xinjiang.

Kadeer condemned the violence by Uighurs but said it "reveals deep-rooted, serious problems that the Chinese government has failed to address or mitigate", including arbitrary detention, religious repression, and discrimination in healthcare and employment.

"This incident in Urumqi could have been avoided if the Chinese authorities had properly investigated the Shaoguan killings," Kadeer added.

(Associated Press)  After violence, western China looks for answers.  By Gillian Wong.  July 12, 2009.

It was about 8 p.m. when the mob descended on Zhongwan Road. The police didn't arrive until six hours later. In the time between, most residents locked their doors and hid, peering out through windows and listening from basements as ethnic violence raged in China's western Xinjiang province.

The next morning, residents in this multiethnic neighborhood emerged to find the road covered with remnants of mayhem: puddles of blood next to overturned vegetable carts, glass shards everywhere, bricks covered with blood, and a random shoe.

Ethnic minority Uighur rioters had burned down the local grocery store, owned by a majority Han Chinese family — one of many stores attacked across the regional capital, Urumqi. Four family members were killed, and a fifth woman was still missing. On Saturday, the rest of the family was grimly sifting through the store's rubble, still looking for her body.

Nearly a week after western Xinjiang province was rocked by China's worst ethnic violence in decades, residents of Zhongwan Road, both Han and Uighur, were still putting together the snippets of what they saw and heard. Many others are searching for answers about what really happened — especially how many died and who they were.

China's government released a breakdown Saturday of the riots' death toll, saying most of the 184 killed were from the Han Chinese majority. But many Uighurs disputed the new figures, citing persistent rumors that security forces fired on Uighurs during the July 5 protest and in following days during a police crackdown and retaliation by Han mobs.

On Sunday, a week after the unrest began, the center of Urumqi was tense but calm. The official Xinhua News Agency said the city's Public Security Bureau had published a notice banning illegal assembly, marches and demonstrations, adding the situation was "basically under control" but that some "sporadic illegal assemblies and demonstrations" had continued.

It all started last Sunday, when a few hundred students and others gathered downtown at the People's Square in the late afternoon to protest the deaths of Uighurs in fighting at a factory thousands of miles away in southern China. The police moved in to stop the demonstration from the square, and it was unclear who struck first or what triggered the violence.

The Uighur protesters started to scatter, toppling police barricades, smashing windows and torching cars and attacking Hans as they rampaged through the southeastern part of the city.

When the rioters turned up Zhongwan Road that night, at least one Han shop owner had an early warning about the brewing chaos.

"A customer told me there was trouble headed this way and that I should close my shop immediately and hide," said the cement shop owner, who would only give his surname, Cheng.

Cheng brought in his motorcycle and barricaded his metal door from the inside with bags of cement. He knelt on the floor and peered out onto the street through a narrow vertical window.

He saw a group of Han residents came running down the street shouting, "Quick, hide!" They were quickly followed by a mob of 300 Uighurs armed with sticks and bricks, Cheng said.

The rioters grabbed sacks of cement outside Cheng's store and set up a roadblock in front of his store to stop cars.

Aile Nur, 23, a Uighur man who worked at a restaurant two doors from Yu's store, said he locked himself in his kitchen.

"I could hear them shouting 'Are you Han or are you Uighur?' to each car that stopped" at the roadblock, he said. "If they were Han, they were smashed."

The rioters dragged some of the people out of their cars and beat them, said the residents. Then, they turned their attack on shops run by Han people. They pounded on Cheng's door and hurled rocks into the window, sending Cheng fleeing into the basement storeroom.

Police weren't showing up and emergency hotlines rang unanswered, residents said. "I started calling the police from 8:30 p.m., but I didn't get through until midnight," said a beef noodle restaurant owner next to Cheng's store who belongs to another Muslim minority called the Hui. He would only give his surname, Yu.

"I could hear glass being smashed, people screaming, tires exploding," said the noodle shop owner, who estimated that at least 17 people were killed by rioters on that street alone. He looked at the rubble of the grocery store and sighed. "If the police had come on time, not so many people would have died. Their response was far too slow."

Residents and relatives said the mob forced their way into the local grocery story owned by another family named Yu who supplied the area's residents — both Uighurs and Hans — with cooking oil, flour and rice. Four in the family were killed, but it was unclear how they died. Some neighbors said they were beaten to death. Others said they were locked in the store and burned alive.

"I knew they set fire to the store when I heard the cooking gas canisters explode: 'Bang, bang, bang!'" Cheng said.

It was 2 a.m. by the time the paramilitary police arrived, sirens blaring. The rioters fled, their footsteps pounding through the alleys, residents said. Sounds of sporadic gunfire followed, but no one in the neighborhood could say if any of the rioters had been shot.

Fire engines rolled in and put out the blaze at the grocery store, but even at dawn, most of the shop had crumbled and plumes of smoke were still rising from the debris. Dead chickens lay in coops, charred fish skeletons were scattered among piles of rice and flour.

Officials have said that 137 Han Chinese died in Urumqi, while the other victims included 46 Uighurs and one Hui.

Two days after the riot, there was a Han backlash, involving large groups of marauding men with clubs, meat cleavers and lead pipes who stormed into Uighur neighborhoods. It's unclear how many Uighurs were injured or killed because the government and state-run media have downplayed the violence. Associated Press reporters were not allowed to interview the injured Uighurs in hospitals.

But Uighurs on the streets of Urumqi and from exile activist groups say they think many more of their own were killed.

"I've heard that more than 100 Uighurs have died, but nobody wants to talk about it in public," said one Uighur man who did not want to give his name because the city remains tense and security forces are everywhere.

China has said its security forces exercised restraint in restoring stability but has not provided details nor explained why so many people died.

Rebiya Kadeer, president of the pro-independence World Uyghur Congress, has said at least 500 people were killed while other overseas groups have put the toll even higher, citing accounts from Uighurs in China.

China's government blames Kadeer, a 62-year-old Uighur businesswoman activist who lives in exile in the U.S., for instigating the riots with anti-Beijing propaganda. She has denied any involvement and condemned the violence.

Many Uighurs in Urumqi said didn't believe Kadeer was involved in the unrest. They said that the fighting was the result of pent-up frustrations about longstanding discrimination and government efforts to subvert their religion and culture — thouhg the government says Uighurs have benefited from Xinjiang's rapid economic development.

"We don't really know Rebiya that well. We don't listen to her or follow her on the Internet," said one Uighur woman, who only identified herself as Parizat. "We don't need Rebiya to tell us what to be angry about. We live here. We know what's wrong."

On Zhongwan Road, people were tallying their losses and looking for answers. Many people are still consumed with anger and fear over the violence.

Yu Dongzhi's family owned the burned-out grocery store, and the mob killed Yu's brother-in-law, 13-year-old nephew, the boy's cousin and grandmother — all found dead inside the shop. His sister is still missing

"I want all the terrorists executed by firing squad. I hate them," said the 44-year-old, who works in the southern city of Shenzhen but rushed to Urumqi after hearing that his sister's family had died.

Yu spoke as he leaned on his shovel in the remains of the store, where the family was searching the remains for the body of his sister, Xingzhi. He had already spent the week searching all of Urumqi's hospitals to no avail.

"I haven't told my mother yet," he said. "So now I must find her, dead or alive."

The group stopped digging by 6 p.m. but could not find a body. The next day, Yu decided, he would search the morgues.

(Telegraph)  As China reels from 184 deaths in Urumqi riots, a beaten woman fears for her husband   By David Eimer.  July 11, 2009.


Dong Yuanyuan, 24 from Urumqi recovers in the Number 2 Hospital in Urumqi, China
Photo: Adam Dean

Dong Yuanyuan should be on her honeymoon. Instead, she sits hunched in a hospital bed in Urumqi wondering whether her missing husband is still alive.

Mrs Dong's face is grotesquely swollen and marked with yellowing bruises, scabs and cuts, which also cover her legs. But it is the fate of Liang He, the man she married 10 days ago, that concerns her more than her own injuries.

She has not seen him since the night of July 5, when their bus journey from the airport into Urumqi, the capital of the remote, far-western province of Xinjiang, ended amid the deadliest violence China has seen since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Unknown to the newly wed couple, an initially peaceful protest by Uighurs, the Turkic-speaking, Muslim ethnic minority who make up over half the province's population, had turned into a savage race riot. Across the centre of this city of 2.3 million people, Uighurs launched brutal and indiscriminate attacks on Han Chinese.

"People started throwing stones and bricks at our bus," said Mrs Dong, 24, her voice trembling. "All the passengers rushed off. It was very chaotic and there were lots of Uighurs around.

"That's when I was separated from my husband. I was surrounded by some Uighur men. I was scared and cried out for my mother in Chinese. I heard the Uighurs say, 'She's Han!', and then they started to beat and punch me until I lost consciousness."

Eventually, Mrs Dong was taken to hospital by the police. But she does not know what has become of her 29-year-old husband - whether he is even alive, or was among many who were killed that night.

In all, 184 people are believed to have died in the riots that engulfed Urumqi. Among them were 46 Uighurs, killed in revenge attacks, and more may die if the authorities carry out their threat to execute those whom they find to have been behind the violence. An estimated 1,100 people were injured.

But most of the victims were Han, the dominant ethnic group who make up more than 90 per cent of China's teeming population - people who, like Dong Yuanyuan, were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For China's leaders, the sheer scale of the violence has come as a huge shock. Its achievement in uniting the vast country into a single, powerful unit is the proudest boast of the ruling Communist Party. But now, just three months before the Party celebrates 60 years in power, the sight of Uighur rioters flouting Beijing's authority so violently has raised the question of whether they are right to believe their own propaganda - and whether the party can really hold China together.

President Hu Jintao's abrupt return from the G8 summit in Italy to deal with the crisis, a rare and severe loss of face for China's head of state, is evidence of the alarm with which Beijing views the riots and its concern that they threaten to destabilise the country.

Last year the Party's faith in its approach to China's ethnic minorities, who number 100 million people, was badly shaken by unrest in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. Now, the Urumqi uprising is further, unwelcome proof that China is straining at its very edges and is no longer able to pacify its most restive citizens.

Resentment of Beijing's rule among Uighurs has risen steadily in recent years, fuelled by rapid economic development which seems to benefit the Han more than the Uighurs. Meanwhile Uighurs face bureaucratic obstacles to searching for work, and open discrimination against them by mostly Han employers.

There are tensions elsewhere in China too. In the mainly Muslim autonomous region of Ningxia in the north-west, there is conflict between local ethnic groups and the Han Chinese immigrants who have been encouraged by the government to migrate there - Beijing's solution wherever it feels threatened by the size of the local population.

Now Party officials are contemplating the unpalatable prospect of having to adapt their policies, or risk ceding control of China's most far-flung regions, which it cannot afford to lose.

Xinjiang, a vast province that makes up one-sixth of the country, is home to huge reserves of coal and natural gas, as well as the much-needed oil that China consumes in ever-increasing quantities.

Hence the first swift reaction last week to the unrest: a massive security operation. Even though it has now been scaled back, at least 20,000 soldiers and police remain in Urumqi.

Their chants of "Protect the country, Protect the people, Preserve stability" still echoed through the streets last night as they patrolled with guns and batons in a city when fear is now the dominant emotion.

The city is firmly segregated, just as Catholics and Protestants were in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Like Belfast in the 1970s, the ferocity of the violence that was unleashed last week was appalling.

Mrs Dong's father, Dong Mingxiao, searched through official photographs of the dead in an attempt to see whether his new son-in-law was among them.

He wept as he recalled what he had seen. "There were men whose throats had been cut and women, stripped naked, who were covered in blood and bruises," he said.

"There were people whose faces had been smashed beyond recognition and whose bodies were totally burned. I've lived in Xinjiang since I was nine and I thought we got on well with all the ethnic groups. I never imagined something like this could happen." Most Uighurs seem deeply ashamed of what happened. "It's not right that people were killed," said one man clutching his baby son in the Uighur district of Erdaoqiao.

"But because a small number of Uighurs did bad things, the Han think all Uighurs are bad. We're scared now. We daren't leave the area in case we are attacked." Now, cowed by the threats against them and horrified by roundups of suspects and grim warnings of executions to follow, they are fearful of the authorities as well. Few Uighurs were willing to give their names, in case of reprisals. Others were warned by the police and local officials not to speak to foreign journalists, after being seen talking to The Sunday Telegraph.

"When the Han came here to attack us, the police let them through," said one Uighur who showed bruises from a fight with a Han group.

Thousands of Uighurs have been detained since Monday. "It was 8pm when the police rushed into our home," said a 16-year-old girl in Saimachang, another Uighur district.

"They started to beat my father and two brothers. They dragged them outside and stripped them to their underwear and then took them away. My mother and I haven't seen them since."

As she told her story, four other women in head scarves and long dresses crowded around to say that their husbands, brothers and boyfriends had been arrested too. All insisted that their relatives were not involved in Sunday's rioting but had been plucked at random from their homes.

"The police didn't give us any reason why they arrested my father and brothers," said the girl. "They didn't even ask to see their ID cards. They just went to every house, taking away the younger men."

A bleak neighbourhood of narrow alleys and tenement housing, where few people can even speak Chinese, Saimachang is a world away from the shiny new apartment and office blocks that have sprung up in central Urumqi over the last decade. Beijing has ambitions for the city to become a trading hub with the central Asian countries that border Xinjiang, and government investment has poured in, along with a huge influx of Han immigrants.

That, though, has only fuelled tensions. "Urumqi isn't a Uighur city anymore. It's a Han city," said one Uighur. "Every year, more and more of them come to Xinjiang. That means it's harder for us to find a job.

"All the work is for the Chinese, anyway. Han-run companies only employ Chinese people and most of the government jobs are for them too. Our lives are getting worse and worse while theirs are getting better." Nor is it just the lack of economic opportunities that divide the Han and Uighurs.

"We don't have any connection with the Chinese. We don't look Chinese, we don't speak the same language and we don't eat the same food," said a Uighur, who asked to be known as Billy. "And we are Muslims, we believe in Allah. The Chinese only believe in money." Beijing was quick to blame Uighur exiles, who want an independent state they call East Turkestan, for inciting the violence. That, the authorities say, is why they have cut off internet access in Urumqi and restricted the mobile phone network.

Li Zhi, the head of the Communist Party in Urumqi, has accused Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled Uighur businesswoman who heads the Munich-based World Uighur Congress, of orchestrating the rioting, which she denies.

But in fact, few Uighurs in Urumqi are agitating for independence. "We know it's not possible. We don't have enough people, or any weapons or support from other countries. We just want a better life," said Billy.

Instead, every Uighur to whom The Sunday Telegraph spoke said the violence was sparked by anger over news of a mass fight between Uighur and Han workers in a factory thousands of miles away. The ugly clash - in Guangdong Province, southern China â" had left two Uighurs dead, according to reports circulating via mobile phones and the internet. "The TV didn't report that, just like they didn't show the Han attacking Uighurs on Monday and Tuesday," said one Uighur.

Regardless of what triggered the bloodshed, it is people like Mrs Dong who are suffering most. As she sat in her hospital bed, a fragile figure hugging her knees to her chest, she could not stop thinking about her missing husband. "We had such plans for the future," she said. "We were going to buy a car later this year, and then in two years, we were planning to have a baby.

"Now, I'm not sure if we'll ever be able to do that. I am afraid to think too far ahead. I only know that I just want to see him again as soon as I can."

(Times Online)  Security chiefs failed to spot signs calling for Uighur revolt    By Jon Swain.  July 12, 2009.

Several days before Uighur demonstrators gathered in the streets of the northwest city of Urumqi last Sunday in a protest that began China’s bloodiest bout of civil unrest for 20 years, secret signs started appearing in taxi windows.

Local security chiefs missed the signals. The clues were important because they were alerting Uighurs in the capital of Xinjiang province to demonstrate against the Han Chinese.

The signals told the Uighurs to avenge the racially motivated killings of two Uighur migrant workers that had occurred last month in a toy factory in southern Guangdong province, triggered by rumours that they had raped several women.

As a result the authorities were caught off guard when the protests erupted, amid erroneous stories that the killers of the Uighurs had been allowed to go free.

The taxi signals suggest that the rioting by the Uighur minority was not entirely spontaneous. Having suppressed the violence by flooding the city with tens of thousands of troops and police, China’s authorities are hunting for a fringe of extremists who they accuse of organising the rioting. They have promised the ringleaders will be executed.

The riots are some of the deadliest on record in China since the 1966-76 cultural revolution; their seriousness was shown by President Hu Jintao’s cancellation of his trip to the G8 summit in Italy.

Taken unawares, the authorities had difficulty quelling the rioting as mobs of Uighurs and Han Chinese attacked each other with meat cleavers, clubs and shovels, turning the streets of the city into a bloody battleground for several nights.

Yang Jiandao, 44, a Han migrant worker from Henan province, moved to Urumqi several years ago as a decorator. On Sunday night he was on his way home when he was surrounded by a mob of Uighurs shouting and smashing cars.

He awoke in hospital, his face battered and bleeding, to learn that many of his workmates had died. “I do not understand. If the Uighurs feel angry with government policy they should demonstrate in front of government buildings or attack policemen, not kill and beat ordinary Han Chinese,” he said. “I came here only because I could not make ends meet in my home town.”

The authorities said that 184 died, 1,080 were injured and more than 1,000 suspects arrested. These grim statistics have undermined the notion propagated by the Communist party that the majority Han and ethnic minorities in China live in “harmonious coexistence”.

Unlike the brutal crackdowns in Tibet before the Beijing Olympics, the authorities allowed foreign journalists to report on the violence. They wanted the world to have the impression of openness. But for the Chinese it was a different story, as the authorities shut internet and phone services, in effect isolating the people of Urumqi.

China’s policies in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region have always been governed by fears that the province’s Uighurs – who are of Turkic origin and Muslim – want to secede from China. The vast province is rich in oil and gas and shares its border with Kazakhstan, Kirgyzstan, Pakistan and Russia. Maintaining stability and suppressing separatist movements is hugely important for Beijing.

One man has dominated policy in the province over the past 15 years. He is Wang Lequan, the local party chief, a member of the politburo, China’s ruling inner sanctum, with close ties to Hu. In the middle of the riots he moved swiftly to reassert authority, bringing in troops and delivering a tough address promising harsh punishment for troublemakers.

Wang has been the architect of policies that have restricted Uighur culture and religion. He replaced the Uighur language with Mandarin in primary schools and barred the wearing of beards and headscarves, fasting during Ramadan and praying by government workers.

But there is another side, too, leading to resentment among Han Chinese. They complain that he has allowed the Uighurs to have two or three children compared with just one for them. The Han also accuse him of showing greater tolerance to Uighurs when they commit crimes.

The violence raises serious questions for Beijing. For now there is a tense stability in Urumqi. But to maintain Wang’s authority, China will have to resort, as it did at Tiananmen Square, to violent repression. That may only fuel unrest.

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(The Gazette)  Riot control.  By Norman Webster.  July 12, 2009.

It was just a sentence in the newspapers this week - but what a sentence: China's president was cutting away from the G8 leaders' meeting in Italy to fly home and deal with riots in Xinjiang. Hu Jintao was going to miss one of the most significant economic conferences in a century to deal with a local difficulty.

What an embarrassment. What a loss of face. What an indicator of how important this issue is to the leaders in Beijing.

These are men who still think their predecessors were right to order the army to crush that unruly, embarrassing mob in Tiananmen Square in 1989. They have little time for heart-to-heart chats with Tibetans when things boil over, as they occasionally do, in Lhasa. The same People's Liberation Army moves in smartly to crack heads and restore order - just as it did this week in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province, when mobs of Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs went on a rampage against their Han Chinese betters, provoking bloody retaliation and leaving hundreds dead and wounded.

Ironically, this is territory Hu Jintao knows well. One of his less-savoury assignments on the way up the greasy pole was enforcing martial law in Tibet - a task he performed very efficiently, by all accounts.

Mao Tse-tung noted that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. It's a lesson his successors haven't forgotten. They might look like prairie Rotarians, but when the party's hold on power is threatened, out comes the bazooka.

Of course, if certain promises had been kept, this past week's violence would never have happened. Here again, we find the unsubtle hand of Mao. While civil war raged in China, Mao promised both the Tibetans and the Uighurs the right to secession and independence should the Communists win. When the Reds did triumph, in 1949, these vows proved as inoperative as Nixonian declarations about Watergate.

Like Mao, the current rulers in Beijing are not fooling around. The Tibetan file has been bloody, involving invasion, warfare, brutal oppression, and never-ending denigration of the Tibetans' natural leader, the Dalai Lama.

Things have not been so ferocious in Xinjiang, a large mass of oil-rich geography in northwestern China that the Uighurs privately call East Turkestan. Over the years there have been skirmishes and riots, bombings and executions, but not on a Tibetan scale. Mainly, Beijing's boot has been kept on the Uighur throat as millions of Han Chinese moved westward to take the important jobs, enhance China's security presence and change the population balance forever.

When I visited Xinjiang in 2001, official figures reported a total population of 20 million - 44 per cent Uighur, 43 per cent Han Chinese, with the rest consisting of Kazakhs and other minorities. Urumqi, charmless, dotted with construction cranes, had a large Han majority. Kashgar, with its fabled Sunday market ($500 for a camel with good teeth), was solidly Uighur. In 1949, the Han proportion of the population had been only six per cent.

(And no, they really don't like each other. I innocently put the question of intermarriage to a local Uighur. "No!" he almost shouted. He was really insulted.)

An indication of Beijing's penchant for control is as simple as the time of day; in fact, it is the time of day. Although Urumqi lies half a continent to the west of Beijing, or about three time zones' worth, the powers-that-be have decreed that it must run on the same time as the national capital. Some people do, some don't; it makes for an irksome day.

More important is the state's heavy hand on religion. The mosques are barred to government workers, teachers, students and those under 18. The authorities closed religious schools, discourage the veil and decide who may make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Chinese say Uighurs trained by Osama bin Laden have returned home to stir up trouble, but there is little evidence of this. Militant Islam has a hard row to hoe in Xinjiang. China wants to keep it that way. That's why Hu flew home.

Kashgar has a rich history as a stop along the old Silk Road, which linked China with the Mediterranean world via camel caravan. Marco Polo passed through in 1275. This, too, was where British and Russian spies played their Great Game a century and more ago.

The British were anxious about Russian designs on their jewel, India. Sir George Macartney, Britain's consul-general, spent 28 years in this weird post, cut off from the world. One of his sources was a Dutch priest. They carried on conversations in their only common language, Latin.

Macartney's wife was a marvel. In her book, A British Lady in Chinese Turkestan, she recalled being awakened to learn that there was fighting in the city; the violence of the Chinese revolution of 1912 had finally reached Kashgar. "My one thought was that the children and I must be in clean clothes if we were to be murdered. ... We all appeared at 4:30 a.m. as though we were going to a garden party, in spotless white!"

(AFP)  China's Urumqi tense a week after deadly unrest   By Dan Martin.   July 12, 2009.

Residents of China's Urumqi city were banned from gathering in public places on Sunday for a traditional day of mourning, one week after ethnic unrest left more than 180 people dead. Highlighting the extremely fragile nature of an enforced peace between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese, riot police also stepped up security in particularly sensitive parts of the city. "Assemblies, marches and demonstrations on public roads and at public places in the open air are not allowed without police permission," said a notice posted on streets in the capital of China's far northwest Xinjiang region. It added that police would disperse public gatherings and detain people who refused to move away, and specifically mentioned that no-one was allowed to carry weapons.

Sunday was the seventh day since riots by Uighurs on July 5 that the government said left 184 people dead, most of whom were Han, China's dominant ethnic group. In Han culture, the seventh day is an important time for mourning the dead. Relatives are meant to go out into the streets to burn incense and paper money, helping lost souls of the deceased to find their way back home. But the government apparently was fearful this could ignite further unrest, after thousands of Han took to the streets of Urumqi early last week wielding machetes, poles and other makeshift weapons vowing vengeance against Uighurs.

AFP witnessed Han mobs assaulting two Uighurs in separate attacks then, and Uighurs alleged many other beatings took place, despite a huge security presence. The government has not said if anyone died in clashes after the initial July 5 unrest but Uighurs in the city have told AFP that mobs of Han did kill people.

"We are scared. We don't want to go to the train station or other areas where there are a lot of Han," said a college-educated Uighur man who did not want his named published. "It's going to be pretty tense for a while. I think you are going to see people spending more time indoors watching TV."

But the fear was just as deep on the other side of the ethnic divide. "No, no, no. It's still dangerous," said a Han supermarket owner surnamed Lin when asked if he would venture into the Uighur district of the city of 2.3 million people. "I had friends who went there yesterday who were threatened by Uighurs and they had to run out of there."

In one of the most visible signs of increased security in Urumqi on Sunday, police again blocked off major roads leading into the main Uighur district after allowing relatively free passage over the previous two days.

Han mobs had descended on to those roads early in the week in their hunt for Uighurs, before mostly being turned back by riot police and soldiers.

Xinjiang has eight million Uighurs who make up roughly 40 percent of the vast region's population. They have long complained about repression and discrimination under Chinese rule, accusations the government insists are baseless.

Residents in other cities and towns across Xinjiang, a sparsely populated region of deserts and mountains that makes up a sixth of China's territory, also reported intense security and a mood of fear on Sunday. "There are more policemen patrolling the streets. The shops are closing maybe one or two hours earlier than normal," a Han Chinese shopowner in Kashgar told AFP by telephone. Foreign reporters have been banned from reporting in Kashgar, the famous Old Silk Road city where lower-level unrest has occurred in recent years, with authorities citing safety concerns.

An explosion Sunday morning at a factory belonging to China's biggest energy producer on the outskirts of Urumqi also raised tensions briefly. But the company quickly said there were no casualties and no foul play involved. "We have ruled out terrorism," Liu Jiyuan, the vice manager of the China National Petroleum Corporation plant, told AFP at the factory.

(My SinchewUighur exile calls for US embassy in troubled Xinjiang   July 12, 2009.

The United States should open a consulate in the violence-wracked region of Xinjiang to show solidarity with the "oppressed" Uighurs in China, the leader of the minority's exiles said on Sunday. US-based Rebiya Kadeer, head of the World Uighur Congress, said in a German-language interview with Focus magazine: "The United States has already engaged strongly for Tibet. They should do the same for the Uighurs." "Washington could for example open up a consulate in Urumqi. That would be a clear signal that the United States is not indifferent to the oppression of my people," added the 62-year-old mother of 11. The Uighurs "are suffering just as much as the people in Tibet," Kadeer said, adding: "We are oppressed in our own homeland and treated as second-class citizens."

Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, erupted in violence on July 5 that has claimed the lives of more than 180 people, according to Chinese authorities.

Beijing has blamed the unrest on the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, a people with closer cultural ties to regional neighbours than the Han Chinese and accused Uighurs in exile -- like Kadeer -- of fomenting the riots, a charge she sharply rebutted. "I have had absolutely nothing to do with the protests," she told Focus. "It is the repressive policies of China towards the Uighurs that is to blame. People have had enough of being oppressed."

World leaders, including US President Barack Obama, have appealed for all sides to show restraint in the conflict.

Kadeers already enjoys broad support in her adopted homeland. On Friday, two lawmakers, one from each political party, appeared alongside her at the US Capitol to announce they were introducing a resolution to condemn China for its "violent repression" of "peaceful Uighur protests". Former president George W. Bush, who met Kadeer in June 2007, also lent her his support, accusing Beijing of jailing her sons in retaliation against her human rights campaign.

For its part, Beijing has denounced her as a terrorist and separatist and "not qualified" to represent the Uighurs, who live in China's remote northwest Xinjiang province bordering Afghanistan and central Asia. (AFP)

(CNN)  Hans, Uyghurs suffer in Urumqi: How to heal the wounds?  By Jaime FlorCruz.  July 12, 2009.

One of the results of the ethnic unrest in China's far-western city of Urumqi last Sunday is how difficult it will be to heal the wounds. On both sides of town you have people who suffered and who are still suffering -- whether they are Han Chinese or Uyghurs.

I visited the Xinjiang People's Hospital on Wednesday with about 200 other representatives from the local and international media.

From July 5, soon after the outbreak of the unrest, to about 2 p.m. on July 8, when we were visiting, this hospital received 367 patients from that rioting: 240 of them with moderate to light injuries and the rest with very serious injuries -- 41 critically injured -- and 18 were dead on arrival.

Doctors here performed 70 surgeries. Most victims suffered from injuries caused by blunt weapons, hospital officials said. A few were shot. A doctor could not tell us what kind of guns may have been used. He said many victims had suffered head injuries, broken bones and ribs.

Then we visited a ward. There was one woman who said she was in her store when the rioters barged in. She hid under her bed; they pulled her out and pounced on her. Her face is still black and blue.

When I walked in, she was having a session with a psychotherapist. She was recounting what happened. Her husband was also there; he had a minor head injury. The couple came from Sichuan province and had moved to Urumqi to start a business. She said the rioters were mostly young men.

"I hid under the bed when the rioters barged into our shop," said the woman. "They dragged me out and beat me up with sticks." She believed she was lucky she came out alive.

I spoke with the psychotherapist who said it was natural for patients like the woman to suffer trauma. She told the woman it was normal to have post-traumatic symptoms; that maybe sometimes she would speak to herself, be irritable, uptight or anxious.

Her main advice was to recognize that this is all normal, it takes time and it is important she keeps on talking to people about what she went through.

I spoke with a few other patients. One man happened to be on the public bus driving through the streets where the riots took place. He said the rioters pulled down the driver, and he and other passengers were also beaten up.

Also in the hospital was a police officer, who was being examined. He said he was surrounded by some rioters while on duty, and they pounced on him and beat him up. He had some head injuries and was getting Intravenous drip.

So that is one side of the story.

On Thursday, we visited a Uyghur neighborhood. There was a police presence in strategic intersections, but they were not all over the place.

We saw residents coming out for a walk -- some shopping, some in motorized carts that served as taxis, and some boys running around.

Then we drove into the neighborhood called the horse racing area (a long time ago there was a horse racing track). It is neighborhood heavily populated by Uyghurs. This is a few kilometers away from the People's Square and the Great Bazaar where the protests deteriorated into racial rioting.

There was evidence that the violence was not just confined to those two places and had, in fact, spread to areas such as this one. Along the way, we saw a lot of carcasses of burned vehicles -- cars and vans -- some upside down, some still in the middle of the road.

In another part of the neighborhood, we saw a car dealership, selling Volkswagen Santana sedans. Some cars were charred; some brand new cars had their windshield and windows smashed in. A police cordon hung in front of it so people could not get in.

Just across the street was another place where authorities had impounded 200 vehicles burned or badly damaged during the rioting. We saw more cars being towed into the compound, which was manned by a police officer and a few civilians. We saw a group of civilians trying to walk in to retrieve valuables from a vehicle. They were told a police investigation was ongoing and they couldn't get in.

We next walked into a neighborhood where there was a typical farmers' market. They were almost all Uyghurs. It was a Uyghur neighborhood on both sides of a narrow road, where a traditional Uyghur bazaar stood with 50 to 60 stalls and shops selling naan bread, kebabs, melon, baked chicken, nuts and freshly cut lamb. One man sold ice, and there was a tea house. See a map of Xinjiang

I didn't see any police presence in the vicinity. The residents live in side streets, in one-to-three story houses. We stopped and spoke with some Uyghur women. A girl with them answered my questions in Mandarin. She said they were anxious, they were worried, and they hoped that they would all live like a big family in Urumqi. She said they hoped that the situation would normalize and they did not like what happened -- they opposed violence, they said.

We also spoke with a 9-year-old boy who lives alone in the neighborhood. His parents are divorced and so he, an only child, lives with his father. Two days earlier, however, police swooped down their neighborhood and took away his father, along with scores of men suspected of committing violence during the Sunday rioting.

"Things are in a mess now," he said in halting Mandarin. "Our life is ruined." He said he hoped his father would be released soon.

Wounds are still raw, even for residents who were only vicariously affected by the ethnic feuding.

Walking in the Great Bazaar on Wednesday, I met a young Uyghur man who worked for an international retail chain. He did not want to talk on camera, but he told me he felt sad about what had happened. He is obviously a beneficiary of the modern changes that Urumqi has seen the past several years. He said it was never like this before. He thinks both sides need each other. He hopes that people in Urumqi can live harmoniously even though they have differences.

He said a fellow employee -- a deaf-mute Uyghur -- was caught in the rioting, apparently not aware of what was happening and then beaten in the ensuing violence. He had just visited her in the hospital. He was worried about his parents who lived in a Uyghur neighborhood, as they were about him. He was walking in a Uyghur area that was half-deserted on this day with most of the shops still closed. "It's a shame," he says. "Things were looking up here."

(Christian Science Monitor)  Q&A with Uighur spiritual leader Rebiya Kadeer   By Robert Marquand.  July 12, 2009.

Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur businesswoman accused by China of "masterminding" last week's deadly riots in Xinjiang Province, says she has had no contact with "any violent groups in Xinjiang." She hopes President Obama will urge Chinese leaders not to execute protesters, and called Sunday for a US consulate in Xinjiang.

In a wide-ranging phone interview, the mother figure of 40 million Uighurs says China's official depiction of the ethnic group as terrorists after 9/11 is worse than its policies to restrict language and religion. She says Chinese leaders' call for harsh measures, including execution of protesters, will have "dangerous consequences for China and for the Uighur people."

On July 5, a peaceful protest in Urumqi over the killing of two Uighurs in Guangdong turned violent, becoming the worst ethnic riot in China in decades. The official death toll is 184.

Ms. Kadeer, speaking from Virginia, her residence after release from a Chinese prison in 2005, also addressed "evidence" that she orchestrated the violence. Beijing officials point to phone intercepts of Kadeer to Urumqi ahead of the protests saying "something big is going to happen." Kadeer says that she did "place a call" to her family. "It was a call to my family members there, after my daughter here [in Washington] saw announcements of the protest on web sites. My family has been targeted in China. I called my brother and said if something big happens do not go out. [I said] tell the relatives not to take part."

Kadeer spoke with the Monitor Saturday:

Q: Were you surprised at the fury and chaos on July 5?

A: I was quite surprised by the loss of so many lives. Initially the protest was peaceful. You could even see Uighurs in the crowd holding Chinese flags. There were women and children, and that seemed at first like a good thing. But the Uighurs were provoked by Chinese security forces – dogs, armored cars. What has not been noted are the plain clothes police who went in and provoked the Uighurs. My view is that the Chinese wanted a riot in order to justify a larger crackdown; its an attempt to create solidarity between the Han and the government at a time when there is insecurity. Provoking the crowd justifies that this was a Uighur mob.

Q: Some reports indicate that during the riots there were Han citizens helping and protecting Uighurs, and vice versa.

A: I am extremely grateful for both Han and Uighurs that protected each other in the riots. That should be the true relationship we should have with each other. But this Chinese government has created such a tragic situation, that it is not happening, generally, as it could.

Q: Several years ago, China tore down the bazaar around the old mosque in Kashgar, angering Uighurs. This year, the entire old city is being razed.

A: I believe the Chinese government is attempting to completely destroy the Uighur identity and culture. Wiping out the ancient city of Kashgar is part of that. Kashgar is the cradle of Uigher civilization, and represents the heart of the Uighur people. Razing it is like trying to bury the Uighurs. Only when the international community begins to raise the issue is there a chance of this act being stopped. Only if the world pays the same attention to Uighurs as to Tibet and Darfur, is there a chance for this to change.

Q: Uighur grievances include restrictions on religion, the study of history, forced abortions, and other policies. If Beijing ever asked you what is the first policy you wish changed, what would you say?

A: The worst is China's use of the global war on terror to hold us as a people to three alleged crimes: terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism. To pin that on the entire population in the media and the minds of Chinese is worse than restrictions on language, on religion, on the ongoing forced transfer of young Uighur women to work in factory sweatshops. It is worse than the Mao Zedong years. Under Mao, during the Cultural Revolution, Uighurs were badly treated. But we could speak our language, study our history. We had our land. At that time, Chinese authorities were not sending great numbers of Han to populate Xinjiang as you see today.

Q: Do you think President Obama should speak to the issue – or is this too problematic for overall US-China relations?

A: It would be important for the Obama administration to voice strong concern and send a message to the Chinese government. US involvement in this could help prevent a worsening crackdown. I urge him to ask the Chinese government to release all arrested Uighurs, and other political prisoners. I hope President Obama will call on the Chinese government not use heavy measures, especially executions.

Q: Chinese president Hu Jintao and Xinjiang party leaders call for harsh measures, including executions. What would be the effect?

A: If executions are used, the consequences will be extremely dangerous. It is not in the interest of the Chinese government and the Uighur people. To prevent such an outcome, Obama, the Europeans, and the European parliament should speak. It is hard to imagine what will happen if China goes ahead with executions. The protest itself shows that Uighurs, who knew the consequences of going on the street, went ahead anyway. Men and women were arrested. Uighur mothers are looking for husbands. Families are looking for sons and daughters. So many have simply disappeared. The Uighur people are trying to stand up.

Q: Like the Dalai Lama in Tibet, you publicly advocate peace and non-violence. Yet Chinese authorities, as with the Dalai Lama, say you are actually directing and masterminding violence behind the scenes.

A: I am not the mastermind. The Chinese government's intent is to divert attention from their own problems, and demonize me by claiming I was the instigator. The Chinese government sees me as a threat. I've been speaking against injustice.

Q: Are you in touch with any Uighur groups that advocate violence?

A: I have no connection whatsoever with any violent groups. I am against all violence.

Q: Do you believe that the region China calls Xinjiang should be called East Turkestan?

A: Yes, it should be called East Turkestan. That is its historical name. Xinjing means 'new territories' and that is an insult to the people who have always lived there. Even the Chinese call it the Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region. The Uighurs were there.

Q: Under the Chinese constitution, and even in the name of the province, Xinjiang is described as autonomous, as is Tibet. Is Urumqi governed by rules of autonomy?

A: China has never implemented the autonomy conferred upon us by the Chinese constitution. If it had, we would not have had a riot last Sunday.

The Chinese should allow self-rule allowing us to manage our own affairs. With genuine autonomy, there should be democracy.

Q: Do you want independence?

A: Every Uighur wants to see that.

Q: So when Beijing authorities call you a separatist, they are correct?

A: I'm not a separatist. But because of China's policies, the Uighurs are feeling driven to separate. For six decades, Uighurs have enjoyed no peace, freedom, or rights.

Q: Some critics say Uighur-Han relations were on the mend, prior to the Sunday riots.

A: Relations have always been unpleasant. More so after 9/11, after we became "terrorists." Things haven't improved. Chinese mobs attack and kill Uighurs in other regions of China with impunity. If you go to Chinese websites, you will see virtually no Han saying we should live in peace; the majority of postings call for the destruction of the Uighur.

Q: Last year in China brought a grassroots call for democracy and other human rights norms, by those associated with the Charter 08 document. What is your view?

A: I have respect for those people who defend Charter 08 and support their peaceful efforts. Charter 08 calls for a genuine federal state, and Uighurs would be granted a federal solution. Its call for democracy would aid the idea of more freedom.

Q: Tibetans and Uighurs are often linked in their calls for more freedom and protection of distinct identity. But are there important differences between the two?

A: Between the Uighurs and Tibetans, our suffering, our plight, is similar. But after 9/11 the Chinese began the use of propaganda against us in a way that has intensified our problems.

(The National)  Turkey walks fine line of diplomacy    By Thomas Seibert.  July 12, 2009.

Torn between feelings of solidarity for the Muslim Uighurs in China’s troubled Xinjiang province and its long-term aim to nurture close political and economic ties with Beijing, Turkey’s government has been struggling to find a middle way between condemning the violence and preserving its foreign policy and trade interests.

Since the violence in Xinjiang began, Turkish newspapers have been full of pictures showing dead Uighurs, members of a Muslim people that Turks see as distant relatives. Turks made Anatolia their home in the 10th century after migrating west from Central Asia. According to Turkish legends, the ancient home of the Turks in Central Asia lies close to Xinjiang; although Ankara does not dispute that it is part of China, the province is referred to as “East Turkestan” in Turkish political parlance.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, is under growing pressure from parts of the public and from nationalists to take a tough line against China. But while Mr Erdogan himself and other government members have used strong language to describe events in Xinjiang, there have also been calls on the government to be careful not to burn too many bridges with Beijing.

On Friday, Mr Erdogan accused the Chinese of “a kind of genocide” in Xinjiang, adding there were “atrocities, hundreds of dead and thousands of injured”. Turkish media reported that there was a marked difference in tone between Mr Erdogan and the foreign ministry in Ankara, which stressed Turkey’s friendship with China in a statement on the same day. “Turkey places huge importance on its relations with the People’s Republic of China,” the ministry said in the statement.

“I use the term [genocide] consciously and with belief,” Mr Erdogan said when reporters asked him about the discrepancies. “My colleagues in the foreign ministry cannot use other terms than I use.” He said “the pain suffered by the Uighur Turks is our pain”, adding that Turkey would continue to do everything it could “for our relatives, for our brothers over there”.

Last week, Mr Erdogan said Turkey would use its role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to bring the Xingjian issue to that body’s agenda, but China, a permanent council member with veto powers, immediately rejected the idea.

“Once again, the government gets into trouble because of statements that were not thought through and had not been discussed with the responsible departments,” the Referans newspaper commented, noting that Mr Erdogan had not consulted the foreign ministry before going public with his UN plan.

There have been other missteps. Turkey’s trade minister Nihat Ergun called on Turks to boycott goods from China, but said this was only his private view when it emerged that his appeal did not find any followers within the government. In recent days, demonstrators in several Turkish cities have protested against the conduct of China’s security forces in Xinjiang. One group burnt Chinese products in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul.

That outpouring of emotion should not cloud Ankara’s vision for political, diplomatic and economic realities, some observers warn. Erdal Safak, a columnist writing in the Sabah daily, criticised Mr Ergun for issuing his boycott demand “without calculating which side will suffer more”. After all, only a few weeks ago, contracts worth US$1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) were signed during a visit by Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul to China. That figure is equal to all Turkish exports to China last year.

“Let us react to China, by all means, but without becoming unreasonable, and without forgetting that there is no place for emotions in diplomacy,” Safak wrote.

But as Turkish nationalists seize on the feelings of solidarity with the Uighurs, Mr Erdogan’s government finds it difficult to remain cold-blooded. Speaking one day after Mr Erdogan’s “genocide” remarks, Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, called on Mr Erdogan to “say ‘one minute’ on the China issue”.

Mr Bahceli was referring to the now-famous appearance of Mr Erdogan at a panel discussion with Israel’s president Shimon Peres earlier this year, when the Turkish prime minister reacted angrily after he was denied a chance to retort after a speech by Mr Peres defending a bloody military operation by Israel in the Gaza Strip. Saying “one minute” in English, Mr Erdogan tried to get permission to answer Mr Peres and stormed off the stage when he was turned down.

Now Mr Erdogan lost no time in getting back at Mr Bahceli, accusing him of staying silent on the issue of the Uighurs when he visited China as a vice-premier of a coalition government that was in power from 1999 until 2002. “Did you raise your voice then?” Mr Erdogan asked.

It is not the first time that Turkey is trying to walk the fine line of giving moral support to the Uighurs without upsetting China. According to Turkish media reports, the government in Ankara decided in 2006 to no longer issue entry visas to Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent US-based Uighur exile, after a speech she gave in Turkey triggered an angry response from Beijing. But last week, Mr Erdogan announced that Ms Kadeer would receive a visa if she applied for one.

(Gulf News)  Indifference towards Uighurs appalling    By Adel Safty    July 12, 2009.

International human rights laws lack enforcement mechanisms. It is up to the individual states to apply them, and up to the international community to promote them.

But the willingness of the international community to promote respect for human rights is hampered by two limitations: the rule against the interference in the internal affairs of other states; and the double standards applied in deciding which human rights violations around the world to criticise and which to ignore.

Two recent events offer dramatic illustration. The international community and especially the US rightly criticised the Iranian government's repression of the popular uprising to protest the results of the recent presidential elections.

President Barack Obama was subjected to sustained pressure from various quarters to be more forceful in his condemnation.

The press and television networks gave extensive coverage of the events in Iran with obvious overtones of condemnation of the Iranian government's action.

Now consider the bloodier repression of the Uighurs - the Muslim population in China's Xinjiang region - in which at least 184 people were killed and some 1,000 were injured.

Uighur human rights groups claim that the number of dead is in the hundreds, with most of the victims being Uighurs.

Protests spread from Urumqui, capital of the Xinjiang region, to the city of Kashgar, where the protesters - in an uncanny resemblance to the Iranian battle cry - chanted "Allahu Akbar" as they confronted riot police.

The Uighur protesters complained of being oppressed by a Han-dominated government, and marginalised by an officially-encouraged Han migration to Xinjiang.

"Fundamentally, the relationship between Uighur and Han is one of colonised to coloniser," Nicholas Bequelin, a China expert at Human Rights Watch, reportedly said.

Yet, there is no movement in the American Congress to condemn the violent repression of the protesters; there is no pressure on Obama to criticise the brutalities.

The New York Times initially chose the neutral headline of 'Ethnic Clashes' to report on the events and made no reference to the fact that the protesters were Muslims until the last paragraph of its story.

Only when the riots intensified and the president of China cancelled his trip to the G8 meeting in Italy to return home, did the newspaper briefly mention that the Uighurs 'believe' that their culture and livelihoods were under assault by the Han Chinese who hold power in China.

The paper devoted a story on the subject to an analysis of what might be called lessons learned from the Iranian experience, under the headline 'China applies new strategies to control flow of information'; it noted that the Chinese government 'blocked Twitter ... purged search engines ... and saturated the Chinese media with the state-sanctioned story'.

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times showed similar indifference. The CNN television network initially devoted about 30 seconds to the story.

The fact that the 10 million Uighurs in China, who were once a majority in Xinjiang, were Muslims who complain of being the subject of systematic human rights violations was generally played down.

To be sure there are some obvious differences between the events in Iran - where a popular movement's demand for democratic rule is violently repressed - and the events in China - where the protesters are linked to a secessionist movement, The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which China regards as a terrorist organisation.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that the Uighurs' grievances and claims of discrimination are without validity, and their protestations ought to be met with indifference, especially that their plight received some public attention when some twenty-two Uighurs were caught in the expanding web of the war on terror.

The Chinese government capitalised on George W. Bush's war on terror to justify its repression of the Uighurs' religious and cultural identity in the name of fighting extremism.

In the blind hysteria and Islamophobia that accompanied the war on terror, China had no difficulties convincing the Bush administration of listing the ETIM as a terrorist organisation.

US representative Dana Rohrabacher described the decision as "a pathetic attempt" by the Bush administration to secure China's support for the Iraq war.

Congressman Bill Delahunt called a hearing to inquire into why Washington classified ETIM as a terrorist group.

"It appears to me that we took substantial intelligence information from the communist Chinese regime and then used that questionable evidence as our own," Delahunt reportedly said.

The plight of the Uighurs is mentioned in the US State Department Human Rights Report, released on February 25 this year.

The Chinese government, said the report, "increased its severe cultural and religious repression of ethnic minorities in Tibetan areas and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR)".

An Amnesty International Report posted on July 6 stated that the Uighur ethnic identity is under attack by government policies that limit the use of the Uighur language, restrict freedom of religion, and encourage a sustained influx of Han Chinese migrants into the region.

The report accused the government of the arrest and "arbitrary detention of thousands of Uighurs on charges of 'terrorism, and ....religious extremism" for peacefully exercising their human rights."

(blog.dwnews.com)  The truth of the Xinjiang incident lies in commonsense.  By Yang Zi.  July 12, 2009.

(in partial translation)

... In order to preserve ethnic unity and save my brain-dead compatriots, I offer the following questions along with their standard answers.  I hope that after my brain-dread compatriots go through this exercise, their dead brain cells may resume normal operation somewhat.

Q. Does ethnic conflict exist everywhere?
A: Yes.

Q. Do the Chinese Communist want to inflame or harmonize ethnic relationships?
A. They want to harmonize ethnic relationships.

Q. Why does the company boss not publish the salary of each employee?
A. Salary is a sensitive subject whose disclosure may lead to unnecessary conflicts.

Q. But isn't the salary the truth?
A. This truth will hurt you.  Just like the dirt between ethnic groups, it is better off let unsaid.

Q. During the violent incident in Urumqi, did someone begin with a peaceful demonstration?
A. Yes.

Q. According to commonsense, will the armed police go and stop them?
A. Yes.

Q. Will the so-called "three forces" (note: terrorists, extremists and separatists) want to pour oil on the fire?
A. Yes.

Q. Based upon some of the details of the killings, did some Uighurs plan the massacre?
A. Yes.  For example, the New York Times reported the story about the family of four from Henan province who ran a restaurant in the Uighur area.  During the riot, ten people entered with knives in their hands.  Neighbors who were one block away hear the heart-rending screms.  After killing everybody and cutting off the heads of the mother and child, the rioters left quickly.

Q. Would the armed police open fire if there was no riot?
A. No.

Q. Of the more than 40 dead Uighurs, could some of them been killed by the armed police?
A. Some of them were probably shot dead by the armed police, but the exact number is unknown.  Some of them might have been killed by Han mobs seeking revenge.

Q. In any country in the world, what should the police do when people are being killed in a large-scale riot?
A. They should open fire to suppress he riot.

Q. How can so many Han people die on one night?
A. That is impossible unless there was a systematically planned massacre.

Q. Were those peaceful Uighur demonstrators innocent?
A. Yes.

Q. Among those Uighur murderers, were there anyone who belong to the "three forces"?
A. Muslim extremists will kill at the bat of an eye, and they will surely take the opportunity to kill.

Q. So what is the nature of the Urumqi incident?
A. It was caused by Han-Uighur conflict.  It was made worse by the "three forces" which went out to kill.  In the end, thee was a violent incident.  Without the long-term ethnic conflict between the Han and the Uighur, there could not have been the Urumqi incident.  Without the rigging bythe "three forces," the violence could not have been so devastating.

Q. What is to be done?
A. Go after the rioters in Guangdong and Xinjiang first.  Then go after the "three forces."  Finally go after the Guangdong government officials.

(Arab Times Discontent simmers; ‘Over 600 killed’    July 12, 2009.

More than 600 people have been killed and about 800 injured in the riots rocking China’s Xinjiang province, says a foreign doctor who has just returned to his homeland from the capital city of Urumqi. The doctor, who was unwilling to disclose his name, told the Arab Times he saw some of the goriest scenes ever in his life during the week-long violence in Urumqi until the army took control of the city.  Most of the victims of the riots had serious head injuries — fractured skulls and split faces. The rioters were wreaking havoc on ethnic Muslims with the sole intention of killing. Many of the victims were brought dead to the hospital.
In the five years that he stayed in Urumqi, the place had always come across to him as peaceful and quiet. But there were conflicts and discontent simmering to explode, which he never perceived initially.

Through his Chinese Uighur friends, the doctor came to realize the festering lesions in China’s social fabric. “It takes a long time for foreigners to get a hang of the real conflicts in China because the victims rarely talk, wary of snooping secret agents.” When the riots on the streets threatened to spill into the doctor’s medical university campus, the army was called in to stamp out the smoldering embers between ethnic Uighur and Han Chinese students. “Now, there is curfew in Urumqi, and the minority Muslims are very scared to step out of their homes. The Muslims carry horrible memories from three decades ago when about 4,000 Muslims were brutally shot dead by the Chinese army in an attempt to crush an uprising.”

When asked if foreign Muslim students are suffering any sort of violence, the doctor replied that there were minor incidents of violence such as stone throwing and verbal harassment of female students. “Some windows of hostel rooms occupied by foreign Muslim students were broken. There are about 400 to 500 foreign students in the university coming from Pakistan, India, UAE and Saudi Arabia.” The doctor was witness to some bloody clashes between Uighur and Chinese Han students on the campus. “That’s when the principal called in the army, which has taken over the entire campus. As a result things have cooled down a bit now.”

In the first few days of the riot, the doctor saw scores of dead bodies and injured people being brought to the hospital - all Muslims. As the government has clamped down on the media, there are no reliable reports on the actual death toll. “About 1,200 people are wanted by the government and 400 to 500 arrests have been made so far. Nobody knows how many have gone missing.”

Many students in the medical university are leaving the province. Students are being moved out with the escort of armored vehicles and choppers circling overhead. “It’s like a place under siege, and there is a gripping sense of fear in every student, especially foreign students. “The calm in the university is very chilling. The military hardware enervates you. Though the situation is normal, it does not make you feel comfortable. Your first instinct is to flee from there, because there is much uncertainty, and anything can happen.” The doctor in response to a question on his take on the freedom of religion enjoyed by Muslims in China said there is very limited freedom. “Ethnic Chinese Muslims are looked down upon by others, and are discriminated at hospitals and government offices. They never reach high positions in government ranks.

“My Chinese Muslim friends tell me that that is why they are demanding a separate state. They want equality and freedom, and they know they will never get it from the communist government in China. They have had enough of being discriminated. “The Muslims have high regard for their Noble Laureate leader, who gave inspirational speeches to fight for a separate state. The Muslim youth are stoked up by her speeches. However, the riots broke out when two Muslim workers in another province were killed by people belonging to the majority Han community.

(Rose Luqui's blog)  Prejudices and mistakes.  July 12, 2009.

(in partial translation)

I have read several dozen western media reports (I have to thank the EastSouthWestNorth blogger for his meticulous aggregation)

http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20090711_1.htm

http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20090708_1.htm

http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20090706_1.htm

It is clear that many of the articles exhibited prejudices.  For example, when Han people carried sticks, they are a "mob"; when Uighur people carried sticks, they are an "angry crowd."  The reader will not know that some Han people are doing this not for revenge but because they are scared and need to defend themselves.  Different media interviewed the same experts and end up with the same voices: the words from the Chinese government officials are characterized as "hardline" etc; Rebiya Kadeer is a "human rights advocate" etc; the deaths of innocent citizens are glossed over lightly etc.

But it must be acknowledged that certain western media have heard the true voices of the local people during their news gathering.  The New York Times report on the Henan migrant family losing their son made people keenly aware of the brutality of the rioters and the innocence and helplessness of ordinary citizens.  The focus was truly put on these vibrant lives and the voices of these ordinary citizens who only wanted some place where they can make a steady living.  Of course, this same article will appear to be biased to those readers who believe that the western media are biased because it is ultimately critical of the government's migration policies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/09/world/asia/09han.html

It may be the case that certain western media have pre-established positions.  But apart from prejudices, they may have different priorities on different values on different issues.  Is economic development more important, or cultural preservation more important?  Is engaging in society at large more important, or emphasizing unique ethnic identity more important?  So this leads to the following phenomenon.  The Chinese government thinks that economic development has been good to the local people whereas the western media see the other side.  That difference is not important.  What is important is how the people arrange those priorities and whether the government can satisfy the majority of the people.

When the western media make mistakes in their reporting, it is meaningless for the Chinese audience to boycott them.  Those media will not go out of business as a result.  It is better to be more pro-active.  If there is a mistake, you write to them and point it out.  If you have a different point of view, you write an essay to express that.  If you think that they are prejudiced and will not publish what you write, you can go to their website and publish that opinion.  Of course, you should not be just heaping abuse.  You should articulate your own viewpoint.  When many people do the same, the voices will be loud.  This is no longer a case of shutting your eyes and pretending that you can't see it.

On a matter such as the Urumqi riots, no media can give the truth to their readers.  They only have bits and pieces of facts.  What the reader can do is to combine the reports in various media and make a judgment for himself/herself ...




(Times OnlineUrumqi violence extinguishes brother’s hope    By Jane Macartney.  July 13, 2009.

For one week Yu Dongzhi clung to hope that his sister might still be the only surviving member of her family. That tiny glimmer was extinguished today when officials identified her charred remains.

It is now certain that she was one of the 184 people killed a week ago in China’s deadliest riots in six decades of Communist Party rule in Urumqi, capital of China’s westernmost mainly Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Mr Yu had searched the city’s mortuaries and scoured the police database of photographs of the dead. He had returned to dig again and again through the burnt-out remains of the streetside store where his sister, Yu Xinli, and her family had sold flour, groceries and soft drinks to the mix of Han Chinese and Muslim Uighur residents of the district.

But officials have now notified Mr Yu — a week after Uighurs rampaged through the city attacking Han Chinese — that DNA testing has identified his missing sister. “The body was so badly burnt that it could be identified only through DNA testing,” said another family member, speaking on behalf of Mr Yu who was too distressed to talk.

Officials had said that nine bodies recovered after last Sunday’s violence could be identified only by DNA because of the extent of their burns. It was not known how many more of the nine had yet to be recovered by their families.

Mr Yu’s relative said his sister’s death may have been for the best. “How could she have faced life,” he asked, knowing that her husband and her 13-year-old son had been beheaded, and her mother-in-law, 84, and nephew, 27, had been beaten to death? All the bodies were left inside the family store after the rioters set it alight late on July 5.

The authorities say that 184 people have been killed in Urumqi. In an unusually detailed report for Chinese officials they have given a breakdown of the fatalities by ethnic group. Of the dead, 137 were Han Chinese, 46 were Uighur and one was from the Muslim Hui minority.

It was unclear how many were killed in the initial bout of rioting and how many died when Han Chinese vigilante mobs bent on vengeance began to roam the city streets in the ensuing two days.

Officials also provided a new figure for the injured today, raising the total to 1,680, an increase of 600. Nur Bekri, Governor of the Xinjiang region, said more than 900 of those injured remained in hospital and of those 74 were on the verge of death.

At the Xinjiang People’s Hospital the less seriously injured were crowded into special wards. Additional beds had been placed in corridors to accommodate the numbers.

Most were Han Chinese but The Times spoke to one little Uighur girl whose scalp had been grazed by a bullet while her mother had been shot in the ankle. Her pregnant mother said: “I had just finished work and we were going home when we saw so many people on the street throwing stones. The police came and opened fire and we were caught in the crossfire.”

(Xinhua)  Armed forces on patrol bring an uneasy peace to Urumqi    July 13, 2009.

THE violence-torn Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is slowly returning to normal one week after the violence in Urumqi that left 184 people dead and 1,680 injured.

A police helicopter hovered above and SWAT units were patrolling the downtown streets yesterday as tension remained high in the regional capital. Police in riot gear were inspecting checkpoints, combing coaches for suspects involved in the deadly violence.

Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Political Bureau, said in his tour to the autonomous region yesterday that to maintain social stability was the top concern of the livelihood of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang for the time being.

Calm was somehow restored in the city with the heavy presence of armed police but scars left by a deadly riot were easily seen near the People's Square, where at least 184 people died.

Many citizens stared at the People's Square from a distance yesterday to mourn for the loss of so many innocent lives. They were observing the "First Seven" or "first week," a Han ethnic tradition to burn incense and light candles as a remembrance and consolation to the spirit of newly deceased.

As dusk fell yesterday, memories of the bloodiest riot resurfaced in Urumqi, which is home to about 2 million people of different ethnics, mainly Uygurs and Hans.

For people like Zhang Zhong, the city of Urumqi has changed after the deadly violence. "I have lost the sense of security here," said Zhang, who sat on the stairs of a beverage store near the square, "if I had not bought a house in Urumqi, I would have already left here after the riot." More citizens just sat on the stairs or stood by roadside and stared silently at the square, where joyful activities such as dancing and singing used to be its trademark before violence struck a week before.

"The police patrolling and guarding the square makes me feel safe for the moment," said Wang Su, who sat several meters away from Zhang on the stairs near the square. "I wouldn't have come here but for the presence of police." "Those extremists killed innocent people," said Wang, who works for a local private company. "Their brutality and atrocity belongs to no ethnic groups, but to the most extreme and ugliest part of human beings."

Wang said he and many others had never witnessed such a heavy presence of armed police in Urumqi but he understood the necessity to deploy so many after the worst and bloodiest violence in the autonomous region since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. "At this moment, such deployment declares the government's determination to control riots and it brings the sense of security we need here," Wang said.

Regional government Chairman Nur Berkri said in a televised speech yesterday that the number of people injured in violence on July 5 had risen to 1,680. Altogether 216 of the 939 hospitalized were seriously injured and 74 of the injured had died, he said.

An oil tank exploded at a chemical plant in Urumqi yesterday morning. Police ruled out the possibility of sabotage after a preliminary investigation.

In the suburbs of Aksu City, people who flocked into the Uygur bazaar, Toksun, said they had felt something different. "There are fewer people compared with what it was before the violence," said Tunxunjiang Tuohuniyazi, a local Uygur who was visiting the bazaar with his wife. "On my way here, I saw a lot of policemen," he said. "But I understand it. The heavy security helps ensure our safety." The bazaar, which boasts 3,000 stands, had only a little more than 500 in business yesterday.

(Xinhua)  Day of consolation to dead souls    July 13, 2009.

A police helicopter hovered above and SWAT units armed with guns patrolling the downtown streets as tension remained in the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Calm was somehow restored in the city with the heavy presence of armed police but scars left by a deadly riot were easily seen near the People's Square, where a bloody violence killed at least 184 people.

Many citizens stared at the People's Square from far away Sunday to mourn for the loss of so many innocent lives. They were observing the "First Seven" or "first week", a tradition of Han ethnic to burn incenses and lit candles as a remembrance and consolation to the spirit of their newly deceased relatives.

As dusk befell in Urumqi on the day of remembrance of the dead, memories of the bloodiest riot resurfaced in the city, which is home to about 2 million people of different ethnics, mainly Uygurs and Hans.

For people like Zhang Zhong, the city of Urumqi has turned "totally unattractive" after the deadly violence. "I have lost the sense of security here," said Zhang, who sat on the stairs of a beverage store near the square, "if I had not bought a house in Urumqi, I would have already left here after the riot."

Zhang folded the yellow paper into triangle shape, laid it on the floor but did not burn the incenses according to Chinese tradition. "The gaze by armed police makes me feel that how desperate our city needs to return to tranquility," Zhang said.  However, he decided to give up his incense-burning mourning for the many victims. "I can't add to their nerves or even the fluctuation of emotions with my acts," he explained.

More citizens just sat on the stairs or stood by roadside and stared silently at the square, where joyful activities like dancing and singing used to be its trademark scene before the violence struck the city last Sunday. "The police patrolling and guarding the square makes me feel safe for the moment," said Wang Su, who sat several meters away from Zhang on the stairs near the square. "I won't come here but for the presence of police."  "Those extremists killed innocent people," said Wang, who works for a local private company, adding: "their brutality and atrocity belongs to no ethnic groups, but to the most extreme and ugliest part of human being."

Wang said he and many others had never witnessed such a heavy presence of armed police in Urumqi but he understood the necessity to deploy so many police here after the worst and the bloodiest violence erupted in the autonomous region since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. "At this moment, such deployment declares the government's determination to control riot and it brings the sense of security we need here," Wang said.

(AFP)  Migrant shopowner fears for the future    July 13, 2009.

Zhang Lixia waited fearfully as two young Uygur men approached her liquor shop in downtown Urumqi days after the riots. But the two Muslim men dressed in stylish polo shirts and neatly pressed slacks wanted no trouble, just a bottle of Johnny Walker whisky, some Chinese spirits and several packs of cigarettes.

After they paid for the items - nearly 300 yuan (HK$340) in total - Ms Zhang offered them several bottles of soft drinks for free as a friendly gesture. "I'm so scared when the Uygur men come in," she said. "Never in my wildest imagination did I think that something like this was going to happen." The 45-year-old Han shop owner was referring to the riots last week in which thousands of Uygurs took to the streets in a protest that turned violent.

Of the official death toll of 184, 137 were from the mainland's dominant Han ethnic group - and 1,680 others were injured in the nation's worst ethnic violence in decades.

Ms Zhang and her husband are part of a huge wave of immigrants who have flooded Xinjiang in the government's drive to develop the nation's vast western regions and alleviate huge population pressures in the heartland. More than 1.3 million Han moved into Xinjiang between 1998 and 2006, according to government figures, which do not take into account many unregistered migrant workers.

Last year, Ms Zhang quit her job at a bank in Henan province , and her husband, a former soldier once stationed in Xinjiang, sold his truck so they could move to Urumqi. They put a 150,000 yuan down payment on the shop, and planned to grow old happily in Xinjiang. "When we first got here, we loved it. We thought Urumqi was a great place, better than Henan," Ms Zhang said with a sigh, her smile rarely leaving her rotund face. "All the people here were so friendly, we thought the Han and the minority people got along really well. Now everything feels so dangerous."

Although the government has insisted that race relations were not a cause of the unrest, Uygurs complain that the Han influx is threatening their livelihoods and culture. Beijing believes that by bringing in manpower and expertise to exploit Xinjiang's vast energy and mineral reserves, the nation's 30-year economic boom can be sustained and the Xinjiang economy developed.

The couple also hope their 22-year-old daughter and their college-aged son will come to Xinjiang. "My son was just here for his summer vacation," Mr Zhang said. "We had planned to travel to the Tianshan Mountains and the Takalaman Desert, but then the riot erupted. It left a very bad impression on him, so he went back to Henan."

(South China Morning Post)  Love bridges ethnic divide in Urumqi    By Kristina Kwok.  July 13, 2009.

It's a case of love imitating art. A Uygur boy meets a Han Chinese girl, and the encounter on a rainy day becomes an Urumqi version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Abulitipu Mita, who was a taxi driver at the time, saw Chen Hao, a beautician desperately trying to catch a cab in the pouring rain. Mr Mita, who already had a passenger in his cab, stopped, picked her up and the pair exchanged numbers.  Since that day their relationship has blossomed and they say it is an example of how love and understanding can break down cultural differences and prejudice.

But when the riots broke out last Sunday after years of simmering ethnic tension, it was the first time since they met three years ago that the couple felt fearful about meeting in public. Mr Mita and Ms Chen, both 26, decided to meet less often, fearing that they would draw hostility from both sides of the street. "After the riots, I felt some Han Chinese strangers in the streets would look at me in a different way, but now I think things are back to normal and everything will be fine," Mr Mita said.

Marriages between Uygur and Han Chinese are rare in Xinjiang , even though the ethnic groups comprise the majority of the region's population of 20 million.  There are differences in religion, as most Uygurs are Muslim, and lifestyle. There is also the social stigma associated with dating outside an ethnic group.

The couple first had to win support from their family and friends. "When my friends first knew I was going out with a Han girl, they asked what was wrong with me. There are so many beautiful Uygur women, they said, so why would I choose a Han Chinese?" Mr Mita said.

But his friends gradually accepted his Han Chinese girlfriend after socialising with Ms Chen. She said her family and friends accepted Mr Mita relatively quickly. "Of course, my parents were a bit concerned, but they still respected my decision," she said. "My first boyfriend was a Han, and we split up due to some differences. Seeing a Han is not necessarily better."

But winning the hearts of the Mita family has not been as easy for Ms Chen. "My family was not very supportive at the beginning and is still a bit wary now," he said. "But I am sure this can be resolved as religion is the only issue that is bothering them now. I am quite confident I can convince my girlfriend to convert."

However, it was when marriage was on the cards that Ms Chen realised she would have to dramatically change her lifestyle.

Ms Chen, who moved to Urumqi from her hometown in Hami five years ago, was slightly taken aback as she realised what marrying Mr Mita involved. "I didn't think too much about it until we started planning to get married. To marry a Uygur man, a woman has to be a Muslim, too, and this means I have to convert," said Ms Chen, an atheist. "My lifestyle will have to change completely, as I will need to wear a headscarf, speak their language, pray regularly and, in the summer, I can't wear sleeveless tops. And if we have children, I am not sure how they will think about their ethnic identity."

Speaking flawless Putonghua, Mr Mita is within a small Uygur elite who received a university education and is now a businessman who has many Han Chinese friends. Most Uygurs, the biggest minority group in Xinjiang, remain in rural areas and receive little education.

Ms Chen said she still needed some time to think it over thoroughly, but still intended to marry Mr Mita. "My parents are a bit worried whether I can overcome all these changes and if I might give up halfway through," she said. "I think I can handle all of these. I am an optimistic person."

Despite the ethnic rift, the couple remain confident their relationship will be strong enough to withstand the prejudice. "This is not going to affect us. Not everyone in our ethnic groups is like them," said Ms Chen, referring to the violence of protesters from both sides.

(South China Morning Post)  One family mourns its dead, another hopes son still alive    By Kristina Kwok, Will Clem and Choi Chi-yuk.  July 13, 2009.

A week after at least 184 people were killed in bloody ethnic riots in Xinjiang, families of the Han Chinese victims mourned their loved ones yesterday. The seventh day since one's death is considered by most Han Chinese a mourning day as they believe this is the day when the ghosts of the dead return home for the last time.

For Zou Yuhui , yesterday was another painful reminder of the loss of her parents, killed by rioters on the way home after dinner. "I am not quite familiar with this tradition, and I have no idea what we should do," she said. "We don't have any senior family members to consult now."

Apart from her parents - father Zou Huocai , 69, and mother Fan Silan , 67, Ms Zou also lost her brother Zou Yuqiang , 38, and sister-in-law Wang Zeping , 37. Zou Haoyi, 15, the older son of Zou Yuqiang and Wang, is still in hospital with critical injuries from the attack near their home as they drove home from a restaurant. The couple's four-year-old daughter, Zou Liyang , was the only survivor after being rescued by a Uygur neighbour from the car.

In a makeshift mourning hall in the Zou family's garage, a wall draped in a black cloth is backdrop for four portraits. At least two dozen wreaths flanked the entrance of the garage, while friends and families sat in silence and sadness. Family members flew in from the family's hometown in Sichuan and other parts of China to pay their respects. Wang Zeling, Wang Zeping's sister, arrived yesterday from Wuhan.  "I should have prepared some incense and paper offerings," she said, sobbing. "The little girl [Zou Liyang] still doesn't know her parents are dead yet. She just told me they had gone off to work and were not home yet. What can I tell her? I could only tell her to study hard and behave, to be a person as good as her parents."

Zou Yuhui said they were still not sure when the four would be cremated as the police said the bodies would be needed for further investigation. Xinjiang authorities banned public gatherings to mark the traditional day of mourning yesterday for the dead from the ethnic clashes.

The ban showed authorities were still extremely concerned about further unrest, after Muslim Uygurs rampaged through the streets and attacked Han Chinese a week ago. Officials updated the death toll on Friday to 184 - 137 Han Chinese, 46 Uygurs and one Hui - but many in both the Han and Uygur communities think the figures are considerably higher.

Mahbrat Mullawuti has not seen her eldest son in almost a week, and the strain has driven her almost to breaking point. "I have not been able to eat or sleep for the whole week because I just think of my son," Ms Mullawuti said. "How can I enjoy food when I do not know if he is alive or dead?" Tears well in her eyes as she recalls how Kuxtar Turugon, 19, left home at 7pm last Monday to inform the restaurant where he worked, just around the corner, that he wanted to stay at home for safety's sake.

Nothing has been seen or heard of him since. "I went out to look for him half an hour later, but there was no sign," said his stepfather, Wumar Abdullah. The family registered him missing on Friday - the first day they dared venture out of their housing estate - but have so far heard nothing from the authorities. "Our only hope is that he has been arrested, because a lot of young men have been taken away over the past week," Mr Abdullah said. "But still we worry he may have been killed in retaliation by Han Chinese. At the very least, we want to find his body so that we could know for sure."  "My son is a good boy," the boy's mother said. "He would never get involved in violence."

(South China Morning Post)  Internet cafes suffer as Beijing cuts connection    July 13, 2009.

Computer screens at hundreds of internet cafes around Urumqi flickered with life but the seats in front of them were empty. With the city's connection cut in the wake of the riots, business at some establishments is down as much as 90 per cent.

Zhang Jun, who owns an internet bar on Zhongshan Road in central Urumqi, says he has been hit hard. "Although the incident may have had an adverse impact on tourism and ... restaurants, cinemas and shopping malls, my industry felt the heat immediately. We've done almost no business since the connections were cut off." Mr Zhang said his cafe used to be open around the clock, earning  a profit of about 50,000 yuan (HK$56,800) a month. He estimates he will suffer nearly 20,000 yuan monthly losses. "Only about a 10th of the 160 computers are occupied," Mr Zhang said, pointing at the parlour. "This is 5pm on Saturday. I daresay that you would never have found a single vacant seat before. "The revenue on Friday, the first day business resumed since closure [on July 5], was something more than 300 yuan - roughly 10 per cent of [the amount] before the clashes."

Chen Yun, the boss of another internet cafe, said he had never witnessed such bad times. "You know why I insist on keeping my shop open when it is losing money?" he said. "I simply want to keep my intangible assets - regular customers - instead of giving rise to any speculation that my shop has been shut down." Mr Chen said his 210-seat cafe was usually full but now saw fewer than 100 patrons a day. He said he was losing about 300 yuan a day. "What the customers are doing now is playing games offline or watching movies. Of course they would all rather be online, chatting, searching for information or doing whatever they are interested in. As many as 30 customers have called to ask me when the line will be reconnected."

Mr Zhang has been asking the same question of his service provider. "Not surprisingly, the official said they were waiting for instructions from higher-level authorities." He was worried about a loss of trust between Han Chinese and Uygurs. About 30 per cent his customers were Uygurs, but he expected that to go down. Mr Zhang is also concerned about his customer demographic, as most parents will probably want their children to come home before dark. "Optimistically speaking, I think my business will be back to the level before the riot in two or three months," he said. "But I'm afraid the recovery will last much longer if any more ethnic violence erupts."

(Xinhua)  As violence ends, real pain begins   By Ma Quan.  July 13, 2009.

The riot in Urumqi may have been quelled but the heartbreak for those who lost loved ones in the violence has only just begun. At the "Office for the Aftermath of the July 5 Riot", which has been set up at the city's Huanqiu Hotel, the tearful families of victims must go through the ordeal of registering details of the deceased.

"This is too unfair. Why did this happen to us?" said Wang Jianfang, a 30-year-old Hui minority woman whose brother Wang Changsheng, 36, a transport worker, was stabbed to death on that dark day.  Barely able to speak through her sobs, Wang said she now fears for her family's survival because her brother was the main breadwinner. "How could the rioters do such inhumane things?" she wailed. Wang's family must wait for the results of a DNA test before they can claim his body. Wang Jianfang said she only hopes her brother can be buried according to Muslim practice as soon as possible so he can rest in peace.

Two bases in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, have been designated for victims of the riot: No 2 Funeral Home and Yan'erwo Funeral Home. A member of staff at the No 2 Funeral Home, who asked to remain anonymous, told China Daily its 126 freezers were full, most with victims of the July 5 violence.

(The Guardian)  Unity is deep in China's blood    By Fu Ying.   July 13, 2009.

There is a popular song in China called "Xinjiang – an Adorable Land", which gives an idyllic description of the grasslands stretching endlessly along the Tianshan mountains, cows and sheep grazing in peace, and the enticing fragrance of grapes and melons.

Xinjiang fascinates people from all over China and the world. Last year it was visited by 22 million tourists, including 360,000 from abroad. They are attracted by its history, its scenic beauty, and, most of all, its diverse culture and warm, hospitable people, who sing, dance, and treat visitors like old friends.

Xinjiang was an important passage for the ancient Silk Road, where people of many ethnic groups travelled, lived and traded for centuries. It has come to be defined by its multi-ethnic culture, in particular its Islamic culture. Its 21 million population now comprises 47 ethnic groups, the largest being the Uighurs, who account for 45.7%, followed by the Hans, and many others such as Kazakhs, Huis, Kyrgyz, Mongolians, Tajiks, Sibes, Manchus, Uzbeks, Russians, Daurs, and Tartars. Millions of Muslims live there and there are 23,000 mosques. There are also Buddhist temples and churches.

Different ethnic groups in Xinjiang have lived side by side for centuries like one big family. The relationship has been generally amicable, though, as in all families and multi-ethnic communities, frictions occasionally happen. We call them "problems among people", meaning they can be solved through coordination and are not a life-or-death struggle. That is why the violence in Urumqi on 5 July, causing more than 180 deaths and a thousand wounded, came as a shock.

Some blame it on a criminal case in Guangdong province earlier, which was largely fanned by a rumour. But that case was handled and the suspects detained. This can in no way justify the horrific acts of rioters in Urumqi who, armed with sticks, knives and big stones, went on a killing rampage against innocent people. There is strong concern that outside incitement and organisation played a big part. Framing it as "ethnic conflict" is a wrong way of looking at the issue, and may also drive a wedge between ethnic groups. The incident was reminiscent of terrorist violence in Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang in the past decade or more. Some of these terrorists were sent to train and fight in Afghanistan. A few ended up in Guantánamo Bay. Investigation into the 5 July incident is ongoing and those who committed crimes will face the law.

China is a developing country with growing influence in the world. We are aware of the attention the world has shown to the incident. International journalists were invited to Xinjiang and, on the whole, the world is getting an open flow of information. We hope such transparency will reduce the biased reporting and use of false information and false photos as has happened in the past. Chinese bloggers are quite quick in responding to some unfair comments.

Now calm is being restored. People of all ethnic groups including the Uighurs are firmly against violence and long to resume normal life. Xinjiang has been growing as fast as the rest of China. Many people from other parts of the country work there, especially during the cotton harvest. People from Xinjiang also work, trade and study all over the country. There is hardly a big city where there is no Uighur community. Xinjiang restaurants in Beijing are very popular. Freedom of movement and migration is a basic human right and a sign of China's development and progress.

Throughout the centuries, China has been a multi-ethnic society connected by a commitment to unity, prosperity and harmony. Unity is deep in the blood. That is where our strength lies, and forms the basis for China's interaction with the international community.

(People's Daily)  Why the U.S. giving tacit consent to separating-China forces?   By Li Hongmei.  July 13, 2009.

In the wake of the July 5 Urumqi deadly riots, and in Washington, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning the 'violent repression' of the Uighur people by China. Even though it is still unclear how soon it would come to a vote in the House, the absurdly baseless outcry siding with the secessionist forces against China has already aroused a general indignity among the Chinese communities both at home and abroad.

To the Chinese people, it is nothing new that the U.S. tacitly or openly fan the winds of resentment against China. From the Dalai La ma, evil cult leader Li Hongzhi, to Rebiya Kadeer, now seeking political asylum in the U.S, the U.S. indiscriminately embraces all those forces hostile to China. The new administration led by Barack Obama even risked the global security declaring the release of the terrorist-suspects held in Gantanamo Bay and appealing for their settlement beyond the U.S, territory after meeting with strong resistance from the American public for taking in the potential terrorists.

When it comes to the U.S. national security, the vigilance is absolutely required in the event of the repetition of the 9/11 terrorist attack. But the U.S. seems has little sense about the fact that all the other places beyond its soil are just as vulnerable to terror as it used to be. Perhaps, it is already a customary practice for the U.S. to adopt the double-standard when weighing its interests against others'. Or perhaps, it has some ulterior motive behind to ensure its supreme position will not be challenged or altered by splitting to weaken others.

Back to the case of Rebiya Kadeer, one can find sufficient evidence showing the U.S. back-up to the notorious separatist. The 58-year-old Uighur woman was bailed out of jail in 2005 for medical treatment, and later was allowed to go to the U.S. to join her second husband, who is a veteran separatist. Before her departure she promised repeatedly she would never involve in any activity abroad endangering China's ethic unity and sovereignty. But being shielded and winked at by the relevant American institutions like CIA and NED (National Endowment for Democracy), Kadeer, an almost illiterate but a fanatic careerist, even published her so-called autobiography entitled 'Dragon Fighter' vowing to fight China for the peace of the Uighur people; and more ridiculously, she is even lauded to the sky with the endearing title 'the Spiritual Mother,' (or some doubt it is self-claimed) for all the Uighurs, upon which the majority of the Uighur Chinese have been pouring scorn.

Most probably, Kadeer was right the person the U.S. side has been thirsty for when she started her exile on its soil: wildly ambitious, hostile to China, and more important, religious. And this can always stir up some emotion among the American 'rights activists.' The appearance of Ms. Kadeer was therefore deemed as a rare occurrence to pounce upon, and some of the 'outlandish woman's special qualities' also proved to be unmatchable in satisfying the immediate interests of some political groups, which have all along been waiting for the opportune moment to go into action subverting China, simply due to the uncompromising ideological differences.

Kadeer's legendary rise, from obscurity as a street vendor and, a hooligan in the eyes of her former peers to a business tycoon acquiring fame and fortune not only in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region but across China, might look rather like a Uighur version of 'American Dream,' assuming, of course, the 'American Dream' is actually encouraging its people to speculate, cheat and even plot to wreck havoc to the whole nation for the hoard of individual wealth. That is one of the charges which had put the heroic Uighur lady in jail-- tax evasion, and another a felony involving selling out secrets endangering the national security.

Anyway, NED has funded all these institutions aiming to separate China, including East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an organization blacklisted as a terrorist force by Bush administration and already accepted worldwide as a global threat, and its devil incarnations World Uighur Congress and American Uighur Association, both presided over by Rebiya Kadeer.

In response to the calls for release from the tax payers, NED had to published online its spending on 'pro-Xinjiang Independence' activities throughout the years: in 2005, it was US$120,000; in 2006, the number more than tripled to US$390,000; in 2007, it grew up to US$520,000; and the year 2008 also saw a slight increase up to US$ 570,000, of which US$ 550,000 went to Ms.Kadeer. On top of that, NFD in 2008 also aided 'Tibet Independence' totaling US$350,000. Even more outrageous, Rebiya Kadeer gained the U.S. approval on July 7, two days after the bloody unrest, to hold a rally in Washington D.C. protesting China's efforts to subdue the rioting which has claimed 184 innocent lives so far and injured more than 1,000, and which is apparently inhumane atrocities intolerable to any government and any people.

Since the end of 1980s, the U.S. has never moderated its intention to stoke the so-called 'China Issues' on the international occasions. And wielding the stick of 'human rights,' it has been always waiting for a good chance to hit home 'China's weakness,' and for this purpose, it has either chosen to be blind to hard facts or even at times twisted the facts. No human rights can be built on neglecting or robbing others' survival rights. This time, in their efforts to fan feuding between Han and Uighur Chinese by harboring and propping up separatist forces, the U.S. is jumping out again to be the third party that would, for the secret hope, benefit from the tussle.

(Xinhua)  Commentary: Lies cover up no facts    July 13, 2009.

    After denying their role in the July 5 riot in Urumqi, the World Uygur Congress (WUC) and its chairwoman Rebiya Kadeer have been busy attempting to twist the truth by spreading a pack of lies and vending fake evidence.

    However, the separatists' tricks have been seen through one after another, and Kadeer has been exposed as a liar by her "truths."

    On Tuesday, the WUC authored an editorial page article with Kadeer bylined on the Wall Street Journal and a BBC interview to repeat their claims that 400 Uygurs had been killed in Urumqi and a further 100 in Kashgar, the second largest Uygur city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

    "However her claims appear to conflict directly with eyewitness testimonies and other reports gathered by international media on the ground in Urumqi over the last three days," said a report of Britain's Daily Telegraph sent from Urumqi on Wednesday.

    Also on Wednesday, lies of the WUC were caught red-handed in Munich, Germany. At a press conference held by the WUC, attendees made a sharp retort with photos against the organization's allegation that 600 to 800 Uygurs were killed in riots in Urumqi on July 5.

    Besides numbers, the WUC and Kadeer have also been meticulous about their image "evidence" presented to the international media.

    In a Tuesday interview with Al Jazeera, Kadeer showed a photo which purported to show "peaceful Uygur protesters" in Urumqi and how they were being cracked down by police. The photo was later found to be cropped from a Chinese news website image on an unrelated June 26 protest in Shishou, Hubei Province.

    Another enlarged photo provided by the Uyghur American Association for "East Turkestan" separatist troublemakers gathering in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, to show how Uygurs were victimized in the July 5 riot, however, was exposed by netizens as a traffic accident scene shot on May 15 thousands of kilometers away in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

    The separatists are making a smug calculation with their ham-handed lies. Firstly, they attempted to cover up their role of instigating and masterminding the July 5 riot in Urumqi and sugar up their atrocities and violence with "peaceful protests."

    Secondly, they distorted the truth, tarnished the Chinese government's ethnic policies, sabotaged national unity and continued their rabble-rousing activities by fanning hatred.

    And thirdly, they played the "victim card," and disguised mobsters as the "underprivileged" and "peaceful protestors" in order to win the support and sympathy of the international community.

    Lies, however, dissolve themselves before truth. Separatists like Kadeer have arrived at the end of their tether. They could only brace themselves up by fabricating new lies to mend the cracked ones.

    The only thing they can get in the end is to expose their ugly features as "East Turkestan" separatists and make a fool of themselves by bluffing their way around.

(Xinhua)  Rebiya Kadeer mocked by netizens over lies on Urumqi riot    July 13, 2009.

    The head of the separatist World Uygur Congress Rebiya Kadeer has been mocked by netizens for her remarks about the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi that left 184 dead.

    An article "The Real Uygur Story" by Kadeer, posted on the Wall Street Journal website, online.wsj.com, on July 8, told her version of the violence. She claimed "hundreds of Uygurs are now dead for exercising their right to protest", or in what she called a "peaceful assembly".

    "She is like thousand miles from the epic center. How can she know the real story?" questioned Siu Tsang, in a comment forum linked to the article, on Saturday.

    "Maybe indeed she had special channels to the Uygur area and is the mastermind behind the mob killing..." Tsang said.

    "I did not know who this woman was, but after reading her so called opinion on the WSJ, I now believe that it is highly plausible this woman could be the mastermind behind the riots," said T. J. Chen in the same forum.

    "... I just cannot get over the eerie feeling it was written before the riots took place," Chen said.

    Kadeer was jailed in 1999 on charges of harming national security in China. She left for the United States shortly after she was released on bail in 2005. She is now leader of the World Uygur Congress, which has close contact with terrorist organizations.

    She was once the richest woman in Xinjiang and was named by Forbes in 1995 as the eighth richest on the Chinese mainland. She also served as a member of National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body of the country.

    In her article, Kadeer claimed "years of Chinese repression of Uygurs" was the cause of the current Uygur "discontent".

    But a post by Benchi Sun in the forum refuted the accusation with "a few interesting facts" that he found after watching an interview with Kadeer.

    "She (Kadeer) had 11 children, which confirms that Uygurs were not subject to China's one-child policy," Sun said in his post.

    "She was born to a family with no background. She started her business with a roadside convenience store and worked her way to the richest person in Xinjiang. This proved Uygurs can earn their business success through hard work," the netizen continued.

    He also cited Kadeer's experience as a member of CPPCC National Committee to show that Uygurs were not excluded from political life in the country.

    "The author should stop telling lies. You know, God is always fair, no matter which God you believe in. God will punish those who tell lies. Can we agree on this?" the post said.

    In her article, Kadeer used "East Turkestan" to refer to Xinjiang.

    "If Rebiya Kadeer did not have separatist intentions, why does she use 'East Turkestan' as the name of the province and not the Chinese name Xinjiang?" said Tony Tan in the same forum.

    Kadeer mentioned "China's heavy-handed reaction to Sunday's protest. But it was criticized by readers with hard facts.

    "Real??? Are you kidding? Don't ignore the fact that the so-called protesters killed 156 innocent people, including Han and Uygur," said another post entry by Bridget Ch, before the latest death toll, 184, was announced Saturday by the Xinjiang regional government.

    "It is not a demonstration, but a bloody massacre. Criminals must be punished," the post said.

    The riot has also left 1,680 injured, and hundreds of vehicles and shops vandalized and looted and other public facilities destroyed. The regional government said Saturday among the dead, 137 were Han and 46 were Uygur.

    In a Tuesday interview with Al Jazeera, Kadeer showed a testimonial photo which purported to show "peaceful Uygur protesters" in Urumqi and how they were treated by the police. The photo was later found to be cropped from a Chinese news website image on an unrelated June 26 protest in Shishou, Hubei Province.

    "This untruthful woman likes to put herself in the spotlight. But she should bear in mind that more public appearances will only bring her more shame, if she continues to lie," said a Chinese netizen named "nineteen years of knife for killing cows" in a forum. 

(New York Times)  Fuse of Fear, Lit in China, Has Victims on 2 Sides.  By Edward Wong.  July 13, 2009.


Abulimit Asim, right, a Uighur, left a police station where he was turned away while trying to report an assault by men who are Han, China’s main ethnic group.

The lynch mob first set upon the lame Uighur shoeshine boy in the narrow alley, sticks and knives in hand. Then it turned to the two men working at the reception desk in the Light of Dawn hotel.

The men dashed into the rear bedroom and locked the wooden door. It quickly gave way to the dozens of ethnic Han men hacking and kicking and punching at it. One knife blow fell on Abulimit Asim’s head, then another.

“They wanted to kill us, but there was nowhere for us to go,” Abulimit, who goes by his given name, said Wednesday, a day after the attack, his head bandaged and dried blood still splattered across his white shirt. “We were helpless.”

Abulimit survived the deadliest outbreak of ethnic violence in China in decades, when Uighurs and Han slaughtered each other for days across this regional capital of 2.3 million. But the assault on him is also the latest chapter in what the Uighurs say is a long history of victimization by the Han, the dominant race in China but relative newcomers by any large numbers to the western region of Xinjiang.

Like many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking race of Sunni Muslims, his tale begins in the string of oasis towns in southern Xinjiang, settled by Uighurs in the 10th century after their migration from the Mongolian steppe. Five years ago, Abulimit and his family abandoned their poor farmland to seek their fortunes among the gleaming towers of Urumqi.

He found himself among people whose language he does not speak, but who hold all the power across Xinjiang — political, economic and cultural. Although Uighurs are still the largest ethnic group among the 20 million people of Xinjiang, Han settlers, many just poor farmers, have been flocking to the region for decades, in part because of government encouragement. Urumqi is now more than 70 percent Han.

“They don’t listen to us,” he said as he walked Wednesday from a police station where he had been turned away while trying to report the assault.

The bottled frustration of the Uighurs exploded on July 5, when a clash between at least 1,000 Uighur protesters and riot police officers turned into a night of bloodletting in which young Uighur men rampaged through the streets killing Han civilians. For at least three days after, Han mobs armed with sticks and knives roamed the city exacting vengeance.

The Chinese government says that at least 184 people were killed in all, three-quarters of them Han, and that those responsible are “terrorists.” But many Uighurs assert that hundreds of Uighurs were shot dead by Chinese security forces and massacred by Han mobs.

What has emerged is two distinct versions of the violence, two narratives of victimhood.

For the Uighurs, the role of victim is all too familiar, they say.

“Our traditions, our clothing, our language, they want us to get rid of it all,” said a Uighur merchant in the same alleyway where Abulimit lives and works. “They want us to become Han.”

Chinese officials say the Uighurs are treated with respect and are even given advantages over the Han when it comes to family planning policy and university admissions, among other things.

But many Uighurs, especially those like Abulimit from the south, say they feel alienated in a quickly changing Xinjiang. Raised in remote oasis towns like Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan, they are less educated and rarely speak Mandarin. They are also more devout.

“We’re just farmers from Khotan,” said Abulimit’s wife, a woman in black robes and a white floral head scarf.

Once the seat of a Buddhist kingdom on the Silk Road, Khotan sits on the southern edge of the scorching Tarim Basin. It is known for its nephrite jade and silk carpets, but there is, too, an air of desperation. Every day, residents scour a dry riverbed for tiny pieces of jade, hoping to find the one stone that will transform their lives.

Abulimit, his wife and two children left five years ago, following relatives to Urumqi. They made the 24-hour bus trip north across the Taklamakan Desert.

The old Uighur quarter is redolent of Islamic bazaars across Asia. Open-air food markets thick with the smell of grilling kebabs spill across sidewalks. Narrow passageways wind behind mosques.

Here and in nearby suburbs, the streets are crowded with migrants from southern Xinjiang selling fruit from wooden carts or cheap household goods from blankets. It is usually the only job they can get. With little knowledge of Mandarin, they cannot compete with Han migrants, even for something as menial as construction work.

“The Han discriminate against us,” said the merchant who works in the same alleyway as Abulimit. “Some companies want only Han workers. Even a lot of Uighur college graduates cannot get jobs.”

Several middle-class Uighurs said in interviews that poorer migrants from the south were to blame for the killings of Han civilians on July 5, frustrated as they were by their downtrodden state.

Abulimit was luckier than most. An older brother owned flophouses along a dead-end alley that ran south off Tianchi Road, west of the heart of the Uighur quarter. Abulimit got a desk job at the Tang Nuri hotel, or Light of Dawn, and he and his family moved into a cramped room on the fifth floor of another hotel around the corner.

The alley, in part a ghetto for jade sellers from Khotan, was a natural target for the reprisal attacks by Han vigilantes that mostly took place across Urumqi on July 7. That day, at about 2 p.m., dozens of men armed with sticks and knives turned from a wide avenue to the mouth of the alley. They beat a convenience store owner, Abulajan, 32, who walks with a limp now and can barely turn his head.

“Now, I don’t have a good impression of the Han,” he said. “When I go out, those Han who see me, I believe they hate me.”

Abulajan and many others in the area said there were about 30 armed paramilitary soldiers standing near the mouth of the alley that day, presumably to stop any violence. “But the soldiers did nothing,” Abulajan said.

Next, the mob descended on the lame shoeshine boy outside the Light of Dawn hotel. He was hit in the head and stabbed in the back, said a grand-uncle, Muhammad Jan.

Inside the hotel, Abulimit and a security guard, Abdul Rahman, barricaded themselves in a bedroom next to the reception desk. The vigilantes knocked a wide hole in the door.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Abulimit said. “I fainted when they started beating and cutting me.”

The mob moved on, perhaps thinking they had killed the men.

This past weekend, their dried blood was still splattered across the blue-and-white floor tiles and a vinyl sofa.

Abulimit sat in a clinic next door while a doctor changed the dressing on his head. How quickly the wounds would heal, no one knew.

(FT.com)  Han survey wreckage of illusory integration.  By Kathrin Hille.  July 12, 2009.

Customers calling the Geely car dealership on Dawan South Road are greeted by a tape recording with merry music and a female voice: “We have the Golden Eagle, the Beautiful Day, the Vision, and the Panda series for you,” she says.

But at the dealership on the southeastern outskirts of Urumqi, only blackened shells are left of these symbols of prosperity.

Guo Jianxin and Qian Yuxiu, a Han Chinese couple who own two Geely car yards and one repair shop in Urumqi, lost their business to the wave of ethnic violence that swept the capital of Xinjiang, China’s western-most region, a week ago and has shaken its fragile stability.

On the night of July 5, a group of men from the Uighur ethnic minority stormed the yard, first turning over all cars parked on the forecourt and smashing the windows and then setting the yard on fire, says Mr Guo. He called his wife, who was on her way to the yard at the time, and told her to stay away, and fled through the back door with a dozen employees.

Now he is busy calculating the damage as the ­government has promised compensation to help victims of the riot start over. Taking into account two buildings, about 20 cars, computers and machinery, Mr Guo estimates the damage at Rmb4m ($585,000, 420,000 £361,000).

The question of why this happened and what went wrong between the Han Chinese and Uighurs who have been living together so closely in this neighbourhood for so long meets with a confused and helpless silence.

Ms Qian is still in shock. Her bemused gaze falls on a green Geely Panda which was somehow left intact but for a smashed windscreen among the shattered glass and charred steel frames. “We will see” is about all she can say when asked about the future.

The couple’s story shows just how intractable Xinjiang’s ethnic problems have become. Many Uighurs, the original inhabitants of these lands alongside other groups of central Asian descent, see themselves as the victims of ­policies of repression and assimilation while accusing the Han Chinese of colonisation of their ancestral lands.

But for Mr Guo and Ms Qian, such talk is insulting in the wake of such a vicious attack.

Most eyewitness accounts say that the violence started on the night of July 5 with attacks by Uighur men on Han people and property, an account that has been repeated by the government.

Some Han mobilised for revenge actions later which destroyed Uighur property and which Uighurs say left more of their number dead, but the Han suffered the highest death toll, according to the government.

The latest figures published by Xinhua, the official news agency, said that of 184 dead, 137 were Han, 46 Uighur and one of another ethnic minority, further supporting the general perception that the incident had been an assault carried out by extremists on Han Chinese.

In the wake of foreign media accounts of Han retaliation last Tuesday, which was not reported in China’s state media, and analysis and comment on the failure of Beijing’s minorities policies, some sections of the Chinese media have accused foreign journalists of a bias in favour of the Uighurs.

“The western media’s bias will make them lose China,” said the Global Times, a tabloid owned by the People’s Daily, the Communist party’s mouthpiece, on Friday.

Many Chinese internet users also expressed their disgust at what they called subjective reporting, distortion of facts and demonising of China.

Among the actual victims of the violence, feelings are much less politicised. Mr Guo says he never felt tension with his Uighur neighbours before the riot but that he is a bit afraid now. “But still, we will rebuild and reopen. We were born here, we grew up here, this is our home. Where else can we go?” Beijing encouraged Han migration to western China almost from the founding of the People’s Republic 60 years ago.

First, it sent military and paramilitary troops there with the double task of securing the territory on the fringes and developing its economy by building roads and state farms. Later, it sent in more Han as a protective wall against contagion from the crumbling Soviet Union. Most recently, migration from other provinces has been driven by exploration of Xinjiang’s ample natural resources, mostly oil and gas, which provide valuable jobs for excess rural labour from elsewhere.

But many of the soldiers and paramilitaries who moved to Xinjiang in the 1950s and 1960s settled here – encouraged by the government – and have descendents who feel they have as much right to call the region their home as do the Uighurs.

“We need to live together,” says Mr Guo, pointing to the fact that a dozen of his 80 employees are Uighurs. He does not want to know whether any of his neighbours were among those who set fire to his business.

“Maybe a few were led astray but this was instigated from outside,” he says as a police car drives by blaring propaganda.

“Do not direct your hate against each other. Concentrate it on the outside enemy, on Rebiya [Kadeer, a Uighur exile in the US],” it says.

(Asia Sentinel)  'Genocide' in Xinjiang.  By Sylvia Hui.  July 13, 2009.

Ethnic tensions in China's restive Xinjiang province have boiled over again, and this time the unrest has spun so much out of control that Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is accusing Chinese forces of committing "genocide".

What's interesting about this accusation is not only the premature and almost casual way it has been pronounced (especially given how sensitive Turkey is to the word with regard to Armenian accusations that Ottoman Turks committed the first genocide of the 20th century), but also how it contradicts other things Erdogan reportedly said on the same occasion.

If Turkey believes China is committing genocide, how is it that Erdogan could pronounce that Turkey has no intention of interfering with China's internal affairs, and further reaffirm commitments to developing ties with China? The Genocide Convention clearly stipulates that the international community not only has a right but a responsibility to punish those who commit genocide.

In any case, the Turkish leader comes across as thoroughly hypocritical or too eager to please Uighurs at home to have thought it through before making such a strong remark. As Darfur shows, calling something "genocide" can be utterly unhelpful.

I doubt Erdogan will find many diplomats who support his claim. As always with Chinese unrest, the facts are murky and the only official source of information comes from the state propaganda machine. Today state media for the first time disclosed that of the official death toll of 184, some 137 were Han Chinese. That's consistent with Beijing’s insistence that the riots be blamed on terrorist and separatist forces aided by "overseas extremists".

Meanwhile the "overseas extremist" in question, exiled activist Rebiya Kadeer, claims at least 500 were killed; and rumors abound that Uighurs were fired on during protests.

Lots of questions surround the Xinjiang issue. Clearly there are no "good guys" and "bad guys", and it would be naive to generalize that an entire ethnic group are either the "culprits" or "victims." There aren't many first-hand, widely available Uighur accounts of grievances against Beijing's culturally repressive policies; but from sources like this special report in Prospect, it is fairly established that many Uighurs are dissatisfied with the way their religious, cultural and educational preferences are discouraged or suppressed.

To begin to make any sort of moral judgment on the issue, one needs to ascertain how serious or systematic is such oppression? How dissatisfied are the Uighurs? Have they attempted protest but were violently silenced? For now, at least, the world has not seen a legitimate (not terrorist), united and large-scale protest movement emerging in Xinjiang.

I say a "moral" judgment on the issue, because it seems clear that what we might think of as right or wrong has, in reality, very little to do with the political realities of national sovereignty and economic interests. As the Prospect writer rightly points out,

Westerners have come to view the plight of Tibetans and Uighurs as simply the latest in an ugly continuum of Chinese human rights abuses, most visible in Tiananmen Square two decades ago. But the story is actually much more strategic than ideological. Tibet and Xinjiang are as crucial to China’s claims to unity and sovereignty as Taiwan is: weakness from within would undermine its global power projection.

Apart from national stability and sovereignty, there are of course the economic and security stakes. Xinjiang and Tibet are among the country's most bounteous provinces in terms of the rich resources they possess, and they also stand strategically between China and yet more energy resources in central Asia. One needs not mention what disasters would befall the country should Turkic sympathizers in these neighboring states start to support in the earnest their Uighur brothers in Xinjiang.

Beijing has already taken the lead to spearhead a loose grouping of the central Asian nations called the Shanghai Co-operation Organization to secure its interests in the northwest. Given these stakes, Beijing really can't afford to lose the struggle in Xinjiang; and this NYT op-ed writer is probably right to predict that China will continue to win its way with violent crackdowns of grassroots movements.

We might quite easily agree that China has neither historic claim to Xinjiang and Tibet, nor moral right to take away these people's religious and cultural freedom by way of force and violence. What's much harder to agree on is - what, then? Kosovo has found international support for its declaration of independence, but the backlash from Serbia continues and ethnic tensions there are as fired up as before.

Xinjiang certainly is far from secession. But if there were a movement to do so - it would be extremely difficult for me to decide whether to support it for fear of the political repercussions that must follow, or sit there and cynically accept the fact that ethnic and national boundaries rarely overlap. In an ideal world everyone of the same ethnicity and "culture" would group together in one settlement with its own rulers and national boundaries; but even then, who's to say that's a good thing?

(AFP)  Gunshots in Uighur area of China's Urumqi: residents.  July 13, 2009.

Security forces fired gunshots in a Muslim Uighur district of China's restive Urumqi city on Monday, residents of the neighbourhood told AFP.

The gunshots were fired after a group of at least three Uighurs approached soldiers armed with knives and poles, according to two Uighur men who said they witnessed the incident from about 50 metres (yards) away.

The men said soldiers fired at the attacking group. AFP could not immediately verify their account. "They hacked at the soldiers with big knives and then they were shot," one of the men said. Many other residents reported hearing gunfire. "I heard what sounded like 10 gunshots and then several louder booms. Then we saw a lot of people running," said a Uighur doctor who works in the area.

Hundreds of riot police and other security forces blocked off the area where the incident occurred, according to an AFP reporter who arrived at the scene shortly after the gunshots were heard.

The area had been open to traffic a few hours earlier, the reporter said. Some security personnel were standing in groups of five or six with their backs turned to each other and holding their semi-automatic weapons, in a formation that appeared to be aimed at fending off attacks. Others were carrying semi-automatic weapons with bayonets attached.

Protests by Uighurs in Urumqi on July 5 descended into violence that left 184 people dead, according to the government.

A spokesman with the Xinjiang government's media office said he was not aware of Monday's incident. "We didn't receive any information on this," he told AFP.

(Associated Press)  Gunfire erupts in Urumqi; Chinese police beat man.  By Gillian Wong.  July 13, 2009.

Frightened Urumqi residents watched Monday as police in bulletproof vests carrying pistols, shotguns and batons chased down a man and kicked and beat him, shattering a relative calm in the tense city in western China.

Gunfire was heard before and during the brief incident in Urumqi — where recent ethnic unrest left 184 dead — near one of the city's main Uighur neighborhoods. Some bystanders threw themselves to the ground and others fled.

One policeman was seen raising his rifle to strike the man. Beaten, the man in a blue shirt with blood on his right leg lay on the ground. Police formed a ring around him, pointing their guns up at surrounding buildings as if worried about retaliation.

Hong Kong's radio RTHK reported on its Web site Monday that at least two police officers were shot and three Uighurs killed near a Uighur neighborhood. It did not give any more details. The Urumqi police telephone line rang busy all Monday.

The incident came as authorities try to impose a sense of normality on Urumqi after the July 5 riots and subsequent unrest that also left 1,680 wounded. The death toll in China's worst ethnic violence in decades could rise as 74 of the more than 900 people still in hospitals have life-threatening wounds, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

People ran into their homes and shops, slamming their doors. An armored personnel carrier and paramilitary police arrived on the scene, and police waved their guns and shouted for people to get off the streets.

Security vehicles previously deployed on People's Square were no longer there Monday but helmeted riot police remained in the area. Small groups of paramilitary police with riot shields stood guard on street corners and helicopters flew over the city.

Most roads leading to the Grand Bazaar market were reopened and in Uighur districts, more shops lifted their shutters, vendors pushed carts full of peaches and watermelon sellers sliced up their wares. Restaurant staff set up tables under trees next to the road.

Xinhua said police manned checkpoints and searched buses for any suspects involved in the violence, and people were ordered to carry identification for police checks when traveling in Urumqi.

It quoted the Urumqi Public Security Bureau as saying anyone without proper identification would be taken away to be interrogated.

"Citizens are strictly banned from holding dangerous articles including batons or knives in urban streets or public venues," the notice said.

The move was to "prevent a tiny number of individual criminals from the riot who were still at large from seeking revenge," it said, according to Xinhua.

The violence began when Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) who were protesting the deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in southern China clashed with police in Urumqi. Crowds scattered throughout the city, attacking ethnic Han Chinese and burning cars.

Government officials have yet to make public key details about what happened next, including how much force police used to restore order. In the following days, vigilante mobs of Han Chinese ran through the city with bricks, clubs and cleavers seeking revenge.

Of the dead, the government has said 137 Han Chinese and 46 Uighurs died, with one minority Hui Muslim also killed. Uighurs say they believe many more from their ethnic group died in the government crackdown.

Since last week, tens of thousands of Chinese troops have poured into Urumqi (pronounced uh-ROOM-chee) and other parts of Xinjiang to impose order. A senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting.

The Uighurs, who number 9 million in Xinjiang, have complained about an influx of Han Chinese and government restrictions on their Muslim religion. They accuse the Han of discrimination and the Communist Party of trying to erase their language and culture.

Han Chinese, many of whom were encouraged to emigrate here by the government, believe the Uighurs should be grateful for Xinjiang's rapid economic development, which has brought new schools, highways, airports, railways, natural gas fields and oil wells to the sprawling, rugged region.

Uighurs favor independence or greater autonomy for Xinjiang province, which takes up one-sixth of China's land mass and borders eight Central Asian countries. The Han — China's ethnic majority — have lately been flooding into Xinjiang as the region becomes more developed.

(Xinhua's Insight (in Chinese))

 

 

(CCTV 9 in English)

 

(YouTube archived materials about Rebiya Kadeer; with English sub-titles)

 

 

 

 

 

(Times Online)  Chinese police kill two Uighur men as ethnic unrest flares    By Jane Macartney.  July 13, 2009.

Chinese police today shot dead two Uighur men and wounded a third in the first official report of the use of firearms to quell unrest in the western, mainly Muslim region where a riot last week left 184 people dead. Frightened residents of Urumqi ran into their homes and shops, slamming the doors, as police waved their guns and shouted. Reinforcements were rushed into the city, backed by armoured personnel carriers.

Officials said that officers opened fire after they were attacked as they tried to prevent three men from assaulting another with knives and rods. "Police shot and killed two suspected lawbreakers and injured one suspected lawbreaker using legal means," said a statement released by the government of the capital of China’s westernmost region of Xinjiang. State radio said that the two men who died were members of the ethnic Uighur minority. A third Uighur was wounded.

The official Xinhua news agency said that an initial investigation found the three people attacking a fourth person with clubs and knives at 2.55pm near the People's Hospital in the heart of the city, in an area where Uighurs make up the majority of residents. “Police on patrol fired warning shots before shooting at the three suspects."

The city had recovered some semblance of normality over the weekend as more businesses began to open and restaurants started to raise their shutters and serve diners. Traffic jams clogged the streets again and buses resumed almost normal services.

It was the first time that the government had revealed the use of firearms to try to end the violence that erupted on July 5 when angry Uighurs rampaged through the city attacking Han Chinese in a riot that left 184 people dead and 1,600 injured – including 74 described as being on the verge of death. Han Chinese accounted for 137 of the dead, with Uighurs making up 46 of the total. The last victim was a member of ethnic Hui Muslim minority.

Most of the injured in ordinary hospital wards had sustained knife wounds or head injuries after they were bludgeoned with bricks or staves. No access was possible to the intensive care units where those with more serious injuries such as burns and possibly bullet wounds were being treated.

However, one Uighur woman in the People’s Hospital described to The Times last week how she was hit in the ankle and her six-year-old daughter was grazed on the head as they left work on July 5 only to find themselves surrounded by a mob of stone-throwing Uighurs. She described how police opened fire and she and her child were wounded in the crossfire.

The initial riot was followed by more unrest when vigilante mobs of angry Han Chinese carrying metal pipes, wooden staves and even knives took to the streets last Tuesday and Wednesday baying for the blood of Uighurs. It was not known how many people may have been killed or injured in ensuing confrontations.

Tens of thousands of paramilitary police have poured into the city to restore order and, in many cases, to keep the two ethnic groups apart to prevent further reprisals.

(Xinhua)  Biased Xinjiang riot coverage refuted   July 13, 2009.

    The Chinese have bombarded some foreign media's biased reports on the July 5 riot in Xinjiang, saying such practices have violated the principles of journalism and turned the Chinese readers off.

    In his letter to Xinhua Monday, a Chinese reporter said he wished to discuss with his Western colleagues the standards of fair and objective reporting.

    "As reporters, we're supposed to tell the truth and clarify the when, where, who, what, why and how for our readers," said the reporter, who has worked for 11 years as a journalist.

    He cited a news photo that appeared at London Evening Standard website on July 7, with caption reading "Blood and defiance: two women comfort each other after being attacked by police".

    "I'm all too familiar with this photo, which was cropped from CCTV's news footage of the riot scenes. CCTV reporters found out they had been assaulted by the rioters," he said. "Did anyone at London Evening Standard interview them?"

    On July 8, the website removed the picture and caption at its readers' protest, but a story headlined "The women invoking Tiananmen's spirit" continued to describe the Xinjiang riot as "the crackdown on members of the Muslim minority by Chinese authorities".

    "If such bias angered me, then a Washington Post story published on July 10 about 'the right way to help the Uygurs' simply left me in hallucination, as if Xinjiang were somewhere in the States," he said, pointing to the author's bossy comments on the U.S. government's Xinjiang policy and call for stronger support for Rebiya Kadeer and her World Uygur Congress, which the Chinese believe were behind the Xinjiang riot and a series of protests at Chinese embassies worldwide.     

    DOUBLE STANDARDS CHALLENGED

    The Beijing Daily published a bylined article Sunday that questioned some Western media's "double standards" in the Xinjiang riot coverage.

    "Some Western reporters described the apparently criminal act as 'peaceful protest' sparked by 'ethnic discrimination'", wrote the author Qin Feng.

    He said these reporters ignored the plain facts, took sides with the desperados and even helped justify their criminal acts. "They have violated the principles of journalism and apparently applied 'double standards' in covering the Xinjiang riot and similar violence in some Western countries in the past."

    He referred to the 2005 unrest in the suburbs of Paris and the Los Angeles riots of 1992. "Not a single media report called these riots a result of prolonged ethnic discrimination, and not a single politician advocated for 'peace' and 'rights' against the governments' use of troops to restore order."

    "Media reports need to be objective and balanced," said Qin. "As reporters we should tell the truth instead of being driven by prejudice or sympathizing with those who sabotage social order."    

  WSJ REPORT REFUTED

    An opinion piece entitled "I don't read the Wall Street Journal any more" has spread rapidly among China's Internet users since its electronic edition was published Saturday to refute the Journal's 'biased' reports on the July 5 riot in Xinjiang.

    The piece by veteran People's Daily reporter Ding Gang cited the Journal's Asian edition, which referred to the Uygur people as protesters and the Han people as "mobs", and claimed the riot was caused by unfair treatment of the Uygur people.

    "At first I thought it was the same old bias from our Western colleagues, but the image of Rebiya Kadeer and her bylined story 'The Real Uygur Story' on the Journal's website on July 8 was totally unacceptable," he said.

    "The Journal's editors may as well defend themselves, saying this is balanced and fair journalism, but would it have been balanced and fair for them, had any Chinese media commented on the Sept. 11 terrorist attack against New York and Washington in 2001,saying "New York Revenge -- Muslim minorities fight U.S. hegemonism?

    "Please keep in mind: those mobs, who wouldn't even let pass children, are terrorists by the standards of all nations governed by law.

    "Starting from today, I've stopped book marking its website and have marked incoming mails from the Journal as spam," wrote Ding.

    Ding, who worked as resident correspondent in Stockholm, Brussels and New York and was among the first Chinese reporters to enter the Sept. 11 terrorist attack site, said he had read the Journal for more than a decade.

    "The Journal may not care if it loses one reader, but I do care about my own dignity and that of the Chinese nation.

    "Frankly speaking, the journal's China reports are increasingly disappointing in recent years, some of which are biased and ignorant. I didn't unsubscribe it, thinking its financial reports and analysis are still worthy somehow.

    "Its reports on the July 5 riot in Urumqi, however, are simply unbearable: this time the Journal has gone beyond bias and ignorance to blatantly take sides with the terrorists, and serve as their spokesperson."

    Ding's opinion, in Chinese, was published in the print edition of the Global Times Friday and was quoted by hundreds of websites Saturday and Sunday.

    The deadliest riot in Xinjiang in six decades has killed 184 people and injured 1,680.

(SpiegelUighurs Lament their Lost Homeland    By Andreas Lorenz.  July 13, 2009.

As it did in Tibet, the Chinese leadership is harshly cracking down on unrest in Xinjiang. The region's Muslim Uighurs feel degraded and robbed of their culture while they suffer in their homeland under the dominance of the Han Chinese.

Hairegul is wearing a pink T-shirt with the word "Sunshine" printed on the front. Her fingernails are the same shade of pink, her eyelashes are painted with mascara, and she is adept at flipping her long black hair back and forth. Meanwhile, Wang Xiaomei's hair is pinned up and five rhinestone studs sparkle in her left ear. She is wearing a striped sweater and clunky, brightly colored plastic bracelets around her wrist.

Hairegul is a Uighur and Wang Xiaomei is Han Chinese. They are both daughters of affluent parents, 21 and in the middle of their semester exams at a teacher training college in Urumqi. The two women live in the same dormitory and are sitting in the same classroom. They are both studying music and want to be teachers. They have the same dream.

A light summer rainstorm is about to descend on Urumqi, the capital of China's western Xinjiang province. A few days earlier, clashes between Uighur and ethnic Chinese students resulted in bloodshed. "We don't dare go out into the streets," say Hairegul and Wang . "We don't know how we'll get home after the exams."

When a group of Uighur students tried to stage a protest march on Sunday, July 5, police broke up the gathering. Uighurs then began attacking Han Chinese in the streets, and some set fire to and looted shops. The ensuing massacre has since shaken the country and horrified the world. At least 184 people are believed to have been killed, including women and children, and more than 1,000 were injured. It is not yet known how many of the casualties could be attributed to beatings and how many to police bullets. President Hu Jintao took the unrest so seriously that he left last week's G-8 summit in Italy and quickly flew home.

Wang became caught up in the chaos by accident. "It was so horrible, the way they were beating people. I couldn't watch, and so I fled to a police station," she says, fighting back tears.

A Booming Economy

Xinjiang -- "New Border" in Chinese -- is an enormous region that connects China with Central Asia. Of Xinjiang's roughly 20 million inhabitants, about nine million are Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group many of whom are Muslim. They want to hold onto their region and their culture, and they feel that the Han Chinese dominate them and treat them with contempt.

The name Xinjiang evokes images of the ancient caravans that once passed through the region, along the Silk Road. Even today, the landscape is dotted with oases surrounding earth-colored mosques, where old men in long beards, wearing traditional "dopa" hats on their bald heads, sit in front.

The central government in Beijing pumps billions into Xinjiang each year, transporting the abundant oil and natural gas into its booming eastern provinces. As a result, the economy in Xinjiang has grown faster than in many other Chinese provinces for many years.

Urumqi, the focus of the unrest, is a city that has plunged headlong into a new era. High-rise buildings dominate the downtown area and Western influences are evident in the city's Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, Max Mara boutiques and Adidas shops, and yet the romance of the Orient still exists alongside Urumqi's more contemporary elements. Uighurs can be seen selling melons and raisins in bazaars and vendors barbecue shish kebabs on street corners. Uighurs and Chinese normally live and work in relative harmony in Urumqi, even if relations between the two groups are not necessarily friendly.

But then the unrest broke out. At the beginning of last week, a crowd of Han Chinese suddenly appeared in the streets, seemingly out of nowhere. Wielding clubs, iron bars and spades, they were intent on avenging the Chinese who had died on that violent Sunday. "Kill, kill!" some of them, including young women, shouted. The crowd smashed the windows of Muslim shops and upended a car in front of a mosque across the street from the bus terminal.

"They killed four of us at the bazaar, just an hour ago," says a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf. She pulls out her mobile phone to show us photos of a man streaming with blood. "He is dead," she says.

'They Will Kill Us All Tonight'

Others fetch a video camera to show footage they filmed from a window, when police officers attempted to push away Han Chinese zealots who were throwing stones at the Uighurs. One of them was waving a Chinese flag. A large puddle of blood appears on the video. "A dead man was lying there. The government is not protecting us. They have announced that they will kill us all tonight," says a slender student.

In Urumqi's old Muslim neighborhood, in the shadow of the skyscrapers, people live in old apartment buildings and poorly constructed huts. The government is trying to renovate the district, and it has built hospitals, mosques and a new bazaar there in recent years. On one wall, there is even a drawing of Mao Zedong shaking hands with a bearded Uighur.

Residents look on with suspicion as a column of policemen dressed in black, wearing helmets and wielding batons, passes by. Armed policemen squat on the sidewalk in front of a bank, next to their shields and helmets. An officer is reading out loud from the People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, in which the lead article mentions "terrorists" and "separatists" -- the official account of the turmoil.

The Communist Party leadership is trying to regain control over the city through sheer force of numbers. A kilometer-long convoy of the Armed People's Police enters the city from the south, along New China Street. The men stand in the trucks, their shields and guns at the ready. Following behind are water canons, armored personnel carriers, command centers, ambulances and SUVs.

Many are still wondering how this could have happened and why Uighurs and Han Chinese who, until now, have gotten along as neighbors, coworkers and fellow students, would suddenly start attacking each other with clubs, knives, spades and axes.

In an echo of its reaction to last year's unrest in Tibet, the Communist Party is once again looking abroad to assign the blame. This time it is not the Dalai Lama Beijing is blaming, but a relatively unknown Uighur businesswoman who wears her hair in long braids: Rebiya Kadeer, 62, who was imprisoned for six years "for leaking state secrets" before being permitted to leave the country and travel to the United States.

Journalists and academics appearing on state-controlled television are quick to offer conspiracy theories. As in the case of the Tibetans, they say, the Uighurs are backed by "certain" governments seeking to split China and stand in the way of its becoming a peaceful major power. They deliberately decline to mention which governments they are referring to.

The spark for the current crisis began in a toy factory in the southern province of Guangdong. On June 26, violence erupted between Han Chinese and Uighur migrant workers at the factory, in the wake of a rumor that Uighurs had raped Han Chinese women. Two Uighurs were killed in the fighting.

The rumor was apparently false and now the Uighurs have become deeply mistrustful. "We don't believe the reports in the press," says Hairegul, the student in Urumqi. "We had heard that 200 people were killed, not two. That was why the students took to the streets."

Anyone who hopes to uncover the roots of the friction should travel to two Urumqi neighborhoods. One is the bitterly poor area along Dawan South Street, where men are slaughtering two sheep in a small market and where veiled women dart through narrow side streets.

The residents are from places like Kuqa, Aksu and small oases bordering the Taklamakan Desert, where they were no longer able to eke out an existence as farmers. Their world was turned upside down and factories now stand where they once tilled the land. Unable to make a living in the countryside, many have come to the capital to look for work -- though their prospects are slim.

One vendor opened a small shop on one of the street corners a few weeks ago with his family's accumulated savings. He sells household goods, including pots, toothpaste and honey. A few telephones are displayed in his shop, in a place where no one can even afford to buy a mobile phone. A woman in a black caftan covering everything but her eyes sits at the cash register. The couple has a young son and the family lives behind a pink curtain in the shop. "We pay 600 yuan a month in rent, and then there are the expenses, but I haven't made a profit yet," says the shopkeeper. 600 yuan is about 60 ($84).

"Hardly any of us have work," says a tailor as he walks into the shop. "We live from hand to mouth. There are factories here with thousands of workers, and not one of them is a Uighur."

Two car dealerships across the street were burned down on Sunday. The owner is a Muslim, and so were the arsonists. For several days in a row, soldiers and policemen came to the neighborhood at night and dragged off dozens of men and adolescents.

'We Are Faster and Better Educated'

The second neighborhood is in the brown hills in the southern part of Urumqi, where large slums have sprung up in recent years. Some of the dwellings are nothing but crude wooden shacks. Uighurs from the oases and Chinese immigrants live in these crowded slums.

Uniformed men in steel helmets stand guard at the entrance to a small street market, where there have also been killings. Members of the two ethnic groups attacked one another, although no one knows who initiated the violence. Mrs. Tian is from Sichuan Province. She sells hard liquor from large clay jars, in a shop called "For Calming."

"The Uighurs complain that we took away their homeland," she says. "And they're right. Most of the vendors in this market are now Han Chinese. We are faster and better educated. The Uighurs have trouble with the Chinese language."

The Han Chinese make up about 92 percent of China's population, which also comprises 55 ethnic minorities, including the Muslim Uighurs, who feel marginalized.

Up to two million Han Chinese have moved to Xinjiang since the 1990s. For the new settlers, who see Xinjiang as simply another part of the People's Republic, this is perfectly normal. However, a Beijing observer characterizes the migration as a "Palestinization" of the region. The Han Chinese, he says, behave live colonial masters, forcing local residents to switch to Beijing time, even though the sun rises two hours later in faraway Urumqi.

Clamping Down on the 'Three Forces'

Fearing that Xinjiang could become a hotbed for Muslim terrorists seeking to use violence to secure independence for an "East Turkistan," the Communist Party has clamped down in the past few years, particularly with a recent campaign against what it calls the "three forces" -- terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. Those who criticize the government risk being imprisoned on charges of separatism or terrorism.

In the modern city of Urumqi, more and more Uighur women have taken to wearing veils, even though this deprives them of any opportunity to find work. A woman, speaking flawless Chinese, says that she once worked in a telephone shop, until she was fired after being told to choose between her veil and her job.

Under these circumstances, the Muslim residents of Urumqi are becoming increasingly enraged at being treated like strangers in their own homeland. Many feel that they are misused as colorful traditional dancers and singers, and only valued when Beijing wants to demonstrate how harmoniously the ethnic groups in the People's Republic can live together.

What happens next, after the tragedy of Urumqi? "I want things to be the way they used to be," says Wang, the music student. "But things should also be more just," says her fellow student Hairegul, the Uighur.

(MSNBC)  Urumqi: From Riots to a Beauty Contest.  By Ian Williams.  July 13, 2009.

China – Riot-torn Urumqi is hosting a beauty contest. The streets are still swamped by riot police, the city tense and littered with the debris of the worst unrest in decades, but the contestants for the 35th Miss International Beauty Pageant have come to town.

I bumped into them at dinner on Friday. In all honesty, you couldn't miss them, since very few other people were staying at my hotel, which is a few minutes away from where nearly 200 people died just a week ago.

They paraded along the buffet line as if already on the catwalk. I picked my way along with contestants from Turkmenistan and Vietnam dressed in their finest and minimalist evening wear.

The "Stans" – the former Soviet Republics – were well represented, and there were women also representing Siberia and numerous Chinese cities and regions. Prominent among the latter was a Miss Xinjiang China. One of the tallest in the contest, she wore the shortest skirt, and looked nothing like the embattled and angry Uighur woman who'd been confronting the riot police.

I asked contestants from France and Germany what it was like to be in a beauty contest in a riot-torn city. They didn't appear to know Urumqi is a riot-torn city.

The finals are later this month, and I guess they are not likely to be quizzed too deeply on local affairs. In the meantime, according to a poster in the lobby, they will be highlighting the "beauty of Xinjiang."

Not beautiful right now

This troubled me, since the situation in Xinjiang is not very beautiful right now, and the idea of pressing ahead with a beauty contest in Muslim Xinjiang, in the aftermath of so much violence, seems almost surreal.

It reminded me of my last visit to Xinjiang, shortly before the Beijing Olympic Games last August.

In the main square of Khotan, a town on the southern Silk Road, local Han Chinese leaders had launched an Olympic lottery. There was also a stage show, in which Uighur performers sang in Chinese. It was all very crass, and very loud. It was also a Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, and the authorities had banned mosques from using loud-speakers to broadcast their call to prayer.

It doesn't get much more culturally insensitive. But, of course, that's not the way China sees it.

The Chinese government believes it has brought economic progress and prosperity to the region. They see the Uighurs as an ungrateful lot, the rioters manipulated by criminals and separatist terrorists overseas.

And there seems to be no sign that this almost colonial attitude is going to change.

Open to journalists, but still murky

But unlike when Tibet blew up last year, at least we journalists were able to report, and were given pretty much free access to the worst affected areas.

"What do you think of the openness?" I was asked by a reporter from CCTV, China's state television, late last week, his camera rolling. I muttered something about all openness being good, since rumor and speculation aren't good for anybody.

It was an off-the-cuff remark, but when I thought about it afterwards, quite an accurate one. Last year the Chinese government would not allow foreign journalists into Tibet, so reporters relied heavily on bits and pieces of video and information that slipped out, often via exile or activist groups abroad, little of which could be accurately verified.

This time, the authorities were quick to cut the Internet, instant messaging and international phone lines, but within Urumqi we were pretty much allowed to do as we pleased.

Still, it was hard to get an accurate picture of the dynamics of the violence. The Uighurs were often nervous about speaking openly. We do know that it was nasty and messy and involved brutality by both sides of the ethnic divide. But a different picture would have emerged if we'd been kept out, and just relied on Uighur exile groups, and the Chinese government understood that.

We may never get an accurate break down of the identity of the almost 200 dead and hundreds of injured (the government said most were Han Chinese; the Uighurs dispute this).

What we do know is that Xinjiang was a tinderbox waiting to explode, and when the explosion came, Han Chinese and their businesses were targeted before the security forces hit back hard, as did Han Chinese vigilantes.

So the authorities were more open, but it was a clever strategy.

The only fast-ish Internet connections were in a government-run press center, inside a government-run hotel. The center also organized tours of hospitals and the worst affected areas. Two floors below, in the lobby coffee shop, a large video screen showed Michael Jackson videos non-stop. Perhaps they thought this would appeal to the foreign press (though most journalists there were only too pleased to get away from the Jackson story).

The beauty contestants might have enjoyed it, though they – and the NBC team – were staying in a different hotel.

Deep differences

The city of Urumqi is overwhelmingly Han Chinese these days, after years of heavy government-encouraged migration. The 9 million Uighurs now make up less than half the population of Xinjiang, their home region. And the economy is growing fast – it's a vital supplier of natural resources to the rest of China.

The Uighurs, often poorly education and with a poor command of Mandarin, complain they are being left out of this boom. And this discrimination is often a more bitter complaint than the restrictions on religion, which also run deep.

A short distance from my hotel was the wreckage of a Uighur restaurant – windows and furniture smashed, cooking equipment upended by a Han Chinese mob, seeking revenge. It was a mess.

As we looked around, a young waiter emerged from a back room. He told me the Uighur family who owned the place had sold out – to a Han Chinese businessman – just a month before the riot. So apparently, the rioters made a mistake.

(Beijing Daily)  Western media double standards re-emerge after 7.5 incident.  July 12, 2009.

(in translation)

After the 7.5 incident took place in Urumqi, many western media made reporters.  On July 7, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said during a press conference that China has been following an open and transparent policy with respect to media reportage.  As such, China has provided assistance and facilitation to help reports go to Xinjiang to gather news.  Therefore, China hopes the international media will report the truth of the matter in an objective, fair and fact-based manner.  But based upon what has actually transpired, certain western media can hardly be said to be fair and objective.

A serious violent crime of battery, looting, vandalism and arson which resulted in 1,000 casualties and huge property losses became a "peaceful demonstration," "a clash that was the result of racially discriminatory policies" and "armed suppression."  The biases are obvious.  Certain media continued to use its typical "colored lenses" to look at China to the total exclusion of the the truth.  Using photos, illustrations, details and terminology, they misled the overseas readers and viewers.  Without even conducing actual interviews at the scene and without any reliable information, they wrote false reports.  Worse yet, they even ignore the pains of the many casualties and their families and stood openly or semi-openly on the side of the violent elements by excusing their criminal acts.  In so doing, they have obviously lost the most basic professional ethics of the media.

Certain western politicians and organizations worked in cahoots with the western media in very hypocritical ways too.  For example, certain western governments called for "clarifying the truth quickly while the parties act in a restrained manner."  Certain politicians "protested" everywhere; certain "human rights" organizations said that the arrestees may be "treated unfairly"; etc.  Anyone with the ability to judge should know that they are deliberately blurring the issues, shifting public attention and inflaming antagonism which does not exist otherwise.

It is not wrong for different media or people to have their own viewpoints on thinks.  But to obliterate the facts and deliberately spread rumors as well as holding double standards cannot be said to be fair and objective.  Let us look at what the western media and politicians have to say about their own domestic violent incidents.  In 2003, minorities rioted in the suburbs of Paris.  The western media condemned the violent acts while actively supporting the French government to send in troops to maintain order.  Nobody was heard to say that this was "the awful result of long-term racial discrimination" and nobody called for "all the parties to act in a restrained manner."  In 1992, there was a racial riot in Los Angeles (United States of America.  At the time, the American government "used every possible means to restore order."  No western media or politician advocated "peace" or "human rights."  After the 9.11 incident, America even started a war in order to attack terrorist movements.  Nobody called for "restraint."

As far as the world is concerned, there are conflicts in any country, even extreme events.  But no media or political figure would ever delight at the misfortunes of other country regardless of their personal interests or prejudices, much less deliberately inflaming those conflicts.  It is against the basic principles of human morality to disrupt social order, to sympathize with those who inflict violence indiscriminately, to overlook the human rights of the disaster victims and to ignore the pain of the families of the victims.  At a time when terrorism is going global, it is deleterious to oneself as well as others to apply rigid thinking to international affairs, to treat news reporting as political tools and to be ambivalent and self-contradictory on the  issues of anti-violence and anti-terrorism.

(Associated Press)  Muslim reaction to China unrest mostly muted.  By Josef Federman.  July 13, 2009.

China's crackdown on its Muslim Uighur minority has drawn a muted response from many Muslim countries that may be wary of damaging lucrative trade ties with Beijing or attracting attention to their own attitudes toward political dissent. The non-Arab countries of Iran and Turkey have been among the few to criticize China. Iran is busy dealing with its own unrest following a disputed presidential election, while Turkey has ethnic ties to China's Uighur minority.

But throughout much of the Middle East and the Arab world, the violence in China has generated little reaction.

Arab regimes "couldn't criticize the attacks on Chinese Muslims because they themselves have no democracy," said Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst. "They're in the same boat as the Chinese government."

China has poured tens of thousands of troops into the western Xinjiang region over the past few days, imposing tight control on the capital of Urumqi and surrounding areas after ethnic violence left more than 180 people dead and 1,680 wounded last week.

The Uighurs, who number 9 million in Xinjiang, have complained about an influx of Han Chinese and government restrictions on their Muslim religion. They accuse the majority Han community of discrimination and the Communist Party of trying to erase their language and culture.

China is a major trading partner for many Arab countries including Sudan, Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf nations. It is Jordan's third-largest largest trading partner, following Saudi Arabia and the United States. Jordan also is seeking to attract Chinese investment in projects such as renewable energy, railroads and water desalination.

Iran has been one of the few Muslim countries to speak out on the crackdown. On Sunday, the official IRNA news agency reported that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had discussed the ethnic clashes in a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart and "reflected concerns among Islamic countries." High-ranking clerics also condemned the crackdown and urged the government to complain to China.

"Silence and indifference toward such oppressions on the people is an unforgivable vice," said Grand Ayatollah Youssef Saanei, a major religious figure who has criticized his own government's violent response to mass protests over the disputed June 12 election. Iran's crackdown on protesters has drawn international condemnation from both Western governments and human rights groups.

The most powerful response from the Muslim world came from Turkey, where some 5,000 people protested in Istanbul on Sunday to denounce the ethnic violence and call on their government to intervene. Turks share ethnic and cultural bonds with the Turkic-speaking Uighurs. The Chinese violence has sparked almost daily protests in Turkey, mostly outside heavily guarded Chinese diplomatic missions in Istanbul and Ankara where some protesters have burned Chinese flags or China-made goods. Sunday's protest, however, was the largest.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has compared the situation in Xinjiang to genocide, the foreign minister has conveyed Turkey's concerns to China, and Turkey's industry minister has urged Turks to stop buying Chinese goods. The government, however, has no plans for an official boycott.

In the Arab world, two extremist Islamic Web sites affiliated with al-Qaida called for killing Han Chinese in the Middle East, noting large communities of ethnic Chinese laborers work in Algeria and Saudi Arabia. "Chop off their heads at their workplaces or in their homes to tell them that the time of enslaving Muslims has gone," read one posting.

In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Foreign Ministry official Ahmed Youssef said his Islamic militant movement said the unrest would harm China's relations with the Muslim world. "We hope that the Chinese government improves its relations with the Muslims of the Xinjiang region, and not to harm those relations by harming the Uighurs," he said.

(Committee to Project Journalists Xinjiang reporters detained; Beijing commentator missing    July 13, 2009.

Chinese police should halt the detentions of journalists reporting on ethnic violence in Xinjiang and reveal the whereabouts of a Uighur academic and Internet commentator who is missing and reportedly detained in Beijing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The Beijing-based academic and blogger Ilham Tohti, a Uighur, has been missing since July 8 when he told a friend he had received a notice of detention, according to international news reports. On July 6, Beijing public security officials questioned Tohti, founder of the Uighurbiz Web site, about recent postings on his site, a Chinese-language information portal and forum about Uighur issues, according to international news reports.

Police in Xinjiang detained reporter Heidi Siu, a reporter for Radio Free Asia's Cantonese language service, for two days before deporting her to Hong Kong on Sunday, according to Dan Southerland, a RFA senior editor. Siu, a Canadian citizen whose Chinese name is Siu Chun Yee, was detained on July 10 while she was taking pictures of police moving to arrest Uighurs, according to Southerland. The journalist's arrest was reported after she was allowed to return briefly to the press center in Urumqi under police escort, Southerland told CPJ by e-mail.

In separate incidents on July 10, police in Kashgar detained AP photographer Elizabeth Dalziel and two Agence France-Presse reporters who were not identified. Police expelled them, citing the risk of violence spreading from the capital, Urumqi, according to AFP and the Foreign Correspondents Club of China. In a July 11 statement, the club said at least four foreign journalists had been detained for hours in Urumqi.

"We are concerned that Ilham Tohti has been detained for articles published on his Web site and ask that Beijing security officials clarify his whereabouts and legal status," said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. "Police should also stop detaining and expelling foreign journalists covering the unstable situation in Xinjiang."

Violent rioting between groups of Han Chinese and the Muslim Uighur minority broke out in Urumqi on July 5, possibly in response to reports of violence between the two ethnic groups in a Guangzhou factory, according to international news reports. Authorities in Xinjiang were unusually welcoming toward Chinese and foreign journalists covering the unrest, announcing at least 184 mostly Han fatalities. Yet the apparent openness was accompanied by a broad shutdown of Internet and mobile phone connections.

Xiao Qiang, director of the University of California Berkeley's China Internet Project told the BBC the riots provoked "probably the most severe online policing I've ever seen" in an interview posted on Berkeley's China Digital Times Web site. Although authorities have begun to restore Internet access to the city, several Web sites and online discussion forums remain closed or censored, news reports say.

Xinjiang Gov. Nur Bekri had accused Ilham Tohti of using the Web site to collaborate with exile Uighur groups to orchestrate the violence, according to The Associated Press. Tohti had previously criticized Bekri by name on his Web site, saying the governor did not care about Uighurs, according to international news reports. Tohti is an economics professor at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, the reports said. Some Uighurs had accused Uighurbiz of having links to extremist separatist groups overseas in June, but the Web site had been cleared in an official investigation, according to Radio Free Asia.

(Radio Free Asia)  China Detains Reporters in Urumqi    July 13, 2009.

Authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) detained a number of foreign journalists covering the recent ethnic violence in Urumqi, including a reporter for RFA's Cantonese service.

Freelance journalist Heidi Siu Chun-yee traveled to Urumqi July 7 following rioting which left 186 people dead, according to official figures.

Local Uyghurs told Siu on July 10 that some shops near the Grand Bazaar had been ordered to close, and she went there to take photographs from a distance, she said. "Suddenly, many police vehicles arrived, and more than a hundred armed police and plainclothes police wearing black T-shirts and slacks went into several buildings nearby," Siu said. "The atmosphere was very tense and anxious. A while later, I saw the police arrest and handcuff dozens of Uyghurs and put them in the police vehicles."

Stopped by police

Siu said she began taking photos of the detentions from some distance away before being stopped by a plainclothes police officer, who took the memory card from her camera. She was then brought to a nearby police station and questioned.
After being turned her over to personnel of the Municipal Foreign Affairs office, who detained her briefly at the international press center set up for foreign media in Urumqi, Siu was returned to the police station and held there overnight.

She was then held for a second night under police guard at a hotel and denied permission to contact family, friends, or co-workers. Her cell phone, laptop, and camera were confiscated and returned on the morning of her release Sunday, but minus the memory card, Siu said. She said she saw at least two other foreign journalists at the police station, although they were released the same day. Siu herself was released only after signing a "self-criticism" statement.

While China has welcomed foreign journalists who arrive in Urumqi to cover the unrest, it has also been highly selective about what it wants them to cover, journalists and press associations said.

The Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said it received reports last week that security forces in Xinjiang had "detained TV crews and other reporters," confiscated or damaged equipment, and interfered with interviews since the unrest began, although reporters have also said they were protected by police from angry mobs.

Official media have highlighted reports underlining the government line that the violence was instigated from overseas, and that it does not represent ethnic tensions and anti-Beijing feeling which have simmered in the region for decades, according to Uyghurs. They have also given prominence to reports that life in Xinjiang is returning to normal after armed police imposed curfews on major cities, and that the Islamic College in Urumqi offered shelter to residents of the city fleeing mob violence, regardless of ethnicity.

Internet blocked

Authorities in Xinjiang cut off access to the Internet in some parts of the region following the violence, which Beijing has blamed on exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer and overseas separatist groups who oppose Chinese rule in Xinjiang.

Web sites popular with Uyghurs--including www.salkin.com and www.diyarim.com and the portal www.ulinix.com--were made unavailable as soon as the July 5 demonstration began. Browsers displayed "connection interrupted" messages when attempts to access the sites were made. As of July 13, the sites remained blocked.

The blocked sites typically carry message boards, news, and advertisements for services to the Uyghur communities in China. But Xinjiang governor Nur Bekri, in a July 6 televised address, accused the sites of also spreading "false rumors" and "incitement propaganda."

Attempts to reach Urumqi by telephone during the same period resulted in busy signals.

The Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) said journalists were at risk last week from Han Chinese vigilantes who continue to roam the streets amid a high security presence.  The group condemned the filtering of online information about the rioting in Urumqi, citing more than 50 Uyghur-language Internet forums that were closed, with communications also cut in the regional capital. "Once again, the Chinese government has chosen to cut communications in order to prevent the free flow of information," RSF said in a statement. "We firmly condemn this behavior, which is a serious violation of Uyghur freedom of expression and an unacceptable act of discrimination."

The microblogging website Twitter was blocked sporadically, but some journalists still managed to send updates from the scene of the rioting.

Riot provoked?

Washington-based Kadeer, a former businesswoman jailed for "subversion" and sent overseas on medical parole, said she condemned any violence. But she noted that the rioting in Urumqi was sparked after a peaceful protest demanding an investigation into the deaths of Uyghur migrant workers at a toy factory in southern China was suppressed violently by police. Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, religious controls, and continued poverty despite China's ambitious plans to develop the vast hinterland to the northwest.

Xinjiang is a vast and strategically crucial desert territory that borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The region has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.

An editorial in the official People's Daily newspaper called on Monday for all sides in the conflict to "hold high the banner of ethnic unity." "In order to maintain and consolidate ethnic unity, it is necessary to protect the equal rights of the people of all ethnic groups," the paper said.

(Associated Press)

 




(South China Morning Post)  Al-Qaeda 'vows to avenge Uygurs'    By Greg Torode.  July 14, 2009.

Al-Qaeda has vowed to avenge the deaths of Muslims in Urumqi by targeting China's extensive workforce and projects across northwestern Africa, according to a private intelligence report obtained by the South China Morning Post.

London-based risk analysis firm Stirling Assynt is telling clients that al-Qaeda's Algerian-based offshoot, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has issued a call for vengeance. The report is based on information from people who have seen the instruction.

It is the first time Osama bin Laden's terrorist network has directly threatened China or its interests - illustrating the international price China risks paying for its policies in Urumqi, analysts say. "Although AQIM appear to be the first arm of al-Qaeda to officially state they will target Chinese interests, others are likely to follow," the Stirling assessment notes. "The general situation (and perceived plight) of China's Muslims has resonated amongst the global jihadist community. There is an increasing amount of chatter ... among jihadists who claim they want to see action against China. Some of these individuals have been actively seeking information on China's interests in the Muslim world, which they could use for targeting purposes."

Stirling says al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen could also target Chinese projects to serve their goal of toppling Beijing-friendly President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East and North Africa, including 50,000 in Algeria, Stirling estimates. The firm provides business and country risk assessments for companies and international organisations. Its website says it was founded by Karl Barclay, former head of global security for HSBC.

The assessment comes amid rising fears among Western counter-terrorism officials that AQIM has turned a deadly new corner in recent weeks, with a string of fatal attacks on foreigners. Its numbers appeared to have been buoyed by the return of its fighters from Iraqi battlefields, US officials have said.

Three weeks ago AQIM attacked an Algerian security convoy protecting Chinese engineers on a motorway project, killing 24 paramilitary police. While the Chinese were not injured and were not targeted, the assessment notes: "Future attacks of this kind are likely to target security forces and Chinese engineers alike."

Protesting Indonesian Muslims, meanwhile, yesterday called for a jihad in support of China's Uygurs. Dozens of protesters clashed with guards outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, demanding Indonesian government action against Beijing.

The Stirling assessment does not make any link between Muslim Uygurs in Xinjiang and al-Qaeda. It suggests it is unlikely that al-Qaeda's central leadership has decided to stage attacks within China. But it is likely the al-Qaeda leadership would allow its North African and Arabian arms to attack Chinese engineers "to demonstrate that al-Qaeda cares about Muslims in China but precluding the need ... to commit to an open war with China", the assessment says.

Nigel Inkster, an expert in transnational risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said he had not heard of the specific threat but it fitted with the group's recent actions. AQIM's recent attacks showed it was willing to serve the leadership's global agenda, as it sought support in the wider Muslim world, he said. "It's a perfect one for al-Qaeda ... and it should come as little surprise to Beijing," said Mr Inkster, a former China specialist and director of operations with Britain's foreign intelligence agency, MI6. But sustained attacks in Africa were unlikely to force Beijing to change its approach to Xinjiang, he said. "One of the uncertainties would be how China dealt with any rise in attacks ... would it continue to rely on Algerian military support or would it consider the creation of some sort of private security force?" he asked.

In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry has yet to comment on the assessment. But experts from mainland think tanks believe the recent Xinjiang violence has increased the risks faced by overseas Chinese targets. Beijing needed both to ease misunderstandings across the Muslim world as well as seek help from foreign governments to better protect overseas Chinese, they said.

(South China Morning Post)  Conflicting stories emerge after police shoot dead Uygur pair    By Will Clem and Choi Chi-yuk.  July 14, 2009.

Police in Urumqi shot dead two Uygurs and wounded a third yesterday, further straining the fragile peace that has been restored in the week since the city was wracked by the nation's worst ethnic violence in decades.  The incident - the first confirmed clash since a riot police officer was stabbed on Friday - brought a heavy police response, with hundreds of riot police and soldiers blocking off streets and effectively closing off a largely Uygur-inhabited district.

It was also the first time the government admitted to shooting anyone since the ethnic unrest erupted on July 5, despite claims to the contrary by exiled Uygur groups.

An official statement released last night said the shooting happened at 2.55pm when police on patrol tried to stop three Uygur men who were attacking a fourth with long knives and wooden clubs.  Police encountered resistance when they tried to stop the fight, the statement said. "The police fired warning shots before shooting at the three suspects."

One witness, Zhang Ming, a worker at a nearby building site, gave a different account. He said he saw three men with knives come out of a mosque and attack a group of paramilitary police standing in a cluster in the road. Police then chased the men, beat them and fired shots.

Photos taken at the time show one man being chased by police, with one officer raising his rifle to strike the man. Another shows the man lying on the ground, as police form a ring around him, pointing their guns up at surrounding buildings.

The official account did not mention any wounding of police officers, despite the fact that journalists saw ambulance workers tending to a riot police officer who was bleeding profusely from an abdominal wound. Nor did it refer to a siege by security forces at a hospital that was witnessed by hundreds of onlookers, or the massive security operation following the incident.

Security forces armed with semi-automatic rifles and supported by armoured personnel carriers lay siege to the unfinished wing of a maternity hospital where witnesses said one unarmed suspect had taken refuge.

"I saw one Uygur being chased by police. He ran into the building to hide," said a Uygur onlooker who identified himself as Anwar. "The man didn't look armed. He had nothing in his hands."

A Post reporter was removed from the scene as police moved to clear the area of journalists just as staff were being taken away from the hospital before security forces went in. Reporters were told the action was due to safety concerns, but large crowds of both Han and Uygur onlookers were allowed to remain. "I cannot allow you to interview Uygurs on the street in case you are attacked," an officer told the Post.

Other witness accounts suggested that clashes had occurred involving both Uygur and Han.

One person told the South China Morning Post  that he had seen four injured Han civilians. However, the man, who refused to give his name, said he had not seen how the four had sustained their wounds.

Despite the uneasy stability brought by the estimated 10,000 troops and riot police on the streets of the Xinjiang capital, ethnic tensions remain close to breaking point. Yesterday's violence adds weight to rumours that sporadic clashes have continued to erupt throughout the past week.

(South China Morning Post)  Roads and shops reopen but violence still flares in riot-torn Xinjiang city    By Associated Press and Choi Chi-yuk.  July 14, 2009.

More roads reopened and shops unlocked their doors in Urumqi yesterday, but sporadic incidents reflected the underlying tensions in the city where 184 people died in recent ethnic unrest. The July 5 riots and subsequent unrest in the city also left 1,680 wounded, and state media has warned that the death toll could rise. Of the more than 900 people still in hospital, 74 have life-threatening wounds, Xinhua said. Last week, riot police and paramilitary forces blocked off the city centre to restore order after the riots.

Yesterday, police shot dead two Uygur men and wounded a third in Urumqi, where tens of thousands of troops are stationed to restore calm. Police said three Uygur men attacked them when they tried to pull the men off a fourth Uygur, whom they had attacked with knives and rods.

Photos taken at the time show police chasing the man, one of a policeman raising his rifle to strike the man and another showing the man, blood on his leg, on the ground surrounded by police. The shootings played out in front of frightened residents near a main Uygur neighbourhood.

The violence shattered a relative calm that had descended upon the city earlier yesterday for the first time since the riots. People ran into their homes and shops. An armoured personnel carrier and paramilitary police arrived on the scene, and police waved their guns and shouted for people to get off the streets. Security vehicles previously deployed on People's Square were no longer there, but helmeted riot police remained in the area.  Small groups of paramilitary police with riot shields stood guard on street corners and helicopters flew over the city.

Most roads leading to the Grand Bazaar were reopened and, in Uygur districts, more shops lifted their shutters, vendors pushed carts of peaches and watermelon sellers sliced up their wares. Restaurant staff set up tables under trees next to the road.

Cui Jianjun , the executive manager of a Nissan dealership on Jinyin Road, told the South China Morning Post that at least 25 cars and nearly all facilities in his shop had been burned on the night of July 5. He estimated the total damage at 7.98 million yuan (HK$9.05 million). The showroom would have to wait until it was granted compensation - as had been promised - to fully resume business, he added. "We resumed some of our services today, so that our customers who have put in orders can finalise their transactions," Mr Cui said. "We're definitely going to hire at least four more security guards, bringing the total number to eight."

Xu Zheng , a security guard at the showroom, said the shop had been ambushed by Uygur mobs. "Over 40 rioters carrying bricks, rocks and iron bars broke into the shop; we had to retreat inside rooms and shut all the doors. It's really lucky we were only slightly injured."

Government officials have yet to make public key details about what exactly happened on the night of the riots. In days that followed, vigilante mobs of Han ran through the city with bricks, clubs and cleavers seeking revenge. Of the dead, the government has said 137 were Han and 46 were Uygurs. One Hui Muslim was also killed. Uygurs say they believe many more from their ethnic group died in the government crackdown.

(Telepgraph)  Al-Qaeda vows revenge on China over Uighur deaths    By Malcolm Moore.  July 14, 2009.

The threat came in the wake of race riots in far West China which claimed the lives of at least 136 Han Chinese and 46 Uighurs. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it would target the 50,000 Chinese who are working in Algeria and launch attacks against other Chinese projects in Northern Africa, said Stirling Assynt, which is based in London.

"This threat should be taken seriously," it said, adding that three weeks ago the group had ambushed a convoy of Algerian security forces who were protecting Chinese engineers, killing 24 Algerians. "Future attacks of this kind are likely to target security forces and Chinese engineers alike."

China has repeatedly linked Uighur separatist groups to Al-Qaeda, but this is the first time that the terrorist network has made a direct threat against China or its overseas projects.

Violence in Urumqi flared up again on Monday as Chinese police shot and killed two Uighur men armed with knives and sticks who were attacking another Uighur man, according to an official statement. Uighur activists have claimed the true number of Uighur casualties has been understated by the Chinese government.

Stirling Assynt said that although AQIM was the first arm to target China, "others are likely to follow". It said that it had monitored an increase in internet "chatter" among possible jihadists about the need to "avenge the perceived injustices in Xinjiang." "Some of these individuals have been actively seeking information on China's interests in the Muslim world which they could use for targeting purposes," Stirling Assynt said, adding that locations included North Africa, Sudan, Pakistan and Yemen.

Two extremist web sites affiliated with Al-Qaeda noted that large numbers of Chinese work in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. "Chop off their heads at their workplaces or in their homes to tell them that the time of enslaving Muslims has gone," read one posting. However, the assessment does not link Uighur groups to Al-Qaeda and suggests it is unlikely that the Al-Qaeda leadership would stage attacks inside China.

AQIM, which wants to impose an Islamic state in Algeria, was founded in the mid-1990s and pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2003. Its numbers appear to have been buoyed by the return of several fighters from Iraq, according to United States officials.

The huge oil and gas reserves in Xinjiang, as well as the web of pipelines that run through the province, funnelling energy from Kazakhstan and Russia all the way to Beijing and Shanghai, make the province vital to China's interests. However, China's policy of total control has upset Islamic states, especially in the past week. Protesting Muslims in Indonesia called for a jihad against China on Monday, clashing with police outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta.

Iran and Turkey, both key Chinese allies, have lashed out at Beijing, with Turkey promising to use its temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council to press its case against China. Over 5,000 people protested in support of the Uighurs in Istanbul on Sunday. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas has also said the unrest would harm China's ties to the Muslim world. "We hope that the Chinese government improves its relations with the Muslims of the Xinjiang region, and not to harm those relations by harming the Uighurs," said a spokesman.

Stirling Assynt was founded by Karl Barclay, the former head of global security for HSBC.

(The Washington TimesUighur leader wants U.S. to pressure China     By Ashish Kumar Sen and Cassie Fleming     July 14, 2009.

The leader of an organization representing the Uighur ethnic minority called Monday for urgent U.S. action to press China to provide a full accounting of those killed, injured and missing in the ethnic strife gripping Xinjiang province.

Rebiyah Kadeer, president of the Uyghur American Association, told editors and reporters of The Washington Times that as many as 1,000 people had died and thousands more were injured or missing because of violent clashes between Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese in China's far west. Among those missing, she said, are three of her 11 children, along with their families.

(The Globe and Mail)  Why the West is silent on rioting in Xinjiang    By Frank Ching     July 14, 2009.

The rioting in Xinjiang last week echoed violence in Tibet last year but, interestingly, the international reaction has been very different.

Last year, Western countries put pressure on Beijing to hold a dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy even threatening to boycott the Beijing Olympics if China refused. Beijing's protestations that Tibet was an internal Chinese affair were disregarded.

This time, however, the Western response is muted. The United States has adopted a mild tone, with President Barack Obama merely calling on all parties in Xinjiang “to exercise restraint.” The European Union has gone even further, taking the position that violence in Xinjiang “is a Chinese issue, not a European issue.” Serge Abou, the EU's ambassador to China, said Europe also had its problems with minorities and “we would not like other governments to tell us what is to be done.”

While there are similarities between events last year in Tibet and those in Xinjiang this month, the world has changed: China is now seen as an indispensable partner of the United States and Europe, both of which are facing a financial crisis. Beijing's diplomatic assistance in resolving the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues is also seen as too important to put in jeopardy.

What reaction there has been came mainly from Muslim countries. The Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents 57 Muslim governments, condemned what it called the excessive use of force against Uyghur civilians. At least 184 people, both Uyghurs and Han Chinese, have been killed.

The OIC statement declared: “The Islamic world is expecting from China, a major and responsible power in the world arena with historical friendly relations with the Muslim world, to deal with the problem of Muslim minority in China in broader perspective that tackles the root causes of the problem.”

The country that has taken the strongest position is Turkey, whose people share linguistic, religious and cultural links with the Uyghurs. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan actually went so far as to characterize what has happened as “a kind of genocide” and said his country would bring the matter up in the United Nations Security Council.

Since then, China's Foreign Minister has spoken on the telephone with his Turkish counterpart and apparently invited Turkey to send journalists to Xinjiang. This would be good if the journalists would be allowed not only into Urumqi but to other areas as well, such as Kashgar, where foreign journalists are currently barred.

While Indonesian Muslims have voiced support for the Uyghurs, with about 100 attending a mass prayer session in Jakarta on Sunday, the government itself has not taken a position, even though Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country.

One problem for the Uyghurs is that the world at large knows little about them. Events of the past week have served to publicize their cause. Hitherto, publicity on Uyghurs has focused on the 22 who were held by the United States in Guantanamo, but a link to terrorist suspects is not likely to gain them public support.

Rebiya Kadeer, the U.S.-based Uyghur activist accused by Chinese officials of instigating the violence, is seeking American support for her cause and has urged the United States to open a consulate in Urumqi. This, she said, “would be a clear signal that the United States is not indifferent to the oppression of my people.” China has denied a request for an American consulate in Tibet and is unlikely to allow one in Xinjiang.

The Urumqi events were followed by demonstrations, mostly by ethnic Uyghurs around the world. Eggs were hurled at the Chinese consulate-general in Los Angeles, while the one in Munich was attacked by home-made gasoline bombs. (Munich is also home to the headquarters of the World Uyghur Congress, of which Ms. Kadeer is president.)

Demonstrations were also held in Turkey, the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Japan and Sweden. Ms. Kadeer herself led a protest march in Washington to the Chinese embassy.

The Uyghurs lack a charismatic figure such as the Dalai Lama to lead them. But China, perhaps unwittingly, may provide the solution. It is likening Ms. Kadeer to the Dalai Lama, saying they are both “separatists.” The People's Daily has actually called her the “Uyghur Dalai Lama” and warned the Nobel committee not to award her the Peace Prize. Beijing may not realize it, but likening Rebiya Kadeer to the Dalai Lama may actually win her supporters in the West.

(China Daily)  Foreign stories on Urumqi misleading   By Cui Jia.  July 14, 2009.

Many Chinese citizens, including residents in Urumqi, have expressed their anger over inaccurate reports by the foreign media of the July 5 riots in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. "Although the key July 5 reports by foreign media have improved to some extent, bias in the reporting still exists," said Phoenix Satellite Television commentator Lawrence Ho, who has been following the situation in Urumqi.

A number of foreign media agencies such as the BBC have "cleverly cut" and edited footage and information from State-run CCTV and Xinhua News Agency to create the "wrong impression" about what really happened in the riots, misleading the public as a result, state media reported. Similarly, foreign newspapers such as the New York Times were found to be using real pictures with inaccurate captions.

More than 25 Urumqi residents also released a press statement of a letter they signed aimed at the BBC to protest its false reporting. In the letter, residents expressed their anger over the British news agency's "twisting of the facts" about the riots, even though Chinese authorities gave foreign journalists the freedom to report the incident. "You could only see bias or even hatred toward China in the BBC's report, anything but facts," the letter said.  The residents urged the BBC to "stop lying" and present what really happened in Urumqi to Britons and people around the world.

"I was so angry when my Russian friends told me that the Moscow-based Star TV station claimed more than a thousand Uygurs were killed by Han people during the riot," Urumqi resident Yina said in her own letter protesting foreign media coverage of the riot. Yina then told her Russian friends that the TV station's report was untrue. "It's not responsible for a TV station to spread rumors without getting the basic facts checked."

More than 150 reporters from more than 60 foreign media agencies have arrived in the region. Journalists are given free rein to conduct interviews, officials said. As such, a number of foreign media agencies reported the Chinese government has been very open in dealing with the incident, compared with reports on the riots in Tibet last year.

A New York citizen named Janet who grew up in Xinjiang commented in response to a New York Times report describing a "peaceful demonstration." "Does this mean lives are not important? If your wife or husband was killed, could you still call it "peaceful demonstrations?" she said. The New York Times should do more research and not release this kind of false report, Janet said.

(Associated Press)  Chinese intellectuals call for release of Uighur    July 14, 2009.

More than 100 Chinese writers and intellectuals have signed a letter calling for the release of Ilham Tohti, an outspoken Uighur economist who disappeared from his Beijing home last week and has apparently been detained.

Tohti had in recent months sharpened his critique of problems in China's far west region of Xinjiang, where ethnic violence in the capital Urumqi earlier this month left 184 dead and 1,680 wounded.

"Professor Ilham Tohti is a Uighur intellectual who devoted himself to friendship between ethnic groups and eradicating conflicts between them. He should not be taken as a criminal," said the letter, which demanded information about his case and was posted online Monday.

"If they've started legal proceedings toward Ilham Tohti, they must gain trust from the people through transparency, and especially gain trust from the Uighur people," the letter said.

The letter said the Web site that Tohti founded, Uighurbiz.cn, a Chinese-language Web site that became a lively forum about Uighur life and views, was an important site for dialogue between Han Chinese and Uighurs.

The letter was signed by Chinese authors, including Wang Lixiong, a Chinese democracy activist, and posted on the international version of the blogging Web portal Bullog, at bullogger.com.

"The signing is continuing and it is gathering more signatures," said Woeser, a Beijing-based Tibetan writer and blogger who signed the letter.

It urged the Chinese government to reflect on its whether its own mistakes caused the unrest in Xinjiang and the anti-government riots last year Lhasa and other Tibetan communities.

Xinjiang Governor Nur Bekri in a televised speech July 6 accused Tohti's Web site and another popular one of helping "to orchestrate the incitement and spread propaganda," a day after Sunday's peaceful protest by Uighurs dissolved into a riot.

Tohti, 39, disappeared from his Beijing home last week, but called a friend just after midnight Wednesday to say he would be detained.

A spokesman for the Beijing Public Security Bureau said he did not have any information on the case.

Tohti's academic work had begun to focus on how Chinese policies that encourage Han Chinese to move into Xinjiang have disadvantaged and marginalized native Uighurs.

(Wang Xizhe's blog)  The hypocritical and evil Wang Lixiong and others!  July 12, 2009.

When the terrorists caused a riot in Xinjiang on July 5, hundreds and thousands engaged in the slaughter of innocent civilians of various ethnicities.  Did we hear this Wang Lixiong person issue any condemnations?  Did we hear him issue any declarations to demand the government punish the criminals and protect the people of various ethnic groups?  No.  Where is his ethnic conscience?  When he says that he is heartbroken, for whom is his heart broken?  Now professor Ilham Tohti has been detained on suspicion of inciting the riots, he could not wait to start a signature campaign to say that Tohti "should not be treated as a criminal."

Wang Lixiong, how do you know that Ilham Tohti "should not be treated as a criminal"?  How do you know that he is not responsible for the 7.5 riots?  Because he says so?  If anything that anyone says about themselves can be trusted, how can there be any criminals left?

Yes, everybody especially liberal intellectuals (and they should be concerned first and foremost about the massacre of innocent people) have the right not to believe that anyone arrested by the government is a criminal.  They have the right to make public appeals, just like they don't believe that Liu Xiaobo is a criminal and they are making appeals on his behalf.

But if his appeal is truly based upon liberalism and humanitarianism as opposed to having ulterior motives, he would not need to emphasize the ethnic identity of the subject!

Wang Lixiong, your appeal right now emphasized the Uighur identity of "Professor" Ilham Tohti.  What is your motive?  Does his Uighur identity confer special privilege and protection?  Is an Uighur never guilty of crimes?  Isn't an important source of the sufferings of the Hans and Uighurs the long-term unequal policies about how the law handles Han and Uighur criiminals whereupon the Uighurs enjoyed extra-legal rights?  Isn't this something that we want the government to change?  If it doesn't change, wouldn't there be the same kinds of riots and massacres again and again?  Why do you want to use the ethnic identity of "professor" Ilham Tohti to defend these unreasonable special rights?  What are you really up to?

I ask you to read just what Wang Lixiong is saying in his open letter and "appeal."  Is he really trying to defend ethnic equality or deliberately provoking ethnic contradictions and hatred?

"Professor Ilham Tohti has been building a bridge between the Han and the Uighur peoples but he has now been arrested.  It is astonishing how much further our rulers want to push ethnic opposition."

(Wang Lixiong, why can't a Uighur professor be arrested?  "When the rulers have pushed ethnic opposition so far," why do you Wang Lixiong want to continue doing it?  How much further do you want to push ethnic opposition?)

"With respect to the detention of Ilham Tohti, we can make our voices heard.  The restoration of ethnic relationship begins with every detailed aspect."

(Wang Lixiong, the riots and massacres have taken place and the "restoration of ethnic relationship" must begin with fair and rigorous law enforcement.  Why won't you let your voice be heard about that?)

"We should let the Uighur people see that our demands for justice and fairness go beyond ethnicity.  The authorities may ignore our call, but I believe that the Uighur people will see it and remember it."

("The demands for justice and fairness that go beyond ethnicity" are just wonderful.  Wang Lixiong, why do you offer only "letting the Uighur people see our demands for justice and fairness go beyond ethnicity"?  Why won't you mention "letting the Han and other peoples see our demands for justice and fairness go beyond ethnicity"?  Not at all.  You only mention the Uighurs and you won't mention the Hans because you are deliberately trying to get the Uighurs to look at the Han and other peoples with hatred!  You even malignantly want them to "see it and remember it."  Why a hypocritical and evil Wang Li Xiong!)

"Professor Ilham Tohti is ... a famous Uighur intellectual and he should not be treated as a criminal."

(How come "a famous Uighur intellectual" "should not be treated as a criminal"?  Is this ethnic equality?  Is this your "fairness" and "justice"?)

"The inappropriate handling of professor Ilham Tohti will increase ethnic antagonism and reduce the space for rational dialogue and constructive forces."

(Why?  Is this just because he is a Uighur professor?  Who are you intimidating?  Apart from the small number of rioters that you incited, what "ethnic antagonism" is there?  If Ilham Tohti is responsible for the 7.5 riots and he is released without being punished, will that eliminate "ethnic antagonism"?  Will there be "space for rational dialogue and constructive forces"?  The bottom line is that "ethnic antagonism" is exactly what you want?  Isn't this exactly what you need in order to create storms?  Don't you know that letting criminals off without punishment will only exacerbate "ethnic antagonism"?  Without "ethnic antagonism," how will you make a living?  "The inappropriate handling of professor Ilham Tohti will increase ethnic antagonism"?  You must be saying the exact opposite because it is exactly what you want and you are only pretending that you are objecting because you are concerned about the nation and its people!")

"If legal proceedings are to held against professor Ilham Tohti, they should be open and transparent in order to be credible to the people, especially to the Uighur people."

(This is malignantly inciting ethnic antagonism once again!  Why does the judicial process need to emphasize the ethnic background?  "Especially credible to the Uighur people"?  Why does the judicial process not have to be "especially credible to the Han people"?  When your "Uighur people" enjoy special legal rights, the Han people becomes one class lower in judicial processes which therefore do not need to be "credible" to them?)

"We must warn the government -- when even professor Ilham Tohti who is an intellectual who has dedicated himself to Han-Uighur communication can be treated as an enemy, then all Uighurs except for the flunkeys will become enemies!"

(So this is where the truth comes out!  This so-called "open letter" and "appeal" is using professor Ilham Tohti to threaten more ethnic antagonism and turning all the Uighurs (apart from their so-called Uighur traitors) into the enemies of the Han people!
Let me tell Wang Lixiong and others.  We are also warning the government that if they should become scared and release a criminal suspect such as the fake professor Ilham Tohti in an act of unfair and unreasoned law enforcement solely on account of his Uighur background (which also means that the other 7.5 criminals should also be released as well), then the angry 1.3 billion Han and other ethnic groups (with the exception of the fake liberal Han traitors") will all become enemies of your weak and corrupt government along with Wang Lixiong).

(New York Times)  Intellectuals Call for Release of Uighur Economist    By Edward Wong     July 14, 2009.

Prominent Chinese intellectuals and writers have signed a petition calling for the release of a well-known ethnic Uighur economist in Beijing who was apparently detained last week during a bloody outbreak of ethnic violence in western China. The economist, who had written critically about government policies toward the Uighurs, is the best known person to be detained so far in relation to the ethnic strife.

The economist, Ilham Tohti, 39, a professor at the Central University for Nationalities, vanished from his Beijing home sometime last week and made a call to a friend to say he would be detained. Mr. Tohti ran a Web site called Uighur Online that had become a popular forum for discussion of issues important to the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group of mostly Sunni Muslims that is the largest in oil-rich Xinjiang, China’s biggest administrative region. The site is now blocked in China.

Ethnic tensions between the Uighurs and the Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, exploded last week after a Uighur protest on July 5 in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, turned violent when riot police officers tried to halt the rally. Uighur mobs rampaged through the streets of the city, killing many Han civilians and setting fire to cars and buildings. For at least three days afterward, Han mobs with sticks and knives attacked and killed Uighurs.

The government says at least 184 people were killed and 1,680 injured, the vast majority being Han. But many Uighurs in Urumqi say that count does not include hundreds of Uighurs killed by security forces or by Han vigilantes. The state news agency reported Monday that police officers shot dead two armed Uighurs and wounded a third.

On July 6, Nur Bekri, the governor of Xinjiang, said in a speech that Uighur Online was a Web site that had helped instigate the rioting by spreading rumors.

Chinese officials insist that Uighurs abroad and some inside China were responsible for starting the violence. The officials avoid any discussion of systemic problems in Xinjiang that have led to deep-rooted resentment among many Uighurs: the large numbers of Han migrating to Xinjiang over the past decades and taking jobs, for example, or the tight restrictions on religious practice.

Mr. Tohti had been increasingly critical of the lack of jobs for Uighurs in Xinjiang and policies that had encouraged the influx of Han settlers. “Unemployment among Uighurs is among the highest in the world,” he said in an interview in March with Radio Free Asia, which is supported by the United States government. While doing research for the Chinese government at one point in the 1990s, Mr. Tohti said, he discovered there were 1.5 million unemployed workers in Xinjiang.

The petition to free Mr. Tohti was started by Wang Lixiong, one of China’s leading experts on ethnic minority issues and the husband of Woeser, a well-known Tibetan blogger. The petition had 158 signatures as of Monday night. The signers are mostly ethnic Han and from all over China. One of the signers, Ran Yunfei, a well-known magazine editor and blogger who is of Monguor, or Tu, ethnicity, said in a telephone interview: “Even if we don’t have democracy, we should have freedom of speech. And they should not detain someone for his remarks. As far as I know, Professor Ilham’s Web site is a very gentle and rational one.” The central police authority in Beijing did not have any immediate comment.

In the radio interview in March, Mr. Tohti said he was concerned about being imprisoned for his writings. “Of course I worry, but what I have said doesn’t conflict with Chinese law,” he said. “If they put me in jail, I am ready. I’ve sat in front of a computer for so many years — jail would give me a chance to exercise and lose weight.”

(Daily Kos Two Blacks shot dead by police   By xgz.  July 14, 2009.

With a headline like this, what message do you think it implies? Very often it implies of racial tension, discrimination, and police brutality. The actual title of the CNN story is "Two Uyghurs shot dead by Chinese police." The tone of the headline couldn't be clearer: Chinese police are using deadly force to crackdown on Uyghurs protesting inequality and racial discrimination. The text of the report told a totally different story.

Police shot and killed two ethnic Uyghurs and wounded another in a Chinese region that has seen violent ethnic strife in recent weeks, state media reported Monday.

The police were trying to stop the three people from attacking a fourth person with clubs and knives in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China Radio International reported, citing the local government.

All four people involved in the incident were ethnic Uyghurs, a minority Muslim group distinct from China's majority Han population, CRI said.

So three criminals were attacking someone with weapons. In trying to stop the crime, police shot and killed two of the criminals and wounded the third. All three criminals and the victim were Uyghurs, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the police were also Uyghurs - but that information certainly wouldn't interest CNN writers.

I'll give CNN some credit though. Here is a much more balanced report. But even in this piece, CNN failed to report that overwhelming majority of the victims of violence were Han or Hui (Muslim) ethnic Chinese. After reporting on Han and Hui victims of violence, to show "the other side" of the story, they reported on the burned out shops and cars in a Uyghur neighborhood, but failed to mention that only the shops and cars owned by Han or Hui people were burned. Although these might be innocent omissions, they left an impression that both Uyghurs and Hans were involved in the riots - it's like reporting that whites went to Watts and rioted there. How many people would believe that?

The western media had lost almost all of its credibility with Chinese people over their reports of violence in Tibet. This time although the reports have been somewhat more balanced, ironically Chinese people believe them far less than their own government, from what I heard (I have been in Beijing for the past month on a business trip). In fact, the Chinese government has been shockingly open about the racial riot in Xinjiang this time. Nightly TV news almost always lead with reports on the violence and the crackdown. Once I rode in a taxi and the taxi driver stopped our conversation, turned up the volume of the radio when the radio was reporting on the Xinjiang violence. The radio talk shows talk openly about the racial tensions and are highly critical of the government handling of the affair. The criticisms, however, are universally hawkish. Nearly everyone in Beijing thinks that the government has been too weak in its response.

I talked to some of the professors in a couple of universities in Beijing. Their opinions are remarkably the same. They all think that the faults are at the government. The government, in the name of ethnic harmony, had been too lax in law enforcement when ethnic minorities commit a crime. It was said that a party membership was worth three years (ie, if a communist party member commits a crime, his sentence would be automatically reduced by three years), and an ethnic minority was worth half of the sentence. So an ethnic minority party member can get out of the jail for free. Thus when the rioters commit violent crimes it put the government in a very tough position. If they crackdown then they are applying laws differently than they normally do. But if they don't crackdown then things will just spiral out of control.

The ethnic violence in Xinjiang has deeper roots than Uyghurs' simple wish for independence. BTW Xinjiang has many ethnic groups of which Uyghurs form only a plurality. My feeling is that the racial tension won't get resolved until there is true democracy in China.

(Sing Tao Daily via New America Media)  Xinjiang Riots Through the Lens of Western Media    July 14, 2009.

The Xinjiang riots of July 5 remind us of last year’s Tibetan uprisings before the Beijing Olympics. Surprisingly, after the Lhasa riots, local residents were not the only ones hurt; so was the public trust of the Western media The biased news reports from Western media angered many Chinese around the world, causing them to protest in the streets, while others created Web sites to counter misreporting by the Western media.

Almost a year since the Tibetan uprisings, many see much similarities with the Xinjiang riots. How did Western media cover and comment on this incident? Concluding from a week-long observation, the early coverage was “cautious” and their approach was “cleverer”. However, their attitude remains unchanged. When they found a point to attack, they reverted into their original attitudes.

Public trust has been the soul of media. Western media ruined their public image after the Lhasa incident. As a result, on the initial days of the Xinjiang riots, they have balanced their coverage with a better selection of reported facts. For example, CNN covered the riots using documentary style reporting. It did not jump to conclude that “Government Crackdown on Democratic Protest with Force” like last year, but rather reported from the view of witnesses describing how public property and pedestrians were attacked, and how the military police gradually increased social control. Wordings in the reports were considered non-emotionally driven and the attacks made by the World Uyghur Congress on the Chinese government were reported towards the end.

In the following days, though coverage on the World Uyghur Congress had increased, comments of Chinese officials were also included to provide a less biased report. On Wednesday, CNN even released a observation from one of their journalist mentioning how Chinese police stopped Western reporters from covering, putting them on to police cars, and acknowledged such actions as necessary to protect the safety of the reporters.

The Associated Press (AP) also attempted to balance their coverage on the Han Chinese and the Uighurs, but overall reports sympathized the Uighurs. For example, on Tuesday, when a large group of Han Chinese appeared on the streets with weapons, AP reported largely on the Uighurs’ responses, portraying Uighurs as the victims, despite mentioning the behavior of the Han Chinese was a backlash to Uighurs attacks on Sunday.

Although the overall reports of the issue were more or less balanced, Western media reported many subjective editorial pieces afterwards, notorious in being traditionally subjective with less responsibility in reporting the truth. These editorials demonized China and rationalized violence along with several American politicians.

In general, western media captured the Uighurs as victims, especially in reports of AFP, BBC and the Voice of America (VOA). They underreported the severity of the riots and the attacks on innocent people, but exaggerated that Uighurs were protesting because they have been treated unequally by the Chinese government and the Han Chinese for an extended period. They echoed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s on condemning the Chinese government to rationalize the violence. Therefore, these news outlets exaggerated on the Han Chinese taking weapons to the streets in search for targets, but paid no interest on the deaths of the hundred murdered citizens (many of them were Han Chinese from unofficial accounts). The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom had a headline reporting, “Han in Urumqi Chased and Attacked Muslim Uighurs in Streets.” The Christian Science Monitor interviewed a few so-called China experts, claiming the riots as a result of Chinese high-pressured control on Xinjiang.

Apart from journalistic reports, commentary and news analysis hold a greater influence in mainstream media. Since their nature is opinion based, they are not expected to be as strict and fair as news reports. They can express their viewpoints freely. Therefore, Western comments judged the Chinese government in the same way. The Huffington Post, an increasingly influential online newspaper, published a long article on the next day of the riots, revealing how minorities were discriminated against and strictly controlled by the Chinese government. The Wall Street Journal shared some of the same view points. The best example was publishing Rebiya Kadeer’s comments, saying that the Chinese government slaughtered the Uighurs.

However, the East Turkestan Independence Movement compared to America’s top enemy the Al Qaeda, with a very different image from the Dalai Lama. It is expected that sympathy towards East Turkestan Independence Movement would not be obvious. In conclusion, Western media’s negative attitude toward China never changed.

Western media had once held an extraordinary role within Asian society. However, Western media must rethink their methods of reporting because they did not consider to report the special ethnic and economic policies beneficial to the development of ethnic minorities in China.

(TIME)  Why the Uighurs Feel Left Out of China's Boom   By Austin Ramzy.   July 14, 2009.

On the streets of the cities and towns of China's northwestern region of Xinjiang you can hear complaints from the Uighur minority group about restrictions on the Islamic religion they practice, their Turkic language or their culture, which is most closely linked to the lands of Central Asia. But in interviews in Urumqi, the regional capital that exploded with ethnic rioting last week that left 184 dead, the single most common complaint of Uighur residents is that they feel excluded from economic opportunity.

Xinjiang, which makes up one-sixth of China's landmass but is home to less than 2% of its population, is an area of vast oil, mineral and agricultural wealth. Under a decade-old "develop the West" policy, the GDP of the region climbed from $20 billion in 2000 to $44.5 billion in 2006. Many Uighurs feel, however, that the boom has benefited majority Han Chinese, while they've been left out. "If you're Han, there are opportunities. But if you're from my group, there's nothing you can do," says a Uighur man in Urumqi who declined to give his name. "We're all hungry. We go all over looking for work, but they say they don't want Uighurs."

The immediate cause of the rioting was a protest in Urumqi on July 5 spurred by the death of two Uighurs thousands of miles away at a toy factory in coastal Guangdong province. A disgruntled former worker falsely accused the Uighur workers of raping Han women, which touched off a riot. When the police moved to end the demonstration in Urumqi's People's Square, they clashed with the Uighur demonstrators. Witnesses say bands of Uighur young men then rampaged through the city for hours, attacking Han residents, smashing vehicles and torching Han-owned shops. On July 11 authorities announced that 137 Han, 46 Uighurs and one member of the Hui, a Chinese Muslim group, had been killed. Despite a massive security presence, Urumqi remains tense. On July 13 police shot and killed two Uighur men and injured a third Monday afternoon near the Xinjiang People's Hospital in the city's main Uighur district.

The nature of the original unrest, over an incident of workplace violence, offers clues to the depth of the Uighurs' feeling of economic discontent. The 800 Uighurs at the toy factory in the Guangdong city of Shaoguan were part of a government program to send minority workers to the coast. "They can't get work in their own province, so they go to the far corner of the country to seek jobs," says Dru Gladney, an expert on Islam in China and president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College. "They are recruited by the government, and then they feel like government doesn't defend and protect them. They feel discriminated against. They can't win at home and they can't win far afield."

Uighurs were once offered a measure of economic sanctuary in state-owned enterprises with minority-hiring quotas. But as Xinjiang's economy has become increasingly privatized, those opportunities have eroded, says Barry Sautman, an associate professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. "Years ago everything in Xinjiang, like the rest of China was state-owned. It was relatively easy for Uighurs with some qualifications to get jobs in state enterprises, based of course on preferential policies," he says. "Now, with a substantial part of the economy privatized, it's much more difficult. It's up to individual employers as to who they want to hire."

Like other minorities, Uighurs are given additional points in China's college entrance exam, but as a group they don't have the same educational level as Han Chinese. Many can't speak fluent Mandarin. Company managers with roots outside of Xinjiang often make hiring decisions based on connections or regional origin, leaving Uighurs at a disadvantage. China doesn't have a fair-hiring law, meaning that those with sufficient skills and experience still have no recourse if they face discrimination in the job market.

Uighurs are also underrepresented in the bingtuan, paramilitary work units in Xinjiang that were created in the 1950s and staffed with former soldiers. The bingtuan contributed one-sixth of Xinjiang's economic output in 2008. But while Uighurs and other minority groups make up about 60% of Xinjiang's population, they comprise just 12% of the bingtuan's ranks. While per capita income figures based on race aren't available, counties in northern Xinjiang with larger Han populations are wealthier than in the largely Uighur south of the region. Witnesses said the rioters last week were young Uighur men, and some observers have suggested they were poorer migrant workers from the south of the region rather than long-term residents.

The government's explanation of last week's violence is that it was inspired by overseas agitators; Uighur discontent over issues like job discrimination isn't included in the official version of events. The dilemma for Chinese policymakers is that the country's rapid economic growth has helped legitimize the government to the majority of citizens. But for Uighurs who feel left out, the growing prosperity of the Han leaves them more alienated. As China continues to get rich, it is pushing them further toward the fringe.

(ChinaStakes)  WSJ Tramples a Lot of Chinese Toes in its Xinjiang, China Coverage     July 14, 2009.

The Wall Street Journal, in its reporting on the recent disturbances in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Autonomous Region in the northwest of China, has greatly disturbed the Chinese public. Netizens are refusing to visit its website and appealing to others to boycott the site, though that may not be necessary as the WSJ Chinese website has disappeared from the Mainland China ether.

The Urumqi riots started on July 5 and left around 180 dead and over a thousand injured. Reports state that a majority of the victims were Han Chinese, including women, children, and old people, who were attacked by minority Uyghurs.

Chinese and overseas media, however, have reported on the riots in very different ways. The Chinese media take the line that it was a massacre perpetrated by a lawless mob that should be punished by law. Many feel this is not the government’s attitude, but it seems to be the direct feeling of most Chinese people. The WSJ, however, along with most of the western media, reported that a peaceful Uyghur protest against “unfair treatment” was unsuccessfully suppressed by the government, leading to an uprising.

More seriously, support cited by overseas media has turned out to be fraudulent or at least incorrect. A picture published by Reuters in a report about the riot was proved to be a photo of a protest by residents in Hubei province, far away from Xinjiang. CNN is also discovered to have used a fake picture. New York Times printed many pictures when reporting the story on July 6. One of them was captioned “wounded Uyghur in hospital,” but readers who can read Chinese can see clearly that on the wall above the bed are Chinese characters reading “No. 32, Liu Yonghe.” Liu Yonghe is a Han name, not a Uyghur name.

These reports infuriated Chinese netizens. People's Daily, Chinese communist party's mouth piece, published a letter from a reader titled “I will never read the Wall Street Journal again.” It read, in part, “I will use every chance to persuade my friends and colleagues to stop reading The Wall Street Journal, for its reports and comments on Chinese these years are full of prejudice and ignorance. Its reports on the July 5 riot in Xinjiang are even more intolerable to me, for they are apparently on the side of the terrorists.”

The WSJ has offended again more recently.  In an article published last weekend titled "China's Ethnic Fault Lines" by Dru C. Gladney, the author cites the strength and vitality of China's many mutually unintelligible home languages, e.g. Mandarin, Cantonese, Southern Min, Hakka, and a host of others, as support for his thesis that China's many minority “nationalities” and language groups, including such Mainland stalwarts as the Cantonese, Sichuanese, Fujianese, constitute a threat to the county's cohesion. Certainly many patriotic citizens from Canton (Guangdong), Sichuan, and Fujian Provinces would be very surprised to hear it. 

The article has spread widely among Chinese netizens and has people rushing to the websites of Reuters and the Financial Times to shower their discontent on the western media.

The Wall Street Journal is an important business news outlet in China, but now even those who are not utterly fed up with it cannot visit its Mainland Chinese website. For Dow Jones, WSJ's publisher, which began to explore the Chinese market only a few years ago, this is not good news.

This is not nearly the first time for Chinese readers to question western media. After the March 14 riot in Tibet, western media were widely criticized. Chinese netizens founded a website called “anti-CNN” to rebut western media reports.

But the Chinese government and media also need to think over why western media regularly report issues so differently. Cultural differences are certainly at play, but on the other hand the government also needs to be more open and transparent in the reporting of such issues.

The government was widely praised across the world after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake for immediately allowing both domestic and foreign reporters into the stricken area to report on the devastation and the tremendous relief efforts. In contrast, it failed to allow western reporters into Tibet at the time of the riots, and reports in the China and western media differed significantly.

(Xinhua)  Distorted reports on Xinjiang riot denounced.  July 14, 2009.

    The deadly riot that killed 184 people and injured 1,680 others in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China was followed by some distorted western media reports of the July 5 events. Those irresponsible media have been denounced by the public around the world, who prefer to believe the Chinese media, including the influential China Radio International (CRI).

    Roberto Carlos from the United States said he condemned the violence in Xinjiang and felt angry that many western media distorted what happened. He criticized a TV station in Florida for "damaging the image of the People's Republic of China by reports of splittism."

    Khelil Abdelkader from Algeria said he was astonished by a number of distorted reports on Xinjiang in Western media. Abdelkader, who visited China earlier this year as one of the awarded listeners of CRI, said he has had contact with Chinese minorities. He said he was impressed by their "harmonious and happy lives in the era of the Reform and Opening-up and under the government's preferential policies." The Algerian said Western media should respect the facts and follow professional rules and morality in reporting on Xinjiang. "I call on all media organizations to scrupulously abide by their professional requirements and refrain from doing harm to another nation's image for its selfish interests," Abdelkader said.

    Idriss Booudina from Morocco said many western media have developed a skewed imagination of the riot in far western Xinjiang in order to confuse the public and defame China. "We have our eyes and ears, and our own judgments. We believe that all Muslim are peace-loving, and we feel disgusted by those bogus Muslim who took the name of national religion for the sake of selfish motives," Booudina said. "They are set to be smashed by justice sooner or later," Booudina added.

    Nasser Dhefeer from Egypt said he was led into grief by the riot in Xinjiang. He denounced the rioters for attempting to destroy national unity through violence. "I sincerely prayed that the bloody tragedy would not happen again," Dhefeer said.

(The Guardian)  A civil rights movement for Uighurs    By Rebiya Kadeer.  July 15, 2009.

In 1955, a 14-year-old African-American boy named Emmett Till, who had been sent to rural Mississippi to spend the summer with his uncle, was beaten and shot, and then his body was weighed down and dropped into the Tallahatchie River after he was alleged to have made a vulgar pass at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Till's body was badly disfigured, but his mother insisted that there be an open casket at his funeral, and up to 50,000 people viewed his body. It took just over an hour for the all-white jury to decide to acquit the two defendants accused of murdering Till – the husband of Carolyn Bryant and his step-brother.

The murder of Emmett Till and the subsequent lack of justice in his case helped spark the beginnings of the American civil rights movement. Just over three months after Till's death, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus. Till's murder shocked the world, revealing the severity of the prejudice experienced by African-Americans, particularly in the southern part of the United States. Decades of demonstrations and protests followed, as African-Americans struggled for equal treatment and a greater share of America's freedoms. Riots also rocked major American cities, exposing deep wounds in America's racial landscape.

More than half a century later, and half a world away, rumours that Uighurs at a factory in Shaoguan, in south-eastern China, had raped two Chinese women led a mob of Han Chinese workers to raid the dormitories of Uighur workers and attack them with knives, metal pipes and other weapons. Riot police reportedly took their time in arriving at the scene of the attacks, in the early hours of 26 June. Chinese officials reported that two Uighurs had been killed in the attacks, but Uighurs who witnessed the murders and beatings told the international media that many more had been killed. Immediately following the incident, the Chinese government only indicated that it had punished the disgruntled Chinese man, a former worker at the factory, responsible for spreading the false allegations of sexual molestation. However, there was no official indication that any arrests would be made related to the killings and beatings that took place. (On 7 July, the official Chinese media reported that 13 arrests were made on 5 July that were related to the Shaoguan factory violence.)

On 5 July, Uighurs began taking to the streets in Urumchi, at first peacefully, to protest the killings at Shaoguan and the lack of government action to bring the perpetrators to justice. Many people have questioned how an event that took place so far away (Shaoguan, in Guangdong province, is more than 3,000km away from Urumchi), and why what they perceive as such a small-scale, isolated event sparked so much anger and frustration. I ask people to understand that Uighurs feel much as African-Americans must have felt at the death of Emmett Till and the acquittal of his murderers; and that, just as the murder of Emmett Till sparked resentment and sadness throughout the United States at many decades of deep repression, lynchings, and lack of opportunity, following the Shaoguan violence, Uighurs in East Turkestan and throughout China felt anger and despair rise up over decades of economic, social and religious discrimination, together with the widespread execution, torture and imprisonment of their people.

I in no way endorse any of the violent acts carried out by Uighurs in East Turkestan over the past week. I am absolutely opposed to all violence. However, I believe that, just as the Chinese government misrepresented the facts in the Shaoguan incident, it has, on a much larger scale, grossly misrepresented the truth of the recent protests and violence in East Turkestan. The Chinese government has aggressively promoted a sophisticated, one-sided image of the killings and beatings that have taken place, distributing CDs to international journalists featuring an almost exclusive picture of violence committed by Uighurs against the Han Chinese population. It is irrefutable that acts of violence, including murders, were committed by Uighurs against Han Chinese. However, numerous residents of East Turkestan have told the organisations I lead that they have witnessed the deaths of hundreds of Uighurs that have gone unreported in the official press. At this point, it is impossible to verify these eyewitness accounts, as communications have been virtually cut off between East Turkestan and the outside world. But I cannot ignore the many accounts I have received of unimaginable atrocities that have been covered up.

How can real peace and justice be brought to East Turkestan? This is a difficult question to answer. Real peace cannot be achieved through a lack of transparency; through the 20,000 troops that have been brought in; or through blaming "outside forces", such as myself and the World Uighur Congress, for the turmoil that is now rocking the region. Real peace cannot be achieved through a complete lack of acknowledgment of ethnic discrimination and ethnic disharmony in East Turkestan, such as was exhibited in yesterday's opinion piece by Chinese ambassador Fu Ying. Peace and reconciliation may only begin when China, at the very least, acknowledges the depth and scope of the problems that exist in East Turkestan.

The Chinese government must stop fanning the flames of nationalism within the PRC, and using anti-Uighur anger to shore up its own legitimacy. Instead of blaming "outside forces", it must look within its own borders to examine widespread official repression and officially-promoted ethnic stereotypes. Chinese officials must work to provide job opportunities for Uighurs within East Turkestan and mitigate the severe employment imbalance between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the region. They must provide a forum for the most basic forms of dissent and dialogue between Uighurs and the government. There must be fair trials for those accused of perpetrating violence. And they must allow an independent, international investigation into the events of the past week.

It is hard to imagine the eventual growth of a Uighur civil rights movement, as tens of thousands of troops patrol Urumchi, Kashgar and other cities in East Turkestan. Not much hope for optimism can come from the recent arrest of a Uighur economics professor in Beijing, who merely called for more economic opportunities for Uighurs. And as Chinese officials broadcast rhetoric about the need to execute those found guilty of crimes over the past week, I expect that trials of the accused will not meet international standards. I can only hope against all hope, for the peace and prosperity of everyone in East Turkestan, that things will begin to change.




(China Daily)  Overseas Chinese urged to 'spread the truth about Xinjiang riot'     By Wang Linyan and Long Junying   July 15, 2009.

The importance of ethnic unity and social stability were among the major themes at the start of the 8th National Congress of Returned Overseas Chinese and their Relatives, which opened Tuesday in Beijing.

The All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese chairman, Lin Jun, delivered the federation's work report, looking back on the past five years, at the Great Hall of the People.

"Ethnic unity and social stability is in the interest of the Chinese people, including all ethnic groups," Lin said.

Lin appealed to members to introduce to overseas Chinese the truth about the July 5 riot in Urumqi, expose the nature of hostile forces at home and abroad, and keep people updated about economic and social development in regions inhabited by ethnic groups.

There are 30 million returned overseas Chinese in China.

The July 5 riot was triggered by neither ethnic problems nor religious problems, said Wang Yonggang, chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Association of Returned Overseas Chinese.

Wang said overseas anti-China separatists, who wanted Xinjiang to break away from China, were the instigators. And Wang said World Uyghur Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer, a separatist, does not represent Uygur people.

"We should safeguard ethnic unity as much as we care about our life," Wang said.

"Xinjiang is called the 'west gate' of China and people in Xinjiang have the responsibility of guarding the gate," Wang said.

It is estimated that Xinjiang has about 500,000 returned overseas Chinese and 1 million overseas Chinese originated in Xinjiang.

In his work report, Lin said the federation will further unite overseas Chinese and returned ones in the coming five years for the good of Chinese at home and abroad.

"Defending benefits of overseas and returned Chinese is the basic responsibility of the federation," he said.

The federation will encourage members to play a constructive role in the country's modernization, peaceful reunification and cultural exchanges.

More than 1,100 representatives from across the country and 340 overseas guests took part in the opening ceremony.

The first congress was held in October 1956 in Beijing. The congress is now held once every five years.

(South China Morning Post)  State media attacks Western coverage as unfair, but analyst says rporting objective.  By  Vivian Wu.   July 15, 2009.

The mainland media lambasted "biased and twisted" overseas reports on the Xinjiang violence, accusing international media of "going against the principles of fairness and objectivity".

Xinhua, the People's Daily and its nationalist tabloid offshoot, the Global Times, have criticised overseas media for double standards. But an analyst says the criticism is wide of the mark, and the reporting has been fair.

An article by a People's Daily editor named Ding Gang in the Global Times was picked up by mainland news portals after it was republished by Xinhua. In it he criticised The Wall Street Journal for publishing a commentary by exiled Uygur activist Rebiya Kadeer, who was blamed by Beijing for fomenting conflict in Xinjiang.

"The image of Rebiya Kadeer and her bylined story `The real Uygur story' ... was totally unacceptable," Ding wrote. The Journal made no comment yesterday.

On chat room Bokee.com, many English articles were translated and criticised. Netizens listed Western media, from CNN and The New York Times to London's Evening Standard, who had used "improper terms" or wrongly captioned photographs.

Lu Yiyi , a research fellow at Nottingham University's China Policy Institute, said many foreign journalists for long had held a perception that China exercised suppressive policies over minority groups. This impression had affected some of their judgment on the incident and their language.

But the notion of bias was rejected by Huang Yu , the dean of School of Communication Studies at Baptist University, who said quality international news organisations had not twisted facts.

"Western reports on the Xinjiang riot were much better than last year in Tibet when foreign media were shooed away and many international reports carried highly politicised stories," Professor Huang said.

Overseas media were mostly barred from reporting on events in Lhasa and the state offered little information. "For Western media, the voices from another side are always bound to be heard, and that is why Kadeer's letter and interview would be carried."

(Today's Zaman)  Rethinking Ankara's response to the Uighur massacre.  By Mehmet Kalyoncu.  July 15, 2009.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's historic stand off against Israeli President Shimon Peres was apparently a genuine expression of the world's collective frustration with Israeli practices against the Palestinians.

Mr. Erdoğan's reaction mesmerized Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia and was even admired by some Westerners. As such, his growing popularity gave him a unique opportunity to create awareness among the world's leaders about inhumane practices perpetrated by certain states. The unfortunate incidents that recently took place in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang autonomous region, presented yet another sad example of such practices, thereby stressing the gravity of the problem.

However, not only did Mr. Erdoğan's uncalculated sentimental rhetoric risk his role as an objective supporter of the oppressed, including his ability to help the Uighurs, but Ankara's presumptuous attitude, demanding an explanation from the Chinese government regarding what happened in Urumqi, is likely to have cost Turkey a historic opportunity to assume a mediating role between the Chinese government and one of its major minorities as well. Turkey's prospects for such a role will further lessen if the so-called Mother Uighur, Rebiya Kadeer, who is considered by the Chinese government as a main instigator of the protests in Urumqi, visits Turkey. It is not difficult to imagine how the ultranationalists in the country would manipulate her visit to organize a series of public protests denouncing the Chinese government.

Nevertheless, according to recent news reports, during his lengthy telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu expressed that Turkey respects China's territorial integrity and does not have any intention of meddling in its internal affairs, but from a human rights perspective is concerned with the deteriorating situation of the Uighurs. Should it manage to view the Uighur-Chinese conflict merely from a human rights perspective, not a nationalistic one, and act accordingly, Ankara may still seize the opportunity to mediate between the Chinese government and its Uighur minority. As such, Turkey would not only fortify its image as an international peacemaker, but also possibly become a sought-after mediator for the resolution of the other major conflicts. However, in order to become an able mediator, Ankara must refrain from sentimentally loaded rhetoric on the Uighur issue. In addition, the Turkish public should help their government do so by avoiding hateful protests against the Chinese government.

The Urumqi massacre:

Internal Chinese matter

Ankara's initial position vis-à-vis the outbreak of violent clashes between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese, and the Chinese security forces' brutal suppression of the Uighur protests, could best be described as confusion followed by hesitation and a misguided reaction. There was confusion because the clashes between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese took place less than a week after Turkish President Abdullah Gül's visit to China's Xinjiang region, which is also known as East Turkestan. Could some, both inside and outside Turkey, connect the outbreak of violence with the Turkish president's visit to the region? Though there has not been any implicit or explicit reference to his visit in relation to the conflict in the major Western media, the Doğan Media Group's Hürriyet daily ran news reports in Turkey with headlines such as “After President Gül's visit, violence has broken out in the Xinjiang region.” President Gül was wisely quick to stress that Turkey has always viewed the Uighurs as a means to improve friendship between China and Turkey.

Prime Minister Erdoğan was in a relatively different and rather awkward position regarding the ongoing violence among the Uighurs, the Han Chinese and the Chinese security forces. He initially deplored the violence against the Uighurs and then described it as genocide-like. Though the target of that accusation was somewhat vague, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's rapid response, when it described the conflict as an internal matter, suggested that the Chinese government took note of the prime minister's accusations. Moreover, apparently giving in to the populist demands and provocation that he should say “one minute!” to the Chinese government as he did to the Israeli president in Davos, Prime Minister Erdoğan has not softened his rhetoric against the Chinese government. Consequently, he stated that Turkey would bring the issue to the UN Security Council, where China is a permanent member. He also announced that so-called Mother Uighur Kadeer, a millionaire businesswoman and American citizen living in Fairfax County, Virginia, would be granted a visa to visit Turkey. Kadeer and Uighurs in general welcomed the prime minister's harsh criticism of the Chinese government and especially his description of the violence as “genocide-like.”

Unless necessary measures are taken by Ankara, Turkish-Chinese relations are likely to be strained in the coming weeks. The Chinese government holds Kadeer primarily responsible for instigating the Uighurs in Xinjiang to rebel against the Chinese authorities. In this context, coupled with the prime minister's hitherto criticism of the Chinese government, Kadeer's announced visit to Turkey will most likely cause further tension in Turkish-Chinese relations. There is no need to mention that right-wing parties such as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Felicity Party (SP) would take extreme advantage of Kadeer's presence in the country to bring themselves into the spotlight with various public activities.

Whether or not Kadeer is responsible for instigating the protests as the Chinese government argues, and regardless of whether what happened was really “genocide-like,” as the prime minister argued, the prime minister was wrong to say that for diplomatic reasons. Ankara should be prepared for tough direct and indirect measures by the Chinese government, which may not necessarily materialize immediately. One of these measures could be China's opposition to every proposal brought to the UN Security Council by Turkey. Another one, and a much more painful one, could be the Chinese-American diaspora's alliance with and financial support for Turkey's traditional sources of headaches in Washington. Is it difficult to grasp that there are countless organizations in Washington and in the other capitals which would readily exploit the prime minister's description of the recent Uighur massacres as “genocide-like” and Beijing's frustration with such a remark?

Obviously concerned with the possible ramifications of Ankara's critical stance, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu sought to soften Turkey's position and compensate for any damage already done. During his telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, Davutoğlu stressed that Turkey does not have any intention of meddling in China's internal affairs and respects China's territorial integrity while hoping that those responsible for the violence will be brought to justice immediately.

Mediation between the Uighurs and the Chinese government

The Turkish foreign minister's apparently impartial and yet non-neutral approach to the conflict was a move in the right direction. Ankara should maintain its impartiality between the Uighurs and the Chinese government by constantly stressing its belief in the conflict being an internal Chinese matter yet manifest its non-neutrality regarding the conflict by advocating the betterment of the socioeconomic and political conditions of the Uighurs in the China's Xinjiang autonomous region. Maintaining a neutral distance from all parties to the conflict, Ankara can position itself as an able and desirable mediator between the Chinese government and its Uighur minority. For the former, Turkey's mediation would be preferable, for it would give the Chinese government an opportunity to settle one of its potentially explosive internal problems via the cooperation of a rather insignificant partner (compared to the US or the EU) that is unlikely to use the mediation process as leverage against China. For the latter, Turkey's mediation is preferable because the Uighurs have confidence in Turks' genuine sympathy for their long suffering.

As a potential mediator, Ankara should impartially analyze the conflict and point out that the satisfaction of the mutual interests of the Uighurs and the Chinese government does not necessitate independence for the Uighurs. It rather necessitates the cessation of discrimination against the Uighurs in access to the labor market and of the coordinated influx of the Han Chinese into the region to change its demographics. Moreover, it necessitates the Chinese government's revocation of legislation which restricts the Uighurs' practice of religious and cultural traditions. Finally, it necessitates that the Chinese government give an appropriate share of its economic development to the Xinjiang region by bringing in major industries and thereby providing the Uighurs with employment opportunities. In response to the gestures from the Chinese government, and utilizing the resources of the Uighur diaspora, Turkey should urge the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region to further integrate into Chinese society and benefit from the expanding socioeconomic and political opportunities, not only in their autonomous region, but more importantly in Beijing.

Following such a constructive course, both the Uighurs and the Chinese government would be better off. Certainly, Turkey would benefit tremendously from it, not only by bolstering its image as an international peacemaker, but also by avoiding the backlash that the otherwise sentimentally driven and critical stance against the Chinese government may cause.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(China Daily)  Imam describes Urumqi shooting.  July 15, 2009.

An imam at a mosque in Urumqi said Tuesday that the three Uygur men who were shot on Monday - two fatally - had attempted to take over a prayer meeting and attacked a security guard before they were shot.

The imam said that about 150 Muslims were attending Monday prayers from 2:30 pm to 3 pm in a mosque on Jiefang South Road when one of the men, who was later shot, stood up and tried to grab the loud-speaker from the imam. The man was stopped.

Minutes later, the man stood up again, holding a green banner and shouting "jihad" before calling on others in the mosque to follow him, the imam said. The imam said he decided to end the religious ritual before telling the man: "We will definitely not follow you. Get out!" He said no one at the mosque showed any interest in going with the man.

When the imam called for the man to be driven out of the mosque, two men, who later proved to be the man's accomplices, took out knives with blades about 50 cm long and tried to force people to leave with them. Security guards then intervened.

One of the Uygur guards, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he led people away from the confrontation but was pursued by the three men until they were stopped by patrolling police.

The guard said police were forced to shoot the men after their warning shots were not heeded and the men continued to attack him. Two of the men died at the scene. The other attacker is being treated at People's Hospital in Urumqi.

(South China Morning Post)  Conflicting stories emerge after police shoot dead Uygur pair.  By Will Clem and Choi Chi-yuk.  July 14, 2009.

Police in Urumqi shot dead two Uygurs and wounded a third yesterday, further straining the fragile peace that has been restored in the week since the city was wracked by the nation's worst ethnic violence in decades.

The incident - the first confirmed clash since a riot police officer was stabbed on Friday - brought a heavy police response, with hundreds of riot police and soldiers blocking off streets and effectively closing off a largely Uygur-inhabited district.

It was also the first time the government admitted to shooting anyone since the ethnic unrest erupted on July 5, despite claims to the contrary by exiled Uygur groups.

An official statement released last night said the shooting happened at 2.55pm when police on patrol tried to stop three Uygur men who were attacking a fourth with long knives and wooden clubs. Police encountered resistance when they tried to stop the fight, the statement said. "The police fired warning shots before shooting at the three suspects."

One witness, Zhang Ming, a worker at a nearby building site, gave a different account. He said he saw three men with knives come out of a mosque and attack a group of paramilitary police standing in a cluster in the road. Police then chased the men, beat them and fired shots.

Photos taken at the time show one man being chased by police, with one officer raising his rifle to strike the man. Another shows the man lying on the ground, as police form a ring around him, pointing their guns up at surrounding buildings.

The official account did not mention any wounding of police officers, despite the fact that journalists saw ambulance workers tending to a riot police officer who was bleeding profusely from an abdominal wound. Nor did it refer to a siege by security forces at a hospital that was witnessed by hundreds of onlookers, or the massive security operation following the incident.

Security forces armed with semi-automatic rifles and supported by armoured personnel carriers lay siege to the unfinished wing of a maternity hospital where witnesses said one unarmed suspect had taken refuge.

"I saw one Uygur being chased by police. He ran into the building to hide," said a Uygur onlooker who identified himself as Anwar. "The man didn't look armed. He had nothing in his hands."

A Post reporter was removed from the scene as police moved to clear the area of journalists just as staff were being taken away from the hospital before security forces went in. Reporters were told the action was due to safety concerns, but large crowds of both Han and Uygur onlookers were allowed to remain.

"I cannot allow you to interview Uygurs on the street in case you are attacked," an officer told the Post.

Other witness accounts suggested that clashes had occurred involving both Uygur and Han. One person told the South China Morning Post that he had seen four injured Han civilians. However, the man, who refused to give his name, said he had not seen how the four had sustained their wounds.

Despite the uneasy stability brought by the estimated 10,000 troops and riot police on the streets of the Xinjiang capital, ethnic tensions remain close to breaking point.

Yesterday's violence adds weight to rumours that sporadic clashes have continued to erupt throughout the past week.

(CCTV 9 in English)

 

(Associated Press)

 

(UN Dispatch)  Why did Iran dominate twitter but Urumqi not?  By Mark Leon Goldberg.  July 14, 2009.

Fresh off the BHTV presses is this absolutely fascinating discussion between Evgeny Morozov and Ethan Zuckerman about new media technologies, foreign policy and security. Both gentlemen are pioneers in this emerging field. Morozov is one of the only journalists covering this field and Zuckerman is the founder of Global Voices Online. This is a gem of a diavlog. In the clip below, they compare social media's role in recent events in Iran and Urumqi, China. Enjoy.

 

(Washington Post)  We Are Protecting All Our Citizens, Uighur and Han.  By Wang Baoding.  July 15, 2009.

The Chinese government and people are very much displeased with the Journal's decision to publish Rebiya Kadeer's "The Real Story of the Uighur Riots" (op-ed, July 8), which is full of political lies and separatist rhetoric that are schemed to mislead the American public.

What is the truth about the July 5 rioting that ravaged Urumqi, capital city of China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region? On that tragic day, highly violent crimes involving beating, smashing, looting and arson took place. A large number of innocent civilians and armed policemen of both Han and Uighur Chinese were killed and many others were injured. These were premeditated and organized crimes of violence, directed and instigated by separatists abroad and organized and carried out by separatists inside the country.

The World Uighur Congress (WUC), an overseas organization headed by Rebiya Kadeer, was behind the riots. These elements made an issue of an incident on June 26 -- a brawl between workers from Xinjiang and local workers, an ordinary case of public disorder -- in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province to vilify China's ethnic and religious policies for the purpose of creating publicity and stirring up trouble.

Some people with ulterior motives inside China acted in collusion with the WUC. They played up the Shaoguan incident and made a lot of noise on the Internet, calling for an unlawful gathering at key downtown areas in Urumqi on the evening of July 5, to answer the call from the WUC for a demonstration and to "be braver" and to "do something big." Rebiya Kadeer clamored for "a big event in Urumqi on 5 July" and urged people to "follow closely the developments and collect relevant information."

Hundreds of people gathered at the dictated time and areas, and started beating, smashing and looting at about 8:18 p.m. The rioters began their barbaric sabotage of arson and killing, wreaking havoc in streets, alleys and the area connecting the city and the countryside. They tried to kill any Han person within sight, and smashed and set fire to stores and vehicles.

The government of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region speedily deployed police to those places where the situation was grave. The police sent in small teams to rescue people across the downtown area and search for criminals. The public security authority has arrested and detained over 1,000 suspects who will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

The violent crimes committed by the outlaws in Urumqi have inflicted heavy losses in life and property. According to figures as of July 13, at least 184 people were killed, of whom 137 people were Han Chinese, 46 Uighur Chinese and one Hui Chinese. A total of 1,680 people were injured, of whom 939 are hospitalized, with 216 of them seriously injured and 74 on the verge of death. Property losses are huge.

Public life and order in Urumqi have now returned to normal. History has repeatedly shown that stability is a blessing and chaos is disaster for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. We are unequivocally against ethnic separatism, terrorism, extremism and violence committed in whatever name. Unity among people of all ethnic groups, social harmony and stability represent the highest interests of the Chinese nation, the 21 million people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang included. The Chinese government's actions against the Urumqi rioting are completely lawful and justified. It is doing what any responsible government is obliged to do under any similar situation, and will redouble its effort to ensure that people of all ethnic groups will continue to work as one for common prosperity and development.

In the past few days, Rebiya Kadeer and her like have been exceptionally active in spreading political lies. Their trick is to try to clear themselves of their evil acts, mislead the international community, and win its sympathy and support by playing the "victim card," and disguising mobsters as the "underprivileged" and "peaceful protestors." At the same time, they are tarnishing the Chinese government's ethnic policies, sabotaging national unity and continuing their separatist activities by fanning hatred between the people of Han and Uighur Chinese.

Rebiya Kadeer's various claims on the death toll of the Uighur Chinese in the rioting have been rejected by international media. We sincerely hope that the American public will see the true nature of people who are committed to violence and separatism, and understand and support the justified measures taken by the Chinese government in restoring law and order and safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

(Associated Press)  Death toll in China riots rises to 192.  July 15, 2009.

State media reports the death toll for July 5 ethnic riots in western China has risen to 192. The Xinhua News Agency reports the new death toll at 192 after 184 was last reported. It says the new toll has been announced by Xinjiang Communist Party officials on Wednesday. The number of people injured that day has also risen to 1,721 from 1,680.

(People's Daily)  Rebiya Kadeer laying a big trap.  July 15, 2009.

It was a pitch-dark day on July 5th in the city of Urumqi, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where more than 100 innocent civilians died and about 1,000 others got injured in the evening twilight. The tragic scene on that day shook the world and shivered people’s hearts and souls.

Some people may ask: Why did rioters massacre so many innocent people with the use of such cruel, ruthless methods?

Some others may also ask: Rebiya Kadeer and other separatists instigated local outlaws to launch “something more courageous and ever bigger” and stirred up violence, and then what were they really up to?

The definite answer is that she was no other than laying a big (assassin) trap.

The ultimate aim of the so-called “World Uygur Congress" (WUC) led by Rebiya and other organizations for the “independence of East Turkistan” is precisely to contribute to ethnic splittism and seek independence for Xinjiang. In order to seek "Xinjiang independence", she asked a lot of people to follow up in support of her. In other words, she badly needs a social foundation for going in for ethnic splittism.

At present, the real situation in Xinjiang region is really inspiring: The people of all ethnic groups have earned much more since the policies of reform and opening-up were introduced three decades ago, with an enhanced ethnic unity, social harmony and a much better life; they aspire to live orderly and in happiness, harmony as well as in peace and plenty. Then, who want to ask for trouble and kick up a fuss in following Rebiya and her ilk?

Deliberately inciting hatred and stirring up antagonism among people of varied ethnic groups is the most viable, efficient social environment for fermenting splittism. In this context, Rebiya and her stooges, by laying the big wicked trap, attempt to drive a wedge between the Han ethnicity and the ethnic minority people in a hope of plunging Xinjiang into endless social turmoil or upheavals.

With a loss of more than 100 innocent people, those near and dear to them turn grievous and even furious, about 1,000 others wounded in the riot will feel painful and indignant; those with grave injuries would be left disabled for life while those with minor injuries would endure deep scars on their souls.

If all these victimized people cannot hold back such undesirable feelings like rage, anger or hatred and proceed to turn to an “eye for an eye” revenge, will there be bigger and more acute and intensified clashes?

At the moment, Rebiya and her followers, while sipping coffer or beer at ease and looking afar from Washington D.C. and Munich, are longing anxiously for people of multi-ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region to fall into their trap! Multi-ethnic people in Xinjiang, nevertheless, must stay unduped and never walk into that trap.

The “July 5th” bloody riot is by no means an ethnic, religious issue but a major issue launched and manipulated by a handful of elements for the “independence of Xinjiang” to undermine ethnic unity in the region and split the big family of the motherland.

People have come to witness a lot of vivid moving stories about ethnic unity from numerous examples of mutual help among the people of different ethnic backgrounds during and after the “July 5th” riot. An 81-year-old Uygur, Hamid Ahmadi, protected or covered up a man of the Han ethnicity named Xu Geping with his body as a shield, and he altogether retrieved 18 lives from the unrest.

Along streets of Urumqi in recent days, young people of varied ethnic groups lined up to donate blood for riot victims, and they were often seen rolling up their sleeves for blood donation. “All ethnic groups belong to one family,” as local residents often refer to each other, regardless of being Uygur Muslims or people of the leading Han ethnic group.

All rioters must be punished according to law, and riot victims should of course submit the criminal penalty to their administrative, law-enforcement organs.

After all, the very trap Rebiya and her followers have lain with great pain will eventually turn out to be a “lost game”. The sinister scheme to slay innocent civilians is too cruel, too despicable and too obscene, and they would be held in contempt by Han people, Uygurs, and the people of all ethnic groups. And it is known for sure that their conspiracy will never ever succeed.

(Fool's Mountain)  Translation of interview with Rebiya Kadeer in La Stampa on May 8, 2009.

“Gentleness is killing us”. The Uygur pasionaria: “Beijing’s sweet words are deceiving, in this way they are erasing us”. Xinjiang Turks’ leader says.

If she knew Dante Alighieri, certainly Rebiya Kadeer would make Alighieri’s famous verse “Amor che a nullo amato amar perdona…” [roughly meaning “Love does not allow anyone who’s been loved not to love back”] her own. The PR people call her “The gentle warrior”, “The Uygur’s Dalai Lama”, as it’s also written on the title and subheading of the fascinating biography just published by Corbaccio Publishing. She serapichally smiles about her 62 adventurous years spent defending her own ethnic group; laugh about her oppressed life, from farmer to billionairess, and from billionairess to victim of persecution as the leader of the resistance, now exiled in Fairfax, Virginia.

She smiles talking about those 8 millions ethnic Turkic [in Italian the old noun “Turcomanno” is used, not very much in use nowadays] “that Stalin sold to China at Yalta, creating Xinjiang”. “We’re all gentle warriors, our national character is sweet, we know that violence only produces other violence, and that only freedom produces freedom”. Even Uygur’s Islam is the sweet Islam of the beginnings, “There’s no fundamentalism to be found among us”.

Kadeer learned by heart Koran’s verses when she was twelve, then at fourteen she married her first husband, she later left him and chose another one, and had eleven between sons and daughters – all of them persecuted by the Chinese regime, like she also was. While she speaks, she reaches out her thin fingers, jiggles her traditional long graying braids, touches your face,

“You see? You gesticulate like me, you have the same white skin I have: you’re Indo-European, would you like to be oppressed by a yellow skinned communist?”.

Kadeer says that “the Chinese are gentle, but falsely so, they also pretend to be democratic: the world must understand this, China pretends, China isn’t democratic, until it won’t aknowledge our rights, let us speak our language, cultivate our own traditions, and let us freely go and be back with the passports we are still denied today, no country in the world will be safe”.

The United Nations, she states, “are not enough: with us, Uygurs, the UN are very gentle, but it’s the same kind of gentleness of the Chinese”. In the meantime China continues its forced migration politic, the forced abortion even at the ninth month, “and the Chinese don’t give us jobs cause, like on of our old sayings states, “it’s with a full stomach than u can think about freedom”. She smiles when someone talks to her about “Uyguristan” – with the same suffix “stan” with which, according to the latest fashion in use among “geopolitics’ sages”, whom do not really know how else to define them, is labelled each and every region belonging to hellish area that goes from the Caucasus to Mongolia.

“We’re Turkic, the name Eastern Turkestan is perfect: we’ll have an Uyguristan only when the Chinese will have recognized our freedom, we don’t ask for independence”. She doesn’t like to be compared to the Dalai Lama, “my personal model is Gandhi, whose fight started from nothing, who liberated India from the British, and who practiced passive resistance”. Not the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama is a king, “everyone owes him respect cause of it, he didn’t need to do anything to earn it”.

Kadeer, instead, believes like the Mahatma that an exemplary testimony could make a revolution, and it’s for this exact reason that her name has for many years been on the list of the nominees for the Nobel Prize for Peace. Her life, for example. Which had a surprising goal: a shopping center. “It was created defying everything and everyone, the Chinese regime as well as my beloved second husband, because I knew it would have helped us to rewrite the destiny of my people”. As in the script of a typical western tale of self-made success, “to us, Uygurs, it’s forbidden to become rich and influential”. And after that, a resistance movement remotely guided through You Tube, Internet and every possible weird contraption the Net has to offer.

“Messages travel for thousand of kilometres, get to my land, are spread across the countryside, the valleys, the mountains in the form of litanies, or dances, or poetries. They are songs in which nobody ever mentions my name, but they’re the messages of the mother of all Uygurs”. Amor che a nullo amato amar perdona, exactly!

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

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

“We exchanged cigarettes and smiled at one another, but we couldn’t really communicate,” said Gu Yunku, a 29-year-old Han assembly line worker who had come to this southeastern city from northern China. “Still, they seemed shy and kind. There was something romantic about them.” The mutual goodwill was fleeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaoguan officials, who say the rape allegations were untrue, say violence at the toy factory was used by “outsiders” to fan ethnic hatred and promote Xinjiang separatism. “The issue between Han and Uighur people is like an issue between husband and wife,” Chen Qihua, vice director of the Shaoguan Foreign Affairs Office, said in an interview. “We have our quarrels, but in the end, we are like one family.” Li Qiang, the executive director of China Labor Watch, an advocacy group based in New York that has studied the Shaoguan toy factory, has a different view. He said the stress of low pay, long hours and numbingly repetitive work exacerbated deeply held mistrust between the Han and the Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority that has long resented Chinese rule. “The government doesn’t really understand these ethnic problems, and they certainly don’t know how to resolve them,” Mr. Li said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If we weren’t so poor, our children wouldn’t have to take work so far from home,” said Akhdar, a 67-year-old man who, like many others interviewed, refused to give his full name for fear of reprisals from the authorities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Blood & Treasure)  "by this time, the mob was attacking anyone"    July 15, 2009.

James Palmer e-mails from Beijing with an account relayed by an eyewitness – and near victim - of the Urumqi riots:

Had lunch with a friend just back from Xinjiang today, a sweet, bright, slightly fey Han guy in his early 20s. He's a sociolinguistics MA student at Xinjiang Normal University, which is about 50% Uighur and about 50% other (mostly Han) but lives off-campus with two Uighur roommates, since he wanted to get to know local culture and language. He wanted to be a journalist, but he's feeling very shaken by the violence and uncertain about his future.

The Uighur at the university were split into two groups, minkaohan and minkaomin referring respectively to those who'd been educated (or finished their education) in the mainstream Chinese system and those who'd been educated in the minority schools. Minkouhan also seems to refer to Sinified Uighur in general - he said it was relatively easy for minkoumin to become this, though, with a year at a Chinese university. There's a lot of unemployment in the city, and the oil wealth is going to Han and minkaohan. None of the Uighur he talked to thought of themselves as Chinese; they showed him maps showing China's territorial expansion over the centuries and how it had swallowed up their country. They felt a strong pan-Turkic idenity and many wanted/planned to travel to other Muslim countries. They could be friendly with Han from the rest of China, but hated and resented Xinjiang-born Han.

On July 5th, he was shopping near the Big Bazaar, and saw the start of the demonstration. He said it was an angry demonstration, with shouts and banners, and that there was no sign of the police anywhere. The crowd then started overturning cars, but he wasn't certain how it had switched into a killing mood. He'd been buying a watermelon when a Polish friend called him, having been called herself by a Uighur friend who warned her not to go near the area. He went with two friends to catch a bus back to his university, in the Han part of town.

On the way back, the bus was surrounded by a mob of Uighur wielding knives (a specific kind of Uighur knife called a doju or something similar) and sticks. He tried to take photographs but the camera was snatched from his hand and smashed by another Han. They rocked the bus from side to side, then burst on and killed the driver. He escaped and ran. Followed by three or four Uighur with knives, he threw the watermelon at them in a panic and lost them. Finding his friends again, they, along with a little girl, a woman, and two Japanese students, took refuge in a hotel where the staff sent them up to the 19th floor and barred the staircases and shut down the lifts. A little while later the mob burst in and killed some people on the first two floors.

By this time, he says, the mob was attacking anyone, including Uighur shopkeepers. He could hear shouts of 'Kill the Han, smash the Hui (another Chinese Muslim minority), throw the Mongols out.' About midnight (six hours or so after the riot started) he started to hear shooting, and lay on the floor of the hotel with his head covered.

The next day he went back to his university, escorted by police. There were many dead bodies on the streets, including children and a cut-up pregnant woman. He said that the official death toll is too low, and that he's heard estimates of 380-400, and that killing and attacks went on, on a smaller scale, for a week. During that time he was locked in the university - on the night of July 6 they seriously expected to be attacked, and were in their room with sticks and knives (his given by a Uighur friend). They watched CCTV and laughed at claims that everyone was better now and that Han and Uighur loved each other. The Chinese press has been touting the reopening of the bus system, but he says the only people on it are plainclothes policemen.

He doesn't see any serious possibility for reconciliation. He and his Uighur roommates have been avoiding each other, and one time he did see them, they were with a group of other young Uighur, talking too fast for him to understand with his very limited Uighur and staring at him. He's going to move into a dorm at the university next year.




(South China Morning Post)  Shot Uygur, 24, tells of his emotional distress    By Kristina Kwok.  July 16, 2009.

Wuermaijiang waited in darkness for the unrest in the streets to go away. But after a police car pulled up to the restaurant where he was hiding on the night of July 5, what he experienced was not a rescue but a bullet hitting his left leg.

More than a week after bloody ethnic unrest erupted in Urumqi , Xinjiang , and claimed at least 192 lives, the 24-year-old Uygur is recovering from the bullet wound. But now Wuermaijiang, like many other victims and witnesses of the rioting, is coping with emotional damage that will take longer to heal. "I feel very distressed and anxious when I see strangers. When you first entered this ward, the feeling hit me again," Wuermaijiang told a reporter while lying on a hospital bed. I'll have to look over my shoulder and watch out for people behind me when I leave this ward. It'll take some time for me to feel comfortable again when I see people I don't know; patients, doctors, soldiers, anyone."

When the rioting broke out, Wuermaijiang hid with employees - both Han Chinese and Uygurs - and neighbours in the restaurant his family runs. "We didn't dare to go out," he said. He said he could not tell who shot him - whether it was the police or the rioters - because it was too dark, but the shooting took place after the police cars arrived. "Someone fired at our restaurant through the windows," he said. "A female Uygur neighbour and I were injured."

As the injured continue to fill hospitals across Urumqi following the riots, doctors and psychologists are calling for awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Radio and television stations are also broadcasting hotline phone numbers for those experiencing emotional problems.

At least 1,680 people were injured, of whom 74 are in critical condition, figures released by the government show.

Zou Shaohong , a clinical psychologist at Urumqi's People's Hospital, said that most patients and their relations had appeared stable, and only a small percentage had showed minor emotional problems such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleeping issues. Only a few had delusions. "But we don't know the scope of this problem yet because it's too early to tell. Most people develop the disorder months later; they are fine at the beginning," she said. "Those [in danger] are the groups of people that have witnessed the rioting and are likely to develop some emotional problems."

Extensive media coverage and non-stop discussion had also led to distress among some who were not directly affected by the rioting, Dr Zou added. "We received a call for help from a middle-aged woman. She didn't witness anything and was not hurt, but became very anxious and had problems sleeping after watching news footage and reports." Despite the potentially huge demand, Dr Zou said few counsellors outside Xinjiang had volunteered. "Maybe they think it's too dangerous," she said.

(Telegraph (India))  Nuances in Xinjiang.  By Rana Mitter.  July 16, 2009.

Back in the eighth century, during China’s Tang dynasty, many great poets wrote about the pain of being sent away to the far west of the empire, whether as officials on duty, or as political exiles. Over a thousand years later, China’s far western regions still hold an ambivalent place in the country’s collective mind.

Over the last few weeks, the world has been astonished to see a city in China, a country that many think of as a highly controlled State, erupting into riots. The response of the authorities has been swift and decisive: armed police are patrolling the streets of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, and thousands of ethnic Uighurs are fleeing to the interior of the province. It’s been made clear that the Chinese State will tolerate no opposition to its rule, and it blames separatists or “splittists” for the trouble. But behind this story of instant response and repression is a more complex reality.

The events in Urumqi bear a superficial resemblance to the uprising in Tibet in March last year. But unlike those events, the Urumqi riots were not primarily about a desire for separation from the Chinese State. They were about an issue that Chinese officialdom finds much harder to deal with: racial discrimination. Officially, China is a multicultural society with 55 different minorities. In fact, the dominant ethnic Chinese (Han) make up around 93 per cent of the population, and show great diversity even among themselves. In fact, many ethnic groups do coexist quite peacefully in China. However, there are some groups whose presence within China has been problematic throughout history. Tibetans are one clear example. Another is the Uighurs, a Turkic people who live mostly in the Xinjiang province on China’s far western border.

The Chinese State declares that Xinjiang, and its entire population, are unequivocally Chinese citizens. Separatist activists within Xinjiang suggest that the region ought to be independent from China. Both positions are stark versions of a more nuanced historical reality. It’s certainly true that Uighurs have their own language and script, and many (though not all) do not feel culturally Chinese. However, Uighurs live all over China, not just in Xinjiang. If you go to Beijing, it’s easy to find areas of the city where the food, drink, and music are all Uighur. Just as easy to find are the migrant workers from the region who are working in the boom cities of the south. It was that interaction that led to the riots earlier this month. Uighur migrant workers had been brought into a toy factory in Shaoguan, a city in Guangdong province, thousands of miles away from Xinjiang, and tensions flared between Han Chinese and Uighur workers over work conditions. A disturbing film appeared on YouTube which seemed to show two Uighur workers being chased and brutally attacked by Han Chinese colleagues.

For many Uighurs, this struck a chord. Despite the rhetoric of equality, there is a strong feeling among many ethnic minorities in China that they are treated as second-class citizens. The State often uses rather clumsy ideas to celebrate ethnic diversity: a particular favourite is the love of singing and dancing which various minority groups are supposed to possess, the whole thing described in official propaganda rather like an old-fashioned tourist brochure for a safari. There is often a deeply insensitive, even deliberate attempt to bulldoze (literally) old cultural traditions, such as the recent plan to raze many of the traditional winding alleys in the old city in Kashgar, one of the great cities of the Silk Road, and replace them with a Chinese boulevard and modern office blocks. The impetus for this is largely from the continuing Chinese obsession with technological modernization. Although China’s Communist Party has long since ceased to believe in social equality or revolutionary change, it has maintained its longstanding assumption that they must show how far the country has come by rejecting most of its past. A little is kept for the purposes of heritage, but much of China’s history, from the alleyways of traditional Beijing to the magnificent scenery of the Three Gorges of the southwest, has been destroyed to make way for ever larger highways, high-speed trains, and dams. The Uighur heritage in Xinjiang has also been a victim of this drive for secular modernization, which remains unsentimental about the past and people’s attachment to it. But many Uighurs feel that what the Han Chinese do to their own culture is their own business, but that they have no right to reshape a culture that has thousands of years of its own history.

Ironically, though, it’s the issues on which the State has tried to give the Uighurs privileges over their Han compatriots that have sparked tensions at more grassroots levels. The opening-up of China so that labourers can move more freely has enabled poorer Uighurs to try their luck elsewhere in China, particularly in the booming southern and coastal regions. And ethnic minorities are given more leeway under the country’s strict one-child policy: they can often have two or more children. This has led to repeated clashes with poor Chinese who feel that their Uighur fellow-citizens are getting a more favourable deal. In truth, the conditions they are fighting over — ill-paid work in appalling conditions in unsafe factories — are hardly something to aspire to. But in a country with no safety net, ethnic differences become another source of conflict for people who are fighting to rise even a little from the bottom of society.

There’s another aspect of the story that makes it a very 21st-century tale: technology. The distance between Shaoguan, where the race conflict began, and Urumqi, scene of the riots, is several thousand kilometres. But over the past decade, China has become wired. There’s near-100 per cent penetration for mobile phones, and although the internet is a more middle-class preserve, it now has millions of users. It didn’t take long for Uighur viewers in Urumqi to find out what had happened in Shaoguan, and start their protests. The Chinese State has been relieved that international sympathy for the Uighurs has been more muted than that for the Tibetans last year, not least because it seems clear that there was significant violence by Uighurs against Hans in Urumqi, although this aspect has been publicized much more than the response of Han violence against Uighurs. But the availability of easy communication also raises the possibility of further race riots somewhere else in China that the State can’t predict — as authoritarian states go, China is much less effective than it likes to proclaim. Technology brings its own social troubles along with greater convenience.

In the short term, the Chinese State will succeed in crushing protest on the streets of Urumqi. The Uighur cause simply doesn’t have the political traction to attract sympathy within China. But the underlying cause won’t go away. In a sense, the Chinese government understands the problem when it states so determinedly that the Uighurs and Xinjiang are unalterably parts of Chinese territory. There is a perfectly valid case that China and Central Asia are closely linked by ties of history and culture. Even during the Tang dynasty, considered China’s greatest period of cultural flourishing, wearing clothes and marrying spouses from Central Asia and even India was regarded as the height of cultural sophistication. For centuries, China has been a Eurasian power, and its new role at the helm of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which binds Beijing, Moscow, and the Central Asian states, is one nod toward recovering that role. The Chinese government could do more to recover that historical heritage today, and use it as a powerful argument against separatism. But it needs to understand that the Tang flourished because it accepted outside culture as an equal part of its own culture. For a century and a half, China has felt on the defensive about its identity and territory because of its experience of being invaded by the West and then Japan. Now it is in transition to a stronger role, but its nationalism is still shaped by memories of defeat and humiliation. China needs to develop a sense of national pride that is positive and fuelled by a genuine appreciation of its status as a multicultural society.

(China Daily)  Urumqi longing to be reconnected to online world.  By Hu Yinan, Cui Jia and Cui Xiaohua.  July 16, 2009.

Almost two weeks after Xinjiang's deadliest riot in decades, most Urumqi residents feel secure again after tension has eased significantly in the city.

Now, for many in the autonomous region, another big step toward normality will come when the local government unblocks the Internet so they can go back online.

"No Internet in Xinjiang, no business for me," said Li Fenfa, an Urumqi resident who runs an online business selling dry fruit and who has seen no transactions for several days.

Online businesses have been among the hardest hit since authorities cut access to the Internet in most of the Xinjiang region following the July 5 riot that took the lives of almost 200 people.

Many online store owners have had to rely on friends in other parts of the country to post messages on their homepages telling potential buyers that business is on hold until after the Internet lockdown.

Professor Chen Lidan, a communications scholar at the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said the government had blocked online access because that was the way instigators of the riots spread their messages and mobilized rioters.

Investigators believe overseas separatist groups used Internet tools including Tencent QQ and MSN, as well as social networking sites Twitter, Facebook and Xiaonei, to spread messages.

The Xinjiang government said it terminated Internet access to prevent the spread of the violence. Up to now, the only known public venue where the Internet could be found was the Hoi Tak Hotel, which was used as a base by reporters covering the riot's aftermath.

Some Web users have complained that their attempts to access Twitter and Facebook in other Chinese cities have also been unsuccessful. And Chinese portals, including Fanfou, which is similar to Twitter, have also been unavailable.

The government has not yet given a date when the services will be resumed.

"I believe most governments in the world will do something similar in times like these. But it is frustrating to know that I can't talk to my soccer club members after forum access was blocked," wrote John Ning, a self-proclaimed "Web freak" in Beijing.

Internet experts are now concerned that an extended "indistinctive Internet lockdown" may create new dilemmas for the government.

"The authorities probably think they are justified to cut off Internet on national security grounds, so they openly admitted it for the first time," said Hu Yong, a new media expert with the School of Journalism and Communication at Peking University.

But the lockdown has inevitably curtailed harmless Web activities, such as daily forums, information sharing and online shopping.

"Time after time, young Web users may grow doubts over the government's Internet policies, which will produce more profound impacts," Hu said.

China's young, whose daily lives often rotate around the Web, make up a large percentage of China's 300-million cyber population. They will "get discouraged" if they find their Internet space getting smaller, experts said while urging the government to use "wisdom of the masses" to deal with issues brought by new media.

"Blocking information should not be the first choice in an open society," said Yu Xiaofeng, director of non-traditional security and peaceful development studies at Zhejiang University. "The government should allow official and unofficial sources so that both the government and the public can seek truth through knowledge."

(Inter Press Service News of Ethnic Strife Skirts Chinese Censors   By Antoaneta Bezlova    July 16, 2009.

The story of ethnic strife engulfing China’s far-western province of Xinjiang may have been relegated to the inner pages of the country’s state-controlled newspapers, but this time, the government could barely suppress the outflow of information.

Unlike the Tibetan riots last year, when the media was initially told to suppress the story, the clashes between Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghurs that erupted in the provincial capital of Urumqi on July 5th, was widely reported.

In many ways, this is symbolic of the profound changes taking shape in this fast-developing society, which the communist mandarins can no longer fully control.

Taking cue from the protests in Iran, where the emergence of new media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube ensured the story is broadcast to the rest of the world, Beijing was eager to put its own version out as quickly as possible.

On July 7th, widely-read local newspapers like the Beijing Youth Daily and the Beijing News published pictures of burned cars, smashed buses and bloodied people in Urumqi. Accompanying reports from the state new agency, Xinhua, claimed the violence that erupted was "a pre-empted, organised violent crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad and carried out by outlaws in the country".

Beijing has blamed Rebiya Kadeer – a female Muslim American émigré, as well as pro-independence Uyghur groups in exile in Washington, Munich and London for masterminding the revolt from afar.

Even the Southern Weekend – a liberal newspaper based in China’s free-wheeling south, fell in line with the mandated version of events. It devoted a full page to profiling Kadeer, describing her as "the Dalai Lama of Uyghur people". It spent little effort on probing how more than a hundred people died in a matter of hours in a city swamped with paramilitary police or questioning the officially released number of Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghur victims.

Beijing insists that Uyghurs’ gripes are gripes for independence and has condemned their demands for religious freedom and genuine autonomy as separatist agitation. The Uyghurs – members of a Turkic-speaking group that is culturally, religiously and linguistically different from the Han Chinese -- have long complained of the heavy-handed Chinese policies.

Li Wei, an expert on terrorism issues with the Chinese Institute for International relations told the Southern Weekend newspaper that Urumqi riots had the same goal as the Tibetan riots that erupted in the run up to the Beijing Olympics last August.

"This is a provocation by Rebiya aimed at sabotaging the 60th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China," he said. "She has been plotting incessantly and she has been looking for a suitable fuse to fire up unrest in the autonomous region".

Much of the media has attempted to convey a message of danger from "hostile" elements stirring trouble in the ethnic minority areas and has rallied the nation to stand together in the face of the "threat". Photos of paramilitary police officers on TV and the newspapers have been interspersed with the coverage of state leaders visiting wounded people in the hospitals and calling for national unity.

But not all the media has lined up behind the official line of reporting. Some business newspapers – widely perceived as operating outside of sensitive topics as national sovereignty -- have probed the reasons for the protests beyond the official sanctioned explanation of separatism.

The China Business Journal for instance, carried an investigation into the triggers for the protests and dared to suggest that widening income disparity between the ethnic Han majority and the Muslim Uyghur minority has played a part in the uprising.

Much alike Tibetans, the Uyghurs have found themselves on the fringes of Chinese economic miracle. Hoping to benefit from the economic reforms that Han Chinese spearheaded and introduced through the country, they have instead been margianlised as outsiders in their own homeland witnessing how resources and profits have flown to Han Chinese migrants.

The last census taken in Xinjiang showed that although the nearly 8.4 million Uyghurs are still a majority in their land (they stand at 42 percent of the total), the Han Chinese population has risen to 38 percent.

The Urumqi riots – some of the deadliest conflicts between the two ethnic groups in Xinjiang region since the Chinese communist troops arrived there 60 years ago -- started with demands by local Uyghurs for the government to investigate the deaths of two Muslim migrant workers in the southern province of Guangdong.

Violence erupted when police began to disperse protesters, spreading across the capital city of 2.3 million people. The majority of them are now Han Chinese. Sympathy protests followed in the traditionally restive towns of Kashgar and Khotan but also in places as far away as Munich and Istanbul. The authorities claim some 184 people died in the riots, more than two-thirds of them Han Chinese.

While the China Business Journal’s reporting steered clear of questioning the official version of events, it traced the origins of the conflict to a government-sponsored poverty alleviation project. The migrant workers that died in a brawl in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, were part of a labour force export scheme aimed at reducing social tensions in the most remote parts of Xinjiang.

The two Muslim workers were among the 4,100 people from Shufu county under Kashgar city that were "exported" by local authorities to work as migrant labour in the manufacturing hubs of China’s east and south. According to the report, the project had transformed the remote county into a model "labour export" center, attracting some 8,000 recruits since 2008.

"In the poorest areas of China where resources are scarce, labour export is one of the most convenient ways for poverty alleviation," said Chen Yaogao, social researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

While in most areas, migrant force recruitment is conducted by labour agencies or the companies themselves, in the case of Shufu scheme the recruitment was entirely driven by the government. Local authorities contacted manufacturers in Guangdong and in the eastern coast harbor of Tianjin to find placement for the labourers, and even dispatched local cooks to cater to their food needs.

While sounding positive on the government intention, the paper highlighted the problems of Muslim Uyghurs feeling "resentful" of the wealth and living standards of Han Chinese. The report spoke of the "fragility" of the labour export experiment in ethnic minority areas plagued by poverty.

Electronic media has been even more effective in raising public’s awareness about political and economic inequality between Han and non-Han.

www.uyghurbiz.cn, a Chinese-language website, had emerged as a cyber forum probing Beijing’s minority polices and questioning the wisdom of encouraging the migration of Han Chinese into Xinjiang. The internet forum, founded by Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, had argued that Beijing's polices were in need of revision as they had put Uyghurs at disadvantage and alienated them.

After the riots as Beijing tried to silence the forum, the response by online activists was immediate. A lobby of more than 100 Chinese writers and intellectuals published a letter calling for the release of the website's founder. Ilham Tohti was reported missing from his Beijing home this week and has apparently been detained.

The letter posted online on Monday urged Beijing to reflect on whether its own mistakes caused the unrest in Xinjiang and the anti-government riots last year in Lhasa and other Tibetan communities.

The Yazhou Zhoukan article below is the closest answer that I can find for the question ("What was the police doing on the evening of July 5?") raised by these two blog posts:

(Black and White Cat)  How did a protest become mass murder?  July 13, 2009.

Yazhou Zhoukan’s statement: “At around 6:20pm that evening, more than 200 persons gathered at People’s Plaza. They were persuaded to leave.” What does this mean? How were they “persuaded”?

“More than seventy troublemakers were taken away by the police and the rest dispersed.” What were the “troublemakers” doing and how were the rest “dispersed”?

I know it is not easy to get good information, but we need far more direct eyewitness accounts - and not hearsay and rumors. Eyewitnesses are not always reliable. When Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by British police on the London Underground, every single detail reported in the media from eyewitnesses was false. But that was a sudden event that was over within minutes, taking everyone completely by surprise. The conflict in Urumqi evolved over a number of hours. Maybe too many people are afraid to talk about it. Maybe too many people who could say more have been arrested as suspects. And maybe many of them have now left the city. But some greater attempt needs to be made to build up a bigger picture and the chronology of events deserves to be the main focus of articles, not just a snippet.

We cannot get the full story from the Chinese media, because they will not report anything that might possibly contradict the government’s story. And we cannot get anything reliable from exile organizations who repeat grossly exaggerated and distorted rumors.

Investigating the events of July 5 will take time and a great deal of effort. But it would be better to take that time and risk having no report at all than simply repeating the same sketchy details that everyone else is writing.

(The China Blog (TIME))  Another Big, Unanswered Question About Events in Urumqi   By Simon Elegant.  July 13, 2009.

... what were the police and security forces doing for the six hours or so while mobs were killing apparently at will? There were certainly no lack of frantic phone calls on the emergency lines. And the police/riot squads were obviously out on the streets already, having broken up the initial demonstration.

(Yazhou Zhoukan via DWnews)  Brutal Internet video and Turkish rumors rip apart Xinjiang.  July 16, 2009.

(in translation)

...

Reziya is a young Uighur female intellectual with a masters degree from a well-known mainland Chinese university.  She had not seen the video from Shaoguan, but she knew about the discussion at Uighur Internet forums that asked people to demonstrate at People's Plaza after the video appeared.  She said that there were large amounts of such discussions between June 26 and July 5.  Everybody knew that there would be trouble on July 5.  When the government failed to take any measures during this period, they must bear responsibility.  When so many Uighurs are concerned about this incident, why couldn't XUAR chairman Nur Bekri get on television and explain it?"  "Even if those discussions were conducted in Uighur, many people in the government understands Uighur.  It is impossible for them not to have seen those discussions.  But they had no reaction whatsoever."

A Dongxiang young man who runs a Xinjiang produce store right across the Grand Bazaar.  He said that around 8pm on July 5, we saw many people gathered on Jiefangnan Road in front of his store.  Then the armed police and faced off against a group of Uighurs on Jiefangnan Road.  He had never seen so many armed police before.  Then the armed police forced the Uighurs to retreat.  He got very scared, closed the store and went to the southern party of the city.  He returned on July 12.  According to Hui citizen Wang Hongyi who lives on Yenan Road, he heard some noises outside around 8pm and he went downstairs to see.  At the time, his eyes were smarting and there was a strange odor in the air.  "The armed police was releasing tear gas."

Reziya's family lives near Houquan Street.  At past 8pm, the rioters were wrecking havoc there.  She personally witnesses a taxi being smashed and the two people on the taxi being brutally killed.  When the rioters carried out their acts, they seemed to mumble words as if they were reciting the Koran.  Reziya said with deep pain: "There is no page in Koran that calls for killing innocent people."  "Perhaps certain people with ulterior motives promised to these mindless people that Allah will be good to them if they did these things."

Standing on the roof of the house of Uighur entrepreneur Guli, it is possible to see most of the areas in south Urumqi where Uighurs live.  The spots where the riots were most serious were within sight.  Guli analyzed that the initial riots occurred in Erdaoqiao and the Grand Bazaar around 8pm.  The armed police were concentrated there.  The armed police dispersed the assembled crowd.  Some of the crowd fled in all directions from Erdaoqiao.  Some headed eastwards to Huopingnan Road, Shanxi Lane; some headed west towards Xinhuanan Road; some heated south towards Yenan Road, Unity Road ... these places are not very far away from Erdaoqiao and Dabazhai.  It is less than 20 minutes to rog from Erdaoqiao to the worst trouble spots such as the Race Track, Houquan Street, Shanxi Lane, Unity Road North, etc.  Those who fled coalesced into small groups who roamed the small back alleys.  They killed the Han people that they encountered.  Since the armed police was present at the Grand Bazaar, they did not have enough manpower to cover these scattered areas.  This was what led to the high number of casualties.

Reziya said that many Uighurs in their neighborhood wanted to charge out and rescue people.  But those rioters only left the scene after they made sure that their victims are dead without giving any chance for rescue.  Reziya said that it was like a nightmare which has not ended yet.  In the past, she spent all day thinking about earning money, going overseas and work.  Now she does not want to think about anything as there is nothing left but despair.  Before July 5, Urumqi was a city in which many ethnic groups lived together.  Now the residents of Urumqi oppose each other in habits, customs, political attitudes and even sentiments ...

(China Daily)  Is Washington playing a deeper game with China?  By F. William Engdah.  July 16, 2009.

After the tragic events of July 5 in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in China, it would be useful to look more closely into the actual role of the US Government's "independent" NGO, the NED.

All indications are that the US Government, once more acting through its "private" Non-Governmental Organization, the NED, is massively intervening into the internal politics of China. The reasons for Washington's intervention into Xinjiang affairs seems to have little to do with concerns over alleged human rights abuses by Beijing authorities against Uyghur people.

It seems rather to have very much to do with the strategic geopolitical location of Xinjiang on the Eurasian landmass and its strategic importance for China's future economic and energy cooperation with Russia, Kazakhastan and other Central Asia states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The major organization internationally calling for protests in front of Chinese embassies around the world is the Washington, D.C.-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC). The WUC manages to finance a staff, a very fancy website in English, and has a very close relation to the US Congress-funded NED. According to published reports by the NED itself, the World Uyghur Congress receives $215,000.00 annually from the National Endowment for Democracy for "human rights research and advocacy projects." The president of the WUC is an exile Uyghur who describes herself as a "laundress turned millionaire," Rebiya Kadeer, who also serves as president of the Washington D.C.-based Uyghur American Association, another Uyghur human rights organization which receives significant funding from the US Government via the National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED was intimately involved in financial support to various organizations behind the Lhasa "Crimson Revolution" in March 2008, as well as the Saffron Revolution in Burma/Myanmar and virtually every regime change destabilization in eastern Europe over the past years from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine to Kyrgystan to Teheran in the aftermath of the recent elections. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, was quite candid when he said in a published interview in 1991: "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit foundation, but it receives a yearly appropriation for its international work from the US Congress. The NED money is channelled through four "core foundations". These are the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, linked to Obama's Democratic Party; the International Republican Institute tied to the Republican Party; the American Center for International Labor Solidarity linked to the AFL-CIO US labor federation as well as the US State Department; and the Center for International Private Enterprise linked to the US Chamber of Commerce.

The salient question is what has the NED been actively doing that might have encouraged the unrest in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, and what is the Obama Administration policy in terms of supporting or denouncing such NED-financed intervention into sovereign politics of states which Washington deems a target for pressure? The answers must be found soon, but one major step to help clarify Washington policy under the new Obama Administration would be for a full disclosure by the NED, the US State Department and NGO's linked to the US Government, of their involvement, if at all, in encouraging Uyghur separatism or unrest. Is it mere coincidence that the Uyghur riots take place only days following the historic meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

Uyghur Exile Organizations, China and Geopolitics

On May 18 this year, the US-government's in-house "private" NGO, the NED, according to the official WUC website, hosted a seminal human rights conference entitled East Turkestan: 60 Years under Communist Chinese Rule, along with a curious NGO with the name, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO). The Honorary President and founder of the UNPO is one Erkin Alptekin, an exile Uyghur who founded UNPO while working for the US Information Agency's official propaganda organization, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as Director of their Uygur Division and Assistant Director of the Nationalities Services. Alptekin also founded the World Uyghur Congress at the same time, in 1991, while he was with the US Information Agency. The official mission of the USIA when Alptekin founded the World Uyghur Congress in 1991 was "to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics in promotion of the [USA] national interest…" Alptekin was the first president of WUC, and, according to the official WUC website, is a "close friend of the Dalai Lama."

Closer examination reveals that UNPO in turn to be an American geopolitical strategist's dream organization. It was formed, as noted, in 1991 as the Soviet Union was collapsing and most of the land area of Eurasia was in political and economic chaos. Since 2002 its Director General has been Archduke Karl von Habsburg of Austria who lists his (unrecognized by Austria or Hungary) title as "Prince Imperial of Austria and Royal Prince of Hungary." Among the UNPO principles is the right to ‘self-determination' for the 57 diverse population groups who, by some opaque process not made public, have been admitted as official UNPO members with their own distinct flags, with a total population of some 150 million peoples and headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands. UNPO members range from Kosovo which "joined" when it was fully part of then Yugoslaviain 1991. It includes the "Aboriginals of Australia" who were listed as founding members along with Kosovo. It includes the Buffalo River Dene Nation indians of northern Canada.

The select UNPO members also include Tibet which is listed as a founding member. It also includes other explosive geopolitical areas as the Crimean Tartars, the Greek Minority in Romania, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (in Russia), the Democratic Movement of Burma, and the gulf enclave adjacent to Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and which just happens to hold rights to some of the world's largest offshore oil fields leased to Condi Rice's old firm, Chevron Oil. Further geopolitical hotspots which have been granted elite recognition by the UNPO membership include the large section of northern Iran which designates itself as Southern Azerbaijan, as well as something that calls itself Iranian Kurdistan.

In April 2008 according to the website of the UNPO, the US Congress' NED sponsored a "leadership training" seminar for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) together with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Over 50 Uyghurs from around the world together with prominent academics, government representatives and members of the civil society gathered in Berlin of Germany to discuss "Self-Determination under International Law." What they discussed privately is not known. Rebiya Kadeer gave the keynote address.

The Suspicious Timing of the Xinjiang Riots

The current outbreak of riots and unrest in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang in the northwest part of China, exploded on July 5 local time. According to the website of the World Uyghur Congress, the "trigger" for the riots was an alleged violent attack on June 26 in China's southern Guangdong Province at a toy factory where the WUC alleges that Han Chinese workers attacked and beat to death two Uyghur workers for allegedly raping or sexually molesting two Han Chinese women workers in the factory. On July 1, the Munich arm of the WUC issued a worldwide call for protest demonstrations against Chinese embassies and consulates for the alleged Guangdong attack, despite the fact they admitted the details of the incident were unsubstantiated and filled with allegations and dubious reports. According to a press release they issued, it was that June 26 alleged attack that gave the WUC the grounds to issue their worldwide call to action.

On July 5, a Sunday in Xinjiang but still the USA Independence Day, July 4, in Washington, the WUC in Washington claimed that Han Chinese armed soldiers seized any Uyghur they found on the streets and according to official Chinese news reports, widespread riots and burning of cars along the streets of Urumqi broke out resulting over the following three days in over 140 deaths. China's official Xinhua News Agency said that protesters from the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority group began attacking ethnic Han pedestrians, burning vehicles and attacking buses with batons and rocks. "They took to the street...carrying knives, wooden batons, bricks and stones," they cited an eyewitness as saying. The French AFP news agency quoted Alim Seytoff, general secretary of the Uighur American Association in Washington, that according to his information, police had begun shooting "indiscriminately" at protesting crowds.

Two different versions of the same events: The Chinese government and pictures of the riots indicate it was Uyghur riot and attacks on Han Chinese residents that resulted in deaths and destruction. French official reports put the blame on Chinese police "shooting indiscriminately." Significantly, the French AFP report relies on the NED-funded Uyghur American Association of Rebiya Kadeer for its information. The reader should judge if the AFP account might be motivated by a US geopolitical agenda, a deeper game from the Obama Administration towards China's economic future. Is it merely coincidence that the riots in Xinjiang by Uyghur organizations broke out only days after the meeting took place in Yakaterinburg, Russia of the member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as Iran as official observer guest, represented by President Ahmadinejad?

Over the past few years, in the face of what is seen as an increasingly hostile and incalculable United States foreign policy, the major nations of Eurasia—China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan have increasingly sought ways of direct and more effective cooperation in economic as well as security areas. In addition, formal Observer status within SCO has been given toIran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia. The SCO defense ministers are in regular and growing consultation on mutual defense needs, as NATO and the US military command continue provocatively to expand across the region wherever it can. The Strategic Importance of Xinjiang for Eurasian Energy Infrastructure

There is another reason for the nations of the SCO, a vital national security element, to having peace and stability in China's Xinjiang region. Some of China's most important oil and gas pipeline routes pass directly through Xinjiang province. Energy relations between Kazkhstan and China are of enormous strategic importance for both countries, and allow China to become less dependent on oil supply sources that can be cut off by possible US interdiction should relations deteriorate to such a point. Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a State visit in April 2009 to Beijing. The talks concerned deepening economic cooperation, above all in the energy area, where Kazkhastan holds huge reserves of oil and likely as well of natural gas. After the talks in Beijing, Chinese media carried articles with such titles as ""Kazakhstani oil to fill in the Great Chinese pipe." The Atasu-Alashankou pipeline to be completed in 2009 will provide transportation of transit gas to China via Xinjiang. As well Chinese energy companies are involved in construction of a Zhanazholskiy gas processing plant, Pavlodar electrolyze plant and Moynakskaya hydro electric station in Kazakhstan.

According to the US Government's Energy Information Administration, Kazakhstan's Kashagan field is the largest oil field outside the Middle East and the fifth largest in the world in terms of reserves, located off the northern shore of the Caspian Sea, near the city of Atyrau. China has built a 613-mile-long pipeline from Atasu, in northwestern Kazakhstan, to Alashankou at the border of China's Xinjiang region which is exporting Caspian oil to China. PetroChina's ChinaOil is the exclusive buyer of the crude oil on the Chinese side. The pipeline is a joint venture of CNPC and Kaztransoil of Kazkhstan. Some 85,000 bbl/d of Kazakh crude oil flowed through the pipeline during 2007. China's CNPC is also involved in other major energy projects with Kazkhstan. They all traverse China's Xinjiang region.

In 2007 CNPC signed an agreement to invest more than $2 billion to construct a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China. That pipeline would start at Gedaim on the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and extend 1,100 miles through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to Khorgos in China's Xinjiang region. Turkmenistan and China have signed a 30-year supply agreement for the gas that would fill the pipeline. CNPC has set up two entities to oversee the Turkmen upstream project and the development of a second pipeline that will cross China from the Xinjiang region to southeast China at a cost of some $7 billion. As well, Russia and China are discussing major natural gas pipelines from eastern Siberia through Xinjiang into China. Eastern Siberia contains around 135 Trillion cubic feet of proven plus probable natural gas reserves. The Kovykta natural gas field could give China with natural gas in the next decade via a proposed pipeline. During the current global economic crisis, Kazakhstan received a major credit from China of $10 billion, half of which is for oil and gas sector. The oil pipeline Atasu-Alashankou and the gas pipeline China-Central Asia, are an instrument of strategic 'linkage' of central Asian countries to the economy China. That Eurasian cohesion from Russia to China across Central Asian countries is the geopolitical cohesion Washington most fears.

While they would never say so, growing instability in Xinjiang would be an ideal way for Washington to weaken that growing cohesion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization nations.

(China Daily)  Piercing through Rebiya's veil  By Ying Xianlian.  July 16, 2009.

Once again, Rebiya Kadeer is attempting to paint the Chinese government as a cruel repressor of the Uygurs, who she says suffered "decades of economic, social and religious discrimination, together with the widespread execution, torture and imprisonment."

In an article published by the British newspaper Guardian, Rebiya compared the Uygurs experience in China in the past 60 years and the experience of African-Americans in the United States before 1955. But these two are, in Rebiya's own words, "half a world" apart and incomparable.

In the case of the pre-1955 US, African-Americans had to sit in the back of the bus, something Rebiya mentioned as an example of the discrimination suffered by the group. However, in no way have the Uygurs experienced these kinds of things, or any similar discrimination. Anyone who does not believe this can just go around China and will see the Hans and the Uygurs rubbing shoulders with each other, especially in Xinjiang.

Rebiya also claimed that decades of economic discrimination has resulted in "anger and despair" among the Uygurs. But if that is the case, how did she herself manage to become a millionaire?

The truth is that the Chinese government has offered a wide range of preferential treatment to the Uygurs, as well as other ethnic minorities, especially in employment opportunities. The government has instituted rules that require all institutions in Xinjiang to recruit at least a fixed percent of Uygurs and other ethnic minorities in their staff. Preferential treatment is also granted when it comes to starting their own businesses and in tax policies.

Moreover, to better prepare the Uygurs and other non-Han ethnic groups for work, the State has made it easier for them to be educated. For example, they get 20 guaranteed extra points when taking part in the national college entrance examination.

In fact, this policy arrangement has roused some resentment among the Han. Some go so far as to try to change their ethnic status to get the extra points themselves. That situation is best illustrated by what happened this summer in Chongqing, where a high school graduate, among 31 other Han students, lied about his ethnic status. He was discovered, however, and deprived of the opportunity to enter the college this year in spite of his actual top rank in the whole region. Therefore, Rebiya’s finger-pointing is unfair, and the Chinese government should get some credit for what has been done for the non-Hans.

In her Guardian article, the exiled Uygur woman also accused Beijing of misrepresenting the Shaoguan incident and the Urumqi riots by covering up the deaths of many Uygurs. But all that she could point to were so-called "witness accounts," which, of course, were unverified. Rebiya blamed the Chinese government for her inability to verify these eyewitness accounts in Xinjiang, because she said "communications have been virtually cut off." But if that was really the case, then how could "numerous residents" have told her about the "deaths of hundreds of Uighurs?"

It is also known that after what happened in Urumqi on July 5, hundreds of overseas journalists have gone to Xinjiang. Does this constitute "a lack of transparency?"

An examination of her "witness accounts" in the Shaoguan incident is also needed. Why hasn’t she checked the "witness accounts" since there should be no cut-off in communications? Does she know the names of the alleged victims? Getting those names would not be very difficult if what she claimed really happened, as the Uygur workers are relatively small in number.

Even Rebiya and her World Uygur Congress (WUC) admitted the details of the incident were unsubstantiated and filled with allegations and dubious reports, according to American-German freelance journalist F. William Engdahl’s article, the hidden agenda behind Xinjiang violence.

But that did not prevent the Munich arm of the WUC from issuing a worldwide call for protest demonstrations against Chinese embassies.

Another accusation that Rebiya made against the Chinese government is that they are "using anti-Uighur anger to shore up its own legitimacy". But that can't be true. What the Chinese government is worried about most is continuing or escalating violence which is sure to ensue if the officials are really taking advantage of the anti-Uygur anger.

Actually, what many people have seen is the government working to promote ethnic unity by broadcasting videos and pictures of the Hans and the Uygurs living harmoniously together. Ubiquitous in Urumqi or other parts of Xinjiang are huge red banners calling for ethnic harmony.

What also exposed Rebiya’s hypocrisy was the fact that while her article was full of alleged atrocities committed by the Chinese government on the Uygurs, the so-called human rights fighter did not mention a word about the victims in the Urumqi riots, except the hollow words of "I in no way endorse any of the violent acts" and "I am absolutely opposed to all violence."

Does she really care about human rights? If she does, why not call on her followers to stop violence? Maybe she is just using human rights as an excuse to achieve her hidden agenda.

(New Statesman)  “We Uighur, we are powerless”  By Dinah Gardner   July 16, 2009.

On 5 July, the streets of Urumqi, the capital of China’s north-western Xinjiang region, erupted in violence that left 156 people dead and many hundreds injured, according to official figures. Urumqi is 3,300km away from the private house in Beijing where a young Uighur man and I sit talking the following day, but he is still nervous. When we hear a kettle boiling somewhere downstairs, the man, who has asked to remain nameless because he fears official repercussions, flinches and asks in an insistent whisper: “Is there anyone else here?”

By the time we meet, hundreds of suspects have been arrested and Li Zhi, the Urumqi Communist Party secretary, has already vowed to impose death sentences on the rioters involved in killings. More than a thousand Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China, took part in the protests. They were reacting to the deaths of two Uighur migrant workers at a toy factory in southern China following a brawl, after some Uighur men at the factory had been accused of rape.

Once he is sure that we are alone, my Uighur companion begins to speak. “I saw the news this morning,” he says quietly, “but I’m not clear why this happened.”

Tensions between China’s Han majority and the country’s Uighur population are deep-seated. The Han Chinese see Uighurs as troublemakers. They are lazy and ungrateful for the special treatment they get, a young Han Chinese man had told me earlier that day. Uighurs, whose school education is, in effect, conducted in a second language – Mandarin, rather than their native Uighur, a Turkic language – can enter university with lower grades than Han Chinese. Uighurs are also exempt from the one-child policy to which Han must adhere. Educated and thoughtful, the Han man to whom I talk still can’t understand why Uighurs feel so hard done by.

Others – namely, rights groups, academics and the Uighur people themselves – see things differently. “Two of the gravest problems in Xinjiang are massive Uighur unemployment and deep, palpable Han chauvinism toward Uighurs and Uighur culture,” says Gardner Bovingdon, a professor at Indiana University who specialises in the politics of that region.

The young Uighur man needs little prodding to talk about why his people are unhappy. “Ever since I was born, until now, there has been this problem between Uighur and Han,” he explains. “Han people don’t treat us or our culture with any respect, and the key thing is that there are more and more Han coming to live in Xinjiang. And that means that we Uighur people are losing our culture and we have less freedoms.”

Before the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, Han Chinese made up about 5 per cent of Xinjiang’s population. Today, that figure is around 40 per cent of the 20 million people who live in the province, which is huge, arid and rich in mineral deposits.

According to some reports, the protests in Urumqi began peacefully, and violence erupted only when police moved in to clear the protesters. But the Chinese government needed no time to collect evidence. It knew who was to blame. Just as they did after last year’s Tibet riots, officials pointed the finger at an exile figure they accuse of seeking independence from China. Then, it was the Dalai Lama; this time it is 62-year-old Rebiya Kadeer, leader of a US-based Uighur rights group called World Uighur Congress. Kadeer spent six years as a political prisoner in China and was exiled to the US in 2005.

“The unrest was a pre-emptive, organised, violent crime. It was instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country,” ran a government statement.

When asked if Kadeer could be behind the violence, the young Uighur man bursts into laughter. “There’s no way she could have done this,” he says. “This is fake news by the government. She knows everything that’s going on, but she couldn’t be behind it.”

The young man shakes his head and strokes his trimmed beard, then takes a sip of tea. I ask him if he wants an independent Xinjiang. “Do I really need to answer that?” he laughs, almost nervously.

“We Uighur, we are powerless. There is no use in wishing for this. They have caught and suppressed our culture and religion. It’s gone.” He clenches his fist on the word “caught” and then lets it drop. “China is too powerful.” With that, he finishes his tea and makes his way out.

(The New Republic)  Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.  By Christian Larson.  July 16, 2009.

Columns of paramilitary police are now keeping a tenuous peace in Urumqi, the western Chinese city where more than 1,000 Uighurs rioted ten days ago in the bloodiest clash in decades between the authorities and the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group.

The eight million Uighurs who live in Xinjiang province have long chafed at Beijing's rule. Shortly after the United States introduced the concept of a global "war on terror," the local police seized the opportunity to ratchet up already stringent security measures aimed at Uighurs under the mantra of cracking down on the "three evils" of "terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism." The police treat these threats as interchangeable and as the underlying source of Uighur discontent in the region, despite the abundance of obvious socio-economic grievances-- which range from income inequality to dilapidated schools to job discrimination. The resulting dynamic is a simmering cauldron of unrest, ever threatening to boil over as in last week's riots.

But perhaps the most tragic irony lies in the Chinese insistence that Uighur dissent is rooted in ideology and religion, and that recent incidents of violence--such as the string of bus bombings and attacks on police that last year riled southwestern Xinjiang--are the work of Islamic extremists and agitators tied to foreign campaigns. In truth, the Uighurs' observance of Islam is largely apolitical, but by treating the Muslim faith itself as a threat and sharply curbing religious practice in Xinjiang, Chinese security forces may end up breeding the very kind of insurrection they are now trying to quell.

In principle, Islam is one of China's five officially recognized and legal faiths. But in practice, Uighurs face a litany of restrictions on daily devotional life: In Urumqi, mosques are banned from playing the call to prayer; in the ancient city of Kashgar, anyone under age 18 is barred from entering mosques during major Muslim festivals; and throughout the province, inspectors from China's ethnic Han majority routinely saunter into mosques to post government propaganda and peruse log books. As one Uighur man told me outside a mosque in Kashgar, "In theory, we have more religious freedom now [than during the Cultural Revolution]. But in reality, it is different. Of course it makes us angry."

It's not uncommon to feel threatened by what you don't understand. And fundamentally, the Chinese Communist Party, which was founded on materialist principles and encourages atheism among its members, doesn't understand religion. Its leaders see every non-state-supervised religious gathering, or attempt to impart values to children, as a potential threat to their political authority.

It's true that the Uighurs in Xinjiang are devout. Last fall, when I visited Kashgar during Ramadan, every Uighur man I met was keeping the fast. And on the holy month's final day, called the Rozi Festival, ten thousand men from across southwestern Xinjiang gathered to mark the occasion outside the city's historic Id Kah mosque. It's also true that the restive western province is located smack in the middle of volatile central Asia and borders eight nations, some of which, like Pakistan and Afghanistan, are wrestling with Muslim extremism.

Yet if you visit Xinjiang, you'll hear little about jihad or fatwas, and few diatribes against contemporary lifestyles, women's rights, or capitalism. The Uighurs, like the Turks with whom they share ethnic and linguistic roots, embrace a blending of devotion and modernity. While Islam is a central aspect of their identity, Uighurs don't view the world, or their relationship to Beijing, as an ecclesiastical clash of civilizations. They have plenty of complaints about Chinese government policy, but those grievances aren't formulated or expressed in the name of Allah. Nor do Uighur clerics enforce a culturally conservative outlook. Women in Kashgar wear headscarves, but they also zip themselves about town on motorbikes.

Although the world knows little about Xinjiang, educated Uighurs themselves tend to be outward-looking: Many speak three languages (Uighur, Mandarin, and English), and their English is often more fluent than that of their Han counterparts. Far from decrying global pop culture, Uighurs I met spoke fondly of Bruce Springsteen, Lindsay Lohan, and Braveheart.

As Gardner Bovingdon, professor of East Asian and Eurasian studies at Indiana University, told me, "The Islam of Xinjiang is not the Islam ascendant in some Middle Eastern countries, where religion is more fundamentalist, textualist, rigid." Uighurs, he added, have a heritage that is distinct--culturally, linguistically, and in outlook--from the Arab countries sometimes understood as Islamist flashpoints.

In fact, the notion of highly politicized religion seems at odds with Uighur mentality. When I traveled along the Karakorum Highway, a winding mountainous route stretching between Kashgar and Islamabad, my Uighur driver was quite concerned that we not actually cross the border into Pakistan. "It's a dangerous country--it's fundamentalist," he said. I asked him what that meant, and he explained, with a touch of mirth, "Fundamentalism means the men make the women stay home and take care of their bad children." Humor aside, he said he didn't want his home to become a place where Islam was deeply politicized. For now, he saw Xinjiang as different.

Some observers credit China's strict border controls--including a policy of routinely denying visa requests to Uighurs who wish to visit Mecca--with insulating the region from more incendiary religious factions in neighboring and nearby countries.

But at the same time, many analysts believe that further restricting religious observance--a troubling likelihood today, as Chinese authorities look for scapegoats in the wake of the riots--could encourage radicalism. A recent Human Rights Watch report makes a detailed and alarming case that China's "overbroad and repressive policies in Xinjiang deepen local resentment and risk further destabilizing the region." Or, as Andrew Nathan, chair of the political science department at Columbia University, puts it: "It's a real dilemma for the Chinese regime: They have long been committed to this regulatory repressive track, but it produces resentment. It produces resistance."

One afternoon, when I was visiting a small village mosque in southwest Xinjiang, two Han inspectors sauntered in, out of place in their dark brimmed hats; they didn't ask any questions, but seemed there largely to intimidate, to make their presence felt. My Uighur guide felt instantly uncomfortable, as if incriminated, and insisted we leave. The impression such encounters have left him with is: "I don't like police. They are always rude and rough."

Fueling popular indignation is a serious risk. As Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute's Center for Political-Military Analysis, points out, the Chinese government could target alleged extremists (if they existed) without putting the entire Muslim community of Xinjiang under suspicion: "What should the government do if it was trying to control a real threat? Short term: Infiltrate these groups; arrest people with arms. Long term: Eliminate source of grievances, and allow more autonomy, religious and cultural freedom. ... Calling everyone a terrorist is not useful to achieving the goal of stability."

Or, as Nathan puts it: "Islam is extremely diverse. We should not 'essentialize' Islam. ... Countries and governments hurt themselves with the idea of a class of civilizations. We paint ourselves into a corner. We make a situation much worse by our imagination."

(Telegraph)  Journalists in China get death threats    Malcolm Moore    July 16, 2009.

I’ve been holding back on this topic because I didn’t want to antagonise the trolls and Chinese nationalists who frequent this blog. But enough is enough. Several journalists have now received death threats for their reporting in Urumqi, and a number of academics who put forward critical views of the Chinese government have also been targeted with hate mail. (I’ve not had any death threats myself.)

The main crimes of the “hate-spreading foreign media” are:

1. When the riots in Urumqi broke out, foreign media quoted claims from the World Uighur Congress that the police had machine-gunned Uighur rioters.

2. The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the World Uighur Congress, suggesting that 400 Uighurs had been killed.

3. CNN interviewed Mrs Kadeer and she held up a photograph that mistakenly showed riot troops in another city, at a previous riot.

4. A picture agency, and subsequently the Evening Standard, miscaptioned a photograph of two Han Chinese women covered in blood and said they were Uighurs.

I’m sure there were lots of other small errors, but these are the ones that China’s fenqing (Angry Youth) have seized upon to demonstrate the idea that there is an inherent bias in all Western reporters against China.

Now I know that only a tiny, if vocal, number of people send death threats and attack Western media “bias” across the internet. But a distrust of foreign reporters has seeped into the general population. Reporters working in China in the 1990s say that people were far more open and willing to talk. Now they feel that if they open their mouths, their words will be twisted.

In short, the propaganda has worked. Since 1991, when the Patriotic Education Campaign was launched, Chinese kids have been taught a narrative about how Western forces, bent on colonisation, have historically humiliated China. (You can argue that kids in Britain also get taught a skewed and patriotic history, but at the same time, they get taught to question their teachers.)

The 1999 Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, in which three Chinese died, and, more recently, the attacks on the Chinese Olympic torch parade in Europe and America, have fed into that narrative. And this has helped pave the way for the giant leap of logic that trivial mistakes, such as a skewed caption on a newspaper photograph, are “proof” of a continuing Western ambition to “get” China.

I’ve been told that since the Western media claims to be “objective” and “balanced”, it is hard to forgive reporters when they give prominence to claims that subsequently turn out to be unlikely (such as the quotes about machine-gunning, which many Uighurs are still insisting occurred). But claims are going to be thrown around on a breaking news story, in the heat and confusion, while reporters scramble to the other side of China to find out what happened.

If anything, the reporting in Xinjiang should give people more confidence in the Western media, and its ability to paint a balanced picture. The deputy editor of the People’s Daily criticised the Wall Street Journal for allowing Rebiya Kadeer a platform to speak out, but in fact, her credibility was severely damaged - her claims of 400 Uighur dead were dismissed by reporters on the ground

I’m not arguing that the Western media don’t make assumptions, suffer from cultural ignorance, or fail to tell “the truth”. But it’s naive to expect individual news organisations to get it right all of the time.

Journalism is a hasty, subjective and flawed craft, but thanks to the internet, bad reporting can be corrected and good reporting floats to the surface. So as reporters, we have no interest in making stupid mistakes (or in those made by our editors). We cringe the next day when we see them.

I don’t know a single reporter who dislikes China, dislikes the Chinese or is conspiring against China. So please stop with the death threats, and have a think about what China would be like if there were even fewer independent voices out there.

(Radio Free Asia)  Media Strategy in Xinjiang.  July 16, 2009.

Chinese authorities were quick to take the initiative in their handling of media reporting of the recent ethnic violence in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) but took pains to limit coverage that would highlight Uyghur grievances, commentators say.

Netizens said some real-time citizen journalist reports were seen in the hours following the ethnic violence sparked July 5 following a Uyghur protest over deaths at a south China factory. "When we heard that something had happened in Xinjiang, we all went online to try to find some information," said Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser, whose blog was shut down after she posted real-time updates during the unrest in Lhasa and other Tibetan regions of the country last year. "There were some people posting their own personal accounts of what was happening on [social media]. But these were often removed very soon after posting. I'm talking about a matter of minutes," she said.

Woeser said some of the accounts contained revealing personal descriptions of what was happening from people who were there, in the moment, but didn't stay visible for long. "It just goes to show that the government has a very advanced capability when it comes to controlling information online. They are very fast and efficient...[After these accounts] were removed, the only voice that could still be heard was the official line," she said.

Self-censorship

Meanwhile, a Han Chinese Web publisher who declined to be named said his privately owned news Web site had mostly engaged in self-censorship around the politically sensitive ethnic violence in the XUAR, without specific guidance from the authorities about exactly what material to remove. "They just tell us that anything concerning opposition to the government won't be tolerated...What happens if you don't take them off is that they will turn off the site at the server at the service center," he said. "This has happened to me many times. They tell me that I should take some time to removing the offending material and when I'm done they will reconnect my site again. If you don't do a good job of removing this material, they just pull the plug on you."

Chinese officials reacted with unprecedented speed to the July 5 riots, which Uyghurs say were sparked by an armed crackdown on unarmed Uyghur protesters calling for an investigation into a concerted attack by Han Chinese on Uyghurs at the Xuri toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province the week before. They issued invitations to foreign journalists, setting up an international press center and holding news conferences with city leaders. But some were also detained when they strayed too far from the portrait the government wanted them to paint. These news measures came in sharp contrast with the blackout imposed during the Tibetan uprising of early 2008, when international media were forced to rely almost exclusively on reports from Tibetan exile sources.

Foreign journalists held

Police detained a number of foreign journalists covering the recent ethnic violence in Urumqi, including a reporter for RFA's Cantonese service who tried to take photos of police detaining Uyghurs near the Urumqi Grand Bazaar. One Uyghur activist who declined to be named said foreign journalists had relatively little freedom to find out what had really happened on July 5, which in turn sparked retaliatory violence from Han Chinese mobs in the days that followed.

Armed police and military personnel put the city under curfew, and sealed off Uyghur neighborhoods from the rest of the city. Uyghur residents said they maintained a relaxed attitude to the Han Chinese rioters, compared with when Uyghurs caused trouble.  Foreign journalists were also protected by police from angry Han Chinese with weapons, who accused them of biased coverage.

The Uyghur activist said there was little foreign journalists could do, caught between their official handlers and an angry mob. "Their range of activity was very limited. The Chinese government was controlling them in a very intelligent way, telling them where they could and couldn't go, and who they could or couldn't interview," he said. "Some journalists were detained by the police and kicked out of the region, and not allowed to go to the more sensitive areas."

He said the aim of the government was to manipulate foreign media coverage to suit its own purposes. "Some of the hospitals were full of Han Chinese who had been beaten or killed, but they didn't take the journalists to see any Uyghurs who had been beaten or killed. They didn't let them see those things," the activist said. "But some of the journalists still managed to see other things, and report on other aspects of the situation."

Official coverage

Conversely, CCTV, Xinhua news agency, and other domestic news media carried reports about Uyghurs beating up ordinary citizens, and shots of burned out vehicles, Uyghurs said. "They did not report that the Chinese military shot and killed Uyghurs. Every time something like this happens in China, the government makes the death and injured figures look smaller than they are. This is known as playing down big incidents and denying small ones," one Uyghur said.

A Uyghur resident of Urumqi said soon after the curfew was imposed: "Be it a Uyghur channel or a Chinese channel on television, they are only showing the scenes where the Uyghurs are beating up the Chinese. Never will you see a scene where the Chinese are slaying Uyghur people, and the police shooting the Uyghurs," he said. "They are even accusing the Uyghurs with labels such as 'ethnic separatists,' 'offenders against national unity,'" he added.

An official who answered the phone at the Urumqi municipal government said he was unable to comment on the handling of foreign journalists by officials. "I don't know about this," he said.

Initial reports more open

Meanwhile, Munich-based spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress Dilshat Rashit said the Chinese government had put out an "unremitting stream of extreme propaganda" about what happened right from the beginning of the incident to its suppression. "We believe that the death toll is much higher than the numbers put out by the government, and we think that the real number is higher than 1,000," Rashit said. "Our view is that the government has ignored the legitimate demands of Uyghurs, and that it used armed force to crack down on Uyghurs who were staging a peaceful demonstration."

In Beijing, Woeser said that while the government had shown it had the ability to maintain tight control over information, it had failed to do so in the early stages of the conflict, when the first reports came out of the Xuri toy factory in Guangdong. "In the wake of the [Shaoguan incident] the media were full of reports... about 'Han women workers raped' and so on. This news took a while to filter through from the official media to ordinary people online, and got blown up bigger and bigger, and the anti-Uyghur sentiment online was really very harsh during those few days," Woeser said. "The clearest example of this was after the organised attack on Uyghurs had happened, the authorities once more tried to back off the story by saying it was rumors."

(Telegraph)  Al-Qaeda and Red China square up for war: if only they both could lose    Gerald Warner.  July 16, 2009.

Normally, it is one of the great frustrations of life that the most unpleasant and aggressive people one knows seldom attack one another, but separately target their chosen victims. This situation arises in social, business or political arenas: there seems to be a bat-like radar that enables bullies to avoid colliding.

Yet sometimes - just occasionally - this disappointing natural law is suspended and big beasts that are the enemies of civilisation lock horns in mortal combat. The most obvious example is the titanic conflict caused by Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Overnight, the former allies who had jointly invaded Poland (the fact that the Soviet Union invaded Poland as well as Nazi Germany is usually conveniently overlooked) became deadly enemies and the two obscene totalitarian dictatorships began to devastate each other.

Of course, the propagandist sentimentality about “Uncle Joe” Stalin and the Great Patriotic War was used by fellow travellers to sanitise the Soviet Union; but in the Hitler/Stalin fight there was no good guy. Now, today, there are the first embryonic signs of two of the nastiest entities polluting the planet preparing to square up to each other. Red China, the rapist of Tibet and mass murderer of Tiananmen Square, is being threatened with jihad by al-Qaeda because of its killing of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate how alarming this is for the Beijing genocides. Their complex interests in Africa, notably in Algeria and the Sudan, depend on an undisturbed colonial/commercial initiative. The Chinese presence in Yemen, one of Osama bin Laden’s countries of origin, could similarly be compromised. That is why the normally arrogant and intransigent Chinese Foreign Ministry has taken the unusual and humiliating step of pleading for understanding from “our Muslim brothers”.

But the al-Qaeda satellite organisation al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has vowed vengeance for Uighir deaths. This is no idle threat. Three weeks ago AQIM killed 24 guards protecting a Chinese construction project in Algeria. The al-Qaeda network is so loose-knit, with no direct command structure running directly to the top, that Beijing does not even have the option of negotiating a deal with the leadership. Until now, Red China has led a charmed existence on the international stage.

The last remaining communist superpower has simply bought America: it owns the United States through massive purchase of US government bonds. It ran the Olympics with a steely oversight, refusing all compromise with the West, yet still managed to get a good press from the sycophantic Western media. Nobody has ever stood up to Beijing. When it overran Tibet it was taking on a Buddhist country - and who ever heard of a Buddhist jihad?

This time, however, it has caught a tiger. This confrontation could, at one extreme, simply peter out; or, at the other, it could lead to the Islamic radicalisation of 10 million Uighirs and serious, militant separatism within the ramshackle Chinese empire. Beijing could also be relied on to counter-attack jihadists with exemplary ferocity. Beijing and al-Qaeda thoroughly deserve each other. It is gratifying to contemplate two of the most evil forces on earth embarking on a war of attrition. If only they could both lose.




(Associated Press)  Chinese PR campaign focuses on Muslims.  July 17, 2009.

The chorus of smiling Muslims and Han Chinese wore matching yellow polo shirts and appeared on television singing: “We are all part of the same family.”

The TV spot on Wednesday was the latest effort in a relentless propaganda campaign by the Chinese government to end the worst ethnic rioting in the far western Xinjiang region in decades.

However, the message was falling flat on the streets of the dusty jade-trading oasis city of Hotan, where many Muslims were still seething with resentment over the Han, the dominant ethnic group in China. The residents spoke about the long-standing tensions in hushed voices in the Silk Road town’s bustling bazaar, where donkeys pulled carts piled high with melons and women in colorful head scarves sold wheels of flat bread that looked like pizza crust.

One Muslim shopkeeper picked up a hatchet, raised it over his head and lowered it with one quick stroke, before saying: “That’s the best way to deal with the Han Chinese.”

The store owner, who only identified himself as Abdul, scoffed at the TV shows featuring members of his own Turkic minority ethnic group, the Uighurs, gushing about how harmonious and happy most of the people were in the sprawling oil-rich Xinjiang region, three times the size of Texas.

“I don’t believe these people,” the businessman said with a whisper, as he scouted the street for police. “They get paid to say these things. Ninety percent of the Uighurs don’t believe that stuff.”

The media campaign began after July 5 when ethnic rioting killed at least 192 people in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. In the first days after the rioting, state-run media provided extensive reports about Uighurs savagely attacking Han Chinese, while playing down the subsequent Han-led violence. The government was quick to frame the Uighur attacks as an act of terrorism by a tiny minority of violent miscreants, led by the US-based Uighur dissident Rebiya Kadeer.

Kadeer has repeatedly denied the allegations and has condemned the violence.

As thousands of security forces restored order in Urumqi, the government’s propaganda campaign kicked in with TV shows, loudspeaker trucks and red banners. Many slogans warned against the “three evil forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism. The campaign targeted all of Xinjiang, even Hotan on the edge of the Taklamakan desert — a two-hour flight south of Urumqi.

Hotan is predominantly Uighur. The city is famous for its carpets and a statue of late Communist leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) shaking hands with a Uighur worker.

On Wednesday, the propaganda continued with local TV showing the Uighur and Han singers swaying together as they sang: “We are all part of the same family.” There were also several personal profiles of Uighurs who acted heroically during the riots.

One elderly Uighur couple reportedly gave refuge to a Han teenager, allowing him to spend the night in their apartment until his father could pick him up in the morning.

Another Uighur man was an ambulance driver who continued to rescue the wounded, even though he was injured and the windows of his vehicle were smashed. “I’m a Communist Party member,” the man said. “I should be doing more than the average citizen.”

(AFPAfter the violence, China hits Urumqi with propaganda blitz    July 17, 2009.

Two open military trucks circled the streets of Xinjiang's capital, on each a soldier gripped a sniper rifle perched on the cab, others lined the side wielding AK-47s. But the centrepiece of the show of force was between the vehicles, a van mounted with loudspeakers blasting out pronouncements on Urumqi's July 5 unrest that left at least 192 dead in China's worst ethnic violence in decades.

Following a crackdown involving tens of thousands of security forces, Urumqi is now being targeted in a propaganda blitz.

"It is the unshirkable duty of the people of all ethnicities to report those suspected in the violent incident of July 5," said posters pasted throughout Urumqi's Uighur district. "Those who report suspects will be rewarded and praised. Those who provide important clues shall be given major rewards."

Moviegoers who went to see "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", which opened here this week, were greeted with a massive red banner inside the People's Cinema that read: "Against Separation, Safeguarding Unity."

In the window of a sporting goods store, a calligraphied banner was pasted between the faces of NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal and Baron Davies issuing the plea "Strengthen National Unity."

On the sidewalks near the central bazaar, the trading centre for the city's Muslim Uighurs, state newspaper reports and government pronouncements on the "riots" are displayed under plexi glass.

Many promise leniency for those who participated in the "smashing, looting, burning and killing" if they turn themselves in. In the days immediately after the unrest such notices were dropped from the helicopters that continue to circle the city.

Meanwhile, newspaper articles in Uighur script show exiled leader Rebiya Kadeer photographed with the Dalai Lama, who Beijing has branded a separatist and blamed for similar unrest in Tibet last year.

Kadeer's name can be heard in another message broadcast only in Uighur from city government trucks. China has accused the 62-year-old US-based female leader of the World Uighur Congress of orchestrating the violence in a bid to advance Xinjiang independence.

Xinjiang is home to eight million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who have long complained about what they say is repression and discrimination under Chinese rule.

Uighurs also complain of an influx of Han Chinese, China's dominant ethnic group, a migration they say is extinguishing their culture. Beijing says it is bringing economic development to the region. The violent clashes began on July 5 after a Uighur protest. Chinese authorities say 192 were killed, mostly Han Chinese, and more than 1,600 were injured that day.

Thousands of Han Chinese retaliated in the following days, marching through parts of Urumqi vowing vengeance against the Uighurs.

Violence broke out again on Monday, when police shot and killed two  knife-wielding Uighurs and wounded another.

Near the scene of the shooting, a massive red banner with yellow letters strung from roadside trees read in Chinese and Uighur: "The biggest danger facing Xinjiang is separatism and criminality."

As the military trucks loop back through the Uighur district, traders reopening their shops said they tried to tune out the blare.

"Uighurs don't listen to it," one trader said on condition of anonymity. "I don't know why they're playing it over and over - probably because their leaders told them to." Another trader said the post-riot propaganda was a provocation. "Xinjiang and China are not one and we don't want them to be," the second trader said.

But outside the Uighur quarter, a banner flapping in the breeze seemed to disagree. "National Security, Economic  Development, Social Stability, The People Are Happy," the banner read.  

(Toronto Star)  Was media coverage of riots in China biased?  By Bill Schiller.  July 17, 2009.

The first photos that went around the world last week showing bloody ethnic riots in China were shocking.

One memorable photo depicted two Chinese women, dripping with blood, reaching out to comfort each other.

Here in China, people understood the women were Han Chinese, victims of an attack by rioting ethnic Uighurs. State-run television endlessly ran film of the women, dazed and stumbling on the streets of Urumqi.

But by the time that image reached the Evening Standard newspaper in London, it was a different story.

"Blood and Defiance," the caption beneath the photo read on the newspaper's website, "two women comfort each other after being attacked by police."

By police?

Some Chinese commentators went ballistic. They claimed it was another example of the Western media's tendency to twist facts.

"Their action reveals not only moral degeneration," proclaimed China Daily, the state-run, English-language newspaper, "but blatant betrayal of journalistic ethics."

In London, the Standard's managing editor, David Willis, said Wednesday the caption was simply "an interpretation" by a copy editor of information supplied by the Associated Press, which had transmitted the photo. But the news agency had said nothing about who attacked the women.

"If that interpretation was wrong," said Willis, "it was a mistake. In any case, we took it off the site when it was put in doubt."

Readers had complained, he said.

This week popular Chinese newspapers such as Beijing-based China Youth Daily lashed out at virtually all Western media, saying riot coverage showed Western prejudice, accusing some of "intentionally" changing facts.

But the Evening Standard wasn't the only target. The BBC, Al-Jazeera, The New York Times, the Daily Telegraph and even The Wall Street Journal came under siege.

Increasingly, criticism of Western media has become pro forma following Western reporting of controversial events in China.

Following last year's rioting in Tibet, the hue and cry over what the Chinese proclaimed as Western media bias gave birth to a watchdog website, Anti-CNN.com.

Not long after the site went up, Chinese bloggers started to use the expression, "Don't be too-CNN," to mean, "Don't ignore the truth" and the expression became so popular it morphed into a YouTube song.

But while CNN was last year's main target, The Wall Street Journal might replace it. Veteran Chinese journalist Ding Gang's screed entitled "I will no longer read The Wall Street Journal" was published by the Global Times last week, a sister paper of the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China.

Ding accused the paper of having "a biased and ignorant view of China," claiming it "openly stood on the side of terrorists."

This will doubtless come as a shock to the Journal, well-known for the conservative views of its editorial page and whose own New York offices were damaged in the 9/11 attacks.

For Ding the last straw, apparently, was the Journal's website running a prominent photo of internationally recognized Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer – who is vilified by Han Chinese – with a link to her essay, "The Truth about Uighurs."

Al-Jazeera last week aired an interview with Kadeer in which she waved enlarged photographs of armed soldiers pouring into city streets.

The problem was the photos were not of Urumqi. They were photos of the faraway Chinese city of Shishou and they were taken last month, when angry locals rioted following the mysterious death of a young man at a seedy hotel allegedly run by corrupt officials.

Still, not all Chinese are angered by Western coverage.

Mistakes do get made, concedes Zhan Jiang, former dean of Journalism and Communications at China Youth University of Political Sciences, who has studied Western media for years. But he doesn't believe they're intentional.

Western media are known for fact-checking, he says.

"But under chaotic circumstances it's very hard to do a thorough check. And some editors lack experience," he notes. "For internationally known media to make elementary mistakes, it can't be intentional ... it's just so far removed from their professional standards, and they know they'd so easily lose credibility."

For all the fundamental errors that might be made, Zhan says, he feels the reporting from Xinjiang was better than that on the Tibet riots last year.

Western media were denied access to Tibet. But in Xinjiang they were allowed access – with some limitations on movement. But access made a difference, he says.

"They weren't there on-the-spot (in Tibet). They couldn't get first-hand information. Our authorities reflected on the Tibet coverage and felt ... one way we can do better is to have more openness."

That is "huge progress" he says, and he believes the more open Western media access becomes, the more balanced and informed Western coverage will be. "I think it's a win-win situation," he says.

(soL Online)  Apology for "genocide"  July 17, 2009.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Burak Özügergin stated at a press conference held at the Ministry offices that "neither Turkey, nor China would like to lock our relationship with China to a single subject" without referring to the "genocide" remark made by the Prime Minister Erdogan which received strong reaction from China.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Burak Özügergin said at the weekly press conference that the events in the Xinjiang region of the People's Republic of China caused a great deal of “sadness and concern" and added "having interest in the fate of our relatives is very natural” we will continue to follow the developments.

It did not escape attention that Foreign Affairs spokesperson Özügergin made the statement that "neither Turkey, nor China would like to lock our relations with China to a single subject" following calls from one of China's major newspapers yesterday for the Prime Minister Erdoğan not to interfere with the internal affairs of China and withdraw his remarks of “genocide”.

Özügergin, while not referring his speech to Prime Minister Erdogan's defining remark of "genocide", specifically reiterated that both sides are exhibiting political willingness to prevent further deterioration and move ahead with relations between the People's Republic of China and Turkey.

President of the World Uygur Congress, Rabia Kadir currently continuing contacts with the White House, U.S. State Department and Congress, is said to visit Turkey, however, Özügergin said she has yet to lodge a visa application to the Turkish authorities. He also stated that he was not aware of any attempts to take the recent events in Xinjiang to the United National Security Council (UNSC) which Turkey is a temporary member.

Turkey's membership to UN Security Council loads responsibility on our shoulders and Turkey will act within the framework of this responsibility, said Özügergin. Özügergin's comments that this matter might be considered as a later-term agenda are interpreted as an indication that the conflict experienced in Xinjiang has been abandoned totally from taking the matter to the UN Security Council by Turkey.

(FEER)  China Enters A Period Of Eruptions    By Hugo Restall.   July 17, 2009.

The rioting by Uighurs in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi in early July has put the spotlight back on China's handling of its ethnic minority regions. Coming just over a year after a similar outburst in Lhasa, the incident shows that hardline policies designed to suppress dissent have fostered bitter resentment that periodically erupts. However, it would be a mistake to interpret this as a sign that China's control over Tibet and Xinjiang are unraveling. Rather the incidents should be put into a broader context of rising tensions within the broader society.

Certainly Tibet and Xinjiang pose their own unique challenges. The seeds of the current unrest were planted in the mid-1990s, when government strategy toward the restive regions shifted to a more hardline approach. That has shut off avenues for the expression of discontent, bottling up tensions until they explode.

Despite the obvious costs of this policy, Beijing apparently regards them as worth paying to maintain a tight grip on its sensitive border areas, which are regarded as vital national interests. From its perspective, the policies may even be regarded as a success, since the migration of Han Chinese into the sparsely populated regions enhances government control over the longer term, regardless of the friction it may create.

However, seen in the context of the wider Chinese society, the upsurge in unrest raises some worrying questions for Beijing. Despite the strictest possible control, the spread of information and rights consciousness has encouraged Uighurs and Tibetans to take to the streets in spontaneous demonstrations, and violent repression has stoked further unrest. This mirrors events taking place elsewhere in China, where potent fault lines within society are bursting into the open, despite the government's best efforts to enforce a "harmonious society."

This suggests that China may be entering a period similar to that in the late 1980s, when demonstrations began to break out over a variety of issues. As during that period, the Chinese economy is under stress, with rising expectations running up against the reality of limited opportunities. Add in anger about corruption and abuse of power by local officials and the stage is set for what are euphemistically known as "mass incidents." While the government may be able to manage localized riots, there is a danger of a repeat of 1989, should an event provide the impetus for the formation of a wider national protest movement.

The proximate cause of the rioting in Urumqi on July 5 happened thousands of miles away in Guangdong province. At a toy factory in Shaoguan, Han Chinese attacked young Uighur workers after rumors spread that they had raped several women. The state media reported that two Uighurs were killed, but graphic pictures and rumors of a higher death toll spread quickly over the Internet to Xinjiang. Complaining that the authorities were not doing enough to protect their compatriots, Uighurs took to the streets of Urumqi in an initially peaceful protest. Although the details are murky and the truth may never be known, the incident turned violent quickly after confrontations with the police.

Unrest in Xinjiang has recurred regularly over the past few decades, but several aspects of the recent chain of events represent new developments. First, the spread of information through informal channels quickly polarized both Uighur and Han communities. Paradoxically, this seems to have been encouraged by the government's strict control over the official media. Because Chinese netizens do not trust the media they are more inclined to believe reports passed along the electronic grapevine.

Moreover, even though the state has extensive mechanisms to censor online communications, it has never been able to develop the "surge capacity" to stop the flow of information during a crisis. This also tends to make the system more unstable, as people discontented over other issues latch on to the issue of the moment.

The fact that the unrest began in Urumqi, a majority Han city, also is significant. The Uighur heartland lies to the southwest, and past unrest has been situated there. In particular, the ongoing demolition of the old city of Kashgar, the cultural capital of the Uighurs, might have been expected to provide the spark for protests. So the fact that the violence erupted in the capital suggests that efforts to pacify the indigenous population may actually be spreading discontent.

The broader issues in Xinjiang include discrimination against Uighurs in religion, education and employment. As part of a campaign against "the three evil forces" -- terrorism, religious extremism and separatism -- the government has taken drastic action against all forms of dissent. Muslims were forbidden to fast during Ramadan last year, and education is now in Chinese, marginalizing the use of the Uighur language. Government job advertisements often specify that applicants must be Han Chinese.

The hardline policies are largely the work of Wang Lequan, the current Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang. It's significant that Mr. Wang's protege, Zhang Qingli, is now in charge of Tibet. The two men emphasize the development of the security services and reliance on politically reliable Han officials in order to govern. Previous initiatives that respected local culture and promoted localized government have been reversed.

For Xinjiang, a key concern of the Uighurs is the flood of Han Chinese immigration. Unlike in Tibet, Hans tend to settle down in rural areas of Xinjiang, competing directly with indigenous people for resources. During the Mao era, a quasimilitary organization, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, better known as the Bingtuan, was established using government subsidies to pursue the goals of settling Han migrants, stabilizing the border region and developing the economy.

About 2.5 million people, or one in seven Xinjiang residents, is affiliated with the Bingtuan, which has helped push the Han percentage of the population to 41% from only 6% in 1953. The Bingtuan continues to spread settlements deep into the Uighur heartland, enjoying preferential access to irrigation and other scarce resources. In recent years, the government has also used Xinjiang as the destination for relocation projects in other provinces.

The tragedy in all this is that the relatively small Uighur population could so easily have been integrated into national life. They practice a moderate form of Islam, and while a small minority have become enamored of terrorist groups, by and large al Qaeda holds little attraction. They are also highly entrepreneurial, as might be expected given their homeland sits on the ancient Silk Road trading route. Uighurs were among the first to embrace Deng Xiaoping's reforms, prospering by setting up small businesses and moving around the country trading.

But in recent years, Uighurs have run up against official discrimination and mistrust. Licenses and other documents like passports are tightly controlled. Uighurs who grow rich and prominent independent from the Communist Party sooner or later run into difficulties. A prime example is former businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, who now lives in exile in Washington, D.C. and is head of the Uighur World Congress.

Beijing has sought to blame the violence on orchestration by Ms. Kadeer and other overseas groups. But the reality is that China has little to fear from overseas groups, which are small and marginalized. Beijing has also forged strong ties with its Central Asian neighbors, so that it would be impossible for any separatist group to operate along the border.

Given that the hardline policies seem to be backfiring, some observers naturally ask why Beijing refuses to alter course. Yet this may be the wrong question. As Xinjiang expert and Human Rights Watch research Nicholas Bequelin explains, "From the perspective of traditional Chinese statecraft, Xinjiang is a huge success. Never before has China had such strong control over the region." He notes that government officials have accepted the fact that there is a price to be paid in terms of periodic unrest, and have made thorough preparations for dealing with it.

What may give Chinese leaders pause, however, is the possibility that unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang will have a contagion effect on the rest of China. When information flows were easier to control, violence in far-off Xinjiang had little impact on China proper. Today, by contrast, the Xinjiang violence dominates the consciousness of the whole country.

That's because propaganda authorities are now under pressure to be proactive about reporting incidents in order to pre-empt the spread of rumors. Even then, as we saw recently, this coverage itself may not be accurate and may not be effective in reassuring the population. And in any case, the net effect may be to undermine confidence in the government's ability to maintain law and order. It also tends to inflame Han nationalism, which as with anti-U.S. and anti-Japanese protests in the past can quickly spin out of control.

The Xinjiang violence may be a harbinger of what China can expect as the global economic crisis continues to bite. While the macroeconomic statistics suggest China has been relatively insulated by massive government spending and new loans from the state-owned banks, on the ground the picture is more mixed. Privately owned export-oriented factories have closed, the fresh credit has tended to go into speculative investments and infrastructure spending takes time to ramp up. The net effect may be to actually exacerbate tensions, as the poor struggle to find jobs while the rich and politically well-connected have access to government contracts and easy credit.

Several recent incidents suggest that society is becoming more volatile. Most dramatically, rioters fought a pitched battle with police in Shishou, Hubei province, in late June after the suspicious death of the chef in a hotel with connections to the mayor. As is often the case in these incidents, the extent of the violence can be attributed largely to mishandling of the initial protest by local officials.

But it is not hard to conceive of circumstances that could lead to a wider protest movement. For instance, the scandal over melamine-contaminated milk powder last year was handled relatively well by the central government, with punishments handed down to those responsible and compensation paid to the victims. But were such an incident to implicate the family of top leaders, or the government fail to resolve it expeditiously, the same mechanism that spread protests from Guangdong to Xinjiang could come into play.

As the government increases its involvement in the economy through stimulus measures, there is an increased risk that corruption will again become a source of public anger. This would parallel to some extent the late 1980s, when a dual pricing system allowed Party officials in state enterprises to profit by buying commodities at state prices and then selling them on the open market. Today the mechanisms are different, such as the "land grabs" in which officials take plots from farmers and urban residents with minimal compensation and sell them on to real estate developers. The huge sums of government money being spent means that the scale of the corruption could soon become much larger.

Another parallel to the 1980s is the increasing activism of intellectuals after decades of being silenced and coopted by the Party. Legal professionals and academics are pushing forward the idea of institutionalized rights for the ordinary citizen against abuses of power by Party officials, a movement known as "Weiquan."

The movement for political change today differs from the 1980s, however, in its emphasis on bottom-up activism, using a combination of the courts, media and other channels to put pressure on local officialdom. The recently published memoir of the late Party Secretary General Zhao Ziyang highlights how the liberal wing of the Party that once pushed for political reform was eliminated after 1989. After that, he noted, the Party elite became increasingly enmeshed in the business world, creating vested interests that seek to preserve the Party's monopoly on power.

How this shift will affect social stability remains to be seen. On the one hand, the split within the Party in 1989 was one of the key contributing factors to the protest movement gaining momentum and the ensuing crackdown. Today the Party leadership is relatively united at least on policy issues -- competition is largely between competing patronage networks. The main intra-Party conflict is between the center and the regions, as local officials seek to cover up their misdeeds at the risk of spreading instability.

In other ways, the current situation could prove more volatile. As the Xinjiang experience shows, when dissatisfaction reaches the point where people no longer feel they have much to lose, even a massive security force cannot deter violence. Tensions may be highest in the minority areas, but the feeling of marginalization and victimization by Party officials is the same. "As a barometer, it shows that China is not harmonious," Mr. Bequelin concludes.

(Radio Free Asia)  Witnesses Describe Two-Way Violence    July 17, 2009.

Witnesses to deadly ethnic violence between minority Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwest China have described brutality on both sides of the conflict.

A Uyghur shop owner said that on July 5 he saw thousands of young Uyghurs in the streets around People's Square at the heart of the regional capital, Urumqi, who had come out to demand an inquiry into the deaths of Uyghur migrant workers at the hands of a Han Chinese mob at a factory in southern China. "The first time I saw them was on People's Square. I heard they had gone there to request a meeting with officials and a reply on the [Shaoguan] toy factory incident, and that the officials didn't come out," he said. "The police starting detaining people, and after that happened the Uyghurs went to Nanmen district."  "At the beginning there wasn't any fighting. More than 1,000 people went to Shanxi Alley to protest," he said, referring to an area of downtown Urumqi.

Gunshots reported

Another Uyghur, who was in the vicinity of Urumqi's Grand Bazaar, said that just past 8 p.m. he saw clashes between Han Chinese and Uyghurs near the Baojian Hospital. After that, he saw a mob of more than 20 Uyghurs attack any Han Chinese they saw. "I went over to the Rebiya Trade Building. The Uyghurs were fighting the paramilitary police. I came back to Eryuan [the No.2 Hospital], and I saw more than 20 young Uyghur men. They attacked any Han Chinese they saw and injured them," he said.  He said that after 9 p.m. he began to hear gunshots near the Grand Bazaar.  He added that he saw a Uyghur mob beat a Han woman and he tried to stop them, saying they shouldn't attack women. He later saved a Han man and his mother and took them to hospital. "I think more than 500 people died, Han and Uyghur together."  "There were more deaths of Han Chinese on the evening of July 5. There were more Uyghur deaths on July 6 and 7," he said.

Trapped in hotel

Uyghurs visiting Urumqi on business from neighboring Kazakhstan said they were trapped in their hotel, also near the Rebiya Trade Building. "There [were] about 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese people moving around as a mob, breaking in around the Hualin district and saying that they would kill all the Uyghurs in Urumqi," he said. "They were moving around with sticks and knives, but the police did not stop them."

The three businesspeople, two men and one woman who had stayed in the same hotel together, said they saw heavy violence against Uyghurs in their part of town. "The number of dead Uyghurs right in front of my hotel building was around 150 to 200," the first Uyghur businessman said. A businesswoman traveling with him said that none of the violence against Uyghurs was described by official media.

‘It was chaotic’

"I heard men and women shouting and crying. I looked outside and saw that the Chinese police were chasing people. They were running, and girls were screaming," she said.  "It was so chaotic, and I got scared ... They were beating and kicking the young men and detaining them ... Girls were running away, crying and screaming. I did not know what to do. I just watched. So much blood was shed." "Towards the evening, there was a blackout, and then the shooting started," she said. A second businessman in the group added: "We saw Han Chinese citizens carrying metal bars and axes, chasing, beating, and killing Uyghurs wherever they saw them."

Beijing has blamed the ethnic strife in the region on Washington-based Uyghur dissident Rebiya Kadeer, who said the rioting in Urumqi was sparked after a peaceful protest demanding an investigation into the deaths of Uyghur migrant workers at a toy factory in southern China was suppressed violently by police. Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, religious controls, and continued poverty despite China's ambitious plans to develop the vast hinterland to the northwest. China accuses some Uyghur separatist groups of links to international terrorism.

(Anti-CNN)  July 17, 2009.

These are screen captures from how the Turkish newspaper Zaman re-purposed photos from the military coup in Honduras as if they came from Xinjiang, as well as other fabrications.


Photo from the Hangzhou (China) traffic accident under the title of "Cataclysm in Xinjiang"


Chinese caption from CCTV 4 says: Honduras coup: Zelaya's return was prohibited as his airplane had to detour to Nicaragua


The blue-and-white flag is the national flag of Honduras.


More blue-and-white flags under "Cataclysm in Xinjiang"




(The Australian)  China links Uighur riots with al-Qa'ida   By Rowan Callick.  July 18, 2009.

UIGHUR "separatists" have "close relations with the Afghanistan-based al-Qa'ida", the official English-language newspaper China Daily claims. It said yesterday that the aim of such Uighurs, blamed by Beijing for orchestrating the recent riots in which almost 200 died in China's Xinjiang region, "is not only to solicit sympathy, but to create animosity and repulsion among Chinese people towards the West".  "Their ploy is to make Chinese people unwilling to participate in the West-led reconstruction of Afghanistan. After all, disorder and violence in Afghanistan are to the great advantage of al-Qa'ida," the newspaper said. It said that it was no coincidence that the Xinjiang riots took place immediately after the US and coalition forces launched their fresh offensive in Afghanistan, "because terrorist groups in Central Asia have always had close connections".

China responded swiftly to the pledge made this week by the Algerian branch of al-Qa'ida to attack Chinese workers in North Africa in revenge for Beijing's tough measures to quell Uighur unrest, by issuing a warning to its fast-growing workforce abroad and strengthening security measures.

Beijing pointed to this threat to reinforce its portrayal of Uighur organisations, led by the World Uighur Congress, as terrorist in nature. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, while stressing that China would "take any measures necessary to protect the safety of its overseas institutions and citizens", dismissed speculation that Beijing's measures against the Uighur unrest could damage its relations with Islamic countries.  "Measures that the Chinese government take to stop riots do not target any specific ethnic population. We hope Muslim compatriots will understand the truth," he said.

China Daily said China's "rich experience" in helping farmers in the "Golden Triangle" in Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, bordering its own Yunnan province, "can play a bigger role to wean away Afghans from (heroin) poppy cultivation and put them on the road to peace and development". China Daily said: "Since a large part of the income from poppy cultivation goes either to the Taliban or al-Qa'ida, which use it to buy weapons and perpetrate their atrocities, what the Afghan people really need is effective economic reconstruction."

Which is where, it said, China fits in. Last year, it signed a deal to acquire for $US4.4 billion ($5.5bn), the Aynak copper project in Afghanistan, which claims to be the world's biggest untapped source of the strategic mineral. Security for Aynak is provided by US and Afghan military forces. 

China Daily said: "As Afghanistan's neighbour (they share a mountainous 76km border) China has suffered a lot because of the turbulence in that country. Hence, the sooner peace and order return to Afghanistan, the better it will be for China. But it would be a mistake to think military initiatives alone can win the day in Afghanistan. The latest US military offensive, irrespective of how powerful or well planned, will not bring permanent peace and restore order if it is not accompanied by political and economic initiatives."

(Asia Times)  Washington funds its Uyghur 'friends'    By Donald Kirk.   July 18, 2009.

The United States has stumbled almost unwittingly into the middle of ethnic conflict in western China from which there's no chance of coming out a winner.

Official American sympathy lies with the Uyghurs, seen as the victims of the long tentacles of Chinese power, exploited, impoverished and persecuted by Han Chinese. While the Uyghur cause is no doubt deserving, one thing is certain: the US is not going to go to war for them and is not going to finance militants among them to stage a revolt in the name of Uyghur freedom.

All the US can do on a formal level is to issue statements calling for restraint, deploring acts of violence, and talking about the democratic rights of oppressed minorities. Those words carry no threat, no suggestion that the US government can or will do anything to aid the Uyghur people.

No way can the US contemplate any form of intervention that would immediately be seen in Beijing as gross interference in China's internal affairs and have a ruinous effect on US-Chinese relations. Chinese authorities are already upset by the sympathy expressed in the United States for the rights of Tibetans. At least Americans have heard of Tibet. You would have great difficulty finding anyone on the streets of any American city who had a clue about the Uyghurs.

If the United States is not openly on the side of the Uyghurs, there are plenty of signs of substantive support. One that's getting some publicity in Washington is the role of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which calls itself a private non-governmental organization but dispenses grants with money appropriated by the US Congress.

As the Uyghur rioting simmered on, the NED was revealed to be dispensing more than US$200,000 a year to support the World Uyghur Congress, blamed for triggering the unrest. A Uyghur woman, Rebiya Kadeer, now living in suburban Washington after having made it to the US with powerful assistance from the US State Department several years ago, seems to be the organizer - and the recipient of much of the largess.

Carl Gershman, president of the NED, notes that this grant, and others to recipients around the world, including several in South Korea, are far too small to be responsible for a popular uprising. He also makes much of the "transparency" of the NED, arguing that all that it does is announced and out in the open.

The last thing he wants is for NED to give the impression that it's a front for the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US government agency. Those who receive grants from the NED make no secret about them either. At least two groups in Seoul, one that aids North Korean refugees, another that broadcasts two hours a day of news and views into North Korea, have told me that NED is the source of some of their funding.

As NED grants in Korea indicate, the NED's role is that of a defender of democratic principles, an influence in the spread of freedom as interpreted by Americans. "In western China, we support minority rights," Gershman remarked when questioned after a talk that focused mainly on North Korea. "The work is always peaceful. It has to do with the rights of people."

Gershman spoke with conviction, but nice words can hardly cover up the sense that he and his colleagues are engaged in a high-risk, controversial mission in a world in which anti-Americanism can flare up anywhere, often unexpectedly.

It's very easy to accuse the NED, and the government whose money it is dispensing, of having a destabilizing influence, of exercising undue pressure, of intervening in the politics of sovereign nations. If the causes that the NED espouses seem worthy, imagine how terrible they might become if the NED falls into the wrong hands, if unscrupulous people take it over and try to manipulate it for their own purposes.

For now, the question is how is China likely to view the NED support for a Uyghur organization that actively opposes Chinese policies and Chinese control. Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute in Washington sees officials in Beijing as responding by lack of cooperation with the US on restraining North Korea.

Upset that the United States might play a role, however small, on behalf of Uyghurs, the Chinese already see North Korea as a buffer against the United States and Japan. Although China may not want North Korea to test missiles or explode nuclear devices, the Chinese may also be asking themselves what's the point of pressuring North Korea to stop what it's doing when the United States seems to be our enemy.

United States support of the Uighur cause, on top of support of Tibetan dissidents may be all the more disturbing to China in view of the large ethnic Korean minority across the Tumen River in Manchuria. Might ethnic Koreans some day rebel against rule from Beijing? And would the United States stand by them, possibly extending them funding?

China already is under heavy pressure to view defectors from North Korea as true refugees rather than round them up periodically and send them back to face execution, torture, beatings and imprisonment in the North. Any sign of US intervention in Manchuria is sure to drive China closer to North Korea.

The result could be Chinese refusal to enforce the resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council after North Korea's nuclear test on May 25. China could ignore, or partly ignore, sanctions imposed against North Korean firms that stop them from exporting missiles, nukes and their components. The gulf between China and the United States would deepen with the Korean Peninsula caught between these lumbering national giants.

Gershman downplays the suggestion that the NED might be responsible for China's hardening its policy on North Korea. "China is not going to be influenced by a few grants that NED makes," he remarked. "China needs to be a player" - playing the role of influencing North Korea to abandon an increasingly confrontational policy.

It might seem unfair to suggest maybe the US Congress should stop funding NED just because China objects to some of its activities. The problem remains, however, that the US response to Uyghur protest may have an adverse impact on US-Chinese relations. Under the circumstances, China may be all the more reluctant to talk some sense into the North Koreans at a time when Chinese pressure is needed.

In fact, the NED may have vastly more influence than the size of its grants. The money it dispenses really may make a difference. Gershman seems uncertain whether to deny such an outlandish notion - or take a bow.

Either way, he's sticking to his guns. "You have to support human rights and democracy," he said. "You wait for the moment." As for the Uyghurs, "we're close to our Uyghur friends."

Did none of them give a clue as to the unrest that was about to erupt - the inspiration financed, in small but significant part, by the NED. "I did not," said Gershman, "have any sense of what was developing."

(New York TImes)  Chinese Question Police Absence in Ethnic Riots   By Edward Wong.  July 18, 2009.

As this shattered regional capital sorts through the corpses from China’s deadliest civil unrest in decades, another loss has become apparent: faith in the government’s ability to secure the peace and quell mass disturbances. In many neighborhoods, police officers remained absent for hours as the carnage unfolded, witnesses say.

The bloodletting here on July 5, in which ethnic Uighurs pummeled and stabbed ethnic Han to death, was just the latest episode in a nationwide upswing in large-scale street violence that had already prompted concerned officials in Beijing to look for new ways to defuse such outbursts. In all of the recent cases, not only were officials and security forces unable to contain the violence, but average people clashed with the police en masse — a sign of the profound distrust of local authority throughout much of China.

“In the last several years, the level of violence and speed with which these incidents can turn violent has increased,” said Murray Scot Tanner, an analyst of Chinese security. “It raises a very, very serious question: To what extent are the Chinese people afraid of their police anymore?” In parts of the Uighur quarter and in poorer, mixed areas of south Urumqi, young Uighur men with sticks, knives and stones went on a bloody rampage for about five hours while police officers remained mostly absent, according to interviews with dozens of residents. In some areas where police officers arrived but were outnumbered by rioters, the officers stood around or fled, witnesses said.

“Where were the police while people were being killed?” said Cheng Wei, 41, a landscaper whose neighbors, poor fruit vendors from Henan Province, lost a son in the riots. “They were completely useless.” Large street protests that turn violent, and that officials and security forces have been powerless to stop, have been on the rise in recent years, analysts say. The government usually avoids reporting the number of protests or riots in China, but an article in January in Outlook Weekly, a policy magazine published by Xinhua, the state news agency, said there were 90,000 such events in 2006, up from 60,000 in 2003.

The central government still can completely lock down areas when it anticipates protests, as it did across the Tibetan plateau in the spring or for the 20th anniversary of the student rallies at Tiananmen Square in June. But increasingly, security forces seem to have been caught unaware.

The rampage by Uighurs on July 5 was followed for days by reprisal killings by Han vigilantes who defied police orders to refrain from violence. At least 192 people were killed and 1,721 injured in all of the violence, most of them Han, according to the government. Many Uighurs say the Uighur casualties have been severely undercounted. The Han, who dominate China, are the majority in Urumqi, even though the Uighurs, a Turkic people largely resentful of Chinese rule, are the biggest ethnic group in this western region of Xinjiang.

In March 2008, rioters in Tibet openly defied police officers who, caught by surprise, largely disappeared during the first 24 hours of violence. At least 19 people died.

Last month, tens of thousands of residents of Shishou, in Hubei Province, clashed with riot police officers over the mysterious death of a hotel chef. A year earlier, in Weng’an County of Guizhou Province, at least 30,000 people rioted over the handling of an inquiry into the death of a 17-year-old girl, torching police cars, the main police station and the government headquarters.

Frustration at legal injustice and Communist Party corruption is a common thread. The violence in Xinjiang began as a peaceful protest on July 5, when Uighurs called for a proper inquiry into a factory brawl in southern China that had left two Uighurs dead. “The absence of an independent legal system is the party’s biggest mistake, because when people can’t take their grievances to the courts, they take them to the streets,” said Nicholas Bequelin, an Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

So concerned are Chinese leaders over the rise in mass violence and the growing contempt for law enforcement that they have taken new measures to ensure stability, with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic coming up in October.

Vice President Xi Jinping, pegged as the next leader of China, took charge of a committee to ensure social stability. Separately, party officials and police officers down to the county level have taken part in training for managing civil unrest. The drills include teaching them to disable local Internet service during an outbreak and emphasizing that leaders take part in dialogue at the front lines rather than resort to shows of force. But party leaders and police officers in Urumqi failed to avert disaster the night of July 5 even though government officials say the police knew as early as 1 a.m. that day that Uighurs were planning to hold a protest.

In the early evening of July 5, galvanized by Internet messages, Uighurs began gathering at People’s Square in the city center, near the headquarters of the regional Communist Party and government offices, to protest the handling of the earlier factory brawl. Police officers quickly encircled the crowd, witnesses said.

A mile south, about 6 p.m., people also began gathering on the northern edge of the old Uighur quarter, said Adam Grode, an American teacher who watched the scene from his 16th-floor apartment. The crowd swelled to more than 1,000 people, including women and the elderly.

There were at first only a few traffic police officers standing around. But by 6:30 p.m., a line of troops from the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force, had formed to the north and was trying to push the crowd down into the Uighur quarter. Some officers charged with batons. The crowd surged back against the troops, fists raised. Another wave of troops arrived. They were better equipped, with body padding and riot shields, Mr. Grode said. Some had rifles slung across their bodies.

Young men began hurling stones and bricks as the police attacked with batons. People also threw rocks at buses that had been halted. A full-fledged street battle erupted, though the police officers at this point did not use their guns, Mr. Grode said.

Just a few hundred yards south, at the busy Grand Bazaar area, there were few officers. The handful there just stood by as rioters set upon any Han civilians they saw, witnesses said. One taxi driver, who gave his name as Mr. Han, said he was dragged from his car by Uighurs with knives while policemen watched. He managed to escape.

After 8 p.m., rioters showed up in mixed neighborhoods about two miles southeast of the Uighur quarter. Police officers did not arrive until after 1 a.m., witnesses said. These areas were among the worst hit; witnesses said bodies were strewn all around Dawan North Road, for instance.

“The police arrived around 1:30 a.m., and they put down their riot shields to move bodies,” said Mr. Cheng, the landscaper.

Earlier, at twilight, back in the northern half of the Uighur quarter, officers sprinted through alleyways to beat down and handcuff Uighur men. By around 10 p.m., they had begun opening fire with guns and tear gas rifles, Mr. Grode said, adding that he heard occasional series of single-shot gunfire. Another foreigner also said she heard gunfire after dark.

By 1 a.m., the rioting had ebbed, and police officers in the Uighur quarter were putting scores of handcuffed men onto buses.

Han residents keep asking why security forces showed up so late in the southern neighborhoods, where Han live close to Uighurs and are clearly vulnerable. Mr. Tanner, the security analyst, said that 11 years after the Tiananmen Square protests, security forces were ordered to handle protests cautiously, but that if rioting broke out, officers and paramilitary troops could use “decisive force” as long as senior local officials had given approval. They are not supposed to let a riot run its course, he said.

But security forces also make securing government buildings, financial centers and other strategic points a top priority, Mr. Tanner said. Indeed, a local reporter wrote that he saw many police officers after 8 p.m. on Zhongshan Road, where government buildings are. This could help explain why officers did not show up in the residential areas until much later.

At the most basic level, though, the policing failure appears rooted in the government’s inability to understand the Uighur-Han relationship. “There’s a severe failure of intelligence about society and about social tensions,” Mr. Tanner said. “In this case, what I think they were clearly unprepared for is the level of organized intercommunal violence.” Two days after the killings by the Uighurs, thousands of Han with sticks and knives clashed with police officers as the Han tried storming the Uighur quarter. None of them trusted the government to mete out proper punishment or to protect the Han.

A man who gave his name as Mr. Li, waving a wooden chair leg, said, “I’m here to safeguard justice.”

(Reuters)  China police shoot dead 12 Uighur rioters - governor.  July 18, 2009.

Chinese police shot and killed 12 Uighur rioters in Xinjiang this month, regional governor Nuer Baikeli said on Saturday, in a rare government admission of deaths inflicted by security forces.

In Xinjiang's worst ethnic unrest in decades, Uighurs attacked majority Han Chinese in regional capital Urumqi on July 5 after taking to the streets to protest against an ethnic clash at a factory in south China in June which left two Uighurs dead.

The violence left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 wounded, mostly Han Chinese who launched revenge attacks in Urumqi days later. About 1,000 people, mostly Uighurs, have been detained in an ensuing government crackdown.

Asked to elaborate on the casualties, the governor said most of the victims sustained head wounds after they were bludgeoned with bricks and iron rods.

Police shot dead 12 armed Uighurs attacking civilians and ransacking shops after they ignored warning shots fired into the air, said Nuer Baikeli, a Uighur, a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia.

Of the 12, three were killed on the spot, while nine died either on their way to or after arriving at hospital.

"In any country ruled by law, the use of force is necessary to protect the interest of the people and stop violent crime. This is the duty of policemen. This is bestowed on policemen by the law," the governor said.

Police exercised the "greatest restraint", he added.

(Epoch TimesRebiya Kadeer: ‘Han Chinese are also victims of CCP's brutal rule’ July 18, 2009.

The capital city of Urumqi is “like a concentration camp for Uyghurs,” claims Uyghur spokesperson Rebiya Kadeer. But the Uyghur´s hatred isn’t targeted toward Han Chinese, the ethnic majority in China. It’s directed toward the Communist regime, says Kadeer, one of China´s richest woman until she became a ‘public enemy’ of the Chinese Communist Party.

It could have been an easy life for this comfortable, wealthy woman. Kedeer didn’t have to walk the path to become a ‘public enemy;’ she could have enjoyed her money and watched her eleven children grow up, taking care of her business activities.

But the situation of her people, some nine million Muslim Uyghurs in China´s Xinjiang region, didn’t allow her to keep a low profile. As a member of the Chinese Communist Party and also member of the People’s Congress, in 1997 Kadeer dared to openly criticize Beijing’s “Iron Fist Policy” in Xinjiang.

Two years later, she would be squeezed by this iron fist herself, imprisoned under inhumane conditions for “spreading state secrets.” During her five years in prison, she witnessed cruel torture methods that she describes in her book The Stormer of the Sky.

Since the end of 2006, the now 61-year-old Kadeer has been President of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) headquartered in Munich and Washington, DC.

In an interview with the Epoch Times, Kadeer uses dramatic words to describe the situation of Uyghur people in Xinjiang, words like “concentration camp” and “genocide.” She says that the iron fist is not the solution. “It has never been and never will be,” Kadeer is convinced.

ET: What is the situation in East Turkestan like at the moment, especially in Urumqi?

RK: The situation in East Turkestan is horrible. It is like a police state flooded with Chinese security forces. Urumqi is like a concentration camp for Uyghurs who live in absolute fear. The Uyghurs are afraid of their life from both Chinese security forces and the Chinese mobs.

ET: How high is the death toll of Uyghurs since July 5, according to the World Uyghur Congress?

RK: The death toll of the Uyghurs on July 5th is more than 400, according to a number of sources in East Turkestan. The number has certainly increased greatly after the Chinese mobs took to streets since July 6th to take revenge on Uyghurs by killing and wounding them. Some unconfirmed reports put the actual number close to one thousand. We will not know how many Uyghurs killed or wounded until China allows an independent international investigation team goes to East Turkestan and investigate.

ET: It is said by the Communist Regime that you incited the protests on July 5. Is that true?

RK: It is completely false. It is a common practice in China to blame me for anything that happens in East Turkestan and to blame His Holiness the Dalai Lama for anything in Tibet, just like last year. What sparked the July 5th protest was the mob attack, beating and killing of innocent Uyghur workers at a toy factory in Shauguan city in Guangdong province on June 26th.

ET: What relationship exists between the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghurs in China?

RK: The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) represents the collective interest of the Uyghur people in East Turkestan and abroad. The WUC does not have any direct contact with Uyghurs in East Turkestan but we are aware of the situation there and closely following the Chinese government's brutal rule in the region.

ET: Do you think Han Chinese in East Turkestan hate Uyghurs? If so, why?

RK: I do not believe that the majority of Han Chinese hate the Uyghurs in East Turkestan but some of them do because of the Chinese government's ultra-nationalist propaganda and indoctrination. So unfortunately, some Han people have been brainwashed to believe that Uyghurs are "barbaric, violent, lazy, terrorist, and separatist" and so on.

ET: Is the hatred of Uyghurs targeted towards Han Chinese or towards the … communist regime?

RK: Uyghur people's hatred is directed toward the Chinese government's 60-year long repressive policies, not to the Chinese people. In fact, the Uyghurs believe that the Han-Chinese are also victims of CCP's brutal rule in China.

ET: What would be the solution for all that hatred on both sides?

RK: The solution is for the Chinese government to change its long-standing repressive policies and create preconditions for the peaceful coexistence of Uyghurs and Chinese based on equality, respect and justice.

ET: How are the living conditions of Uyghurs in East Turkestan?

RK: Terrible. Most Uyghurs live in poverty. Most have no jobs. But the Chinese settlers’ living standard is much higher. They control and have everything: power, privilege and money. Uyghurs have nothing.

ET: How are your family members who are still living in East Turkestan, are some of your children still there?

RK: Yes, I have five children in East Turkestan. China imprisoned my two sons in 2006—one for seven years and another for nine years. I have lost all contact with my family since the Sunday's [July 5] protest. I hope they are doing well. But it is hard to imagine they are doing well as my family is targeted by the Chinese authorities for persecution.

ET: Hu Jintao, who was Provincial Governor in Tibet before he become Party Secretary, left the G-8-summit and wants to be in charge of the situation in East Turkestan himself. Is it true that he is not aware of many of the cruelties happening on the Xinjiang Government level?

RK: Mr. Hu is fully aware of the cruelties in East Turkestan. He returned to Beijing from Italy to support his cohort Wang Lequan, the party secretary in Xinjiang who initiated all the repressive policies, which amount to a cultural genocide, in East Turkestan for more than a decade.

ET: What is your stance on Beijing’s iron fist policy towards Uyghur protestors? It is said by the regime they face capital punishment.

RK: The July 5th protest of Uyghurs has demonstrated the total failure of China's repressive policies in East Turkestan. Iron fist is not a solution. It has never been and will never be. Execution of the Uyghurs will create more instability in East Turkestan.

ET: Is it a problem for Uyghurs if other Uyghurs work as officials for the Communist regime and are members of the Chinese Communist Party?

RK: Yes it is. But there are a lot of good Uyghurs, even though they work for the government and become a CCP member. But the real problem comes from those Uyghurs who betray their own nation to curry favors from Beijing, such as Nur Bekri, the current chairman. He is hated by all Uyghurs as a traitor.

ET: How high is the percentage of believing Muslims among Uyghurs in East Turkestan?

RK: The majority of Uyghurs practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam.

ET: As President of the World Uyghur Congress, you are not a spiritual leader. What role does Islam play in your organization?

RK: Uyghurs consider me as their spiritual mother. They look up to me to help them from their suffering under China's brutal rule in East Turkestan. I will do my best to help them so that one day they could live with human dignity and freedom. Religion is important to me and my people. But our peaceful struggle is not religious.

ET: Why does the Muslim world not speak up for the Uyghurs?

RK: At the moment, they are not quite aware of our situation. I am confident that they will speak up for the Uyghur Muslims in the future.

ET: What should the international community do right now?

RK: The international community should condemn the killings of Uyghurs by the Chinese government, urge the release of all the Uyghurs arrested and call on China not to execute the Uyghurs, and allow international investigation of what truly transpired on Sunday, July 5th.

(The National)  Keep your conflict simple – that’s how the US likes it  By Tony Karon.  July 18, 2009.

Last summer it was so much easier for Americans: “Today we are all Georgians,” John McCain declared at the height of the Russian offensive provoked by Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia. This year they’re having to work out if they’re Iranians or Uighurs. And it could get truly confusing if the conflict between Iraq’s Kurds and the government in Baghdad erupts.

This habit of presenting every foreign conflict through the prism of mythologised tales of great (and usually American or American-inspired) triumphs over “evil” has a way of distorting reality, sometimes with tragic effect.

When the Mousavi faction of Iran’s regime challenged the Ahmadinejad faction and protesters took to the streets, the US media immediately imagined another “colour revolution” of the sort that brought down so many post-Soviet regimes.

Mr McCain demanded that Barack Obama declare his support for the protesters and do his duty “as leader of the free world” (yes, the Cold War ended two decades ago but they still use that term). The complexity of Iran, the real desires of the protesters and their disdain for foreign intervention, were simply ignored.

Even many well-educated Americans believe that the Berlin Wall came down and communism collapsed because Ronald Reagan talked tough (“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”) and spent billions building up the US military, although any serious analysis of the Soviet Union would confirm that it collapsed internally under the weight of its own economic and social inertia, and the KGB saw it coming as early as 1982.

Nevertheless, America’s 24-hour news TV insisted that the protests on the streets of Tehran were another “Berlin Wall” moment, just as they did during the lamely staged tearing down of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad in April 2003.

It fits a script in which every regime Washington doesn’t like is compared to either Stalin or Hitler. Vladimir Putin, we’re told, is stuck in a “Cold War mindset” because he aggressively pursues Russia’s national interest against what he sees as US encroachment and encirclement. But how else is he expected to view the expansion on to Russia’s doorstep of Nato, the quintessential Cold War alliance, even after the US had pledged to avoid expanding it after 1990?

Equally, every challenge to a regime Washington doesn’t like is invariably a replay of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, usually given its own TV-friendly name: Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution” in 2005 was given its title by a US official.

A recurring feature of this habit is that any time an ethnic minority wants to secede from a regime disliked by Washington, they can be relatively certain of finding some support in the US regardless of the merits of their claim, and complex political conflicts are reduced to hopelessly distorted simplicities.

In the Darfur region of Sudan, for example, a longstanding conflict between farmers and nomadic herders over increasingly sparse land, which has taken a particularly vicious form, is reduced to a war-on-terror thumbnail of genocide by Arabs against Africans, a definition that demands military intervention and disdains engaging with the real political challenge of resolving the conflict.

Today, of course, the US is backing separatist struggles by Iranian minorities, just as it did with Iraq’s Kurds when they were fighting Saddam. Now that Iraq is run by a US-backed government, however, the Kurds’ secessionist instinct is a little more problematic – and those very same Balochis who are challenging Tehran are also trying to break away from Pakistan.

When initial reports from China’s western Xinjiang region said 140 people had been killed after demonstrations in Urumqi, the regional capital, the familiar script kicked in: references to China’s suppression of its ethnic minorities, and its brutal Tiananmen Square-style repression of peaceful protest.

In fact, what happened in Urumqi appears to have been infinitely more complex. Against a backdrop of resentment by the long-suppressed Uighur population at the settlement of large numbers of Han Chinese in their midst, an attack on Uighur workers at a factory thousands of miles away touched off a protest, which, when suppressed by the police, turned into a series of ethnic pogroms and counter pogroms by mobs of Han and Uighurs.

This was an ugly situation certainly rooted in the complexity of China’s development policies in more remote areas populated by minorities, but for many in Washington it was simply another case of a jackbooted Beijing marching all over its minorities. So inflamed were some in Washington that Congress plans hearings into “why Chinese agents were allowed to meet with a known persecuted minority in the US’s custody”.

This refers to the Uighur detainees at Guantanamo, members of the East Turkestan Independence Movement (Etim) captured during the US invasion of Afghanistan and subsequently interrogated by Chinese security officials during their incarceration at Camp Delta. Curiously, the question is framed in terms of why Chinese officials were allowed to interrogate members of this persecuted minority, rather than what they were doing in Guantanamo in the first place.

The answer, of course, is that the US had listed Etim as a terrorist organisation, and accused it of collaborating with al Qa’eda. Many Guantanamo detainees were interrogated by agents from their home countries, and it is unlikely that Congress is planning a wholesale investigation into why Uzbeks fighting an authoritarian regime or ethnic Tatars fighting Moscow were held there, much less question the basis on which people captured in Afghanistan were transferred to Guantanamo.

No, this was simply a “We’re all Uighurs now” moment. Unfortunately, such moments are seldom enlightening.

(CCTV 9)

 

(TVB Jade (Hong Kong)  High Definition TV Broadcast)

 

(Washington Post)  Flare-Ups of Ethnic Unrest Shake China's Self-Image   By Ariana Eunjung Cha.  July 19, 2009.

Six weeks after a violent confrontation between police and villagers in this old tea farming region, Xu Changjian remains in the hospital under 24-hour guard.

After being hit in the head multiple times by police, Xu's brain is hemorrhaging, leaving him paralyzed on the right side. He can barely sit up. Local government officials say Xu's injuries and that of other farmers were regrettable but unavoidable. They say that villagers attacked their police station on the afternoon of May 23 and that the police were forced to defend themselves with batons, dogs, pepper spray, smoke bombs and water cannons.

The villagers, most of them Vietnamese Chinese, tell a different story. They say that about 30 elderly women, most in their 50s and 60s, went to the police station that day to stage a peaceful protest. Four farmers' representatives, who had taken their grievances about land seizures to government officials a few days earlier, had been detained, and villagers in the countryside of the southern province of Guangdong demanded that they be freed. As the hours passed, several thousand supporters and curious passersby joined them. Then, farmers say, hundreds of riot police bused from neighboring towns stormed in without warning and started indiscriminately pummeling people in the crowd.

The violence in Guangdong was echoed in the far western city of Urumqi, when clashes between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese on July 5 killed 192 people and injured about 1,700. Both incidents have shaken China's view of itself as a country that celebrates diversity and treats its minority populations better than its counterparts in the West do.

The incidents in Guangdong and Urumqi fit a pattern of ethnic unrest that includes the Tibetan uprising in March 2008, followed by bombings at police stations and government offices in the majority Uighur province of Xinjiang that left 16 officers dead shortly before the August Olympics.

Each conflict has had specific causes, including high unemployment, continued allegations of corruption involving public officials and charges of excessive force by police. But for the Chinese government, they add up to a major concern: Friction among the nation's 56 officially recognized ethnic groups is considered one of the most explosive potential triggers for social instability. Much of the unrest stems from a sense among some minority populations that the justice system in China is stacked against them. In March, hundreds of Tibetans, including monks, clashed with police in the northwestern province of Qinghai. The fight was apparently triggered by the disappearance of a Tibetan independence activist who unfurled a Tibetan flag while in police custody. Some said he committed suicide, but others said he died while trying to escape.

In April, hundreds of members of China's Hui Muslim minority clashed with police in Luohe in Henan province when they surrounded a government office and blocked three bridges. The protesters were angry about what they viewed as the local authorities' mishandling of the death of a Hui pedestrian who was hit by a bus driven by a Han man.

"In the United States and other countries, if a few police beat one person, it is big news; but here in China, it is nothing," said Zhang Shisheng, 52, a grocery store owner whose right shin and calf bones were shattered during the attacks. Metal rods now support his shin, and he will not be able to walk for at least six more months.

"I feel that Chinese cops can kill people like ants with impunity."

Xiang Wenming, a local party official and head of the Stability Maintenance Office in the area of Yingde where the clash occurred, said that "if some violence happened, that is because some people didn't listen to the police."

He denies that the Vietnamese Chinese protesters were treated any differently than non-minorities in the same situation would have been and said that if they feel set apart from other Chinese, it is their own doing. "The way they speak is not like they are Chinese but like they are foreigners," he said. "They never appreciate the assistance made by the government. They don't think they are Chinese even after they have lived here for more than 30 years."

Xiang said that about 10 villagers, including an "old woman" who was "slightly injured," were hurt during the conflict. But he acknowledges that the official government count does not include the large number of people detained by police and treated at the station, as well as those who fled the scene and avoided going to the hospital for fear of being arrested.

Vietnamese Chinese who were involved in or witnessed the confrontation said hundreds were injured.

Zhang's neighbor, 63-year-old Xie Shaochang, is still bleeding from a gash in his head that he said was caused by police. And 56-year-old Zhong Yuede can no longer straighten his arm because it was so badly beaten in the attack.

The unrest in Yingde began with a simple land dispute.

The villagers, many of whom were welcomed to China from Vietnam in 1978-79 because their ancestors had lived here, were farming tea and vegetables until a few years ago, when the local government sold part of their land to Taiwanese developers. They have been petitioning the local government ever since for compensation in the form of money, other land or subsidies for houses.

The Vietnamese Chinese villagers said that despite their efforts to assimilate -- the younger generations speak Chinese dialects rather than Vietnamese -- discrimination has been a big part of their lives.

Residents say that in 2006, when there was a flood, the Vietnamese Chinese villagers received only five kilograms of rice per person -- worth about 20 yuan, or $3 -- while others received 200 yuan, or $30, from the local government. They also say that their roads have not been paved, while those of villages inhabited largely by Han people, the country's majority ethnic group, have been. They say that factory bosses and other employers discriminate against them and that it is difficult to find decent jobs.

"The government doesn't help us, mainly because we are Vietnam Chinese. We are poor and uneducated, so no one in our group works for the government," said Chen Ruixiang, 53, a farmer who raises silkworms and grows tangerines. "The government knows we are a weak group."

On the day of the incident, Chen Ajiao, 55, the village doctor, was in the front row near the police station door with the elderly female protesters when the soldiers came toward her. She said one of them took his baton and whacked her friend on the head. The woman lost consciousness and collapsed. Chen ran, and on the way out, she said, she saw other villagers bleeding from their wounds.

When bystanders saw the women being attacked, villagers said, they grabbed stones, bricks, bamboo sticks and anything else they could find and fought back. Some men took gasoline from nearby motorcycles, put it in bottles and threw it at the police cars to set them on fire.

Zhang, who was about 30 yards outside the gates, said four police officers came at him with batons and an iron stick. He said that after he collapsed in pain, he was taken to the police station, where he was not treated by doctors until he submitted to an interrogation. He said he was asked: Who organized this? Who informed you?

"Before, I thought police would protect people. Now, I am terrified of them," he said.

(Reuters)  Xinjiang riots pre-planned at 50 places: state media.  July 19, 2009.

Ethnic rioting in China's far western region of Xinjiang was well planned and co-ordinated to take place at more than 50 locations across the regional capital Urumqi, the official People's Daily reported Sunday.

The account of the violence, in which 197 people were killed and more than 1,600 wounded, followed the official line that Xinjiang's worst ethnic unrest in decades was pre-meditated.

Xinjiang's governor, Nuer Baikeli, told a small group of media, including Reuters, late Saturday that the rioting was an attempt by exiled separatists to split Xinjiang from China. But exiled ethnic Uighurs have denied the allegation, saying the unrest was sparked by deaths last month of two Uighur factory workers in southern China.

Xinjiang has long been a tightly controlled hotbed of ethnic tension, fostered by an economic gap between many Uighurs and Han Chinese, government controls on religion and culture and an influx of Han migrants who now are the majority in most big cities.

Beijing cannot afford to lose its grip on the vast territory, which borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas producing region.

Citing witnesses and footage from surveillance cameras, the People's Daily said that ringleaders had orchestrated the riots in more than 50 locations across Urumqi, including government offices and police stations, with rioters reportedly driven to some spots in groups.

In the days preceding the riots, the newspaper said there were "noticeably hot" sales of long knives, some of which were used in the attacks. Meanwhile the successful burning of vehicles suggested a "high possibility" such methods had been studied beforehand, it added, citing experts.

The presence of purported ringleaders dressed in similar clothing, including women in long black Islamic garb and black head scarves who issued "commands" to the rioters, was also noted by the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

"These kind of women were seen many times at different locations on surveillance cameras," the report said.

In the group interview with Reuters, Nuer Baikeli said Chinese police shot dead 12 armed Uighur rioters after they ignored warning shots fired into the air, a rare government admission of deaths inflicted by security forces.

The Uighurs are a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia.

Nuer Baikeli insisted police exercised the "greatest restraint" but the use of force was necessary to protect citizens and restore order. Stability has been restored, he added.

(China Daily)  Official: 12 mobsters in Urumqi riot shot dead    July 19, 2009.

A senior official of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said Saturday Xinjiang has the confidence to erase the negative impacts of the July 5 riot "in the shortest time" in an interview with overseas reporters.

Nur Bekri, chairman of the regional government, also said in the interview that on the night of July 5, policemen in the regional capital Urumqi "resolutely" shot 12 mobsters after firing guns into the air had no effects on these "extremely vicious" thugs.

Three of them died on the spot while nine died after failing treatment.

Restrained & Unexpected

"The police showed as much restraint as possible during the unrest. Many of them were injured and a 31-year-old officer was killed. He was hit by mobsters in the head with a stone," said Nur Bekri.

He added that many innocent people were injured in the head by thugs with iron rods, stones and bricks. Knives were also used.

According to the official, the riot has left a total of 197 people dead, and most of them were innocent residents. Nur Bekri admitted that they had never expected a student parade could turn into such ferocious violence.

He said that the local government had taken timely actions to prevent emergencies as soon as they received information on the students' plan.

"But we could never imagine that the mobsters were so extremely vicious and inhumane... We really didn't expect that," he said, referring to thugs entering small alleys and lanes to attack innocent people.

He said that these perpetrators had prepared many weapons such as rods, stones and took actions in various places at the same time, which experts said was similar to the terrorist attacks that occurred in other countries recently.

Nur Bekri said as the local situation is becoming more stable, "it won't be long" before the Internet was completely reopened to the public.

He said that during the riot, the Internet and cell phone messages became the main communication methods for mobsters, and it was necessary for the government to shut down the Internet to stabilize people's emotions and restore social order. He pointed out this is a measure all countries in the world would adopt in similar situations. Currently some professional websites are already accessible in the region, he added.

Confidence to Put Xinjiang Back on Track

Nur Bekri told reporters that the negative effects left by the riot would be erased "in the shortest time" and the government had the confidence to ensure the fast development of the region's economy.

He said worries about the future situation of Xinjiang were completely "unnecessary".

"Such a serious incident was cooled down in so short time, which itself shows a solid foundation for people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang," said Nur Bekri.

According to Nur Bekri, the local tourism industry, which was once hard hit by the riot, has already shown sign of revival. He said that the number of tourists from home and aboard had risen in the past two days.

Statistics show that thousands of traveling groups were cancelled after the riot, involving hundreds of thousands of tourists.

"Xinjiang is capable of providing a harmonious and safe environment for tourists... The riot will not affect the opening up policy of the region and we sincerely welcome businessmen from home and aboard to invest here," said Nur Bekri.

Nur Bekri refuted foreign reports which claimed that women of Uygur were forced to go eastward to work. "Such reports are completely untrue. Before these women were organized to work in other provinces, we must get permission from their parents and especially themselves," he said.

According to him, the local government spent 300 million to 400 million yuan to provide free courses on technology and language for people going to work in other places.

Every year, a total of 100,000 migrant workers from south Xinjiang will be organized to work in other regions to earn more money.

Nur Bekri also denied sayings that promoting mandarin Chinese in the region was aimed to eliminate or replace ethnic languages. "On the premise of learning their own languages well, it is very beneficial for ethnic people to learn mandarin and even a foreign language," he said, adding that in this way they will have more working opportunities.

Nur Bekri revealed that the Chinese government will spend a total of 3 billion yuan rebuilding the old town area of Kashgar, a key city on the silk road whose population is mostly of Uygur ethnic group.

He said most of the houses in the old town were made of brick-wood and were very unstable if an earthquake occurs. Also some residents live on high slopes and their houses may collapse at any time.

According to him, the rebuilding plan has already been approved by the UNESCO.

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

Stories of success encouraged Ayizemuguli Maimaiti to leave her home in Xinjiang's Shufu County to join the army of migrant workers heading to China's coastal east in May. "Many people took money home, and told us interesting stories, which we only saw on TV. I was curious so I decided to try my luck," said the 21-year-old Uygur woman, who works in a toy factory in Shaoguan City, south China's Guangdong Province. She said she traveled four days by train to Shaoguan. She tries to learn one new sentence in Mandarin every day.

She is one of 775 people from her hometown in Shufu working in Shaoguan, said Aihaiti Shayiti, county head of Shufu. "One third of them are women, and there are 70 couples among them," said Aihaiti, denying a report in the Washington Post on July 15 that Uygur women were forced to go east to work on pain of their families receiving hefty fines as part of an alleged "labor export program" organized by local governments in Xinjiang. "It is ridiculous to say the workers were forced to do the migrant work, since many of them go with their husbands," he said.

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

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

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

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

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

"About 100,000 people of different ethnic groups leave Xinjiang for city jobs every year, said Nur Bekri, chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government, on Saturday. "The job offers are accepted on the principle of free will. The local labor departments consult the parents of young people wanting to do migrant jobs," said Bekri. Many local governments organized free technology and language training courses to prepare minority people for migrant jobs, he said. "The regional government spent 300 million to 400 million yuan a year to provide the free courses," said Bekri.

"Migrant workers from Xinjiang may take some time to get accustomed to city jobs. Local governments may take some measures out of concern for their safety, such as buying group tickets for travel," he said. He said everyone's skills faced challenges in a market economy. "People in Xinjiang need to improve their skills to get accustomed to market changes," said the official.

(Phoenix TV in Chinese)

 

(ATV (Hong Kong) in Cantonese; note -- the video has more gory details than the one above)

 




(New York Times)  Countering Riots, China Snatches Hundreds From Their Homes   By Andrew Jacobs.   July 20, 2009.

The two boys were seized while kneading dough at a sidewalk bakery.

The livery driver went out to get a drink of water and did not come home.

Tuer Shunjal, a vegetable vendor, was bundled off with four of his neighbors when he made the mistake of peering out from a hallway bathroom when the police swept through the building he was in. “They threw a shirt over his head and led him away without saying a word,” said his wife, Resuangul.

In the two weeks since ethnic riots tore through Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, killing more than 190 people and injuring more than 1,700, security forces have been combing the city and detaining hundreds of people, many of them Uighur men whom the authorities blame for much of the slaughter.

The Chinese government has promised harsh punishment for those who had a hand in the violence, which erupted July 5 after a rally by ethnic Uighurs angry over the murder of two factory workers in a distant province. First came the packs of young Uighurs, then the Han Chinese mobs seeking revenge.

“To those who have committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them,” Li Zhi, the top Communist Party official in Urumqi, said July 8.

The vow, broadcast repeatedly, has struck fear into Xiangyang Po, a grimy quarter of the city dominated by Uighurs, Turkic-speaking Muslims who have often had an uneasy relationship with China’s Han majority. Uighurs are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang, but in Urumqi, Han make up more than 70 percent of the 2.3 million residents.

It was here on the streets of Xiangyang Po, amid the densely packed tenements and stalls selling thick noodles and lamb kebabs, that many Han were killed. As young Uighur men marauded through the streets, residents huddled inside their homes or shops, they said; others claim they gave refuge to Han neighbors.

“It was horrible for everyone,” said Leitipa Yusufajan, 40, who spent the night cowering at the back of her grocery store with her 10-year-old daughter. “The rioters were not from here. Our people would not behave so brutally.” But to security officials, the neighborhood has long been a haven for those bent on violently cleaving Xinjiang, a northwest region, from China. Last year, during a raid on an apartment, the authorities fatally shot two men they said were part of a terrorist group making homemade explosives. Last Monday, police officers killed two men and wounded a third, the authorities said, after the men tried to attack officers on patrol.

“This is not a safe place,” said Mao Daqing, the local police chief.

Local residents disagree, saying the neighborhood is made up of poor but law-abiding people, most of them farmers who came to Urumqi seeking a slice of the city’s prosperity. Interviews with two dozen people showed vehement condemnation of the rioters. “Those people are nothing but human trash,” one man said, spitting on the ground.

Still, the police response has been indiscriminate, they said. Nurmen Met, 54, said his two sons, 19 and 21, were nabbed as riot officers entered the public bathhouse his family owns. “They weren’t even outside on the day of the troubles,” he said, holding up photos of his sons. “They are good, honest boys.” Many people said they feared that their family members might be swallowed up by a penal system that is vast and notoriously opaque. Last year, in the months leading to the Beijing Olympics, the authorities arrested and tried more than 1,100 people in Xinjiang during a campaign against what they called “religious extremists and separatists.” Shortly after the arrests, Wang Lequan, the region’s Communist Party secretary, described the crackdown as a “life and death” struggle.

Uighur exile groups and human rights advocates say the government sometimes uses such charges to silence those who press for greater religious and political freedoms. Trials, they say, are often cursory. “Justice is pretty rough in Xinjiang,” said James Seymour, a senior research fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In a sign of the sensitivities surrounding the unrest, the Bureau for Legal Affairs in Beijing has warned lawyers to stay away from cases in Xinjiang, suggesting that those who assist anyone accused of rioting pose a threat to national unity. Officials on Friday shut down the Open Constitution Initiative, a consortium of volunteer lawyers who have taken on cases that challenge the government and other powerful interests. Separately, the bureau canceled the licenses of 53 lawyers, some of whom had offered to help Tibetans accused of rioting last year in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Rights advocates say that if the trials in Xinjiang resemble those that took place in Tibet, many defendants will receive long sentences. “There is a lot of concern that those who have been detained in Xinjiang will not get a fair trial,” said Wang Songlian, a research coordinator at Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an advocacy group in Hong Kong.

Residents of Xiangyang Po say police officers made two morning sweeps through the neighborhood after the rioting began, randomly grabbing boys as young as 16. That spurred a crowd of anguished women to march to the center of Urumqi to demand the men’s release.

But none of the detainees has come home, the residents say, and the authorities have refused to provide information about their whereabouts.

“I go to the police station every day, but they just tell me to be patient and wait,” said Patiguli Palachi, whose husband, an electronics repairman, was taken in his pajamas with four other occupants of their courtyard house. Ms. Palachi said they might have been detained because a Han man was killed outside their building, but she insisted that her husband was not involved. “We were hiding inside at the time, terrified like everyone else,” she said.

Although it was impossible to verify the accounts of the residents, as Ms. Palachi spoke, more than 10 people gathered to share similar accounts.

Emboldened by the presence of foreign journalists, the group decided to walk to the local police station to confront the police again. “Maybe if you are with us, they will give an answer,” said Memet Banjia, a vegetable seller looking for his son. “Probably they will say nothing and the next day we will disappear, too.” But the meeting with the police was not to be. As the residents approached the station house, a squad car roared up and the crowd melted away. The foreigners were ordered into the car and driven to the station house. After an hour’s wait, a pair of high-ranking security officials arrived with a lecture and a warning.

“You can’t be here; it’s too unsafe,” one of them said as he drove the foreigners back to the heavily patrolled center of the city. “It’s for your own good.”

(South China Morning Post)  Rumours abound in shaken city   By Will Clem.  July 20, 2009.

In the wake of the mainland's worst ethnic violence in living memory and a government clampdown on non-official sources of information, Urumqi has become a massive rumour mill. Both the Han and Uygur communities doubt state media are giving them the full picture, and word-of-mouth sources are filling the void - often underscoring ethnic divisions.

"There were more than 1,000 people killed on this street. The road was covered with mutilated bodies," Li Hui said as he drove his taxi along Dawan Road. "These were the acts of beasts. They have no humanity." Mr Li did not see any of the violence with his own eyes, but like many in the city, he believes what  he hears.

The street was the scene of some of the worst of the rioting on July 5, but even local witnesses only point to a handful of actual killings. "That's rubbish," Mr Li said. "The government just doesn't want to admit how horrible it was."

Rioting Uygurs swept through the city two weeks ago yesterday, and Han Chinese retaliated over the days that followed, leaving at least 197 dead and 1,700 wounded, according to official figures.

Many in both of the city's main ethnic groups believe the true figures to be considerably higher than the government's. For their part, Uygurs regularly quote a figure of about 400 deaths in the city, either at the hands of Han vigilante groups or due to police shootings. "We have no access to the internet, so we can only believe what we hear," said Assim, a 19-year-old in Liudaowan district. "It is not safe for us to talk about sensitive topics on mobile phones, so news has to go from person to person." Tales of roving gangs of revenge-hungry Han hunting down innocent Uygurs are accepted at face value, and passed on as fact, adding to a climate of fear in Uygur areas.

Xinjiang authorities have allowed an unprecedented amount of press freedom after the riots - in sharp contrast to what happened after last year's unrest in Tibet - but they have stopped well short of full transparency.

Residents' doubts were fuelled in part by the local authorities' initial reluctance to give full details of the violence, and attempts to play down the scope of Han reprisals. The first official death toll for the riots was 156, but no ethnic breakdown was given for five days, and the government failed to update the figures after mass Han reprisals on July 7. Only on Saturday did Xinjiang Governor Nur Bekri acknowledge for the first time that security forces had opened fire on rioters on the first day of the violence, admitting that 12 Uygurs had been killed by police.

That admission followed the shooting of three Uygurs, two of whom died, outside the White Mosque last Monday. The official explanation for the shooting was that the suspects had been fighting with a fourth Uygur, but this contradicted witness accounts that they had been attacking police.

The lack of transparency over arrests is another point of contention in Uygur communities. Officially, there have been about 1,400 arrests, but in Uygur districts that figure is treated with scorn. "They have arrested 20,000 of our young men," one mother in Saimachang district said. "They have just taken them away with no word at all. We do not know where they went, or what they have been accused of. Nor do we know when they will be released, if at all."

South China Morning Post reporters have witnessed combined police and paramilitary forces moving into Uygur districts en masse and police arresting young Uygurs, yet have not been given official explanations of the nature of any of the actions.

(South China Morning Post)  Xinjiang unrest was planned, says state media    By Kristine Kwok.  July 20, 2009.

The ethnic unrest in Urumqi two weeks ago was planned and co-ordinated to erupt at more than 50 sites across the city, in a terrorist act of violence, state media reported yesterday.

In a fresh effort to counter claims by overseas Uygur groups that the violent ethnic clashes in the Xinjiang capital were set off by police cracking down on a peaceful Uygur protest, Xinhua compiled a list of what it said was hard evidence that the July 5 riots were premeditated.

The lengthy article by the official news agency was also carried by yesterday's People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party. "This was a well organised, well planned and well schemed terrorist crime of serious violence," the report said, citing unnamed witnesses and surveillance camera footage.

Analysts and activists say Beijing's account of the incident would be a hard sell to the rest of the world.

Xinhua cited as key evidence the fact that violence erupted in at least 50 spots across the city in a short period of time - a sign that the incident had been organised. Videotapes showed around a dozen Uygur women dressed in similar outfits leading the crowds, the report said. The women wore black, white and brown long robes and black head-scarves and were seen waving their hands and shouting instructions to the crowd. Police told Xinhua it was not common to find Urumqi women in such outfits.

The report also cited police as saying that the kinds of rocks thrown during the riot were hard to find in Urumqi, indicating they were transported to the city beforehand. Sales of long knives, which were used as weapons during the riots, had also shot up in the preceding days, Xinhua said, quoting a number of knife sellers. And the rioters appeared to be well trained in how to set buses and other vehicles on fire. For example, some rioters opened the gas valves of buses before setting them alight, the report said.

Xinhua did not blame any person or groups for organising the unrest, which left 197 people dead. Shortly after the riots, however, Beijing accused the Munich-based World Uygur Congress and its president, Rebiya Kadeer, for instigating the incident. Both Ms Kadeer and the organisation have denied the claims.

Accounts of how the riots evolved differ between Beijing and overseas Uygur groups, and between Han Chinese and Uygur witnesses.

The government said the unrest was instigated by overseas forces that seek independence. But Uygurs said it started as a peaceful protest over the death of two Uygurs in ethnic clashes at a Guangdong factory. Things turned sour when police began a violent crackdown on the protesters, mostly university students. The Xinhua report said the protest was just a pretence that allowed rioters to distract police.

Ilham Mahmut, the World Uygur Congress' representative in Japan, urged China to allow a third party to hold an independent investigation.

Yitzhak Schichor, a professor of Asian studies at the University of Haifa, Israel, said the Chinese government would face difficulty convincing the world of its account due to its reputation as a dishonest authority. "It's possible that some unhappy Uygurs could have planned the incident, but the government has 90 per cent of the responsibility for its Xinjiang policies," he said.

(China Daily)  Viciousness of rioters 'unexpected'    July 20, 2009.

Police shot dead 12 mobsters during the July 5 riot in Urumqi, a senior official has said - the first time the government revealed the extent of force used by security forces in the worst violence in that region in decades.

On the night of the riot, police in Urumqi "resolutely" shot the mobsters after firing guns into the air had no effect on these "extremely vicious" thugs, Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur regional government, said in an interview over the weekend.

Bekri said three of them died on the spot while nine died later. He did not reveal which ethnic group the mobsters belonged to.

"The police showed as much restraint as possible during the unrest," Bekri said, adding that many officers were injured and one was killed after being hit by mobsters.

He also said the death toll from the unrest had risen by five, to 197, and most of them were innocent people injured by thugs with iron rods, stones and bricks. Knives were also used.

Families of the victims could receive a compensation of 200,000 yuan ($29,270) from the government and possibly another 200,000 yuan from an ethnic unity foundation set up after the riot with donations from the public, Bekri said.

Bekri said authorities had received information about the protest beforehand but had not expected such violence to erupt.

"We could never imagine that the mobsters were so extremely vicious and inhumane," he said, adding that the government believed the rioters had prepared weapons in advance for use in coordinated attacks.

"We really didn't expect that," he said.

Xinhua News Agency cited police authorities as saying it received reports that rioters had attacked people and property in more than 50 locations across the city on July 5. It said the rioters, most of them from other parts of the region, appeared to have been well organized, saying weapons were gathered in advance.

In the days preceding the riots, there were "noticeably hot" sales of long knives, some of which were used in the attacks, the report quoted vendors as saying.

The presence of alleged ringleaders, including several women in long, black Islamic garb and black head scarves who issued "commands" to rioters, was also noted in the report.

"Such dressing of women is very rare in Urumqi, but these kind of women were seen many times at different locations on surveillance cameras on that day," the report quoted unnamed local police authorities as saying.

Bekri said that as the situation is becoming more stable, "it won't be long" before the Internet was completely reopened to the public. He said that during the riot, the Internet and cell phone messages became the main communication methods for mobsters, and it was necessary for the government to shut down the Internet to stabilize the situation and restore social order.

Experts have warned that terrorism might be the real driving force behind the Urumqi riot.

The World Uygur Congress, which China alleges instigated the riot, is closely associated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group labeled by the UN and the US as a terrorist organization, said Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

"The ETIM is a big threat for the central Asian area. China needs more anti-terror specialists and should improve intelligence work on the ETIM and train more police in counterterrorism," he said.

Some Chinese legal experts also suggested after the Xinjiang riot that the government have more effective anti-terror legislation.

"The nature of the riot has the major characteristics of a typical terrorist attack," said Bo Xiao, director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the Standing Committee of Xinjiang regional People's Congress.

China should establish a special law for counterterrorism in addition to the current less explicit regulations scattered throughout different laws, he said.

(CCTV)  Xinjiang official gives overseas media interview   July 20, 2009.

(video included at linked page)

A senior official of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said on Saturday that Xinjiang is back on track and stable. He added he is confident that the negative impact of the July 5th riots will be erased "in the shortest time", and the region will remain stable. Two weeks after the riot, the chairman of Xinjiang's regional government, Nur Bekri, repeated the government's stance and actions over the issue to several overseas media organizations. He said the July 5th riot was not an accidental event. It was a violent riot plotted and instigated by separatists, terrorists and extremists. Nur Bekri, Chairman of Xinjiang Regional Government, said, "They plotted to disrupt Xinjiang and separate the region from China. That's their real aim."

According to Nur Bekri, the riot left 197 people dead, most of them innocent residents. He added that the next step is to have the criminals punished according to law. Nur Bekri said, "In China and in Xinjiang, separatist activities are never acceptable. It is against the will of the people and the country's law. So the criminals will face tough punishment by the law." Nur Bekri said the local government has taken timely actions to prevent more emergencies and the situation in Xinjiang is becoming more stable.

He added that, during the riot, the Internet and cellphone messages were the main communication methods of the mobsters. So the government had to shut down the Internet to calm people's emotions and restore social order. He pointed out this is a measure all countries in the world would adopt in similar situations. And he said it won't take long to completely reopen the Internet to the public.

Nur Bekri said, "A stabilized Xinjiang is the trend and foundation. We are capable of ensuring the stability of Xinjiang. Under these circumstances, we will promote its development in all fields, and improve people's lives. " According to Nur Bekri, the local tourism industry which was hard hit by the riot has already shown signs of recovery. He also confirmed the riot will not affect the opening up policy of the region. And he said business people from home and abroad are welcome in Xinjiang.

(The Organiser Victims of Chinese expansionism  By Shyam Khosla   July 20, 2009.

Ethnic riots between the Uighur Muslims and the Han Chinese in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, far western region of China, are the worst in recent history of communist China. Labour trouble in toy factories that has been badly hit by global recession provided the spark to the half-a-century-old tension between the two communities and soon spread to other parts of the region. Official claims that 184 persons, mostly the Han Chinese, have been killed and 1000 injured in the communal riots in the first two days are far from credible. Firstly, it is most unlikely that the Han Chinese are the victims. They were the ones who had launched a bloody counter-attack on the ethnic Muslims after the initial rioting by the latter. Secondly, China’s track record on transparency is so poor that one wouldn’t be surprised if the number of casualties turned out to be 10 times the figures dished out by the official agencies. Already the World Uighur Congress—one of the US-based separatist groups—has claimed that number of people killed in riots and army firing ran into several thousands, most of whom the Uighur Muslims.

Chinese are known to suppress information. Last year, the government claimed that 13 Tibetans had lost their lives during street protests in Tibet, whereas the Tibetan government in exile said that 220 people had died in police firing. The exact number of casualties may never be known, given lack of transparency in China. That President Hu Jintao rushed back home halfway through the important G-8 meeting in Italy’s L’Aquila city is a measure of the explosive nature of the trouble in the region bordering India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Beijing did succeed in suppressing the violent confrontation with an iron hand, but reports about clashes in certain parts of the region are still pouring in. Massive deployment of armed forces in the troubled region and mass arrests of suspects and leaders of the Muslim groups may have brought peace, at least on the surface, but the wounds will take a long time to heal.

The trouble in Xinjiang has to be understood in its historical, social and economic contexts. An independent Turkestan Republic that was created with the support of the former Soviet Union was largely inhabited by the native Uighurs—largely Muslims—till 1949 when the People’s Army captured it. It was with brute force that the region was merged with China. The Han Chinese constituted only six per cent of the population of Turkestan. Their population, as per the census of 2004, has drastically gone up to 40 per cent of the 20 million population of the region. This demographic change came about as a result of Beijing’s massive demographic invasion under the garb of “Go West” campaign to “modernise” the backward region and the subsequent arrival of big industries to tap oil-rich Xinjiang’s vast resources. The ethnic Uighur population has come down from 80 per cent in 1949 to 49 per cent, as of now. While a large number of the Han Chinese have come to live here and run industries and other economic activities, thousands of Uighurs migrated to other parts of the vast country in search of jobs and better living conditions during the last 50 years.

There has been a marked improvement in the region’s economy but Uighurs complain that fruits of development have been cornered by the Han Chinese while the natives have been reduced to the status of serfs, as is the case of the ethnic Tibetans in what is known as Autonomous Region of Tibet. Uighurs say they are legally denied positions of authority and power and that they have no option but to work as unskilled workers on low-paid jobs. This explains why a large number of natives left the region.

Racial discrimination, political persecution, denial of human rights and exploitation of natives are the major causes of unrest among the Muslims of the region, which have given birth to an underground movement for freedom from the Beijing’s yoke. Beijing’s response has been on expected lines—silencing the voices of protest by massive repression. But there is a strong undercurrent of disaffection and revolt against the communist rule, which largely remains unreported.

Recent riots are only a symptom of the simmering discontent. Rebiya Kadeer, a famous and rich businesswoman, who had been part of the Chinese elite till the end of the 20th century, had to migrate to US after spending six years in Chinese jails. Her two sons are still in Chinese custody. She has stoutly denied any hand in the riots but Beijing blames her and Al-Qaeda for engineering the riots to “defame” China.

A recent threat issued by an Algeria-based offshoot of Al-Qaeda that it would target Chinese interests overseas in retaliation to large-scale killings of Muslims in the restive region of Xinjiang tends to give credence to Chinese claims that Islamist terror groups are behind the recent riots. There are reports that the global jehadi community is gearing up for vengeance against China. It has caused deep concern in Beijing, as it is for the first time that Al-Qaeda has threatened it. There are several thousand Chinese workers in West Asia and North Africa, including more than 50,000 in Algeria.

Although there may be an element of truth in the Chinese charge of Islamists’ hand in the recent riots, blaming foreign forces for ethnic troubles is an old trick in the Chinese strategy. They blame Dalai Lama for promoting unrest in Tibet even though the Tibetan spiritual leader has given up the demand for a free Tibet and is willing to accept the genuine autonomy for his homeland as part of People’s Republic of China—a climbdown that is strongly resented by freedom-loving Tibetan youth. Tibetans have suffered brutal suppression at Beijing’s hands. There are similarities in the uprisings in Xinjiang and Tibet. Both were independent countries outside the control of Beijing before the emergence of communist China and are now victims of Chinese expansionism. Tibet flared up last year. This year, it is the turn of Xinjiang. Like the former USSR, China is an artificially created nation by suppressing local cultures and ethnic groups through demographic invasions and brute repression. USSR collapsed. Will China meet the same fate? Only time will tell.

(Huffington Post)  Fair and Balanced? Lhasa vs Urumqi   By Alexander Davenport.  July 20, 2009.

When violence rocked Lhasa in April 2008, the Western media had a field day. For weeks, American news outlets reported on the violence and the subsequent Chinese response. Despite the rather low death toll (19 people), political leaders across the Western political spectrum called for sanctions, an Olympic boycott, and more. Protests that followed the path of the Olympic torch were given added vigor and scrupulous press coverage.

After the recent deaths of hundreds of Hans and Uighurs in Urumqi however, many media outlets covered the case and then quickly moved on. Articles from even the predictably Sinophobic New York Times have dwindled just two weeks after the riots and have lacked the anti-China vitriol that pervaded the Tibet reporting last year. And just days after the violence, the rioting in Xinjiang was moved out of the spotlight on CNN.com, NYtimes.com, Washingtonpost.com, and Reuters.

This is puzzling. From a purely superficial view, the two instances are intriguingly similar: both involve disgruntled ethnic minorities attacking Han migrants and instigating widespread rioting. Moreover, American press was predisposed to run away with the story as the Xinjiang riots fit perfectly into the predictable, tired narrative that of the PRC as a ruthless, bloody oppressor. To be sure, the circumstances and context of the protests were different and the PRC has been a less than benevolent ruler of its border regions. This, however, does not wholly explain the differing press coverage. Why does rioting in Lhasa generate more interest than rioting in Urumqi?

While it is certain that China has become much more sophisticated in its engagement of the press since Lhasa, this does not explain away the American media's reaction to the Xinjiang riots. It is possible that the press is predisposed to report about the Tibetans and predisposed against reporting about the Uighurs given the underlying cultural attitudes towards both people in America.

For starters, Tibet is romanticized in American popular culture. Certainly, the Tibetan cause is worthy of attention and concern. But let's be completely frank here: there are millions of oppressed minorities across the globe. Few of them have Green Day play benefit concerts, Richard Gere as a spokesman, and near universal notoriety and support across college campuses. Simply put, Americans are besotted with the vision of Tibet as an idyllic land of monks and nirvana.

The Uighurs on the other hand, do not have a charismatic Nobel laureate leader, a Hollywood following, nor a political support network. Moreover, the Uighurs are--dare I say it--Muslim. And as a restive Muslim minority with a streak of violent separatist attacks, Uighurs are unlikely to engender much political goodwill on Capitol Hill or from the Washington Post editorial page in a post-9/11 world. A random sampling of American reader comments on Xinjiang articles recently shows an antipathy towards the Uighur cause as a result of its conflation with anti-American terrorist organizations. Whether America's less than balanced press coverage stems from this sentiment (or perhaps vice versa) is unclear. What is clear, however, is that American media has deemed rioting Tibetans a more worthy topic of sustained coverage than rioting Uighurs.

To be sure, the discrepancy in the reporting on both incidents is not in and of itself a cause for concern. After all, American media attempts to provide what the American public demands--no matter how warped the beliefs that fuel these demands are. It does, however, bear examining precisely why we feel the way we do towards one minority group but not the other--perhaps equally as important but slightly less photogenic--group. We should be sure that given the finger wagging approach commonly used by Americans towards China in regards to minority human rights, we have founded these beliefs on accurate and balanced information, not ingrained cultural stereotypes nor media misrepresentations. Whether our fourth estate is up to the task remains to be seen.

(The Age)  China's 'Great Firewall' will block progress   By Suk-wah Chung.  July 20, 2009.

I'VE been suffering from terrible withdrawal symptoms lately. I had just arrived home, turned on my computer, typed an "F" in my address bar and waited in anticipation ready to tell all my friends what was on my mind. But it was taking longer than usual and as I waited the "Great Firewall" spoke to me: "The server is not responding." With heart racing, muscles tense and teeth gritted, I realised this was the final shot in the battle between China's internet censorship and me. Whereas before I could freely update my status, peruse my friends' photos and "facestalk" others, I now have to go through a proxy server for my daily Facebook fix.

Since the riots this month in Urumqi between the Uighurs — a Muslim minority group — and the Han Chinese who make up the majority of China's 56 ethnicities, Facebook has been blocked in China. The social networking site has been accused of inciting Xinjiang independence groups with postings such as "East Turkestan (Uighur) Genocide by China!" and "China Stop the Persecution of the Ethnic Muslim Uighur Community".

According to huanqiu.com, a website that also runs The Global Times, a Government-run English-language newspaper, these groups overstep "the boundaries of normal cyber activities and become a foothold for Xinjiang independence organisations' collusion and alliance overseas". The block, seemingly, has the people's support with a poll carried out by Huanqiu claiming "80 per cent of netizens agree China should punish Facebook".

This is the latest example of internet censorship as a reaction to controversy. YouTube has been blocked since March, apparently as a result of footage of Chinese police beating Tibetans; Twitter went down in June during the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre; and Google sites were temporarily blocked in response to the easy access it gave to porn sites in its automatic search function. But the impact of increasing media control is more than just freedom of speech; it also has an economic effect. 

By blocking social media the Government is effectively cutting out a powerful, practical and revolutionary aspect of business advancement and creativity. Social media is increasingly becoming an essential part in any business marketing strategy. It enables businesses to gauge exactly what their potential customers are thinking; it is also useful for its viral and free marketing techniques.

In China, businesses are well aware of the thriving net culture. China, with about 300 million users, has surpassed the US as having the world's biggest online population. This has attracted the attention of Western businesses who realise the long-standing potential and are looking at setting up and maintaining offices in China.

When MySpace recently announced that they were cutting 300 of their staff and closing at least four offices outside the US, the company said that the China office wouldn't be affected.

Even the Chinese Government acknowledges the economic benefit of a large online population. Cai Mingzhao, deputy director of the Chinese State Council Information, said: "The internet is a strong driver of the reform and opening-up process of China and a new engine of the development of China's economy and society." If the Government truly wants to capitalise on the internet's ability for economic and social growth, it needs to realise that social media is integral to this.

A 2007 report by the China Internet Network Information Centre found that instant messaging tools are a user's first priority, followed by news reading and playing games. As a user is likely to be an only child, this gives a sense of community. You can see then why businesses value this: it tells them what the people want today, and in the future.

It's important to note, though, that while the Government blocks foreign sites such as Twitter and Facebook, their own sites are relatively safe. QQ and 51.com lead the pack and xiaonei.com, the "Facebook clone", is on the rise. But these sites are only for Chinese people and so have limited use internationally. With an estimated 3 million unemployed graduates this year, sites such as Facebook can help develop international connections and allow them to engage in personal and professional discussion.

The Chinese Government argues that control over the internet is vital for national security and stability, but any internet censorship move the Government makes usually results in bad foreign press and some very angry Chinese netizens. Social media is what will help drive the country's economic development, simply because that's where consumer preferences become apparent. While manufacturing and outsourcing will always be the main source of China's economy, social media will help it advance, particularly by providing ideas for the next generation.

In the meantime Facebook probably won't be back on Chinese computers anytime soon, so I guess I'm just going to have to get used to my withdrawal symptoms.

(Danwei)  The riot was much more serious than the one in Tibet last year: reporting from Xinjiang   By Alice Xin Liu.  July 20, 1009.

(APA)  This just came in from APA (Azerbaijan) about a report on Kanal D (Turkey):

Followed immediately by another report from APA several hours later.

True or not?  Look at the execution photo -- how likely are people to wear heavy winter clothes in the middle of a July day in Xinjiang?  If you insist, here is where the photo comes from (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT): Link.

(Los Angeles Times)  China says it has evidence deadly Uighur uprisings were coordinated.   July 20, 2009.

China says it has accumulated evidence that the riots that swept through Urumqi on July 5, killing nearly 200 people, were part of a coordinated attack, possibly by a group with an Islamist agenda.

Security officials were quoted Monday in the state press saying that surveillance videos showed women in long Islamic robes and head cover issuing orders to rioters. One woman was said to have given out clubs. "Such dressing is very rare in Urumqi, but these kind of women were seen many times at different locations on surveillance cameras on that day," the official English-language China Daily quoted police officers as saying.

The rioting broke out several hours after police had seemingly quelled a crowd of thousands of Uighurs who were protesting discrimination against them. The Uighurs, a Turkic minority, have become angry over an influx of Han Chinese migrants, who they claim have taken jobs from them and are endangering their religion and language. Gangs armed with clubs, sticks, stones and bricks rampaged through Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million that is the capital of the Xinjiang region, picking out Han Chinese at random and beating them, authorities say.

The official New China News Agency said the attacks began almost simultaneously at 50 different locations through the city.  "If there were no plan or organizing in advance, how could so many people appear in more than 50 places at the same time with the same violent behaviors?" an unnamed public security expert was quoted by the news service.

The Chinese government has insisted since the first days after the riot that the violence was premeditated, but it had not previously described the nature of the evidence. Chinese police and paramilitary have come under criticism for failing to step in during the killing spree to stop the violence.

Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based terrorism expert who has written widely on Xinjiang, expressed skepticism Monday about China's claims. "It is true that there is significant radicalization of a tiny segment of the Uighur community, but the Chinese government has not as yet presented convincing evidence that this was a coordinated attack," said Gunaratna.

Chinese officials were quoted in the reports saying that the rioters appeared to have come from outsider of Urumqi. Many witnesses in Urumqi as well said they did not recognize the rioters, who were in the words of businessman Wang Hua, whose shop was smashed, "a bunch of jobless hooligans."

The Chinese government now says that 197 people were killed, most of them Han Chinese. Over the weekend, the state media said 12 rioters, presumably Uighur, had been shot to death by police.

(The GuardianUrumqi's week of rage and fear.   By Tania Branigan and Dan Chung.  July 20, 2009.




(The Wall Street Journal)  China's Uighurs Lose Ground Economically   By Ian Johnson.  July 21, 2009.

As Chinese leaders look to prevent another outbreak of ethnic violence, they face a key question: how to spread China's growing wealth to its ethnic minorities at a time when those groups are losing control over their own industries -- even the most traditional.

This month's rioting in the capital of China's northwestern Xinjiang region left 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured, the government says. According to official statistics, most victims were ethnic Chinese, or Han, attacked by Uighurs, the once-dominant group in Xinjiang that is increasingly being eclipsed.

Although the immediate catalyst for the attacks appears to have been the murder of two Uighurs in a southern Chinese factory, longer-term problems have simmered. Like Tibetans, who rioted last year against Han partly in protest of growing Han control of their region's economic life, many Uighurs feel that Han are taking over Xinjiang's economy. Most galling to some Uighurs, Han seem to be taking over traditional Uighur industries -- from traditional markets to Muslim foodstuffs.

In downtown Urumqi, for example, the main marketplace is in Han hands, although it features sculptures of Uighur merchants outside and bills itself as a grand Central Asian bazaar to rival Istanbul or Samarkand. Even some large companies making halal foods -- those prepared according to Muslim purity laws -- are run by Han and not Uighurs. In tourism, which has boomed in recent years by featuring the exoticism of the Uighur culture, Han companies seem to dominate. The regional airline also was sold to a southern Chinese carrier and few service personnel seem to be from ethnic minorities.

"For the Uighurs, it's their homeland, but they're not the ones who have benefited from economic growth and development," says Jing Huang, a professor of Chinese politics at National University of Singapore.

More than 90% of China's population is Han, with the rest divided among 55 smaller ethnic groups. China aims to help its minorities through an array of generous policies, from easier college admission to soft loans and hiring requirements. Some of these have helped to create a small class of prosperous Uighurs who sit on government advisory boards and have risen to top levels in the region's government. The current head of the exiled Uighur opposition, Rebiya Kadeer, for example, was a prominent Uighur businesswoman before she left.

An exact calculation of ethnic income or hiring isn't possible because while the government collects such figures, it doesn't make them public. But available statistics indicate a stubborn gap. Xinjiang's economy has doubled from 2002 to 2008, but it remains reliant on energy -- especially oil, coal and gas -- for 60% of its economic output. The companies involved in these industries are run by Han companies, and visits to oil fields suggest that most employees are Han Chinese.

Rural statistics also imply ethnic inequality. Most Uighurs live in the countryside, especially in the southern part of the province. Last year, government statistics showed that rural annual income averaged 3,800 yuan ($560) in Xinjiang as a whole, but for rural residents in southern Xinjiang it is much lower. For example rural residents around the oasis town of Khotan earn just 2,226 yuan a year, according to government figures. Agriculture in northern Xinjiang, which is less arid and supports cotton farming, is controlled by the Han-dominated Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a quasi-military organization established to pacify the region.

Government programs have sought to level this imbalance. Soft loans to small-scale farmers, most of whom are Uighurs, have enabled them to expand production. The government has also encouraged large food companies to sign long-term contracts with small farmers to give them some economic stability.

"The government really has made a good-faith effort to improve minorities' livelihood," said Wang Ning, an economist at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. "It's at the top of leaders' concerns."

But anecdotal evidence suggests that Han control has expanded beyond the obvious areas of energy and large-scale agriculture. Huo Lanlan, for example, is a prominent Han entrepreneur who runs Xinjiang Jiayu Industrial & Trading Co. Her company offers 46 halal food products, from lamb and horse meat to camel and chicken. It is now one of Xinjiang's largest halal food processors, supplying Air China with food for its flights to Xinjiang and Muslim countries.

Most of her 300 employees, however, are Han, she says. She says she has a few Uighur employees, such as a cleaning lady, but all top positions are Han. "It's a requirement of all halal food companies to have Uighur employees," she said.

Equally striking is the Grand Bazaar in downtown Urumqi. Once a stronghold of Uighur entrepreneurs, most of the bazaar was torn down and rebuilt in 2003 by a Hong Kong developer and Xinjiang Grandscape Group, a Han-run company. Just like in the fabled Silk Road city of Kashgar, whose old town is being torn down by the city's Han mayor, many Uighurs seem uneasy by the developments.

The new bazaar now features anchor tenants, such as a Kentucky Fried Chicken and the French department-store chain Carrefour, both of which are run by Han Chinese. Located in the heart of the Uighur part of Urumqi, it hasn't yet been reopened because many of the tenants are Han and afraid to return there, according to Han and Uighur business people interviewed.

Across the street is what is left of the traditional bazaar, a ramshackle series of alleys lined with small-scale Uighur businesses. The area is one of the last parts of the city where riot police are omnipresent, and the road between the old and new bazaars is still blocked to traffic.

"We are not so well organized like the Han," said one Uighur who owns a stand selling jeans. "They have the bazaar now."

(New York Times)  China Says Its Forces Killed 12 in Xinjiang Mayhem    By Edward Wong.  July 21, 2009.

Twelve of the nearly 200 people killed during a deadly ethnic riot in the city of Urumqi were shot by Chinese security forces, the state news agency reported over the weekend. It was China’s first official accounting of the number of people killed by the police and paramilitary troops during the chaos in Urumqi, capital of the restive Xinjiang region.

Nur Bekri, the governor of Xinjiang, said police officers “ ‘resolutely’ shot 12 mobsters after firing guns into the air had no effects on these ‘extremely vicious’ thugs,” Xinhua, the state news agency, reported Sunday. Mr. Bekri did not identify the ethnicity of the shooting victims.

Chinese officials rarely give an accounting of people killed or injured by security forces during incidents deemed politically sensitive.

In the last two weeks, talk has spread quickly among ethnic Uighurs in Urumqi that Chinese security forces killed many Uighurs during the rioting, fueling anger toward the government. Furthermore, many residents of Urumqi are denouncing the police and the local government for failing to halt the violence even though government officials say they knew beforehand that a protest was going to take place.

At least 197 people were killed and 1,721 injured during several hours of ethnic bloodletting in Urumqi on July 5, officials say. The vast majority of the victims, according to the government, were ethnic Han civilians who were pummeled or stabbed to death by young Uighurs. In many cases, the heads of the Han victims were bashed in with sticks and stones.

The Han are the dominant ethnic group in China, but the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who are mostly Sunni Muslim, are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang. Many Uighurs say they face intense discrimination throughout Xinjiang.

Uighurs in Urumqi say the government has underestimated the number of Uighurs killed by security forces, and they assert that many Uighurs were killed by roving bands of Han vigilantes in the days that followed the July 5 rioting.

The government has given no estimate for the number of people killed or wounded in the revenge attacks. Hospital officials in Urumqi have generally declined to allow foreign reporters to interview injured Uighurs, but have allowed them to interview injured Han.

The Chinese government insists the attacks were organized and point to Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled Uighur businesswoman living in the Washington area, as the orchestrator. She has denied the charge. The government announced Sunday through a Xinhua report that violence had afflicted 50 locations around Urumqi by 9 p.m. on July 5. The government also said that the rioters appeared to have prepared caches of simple weapons in advance, and that women in black robes and headscarves issued “commands” to followers.

Though surveillance cameras are used to monitor the major avenues and plazas in Urumqi, the government has not released any tape from those cameras to show what actually happened on July 5.

An American teacher living in the Uighur quarter, Adam Grode, said in an interview that much of the violence he witnessed appeared to be spontaneous. He said clashes began after 7 p.m. when rock-throwing Uighur men and paramilitary troops with batons attacked each other as the troops were trying to contain a protest. “It didn’t seem like there was anything organized about it,” Mr. Grode said.

Government officials also say that the police knew as early as 1 a.m. on July 5 that Uighurs were going to hold a protest in the city center. But angry Han residents say that there were few police officers in the heart of the Uighur bazaar during the rioting, and that police officers did not show up in many of the worst-hit neighborhoods until five hours after the killings began.

By then it was too late.

(Xinhua)  Urumqi riots: Weapons prepared beforehand, division of tasks clear.  July 21, 200.

Nearly two weeks after the July 5 riot in Urumqi of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, social order and people's lives are returning to normal.

Yet in retrospect, a mass of of evidences show that the unrest was a well-planned violent criminal incident of terrorist nature. The weapons used were prepared beforehand, and division of tasks among the misdoers were clear.

According to the public security department, these misdoers were mostly from outside Urumqi, and several leaders among them wore similar clothes.

The weapons used during the riots were mostly stones, bricks, wood and iron clubs, as well as some knives and guns. Some businessmen in the city told reporters that knives became hot selling products two or three days before the unrest.

The department said two tickets were found in a captured suspect. One was a used ticket from south Xinjiang to Urumqi on July 4, the other was a return ticket on July 6.

Security department also found that the licence number of the vehicles used by thugs had the same tail number. According to experts, these numbers might relate to "hitting head", since most of the victims in the riots were attacked on their heads.

On the night of July 5, more than 200 thugs holding clubs and bricks rushed from Tianchi Road near Erdao bridge and Xinhua south street, joining the mass moving southward from People's square.

Information revealed by a principal from a company at the Tianchi Road showed that, at about 8:40 p.m., some thugs holding clubs rushed into the road and kicked the gate spitefully. A thug in blue T-shirt hit the security man by stones. A woman in a black robe ran to a man with about 30 thugs following. The man gave her several clubs and she gave out the clubs to the followers.

The principal said the stones and bricks used by these people were not from the Tianchi Road as the bricks on the road were not damaged. There were also some stones which looked like from some building sites. "It was like they had prepared them beforehand." Reporters saw the bricks taken from the gate of the company. Those bricks were 10 cm square, and some even had blood.

According to witnesses, the misdoers' wood clubs were actually used to support the small trees along the Tianchi road. Each one of them was about 1.2 meters long, with a diameter of 5 to 10 cm.

Local residents told reporters that about 60 small trees were planted along the road just in June. They thought the thugs chose here because of the "ready-made" weapons. Also, the residents said there were many alleys and lanes along the road, making it hard to chase the thugs.

Witnesses from other places also claimed that the stones used during the riot were never seen in the city.

Businessmen from the area of the city's woman-children health care center told reporters that they saw people dropped stones from upstairs on passersby and cars along the road. "The stones must be carried upstairs beforehand. How come there were so many stones in the buildings?" one of them said.

Many witnesses' accounts coincide with the records of monitor cameras in which young women repeatedly appeared in black, white or brown robes and black hoods and young men in blue T-shirts. Most of the women acted as leaders, agitators and organizers, while men committed violence.

Xinhua reporters spotted more than 10 women leaders at the area. A young man in blue Y-shirt and a young woman in black hood walked in front of the thugs, waving arms to incite the crowd. Officers of Ethnic and Religious Committee also saw some women leaders join the crowd at Longquan street crossing and cried to direct the crowd. These women repeatedly appeared in monitor cameras of different areas.

The public security department agents analyzed that it was not common to see so many people who waring special costumes in Urumqi. The riots were clearly planned beforehand.

(Guardian)  Han Chinese revenge attackers should be punished, says Beijing official    By Tania Branigan.  July 21, 2009.

Han Chinese who took part in violent riots in China's north-west region of Xinjiang should be punished, a senior official in Beijing said today.

While state media have extensively covered the events of 5 July, when Uighurs launched indiscriminate assaults on Han, they did not report Han revenge attacks on Uighurs two days later.

At least 197 people died in the inter-ethnic conflict – including 137 Han and 46 Uighurs – and 1,700 were injured.

"After the 5 July incident, some people in Urumqi, out of indignation over the crimes committed by rioters or sorrow for the loss of their families, did take to the streets," acknowledged Wu Shimin, vice-minister in charge of the state ethnic affairs commission, when asked about the events of 7 July at a press conference in Beijing.

"I believe all ethnic groups need to go through normal channels and adopt legal means to express their opinions; even opinions on unlawful incidents. All people are equal before the law; all ethnic groups are equal before the law. Anyone who has violated the law should be severely punished."

The government has warned it will execute those who used "cruel means" during the unrest. At least 1,400 people have been detained, of whom the majority are believed to be Uighurs.

With Urumqi under a heavy security presence by 7 July, paramilitary police used repeated bursts of teargas to disperse the Han crowd as it headed for a Uighur neighbourhood.

But witnesses reported attacks on Uighur businesses and Uighurs told the Guardian they believed at least four people had been killed in violence that day and the next.

Wu told reporters that increasing exchanges between ethnic groups with different customs, traditions and religious beliefs meant they "may run into conflicts and disputes from time to time".

He insisted all such problems had been handled "in a proper and timely way".

He said China's ethnic policy was "conducive to unity, equality and harmony" and had nothing to do with the riots, adding: "We know those behind the violence were ... seeking the independence of Xinjiang. To this, I can clearly tell them this will never happen."

Officials have accused Uighur exiles of orchestrating the violence.

Exiles deny the accusation and Rebiya Kadeer, who heads an exiled Uighur association and has been singled out for blame by China, urged the US to do more to condemn what she called a continuing crackdown on Uighurs. She has accused security forces of shooting peaceful demonstraters.

The 5 July riots were preceded by an apparently peaceful protest against the killing of two Uighurs by Han co-workers in southern China, which police attempted to disperse.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington DC yesterday, Kadeer said Beijing would believe it could act with impunity if governments did not speak out against an "international media blitz" aimed at demonising her and the Uighurs. She called for an investigation into the violence and crackdown.

Around 9 million of Xinjiang's 22 million population are Uighurs. Many complain about an influx of Han Chinese and government restrictions on Islamic practices, and fear their culture is being eroded.

Authorities in Xinjiang said they would almost double the previously announced compensation for families of innocent civilians killed on 5 July to 420,000 yuan. The state news agency Xinhua reported that donations for the victims had exceeded 270m yuan (£24m).

(Huffington Post)  If Only The Uyghurs had Twitter.  By Allison Kilkenny.  July 22, 2009.

More than 4,000 Uyghurs have been arrested by the Chinese government since July 5. Hundreds of civilians have been killed. Thousands have been injured. This violence follows the pattern of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, torture and execution that has enraged Westerners when it has occurred in places like Iran. Yet there is little attention being paid to the suppression of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority, in the Western media. The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is now concerned that mass executions of Uyghurs will soon be carried out, as promised by Chinese officials.

"We believe that the Chinese government's spin has influenced the reaction of the world community ... causing Uyghur repression to receive less attention than events such as the suppression of the Iranian people," wrote Amy Reger, a researcher at UHRP, during our email correspondence. The Chinese government has also been successful in cutting access to cell phones and the Internet, including Twitter. The government did this "in order to prevent a spread of citizen journalism such as that which occurred in Iran. We believe that, had this not occurred, news of the mass killing of Uyghurs by Chinese security forces may have been able to reach the outside world more effectively," Reger added.

UHRP is also concerned that there have been no reported arrests of Han Chinese who have reportedly beaten and killed Uyghurs in two days of violence in Urumchi. In early July, Han Chinese residents of Urumchi took to the streets with clubs, sticks and other weapons to seek revenge on Uyghurs who had injured and killed Chinese people on the previous day. "We condemn the killings and injuries of Han Chinese people. However, we also believe that large numbers of Uyghurs were killed and injured on July 6 and 7, and their deaths have not been reported," says Reger.

Reger and UHRP accuse the Chinese government of engaging in spin by providing only images of violence instigated by Uyghurs against Han Chinese, in an effort to "fan the flames of nationalism and divert attention from the serious, underlying grievances that drove Uyghurs to protest, at first peacefully." Reger cautions Western journalists to critically analyze any information given to them by the Chinese government and media as it is likely state propaganda.

The two trends of Uyghur coverage in the media are exclusion and suppression. In addition to the deaths of Uyghur activists being almost completely whitewashed from the news, the Chinese government is publicly calling for the censorship and suppression of Uyghur activists. Most recently, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei has called for the U.S. government to "restrict the activities" of Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer. The Chinese government blames Kadeer for instigating the violence in one of its most volatile regions, Xinjiang. Kadeer is a human rights activist who spent five years in jail in China and now lives near Washington, and has accused the Chinese government of repressing Uyghurs, destroying their culture and curbing their religious freedom.

The political pressure from Beijing isn't limited to heads of states. Richard Moore, head of the Melbourne International Film Festival, said two Chinese directors have boycotted Australia's biggest film festival over the screening of a documentary about Kadeer. The directors pulled their films after Moore ignored political pressure from Beijing. "It makes me feel angry, annoyed and irritated all at the same time, that they would try to interfere with our programme for blatantly political ends," Moore told the AFP news agency.

Reger stresses that subdued media coverage stifles the possibility of western solidarity movements. It's not that Americans don't care about Uyghurs. They just don't hear about the systematic slaughter of the Uyghur people by the Chinese government. "We ask the Chinese government to allow journalists access to East Turkestan and Uyghurs without any conditions to investigate the unrest in Urumchi and its aftermath. This access to East Turkestan will be critical in the coming days as looming executions of Uyghurs on political charges come ever nearer." (Urumchi Party Secretary Li Zhi said at a press conference on July 8 that authorities would use the death penalty for crimes connected to events on July 5. "To those who have committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them.")

Reger adds, "We fear that a number of Uyghurs are going to be executed unnoticed by the world. In order to prevent such state-sanctioned killing we require the eyes of the world's media and the world's governments to remain on East Turkestan and to speak out against a further abuse of the Uyghur people's human rights."

The United States government could aid human rights activists by flexing its diplomatic muscle and exerting pressure on the Chinese government to opens its borders to foreign journalists. Only with the presence of a free and open press can a proper western solidarity movement form for the repressed Uyghur people.

Update: The original article read that 200 Uyghurs have been killed. This Chinese government's figure is made up mostly of Han Chinese people. UHRP believes that hundreds of Uyghurs were killed in the unrest of Urumchi, and their deaths have not been officially reported.

(EuropeanVoice.com)  What Europe should understand about the violence in Urumqi     2007.07.23

Behind the brutality in China.

Slashed flesh. Cracked heads. Slit throats. Charred bodies littering the streets. These were the scenes in Urumqi on 5 July. There were also buses burnt down to their frames and shops smashed to rubble, but I will not dwell on these acts of lesser villainy. 

By slaying 192 men and women of Han, Uighur and Hui ethnicity, the perpetrators of the recent violence in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, staged an inhumane act of terror and committed crimes of savage brutality.

There is now evidence that this fanatical assault on innocent civilians was orchestrated by a separatist clique based outside China and organised by its branches inside the country.

Many of the assailants, after being captured by law-enforcement officials, were found to have flocked to the capital of Xinjiang from the south of the territory, a thousand miles away.

Before the incident, separatists based overseas issued calls for action – “without fear of sacrifice” – by internet or over the phone.

Does a conspiracy of such bloodthirstiness not warrant condemnation and a counter-strike? Is the effort by the Chinese government to restore social order not justified and worthy of the support of every just man and woman?

The Chinese people therefore naturally expected such condemnation and support from Europe. Many other countries sent such messages. We based that expectation on the knowledge that the spirit of humanism – and its compassion for life and peace – has been cherished in Europe since the Enlightenment. It was beyond our comprehension that anyone, in the face of the bloody atrocities in Urumqi, could look on nonchalantly as lives were lost, while voicing concerns energetically about the rights of criminals caught red-handed.

Europe's largely insouciant reaction is, I believe, partly the result of what, to our people, seemed outrageously lopsided reporting. In the aftermath of the incident, the European media focused mostly on the wailing of Uighur women, armed police on patrol and on the paltering of Rebiya Nadeer, a Uighur businesswoman jailed by the Chinese authorities in 2000 for endangering China's security. They also showed their rhetorical skills, leading to clichéd accusations about an absence of human rights in China.

I will not waste words here disputing this senseless stereotype. Here, I will ask only this: what about the rights of those slain, hospitalised, bereaved and dispossessed?

While it is a sense of frustration that has prompted me to write, fury at lopsided reporting has led my fellow citizens to pour out their feelings on the internet. Some say they will never again have any confidence in the Western media.

A similar sentiment prompted 350 people to post a protest against distorted reporting on a bulletin board at the Urumqi News Centre, an ad hoc facility set up by the Chinese authorities to assist foreign correspondents.

Reading Chinese blogs, which are unfortunately rendered inaccessible to European readers by language barriers, I found many moving stories of Han and Uighur people helping each other escape the thugs.

For example, two Uighur men protected with their bodies a police officer who had been knocked out, fending off not only bottles and stones, but also a looter who attempted to grab the officer's watch.

Checking out online surveys, I found 98% support for harsh punishment of the culprits and for the World Uighur Congress, of which Nadeer is president, to be labelled a terrorist group.

How I wish our European friends could gain such an unfiltered sense of the pulse of public opinion back in China.

However, neither sinister schemes nor slanders will prevent Xinjiang from moving forward.

The concerted efforts of all 47 ethnic groups in Xinjiang and the support of the whole Chinese nation will build a better future for the region.

An economy that is growing at a double-digit rate, numerous and large-scale construction projects, multi-lingual education and publications, 23,000 mosques in which to practise the Muslim religion, an administration in which more than half the civil servants come from ethnic minorities: these are among the reasons why Xinjiang will keep forging ahead, towards greater prosperity and harmony, and why it will remain a vibrant member of the Chinese family.

I believe that, like us, most Europeans wish the best for Xinjiang. I hope the torment and tragedy we witnessed this month will never happen again. I also hope people outside China will never again be misinformed in this way.

Song Zhe

Ambassador and head of the mission of the People's Republic of China to the EU

Brussels

(Panorama.am)  China Should Retaliate against Turkey by recognizing the Armenian genocide.  By Harut Sassounian.  July 23, 2009.

The Prime Minister of Turkey Rejeb Erdogan seems to have fallen into the bad habit of periodically accusing various countries of committing genocide. By doing so, the Turkish leader is inadvertently creating new opportunities for the international media to raise the issue of the Armenian Genocide.

In January of this year, the Turkish Prime Minister accused Israel of committing genocide during its Gaza offensive. Several Israeli leaders and members of the media reacted by pointing out that Turkish officials should be the last ones to talk of genocide given their country's culpability in the Armenian Genocide. Some members of the Israeli government were so offended that they threatened to retaliate by acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Erdogan returned to his favorite topic, this time accusing China of committing genocide. He was furious that several dozen Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs were killed in the Xinjiang province, during clashes with the Han Chinese who suffered many more casualties.

According to a Reuters report, Erdogan stated on July 10: "The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There's no point in interpreting this otherwise." Erdogan's unwise words elicited immediate reaction from the international media which pointed out his foolishness in accusing others of genocide, given his country's poor record on minority rights and its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide.

The Economist magazine reported that "in the past few days internet forums in China have been clamoring their support for Kurdish separatists," a subject that was practically unheard of in China before Erdogan's accusation of genocide! The magazine also stated that Turkey is now "finding itself in the line of fire."

The Associated Press, in covering Erdogan's characterization of the clashes in China as genocide, devoted an entire paragraph to the Armenian Genocide: "Turkey itself is extremely sensitive to the use of the term genocide.' Armenia says 1.5 million Armenians were slain by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I in what Armenians and several other nations recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century+."

Reuters also covered Erdogan's accusation of genocide against China, indicating that "the genocide label is particularly sensitive in Turkey, which strongly refutes Armenian claims that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One constituted genocide."
Sylvia Hui, columnist of Hong Kong's Asia Sentinel, ridiculed Erdogan for his flippant use of the term genocide. She wrote: "What's interesting about this accusation is not only the premature and almost casual way it has been pronounced (especially given how sensitive Turkey is to the word with regard to Armenian accusations that Ottoman Turks committed the first genocide of the 20th century), but also how it contradicts other things Erdogan reportedly said on the same occasion+. In any case, the Turkish leader comes across as thoroughly hypocritical or too eager to please Uighurs at home to have thought it through before making such a strong remark."
Liberal Turkish newspaper "Radikal" joined the fray by quoting from the editorial of the Boston-based "Armenian Weekly" on Erdogan's ludicrous condemnation of China: "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones." The editorial took Erdogan to task for having "the audacity to compare the killing of a few dozen Uighurs to genocide while it continues to spend millions to deny the killing of a million and a half Armenians." "Radikal" concluded by quoting the Weekly's sarcastic conclusion: "After all, even by the official Turkish account, there were more than 150 people who were killed in 1915."

The Chinese state press, not surprisingly, was even more critical of Erdogan. "The People's Daily" wrote on July 14: "Many Chinese citizens feel insulted by Turkish actions and suggest that China should change its attitude towards the Kurdistan Workers Party and support their appeal for independence, so as to make Turkey pay a heavy political price+. Turkey was once accused of committed genocide in Armenia by the West and its crackdown on Kurdistan Workers' Party has also stirred up numerous controversies." "The People's Daily" also published several letters critical of Turkey, one of which stated: "The Kurdish massacres in Turkey were a kind of genocide and Nazism. Linking China to genocide is like a thief shouting stop thief.'"
Another Chinese newspaper, "The China Daily," in an editorial titled, "Don't Twist Facts," urged Erdogan to "take back his remarks+which constitute interference in China's internal affairs."
The most effective measure China can take in response to Erdogan's hysterical accusations is to have the Chinese Parliament adopt a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

(Chinaworker.info)  China’s media controls and the ‘July 5 incident’ in Xinjiang  By Kate Devlin.  July 23, 2009.

The root cause of this is China’s unbridled capitalism coupled to the unrelenting dictatorial rule of the ‘Communist Party’. The recent unrest in Xinjiang, what Paul Woodward in The National has called the “greatest outbreak of violence since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989”, provides a good example of the government’s increasingly sophisticated manipulation of the media. According to the New Yorker, three or four years ago the Chinese authorities would punish any journalist who covered or discussed unrest in a way that might suggest social tension in the countryside. During and after the unrest in Tibet a year and a half ago, the Chinese government severely curbed overseas reporting, but insured that images of Han Chinese civilians being targeted by rioters were broadcast extensively. It manipulated the resulting Han nationalist backlash to deflect criticism of its pro-rich policies and insure a relatively untroubled Olympic Games. Since then, official media policy has undergone further changes.

David Bandurski of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong says that the new method of news coverage is part of a fundamental shift in the ruling party’s strategy to what he and colleagues call “Control 2.0”. This method has what these researchers call “overtures of transparency within the context of tightening control”. Bandurski says that, “An important part of this is that there is a much faster release of information though the official media. In the face of the media revolution the state has taken a sharp turn towards grabbing the initiative.”

According to Bandurski, as mentioned in Time Magazine in November 2008, “Control 2.0” (the Chinese government of course does not use this term) could be seen as dating from a policy decision of President Hu Jintao in 2007 and was boosted by a speech in June of 2008 calling for both traditional and new media to strengthen what Hu called “guidance” of public opinion. According to Bandurski this is a reaction to vastly increasing unrest all throughout China. Rather than old-style suppression, the government attempts to frame the debate and sets limits on discussion. Part of this policy is that reporting is encouraged by traditional CCP controlled newspapers but is banned by the newer generation of more sensationalist urban tabloids becoming popular in cities which rely on circulation profits. In addition reporting is focused on labor and ethnic unrest, which is due to long-term grievances, and attention is not given to unrest directed specifically at CCP rule.

According to Bandursky the Chongqing taxi strike and the rolling wave of strikes after this provided a test of the new media techniques. There was extensive media coverage of the strikes and much attention given to Politburo member Bo Xilai’s negotiations to end the strike. Reporting was tilted in a direction emphasizing the government’s compassion and attempts to find a solution. The downside of this method, however, was illustrated by Time magazine: “the continuing wave of taxi strikes underlines a danger that the more upfront coverage of controversial issues carries with it: the danger of copycat incidents in other parts of the country.

Bandurski and the China Media Project say that Chinese media coverage of the unrest in Shishou, Hubei province, in June was seen as a failure of the new media policy. The official Xinhua News Agency did not report the incident right away and there was a long delay in reporting that the area was calm and the unrest quelled. This slowness to react was criticized by the People’s Daily and other official media. The subsequent coverage of the unrest in Urumqi however was different.

The Christian Science Monitor quoted Rebecca MacKinnon, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Hong Kong, who says officials are studying media control techniques that are practiced elsewhere in the world. She goes on to say that these techniques “actually don’t work too badly”. Although not mentioned by MacKinnon these are techniques of persuasion and public relations practiced by Western governments and largely developed in the U.S. around the time of the First World War by Walter Lippman, Edward Bernays, and others discussed in the 1988 book  “The Manufacture of Consent” by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.

The CS Monitor compares the handling of the unrest in Tibet, which it calls a “public relations disaster for Beijing” with the more recent crisis in Urumqi. During and after the Tibet unrest the government moved to block the Internet, shut down Youtube (which is still blocked), moved to restrict TV and radio broadcasts of the unrest, blocked foreign media, and even tore down private and village-owned satellite dishes. MacKinnon mention that unlike in Tibet, foreign journalists were allowed into Xinjiang after the unrest but their movements were closely supervised and monitored. Although not mentioned by MacKinnon, this would seem to be similar to the U.S. policy of only allowing journalists to report on Iraq war who were “embedded” and whose movements were controlled by the U.S. military.
   
During and after the unrest in Urumqi the government’s media control took two directions. The Chinese government reacted quickly. As in Tibet communication technology was controlled. Mobile phone calls to Urumqi and the surrounding area were quickly blocked. The photo sharing website Twitter was shut down. Chinese search engines were purged of any references to the unrest. On the other hand, state TV not only admitted there was unrest but gave a great deal of coverage to it. Broadcast footage emphasized scenes of violence by the Uyghur Muslim minority against Han Chinese civilians. There were a few scenes of violence of Han against Uyghur, to give an illusion of balance in news coverage and thus enhance credibility.

As in Tibet “outside agitators” who were intent on “splitting China” were blamed for the violence. During the crisis in Tibet the Dalai Lama was blamed and during the unrest in Xinjiang, Rebiya Kadeer, head of the World Uyghur Congress was blamed. There was no discussion of corruption or oppression of workers leading to the unrest. A recent TV news roundtable broadcast in Beijing on the CCTV English language news broadcast interviewed several Chinese “anti-terrorism experts”. The discussion focused on a variety of Islamic terrorist groups said to be operating in Xinjiang, intent on splitting China. It was strongly implied by the interviewer and the “experts” that the U.S. and other Western countries should cooperate with the Chinese government in fighting the common enemy of “Muslim extremism”. There was no mention of the concrete factors leading to the unrest: low pay, exploitive working conditions, lack of any social safety-net, and the fact that Uyghurs feel increasingly marginalized economically, as well as suffering linguistic and religious discrimination.

The English language Beijing Review also provides a good example of the regime’s new methods of spin and media manipulation. In “Crisis in Xinjiang” in its July 15 issue the journal blamed what was termed “organized violent crime” for the unrest. The article briefly mentions tensions between Han and Uyghurs. It says there was an incident in which a fight between Han and Uyghur workers broke out when Uyghur men were wrongfully accused of sexually assaulting two Han woman. After that, government authorities “received a tip” that calls for a mass demonstration were being made on the Internet. The article says this provided an excuse for organized separatist violence. An anonymous government official was quoted as saying, “It was a violent crime that was premeditated and organized. It was instigated and directed from abroad and carried out by outlaws in the country”.

The article appeared to be trying to gain credibility by tacitly admitting there was some tension between the Han and Uyghur peoples, but blamed the unrest primarily on outside influences. Other articles in that issue of Beijing Review focused on the cost and material damage of the unrest. Articles talked about the loss of a feeling of safety that Urumqi residents now felt. One article quoted Han and Uyghur residents calling for calm and greater unity between the groups.

Discussions of the Xinjiang unrest in the official media do not mention the decades of marginalization faced by the Uyghur people. An article on the website Beliefnet by Aziz Poonawalla discusses how the past decades have seen an enormous increase of the Han population of Xinjiang. In 1949 Xinjiang’s population was 94% Uyghur and other Muslim minorities. Today they account for about 60%. The capital Urumqi is now 75% Han. Han Chinese dominate all levels of society and government. There is rampant employment discrimination. Agriculture and much industry in Xinjiang is controlled by large enterprises called bingtuan. One in six Han in Xinjiang are employed in this sector, but Uyghur are rarely hired by the bingtuan. Development has led to an increase in rent, making housing almost unaffordable for many Uyghurs. There is also suppression of Uyghur cultural and religious traditions.

Eric Anderson writing in the Huffington Post said that the Bush Administration’s war on terror provided cover for the Chinese regime to stage a crackdown on the Uyghurs. He mentioned how since 9/11 the Chinese government developed a multi-tiered system of surveillance and cultural suppression against the Uyghurs.

Although the Chinese media is controlled, PRC citizens are increasingly aware of the massive state corruption and oppression. The government’s increasingly sophisticated media manipulation can be seen as a reaction against the increasing role of new communication technologies and its danger to the authoritarian system.

(Yazhou Zhoukan)  The Yazhou Zhoukan Interview With Hailait (Heyrat Niyaz)

Hailate was born in Xinjiang and grew up in Xinjiang, so he has personal experience with the Xinjiang issue.  He has also conducted extensive research as a NGO worker and a former editor at the Xinjiang Legal System News.  After the Shaoguan incident, he paid attention to Uighur reaction on the Internet.  He judged that there will be a major incident on July 5.  At 8pm on July 4, he issued a warning to the relevant departments; at 10am on July 5, he met with the the XUAR principal leaders and made three proposals which were not accepted.  On the afternoon of July 5, he made observations at the scene and he believed that the illegal religious organization Hezbollah may be the organizers of the July 5 incident.  On the afternoon of July 5, Hailaite was interviewed by Yazhou Zhoukan.

Q: Where did you begin to feel that there will be an incident on July 5?
A: After the Shaoguan incident, I felt that there will be a major incident with bloodshed.  Even before the Shaoguan incident, there was a hint of a major incident in Xinjiang.  After the Shaoguan incident, I wrote three blog posts on the impact of this incident.  My analyses re-affirmed the judgment.

Q: Do you believe that the July 5 incident was systematically pre-planned?
A: Looking at it now, it was organized.  As for pre-planning, there was enough time between June 26 and July 5.  The key is that the government did not make any timely measures to prevent things from getting worse.  On July 4, I kept listening to Radio Free Asia and Voice of Amercia.  On that day, World Uighur Congress chairperson Rebyia and them were unusual because all their leaders came out to talk.  At around 8pm, I called a friend in the government that something will happen tomorrow and they should do something.  I gave them the website where they can listen to Rebiya's speech.  They said that they will report to their leaders.  On the next morning, I called again.  At around 10pm, I went with a friend to meet with the principal leader of the Autonomous Region.  I said that as a normal person with a conscience, I have to tell you that there will be bloodshed today and emergency measures must be taken.  Then I made three recommendations.  First of all, the XUAR chariman Nur Bekri should make a speech before noon; secondly, the Han merchants in the Uighur areas should close up and go home; thirdly, mobilize as many troops as possible and isolate the Uighur areas with road blocks and patrol.  This leader said that he had to confer by telephone.  None of the three recommendations were accepted.  Actually, I was not the first one to warn the relevant departments on July 4.  Someone else had made a warning just after 6pm.

Q: You said that there was a hint about a major incident even before the Shaoguan incident.  What do you mean?
A. The July 5 incident had two direct causes.  First, it is the introduction of bilingual educatoin.  Secondly, the government is organizing Uighurs to work outside.  These two policies were opposed by many Uighur cadres.  But anyone who says "no" will be immediately sanctioned.  With bilingual education, the first people to be impacted are those teachers who had been teaching in Uighur.  Several tens of thousands of teachers are faced with layoffs because their Han skills were not passable.  This caused the grassroots educators to become demoralized.  As for organizing Uighurs to work outside, the Uighur nationalists think that you can joke about anything except women.  The first few groups that were organized to work outside were mostly 17-year-old or 18-year-old girls.  At the time, certain local elders said: "Of these girls, sixty out of one hundred will become whores while the other forty will marry Han men."  This has caused a great deal of resentment.  In dealing with this matter, the government had not done its ideological work and it did not think that this issue could have a broad impact.

Q: How were ethnic relationship before these two policies were introduced?
A: In the 1950's, Mao Zedong criticized Han chauvinism, but the Xinjiang ethnic policies was not heading towards devastation.  Over the last twenty years, ethnic relationship has become more tense.  When Wang Lequan became Party Secretary, he applied a high-pressure approach to forbid any ethnic feelings on the part of the minorities.  For example, when an ethnic cadre makes a small complaint in any meeting, he will not get promoted and he may even be expelled.  He over-valued and expanded the issue of separatism.  Actually, the border region of any country will have some connection with neighboring countries in terms of culture, language and race.  Separatist sentiments are going to be present.  The anti-separatist struggle in Xinjiang is not just something for the political and legal departments.  It is the business of the whole society.

Q: Has the ethnic tension increased the sense of independence for the Uighurs?
A: My father was a third-region revolutionary, and he was even a soldier.  By reason, he should be even more typical in terms of any independence sentiments.  But according to my understanding, he does not lean towards independence.  I am even less inclined.  In terms of history, the Uighur people living in a desert region became an agricultural society very early on and developed a very intricate civilization.  Its ethnic character is that it is neither ostentatious nor belligerent.  Even when the Uighurs were at their strongest, they did not seek expansion.  When the Qidan people came, the Uighurs quickly surrendered; when the Mongols came, the Uighurs also basically gave up without any fighting.  Historically speaking, the Uighurs are not belligerent and they have no independent foundation.

Q: What you think about the idea of East Turkestan?
A: The Uighurs did not even the term East Turkestan.  The Europeans invented the term and the Turks embellished and then hoisted it on our heads.  We Uighurs do not possess a concept such as Turkestan.  Throughout history, the Uighurs have called Xinjiang "the land of the Uighurs."  They have never said that Xinjiang is "Turkey's region" or "the land of East Turkey."

Q: If that is the case, then why do so many Uighur independence elements use East Turkestan as their theoretical basis?
A: In the age of the Silk Road, the Uighurs still had the change to travel all over and therefore their thinking was more open.  When the sea lanes were opened, the Uighurs went into a state of self-enclosure.  Under these backward circumstances, it is easy to think "that only outsider monks know how to recite mantras."  When China first began to open up, many different ideas popped up and we don't know which ones are right or wrong.  In recent year, the Uighur elite has been oppressed by the leftist policies of the Communist Party and therefore their thinking have not been allowed to be expressed.  So when the people outside China cry "East Turkestan," many of our people don't know what it is about."

Q: How do the local Uighur intellectuals look at Rebiya Kadeer?
A: No interest.  Rebiya basically does not have any ideas.

Q: If the overseas forces can organize the July 5 incident, doesn't that prove that they still have a lot of power inside China?
A: Yes, definitely.  I keep feeling that the July 5 incident was organized by Hezbollah.  It is an illegal religious organization which has developed rapidly in southern Xinjiang over the past few years.  I have studied this organization.  It was founded by an Afghan.  When this Afghan person died, his student (a Pakistani doctor) re-organized and promoted the organization.  Hezbollah is an underground organization in China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In 1997, when Hezbollah first appeared in Xinjiang, it only had a few hundred members.  The data from the relevant departments last year said that this organization may already have 10,000 members in Xinjiang now.

On the day of July 5, I watched the rioters assault, smash and loot along Xinhuanan Road.  A hundred people gathered and dispersed in a highly organized manner.  They all wore sport shoes.  From their accents, they are basically from Kashar and Hotin.  I did not see them carrying knives.  I determined that they were Hezbollah because of the slogans that they used.  The rioters said, "Hans scram!  Kill all the Hans!"  Apart from those, there was also "We want to build an Islam nation!  We want strict enforcement of Islamic law!"  The goal of Hezbollah is to restore an Islamic government that enforces Islamic law strickly.  This is a branch of fundamentalism.  This organization is very tight and its membership is very peculiar in that they absorb young peasant men around 20 years old.  This organization is very backwards and have no social base within the Uighurs.  All those who have received even a slight bit of education would be totally uninterested in them.  The organizations that are infiltrated from the outside have only very small influence.  If the government goes after that, they can be completely eradicated.  There ix no need to have anti-terrorism in all sectors of society in Xinjiang.

Q: What do you think are the principal issues in Xinjiang now?
A: I do not think that the principal issue in Xinjing now is ethnic division.  The key problem in Xinjiang is still about economic development.  The so-called ethnic contradictions are ultimately conflicts of interests.  I have watched the video of Chairman Hu Jintao's speech to the Xinjiang delegation during the last two Congresses.  Chairman Hu also said that Xinjiang should pay attention to development, and he only mentioned "stability" in the last sentence.

(Washington Post)  China, Uighur Groups Give Conflicting Riot Accounts.  By Ariana Eunjung Cha.  July 25, 2009.

Three weeks after the riots that left nearly 200 people dead and more than 1,700 injured in the capital of the far western Xinjiang region, the Chinese government and Uighur exile groups have been circulating dueling versions of what happened, in an emotional global propaganda war with geopolitical implications.

According to the version of events offered by China's Foreign Ministry and state media, the ethnic unrest that erupted in Urumqi on July 5 was a terrorist attack by Uighur separatists. Women in black Islamic robes stood at street corners giving orders, and at least one handed out clubs, officials said, before Muslim Uighur gangs in 50 locations throughout the city simultaneously began beating Han Chinese.

In the account being circulated by Rebiya Kadeer, a U.S.-based Uighur leader who has emerged as the community's main spokesman, Chinese security forces were responsible for the violence that night. According to Kadeer, police and paramilitary and other troops chased peaceful demonstrators, mostly young people protesting a deadly factory brawl elsewhere, into closed-off areas. Then they turned off streetlights and began shooting indiscriminately.

Clear Details Absent

Chinese authorities have allowed foreign reporters access to the area where the clashes occurred and unusual freedom to conduct interviews, and they have provided evidence verifying the brutal attacks on Han Chinese. But few details are clear, and many witnesses who might be able to answer other questions -- Who set off the initial violence? Why were the police unable to stop the attacks? -- are either in jail or dead.

"The narratives of both the Chinese government and outside observers about what happened are hobbled by the lack of independent, verifiable accounts," said Phelim Kine, a researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, which is calling for a U.N. investigation into the incident.

Both sides face huge obstacles in trying to convince the world of their stories.

The Chinese government, after decades of covering up and denying such incidents, has a major trust problem, many analysts say. Chinese officials have said they will release video footage of the attacks, phone records and other evidence to support their view of the events in Urumqi, but have not yet done so.

For Kadeer, a 63-year-old former business mogul from Xinjiang who was exiled in 2005 and now lives in the Washington area, observers say the main challenge is convincing people that she can give an authoritative account of events that happened in a country she has not visited in years. Uighur exile groups have declined to provide information about their sources in China, saying they fear that those people will be arrested or worse if they speak out.

Resentment has been building for years between Han Chinese, who make up 92 percent of China's population and dominate its politics and economy, and Uighurs, who once were the majority in the far west, but whose presence there has shrunk in recent decades because of migration by Han Chinese.

Although the Chinese government says its policies have improved Uighurs' educational and job opportunities, some Uighurs say its goal is to assimilate them at the expense of their language, religion and culture.

In the past, the government has linked Uighur separatism to a group known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which it characterizes as a terrorist organization and blames for some recent attacks. Some analysts say that China exaggerates the influence of this group.

When it comes to the events of July 5, Dong Guanpeng, director of the Global Journalism Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said he thinks China is being honest this time, but that doubts have been cast on the information it is releasing because Kadeer is "doing a better job than the Chinese government in public relations." "Of course, Rebiya's statements have won sympathy in foreign countries," Dong said. "They contain beautiful lies."

Kadeer's version of events appears to have gained traction abroad. In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed solidarity with China's Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority group, and described the riots as "a kind of genocide." Protesters in Tokyo, Washington, Munich and Amsterdam have descended on Chinese embassies and consulates demanding a full account of what happened to Uighurs. A top Iranian cleric condemned China for "horribly" suppressing the community, and al-Qaeda's North African arm vowed to avenge Uighurs' deaths.

Zhan Jiang, a professor of journalism and mass communications at the China Youth University for Political Sciences, contends that the Chinese government inadvertently elevated Kadeer's status and gave her an audience that she does not deserve. Beijing has accused Kadeer of being the "mastermind" behind the clashes in Urumqi, accusations she denies. "The government should haven't portrayed her as a hero by condemning her. She was unknown at first, and she is a well-known person in the world right now," Zhan said.

Gaps in Both Stories

Meanwhile, China has hit back by assigning some blame to third parties. The Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper said that the United States backed the "separatists" who launched the attacks. It also said that Kadeer's organization received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, which in turn is funded by the U.S. Congress. Separately, the official China Daily has played up the terrorism angle, saying that the riots were meant to "help" al-Qaeda and were related to the continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Some analysts say there are holes in both sides' narratives.

For instance, according to Kadeer's timeline of events, the violence was triggered by police who "under the cover of darkness . . . began to fire" on the protesters. But witnesses have said the rioting began about 8 p.m. Beijing time, when the sun was still up in Urumqi, 1,500 miles west of Beijing.

Chang Chungfu, a specialist in Muslim and Uighur studies at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, said "the two parties -- the government and Kadeer -- are choosing the parts of the stories that favor their own agendas," in efforts to win foreign sympathy. He said he considers it "unlikely that a peaceful protest turned into violence against innocent people just because of policemen cracking down," suggesting at least a measure of organization to the Uighurs' attacks on Han Chinese that night.

On the other hand, Chang said, he is skeptical of the government's assertions that Kadeer instigated the attacks because she lacks that kind of power. Furthermore, he said, "the government hasn't released detailed information of those who were killed, such as their ages and identities, so even the number of dead is in doubt."

Li Wei, a terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, which is affiliated with China's national security bureau, dismissed allegations by state media of involvement by outside terrorist groups. "I have not found any proof that points at linkage between the riot and other terrorism groups, including al-Qaeda," he said. Li did say, however, that he believes Kadeer is in contact with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based terrorism expert, blamed some of the tension on Beijing's failure to differentiate "between terrorists who attack and the political activities of separatists." "If China is too hard on the Uighur people, then support of terrorism will grow," Gunaratna said. "The Chinese government must be hard on terrorists but soft on the Uighur people."

(FT.com)  Hunt for leaders of Uighur race riots fuels divide   By Kathrin Hille.  July 25, 2009.

Yusup raises an eyebrow as he flips through the stack of identity cards on a small wooden desk before him. Barking names, he summons the passengers of a long-distance bus to check them on a most-wanted list on his laptop.

Since the race riots in Urumqi, which killed more than 190 people in the capital of China's northwestern Xinjiang region, Yusup has been on duty at this makeshift post with 10 policemen, a desk and two laptops in a tent in the dust in Kucha, southwest of the capital.

Nearly three weeks after the riots, the hunt for those who took part, and for anyone else who may hold a grudge against the government and may pose a threat to public security, is in full swing. Southern Xinjiang, where indigenous Muslim Uighurs still account for the overwhelming majority of the population, is the focus of the crackdown.

Yusup, a Uighur, takes his job seriously. "The people here out west are not good people," he says as an explanation for the tight security checks, his lip curled with contempt. "I believe the police in your country are very gentle. We can't afford to be like that."

This is evident along Highway 314, which runs all the way from Urumqi to Kashgar, China's westernmost city, close to the border with Pakistan. At the checkpoints police have set up outside major towns, Uighurs are ordered out of vehicles and many are kept behind while Han Chinese are allowed to travel on after registering.

Security gets stricter west and south of Urumqi, with Kucha and Kashgar virtually under siege. Hundreds of police with machine guns recently guarded the main square in front of the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar. Kashgar and Kucha both have a record of violence. In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics last year, Kucha experienced a bombing attack, and a group of Uighurs stormed a police station in Kashgar, killing 16 officers.

The Uighur workers killed last month in a clash with Han Chinese in a factory in Guangdong, an incident seen as the trigger for the riot in Urumqi, were from towns near -Kashgar.

In spite of the propaganda about ethnic unity that blankets the region's airwaves, Han and Uighurs view each other with increasing suspicion. Prejudice, fervently denied but deep-seated on both sides, has broken into the open. Han Chinese taxi drivers refuse to go to predominantly Uighur areas and Uighur restaurant owners view Han Chinese customers with suspicion.

For Yusup, who has sided with the Han-led Communist party, this makes life even more difficult. Many of the Uighurs he checks view him with resentment. "People like him are worse than the Han. He is trying to be more Han than them," says a woman waiting to get her ID card back.

Yusup probably would not have ended up as a policeman. He a diploma in mathematics from Xinjiang university, speaks English and some Russian. But, as for many other Uighurs, there were few chances of finding a job upon graduation. Yusup evades questions about this, but other Uighur graduates from Xinjiang university say they cannot find work in other Chinese provinces mostly because of their ethnicity and accent.

The police force offers a solution, with reasonable pay and a safe job. For Yusup, that is Rmb2,300 ($336, 237, £205) a month and a motorcycle. But he is paying a high price. "No girls want to marry men like us," he says.

(The Sunday Age)  Chinese hack into festival site   By Mary-Anne Toy.  July 26, 2009.

A CHINESE internet attack on the Melbourne International Film Festival website has intensified the campaign against the screening of a film about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. A 24-year-old man from Nanjing, in eastern China, has claimed responsibility for hacking the site.

Festival organisers say federal and state police have been called in, security guards are being hired to protect filmgoers and staff, four Chinese-language films have been withdrawn and a long-term Hong Kong-based sponsor has pulled out of the event.

The hacker disrupted the festival site early yesterday, just hours after Premier John Brumby officially opened the 2009 festival at the Arts Centre. The hacker replaced festival information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans that were last night still disrupting the site. ‘‘We like film but we hate Rebiya Kadeer,’’ one message signed Oldjun said. It called for an apology to the Chinese people.

Festival director Richard Moore said staff had been bombarded with abusive emails since it was disclosed that the festival had rejected Chinese Government demands to withdraw the film about Ms Kadeer, The 10 Conditions of Love, and cancel her invitation to the festival. ‘‘The language has been vile,’’ Mr Moore said. ‘‘It is obviously a concerted campaign to get us because we’ve refused to comply with the Chinese Government’s demands.’’ He said the festival had reported the attacks, which appear to be coming from a Chinese IP address, and was discussing security concerns with Victorian police. Security guards would be hired to protect Ms Kadeer and patrons at the film’s screening on August 8.

State police are monitoring developments and federal police will probe the hacking.

After tracing the domain name Oldjun, The Sunday Age spoke to Zhou Yu, 24, an IT professional from Nanjing, who admitted hacking the site after learning about the controversy from the internet. Mr Zhou denied acting on behalf of the Chinese Government, stating he acted ‘‘because I am Chinese. I’m very angry — not only me, but I think all of the Chinese people— about this.’’

Last week, three Chinese directors withdrew films, with two denying they were forced to do so by Chinese authorities. Director Tang Xiaobai, who withdrew her film Perfect Life after being phoned by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said it was her decision to boycott the festival. ‘‘I do not want to see my film screened on the same platform as a film about Kadeer,’’ Tang told the official English-language newspaper China Daily.

Mr Moore said he had finalised a replacement film for Perfect Life onWednesday to fulfil the festival’s contract with longtime sponsor the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. ‘‘We paid the screening fee and the new film, Claustrophobia, was en route to Melbourne, then this morning I get an email saying they’ve withdrawn it. No explanation,’’ Mr Moore said. The festival will now lose the Hong Kong sponsorship.

The Kadeer film, made by Melbourne director Jeff Daniels and partly financed by Film Victoria and Screen Australia, is about the impact on Ms Kadeer’s family of her campaign for greater autonomy for China’s estimated 10 million Uighurs. Beijing accuses Ms Kadeer of masterminding the riots on July 5 in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, in which almost 200 people died. She denies the claim.

Bruce Jacobs, professor of Asian languages and studies at Monash University, said Beijing was clearly behind the campaign against the film festival and was vilifying Ms Kadeer in the same way it targeted the Dalai Lama.

(The New Yorker)  We Are All Melbournian   By Richard Brody    July 27, 2009.

According to the Melbourne newspaper The Age, Chinese hackers protesting the Melbourne International Film Festival’s screenings of the Australian director Jeff Daniels’s documentary “10 Conditions of Love,” about the exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer (who will be on hand), attacked the festival’s Web site: they “replaced festival information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans and were [Saturday] night continuing to disrupt the site by spamming.” Evan Osnos reported on his New Yorker blog about the withdrawals of Chinese films and filmmakers (in particular, the great director Jia Zhangke, whom Evan recently profiled in the magazine) from the festival in response to the planned screening; as the controversy mounts, film festivals of the world should be trembling—and uniting. Films critical of governments are a staple of the cinema, and of film festivals. At this moment, the world’s film-festival organizers should be uniting in defense of the right to program without fear films they deem worthwhile.

It’s important to remember that China heavily censors the Internet—and that e-mail messages hostile to Kadeer, “10 Conditions,” and the festival screening are allowed to be sent, while any in favor of the film certainly couldn’t get through from China to the Melbourne Festival. Therefore the hack attack should be understood as the tacit work of the Chinese government, and film festivals shouldn’t stand for it. “10 Conditions of Love” (which I haven’t seen) should be instantly programmed by all upcoming festivals; I’d like to see it included in the Toronto International Film Festival, in September, in its important documentary section; in the New York Film Festival, coming in October; in Venice, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam, Cannes—all the festivals that matter in the industry should show Daniels’s film. Festival directors would thereby affirm their solidarity with the Melbourne Festival and with its courageous director, Richard Moore, against government pressure.

And what if, in response, China should keep its films and filmmakers out of these same festivals? Then the films would become, in effect, samizdat (and would end up being seen, eventually, as such)—and China would no longer be able to make use of these films’ release to international festivals as a form of advertising for an ambiguous and tenuous policy of tolerance (which Evan reported on recently in the magazine)—or, rather, as an international cosmetic covering for repressive practices at home.

(Atlanta Journal Constitution)  Complexity of Chinese unrest escaped media   By Fred S. Teng.  July 27, 2009.

When violence erupted this month in the city of Urumqi, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, foreign reporters rushed to the scene to get a first-hand account of what had turned such a normally quiet city into a fear-torn terrain overrun by angry mobs and a fierce crackdown. As the violence escalated, the media struggled to find its center of gravity — who was responsible? What was the extent of the death and destruction? Was there a potentially long-term, destabilizing element to the event or was it a spasm?

The media’s failure to accurately and definitively cover these events has resulted in some powerful misunderstandings of it, depending on where you are sitting.

In the weeks that have passed since the crisis in Xinjiang, the headline for Western audiences has been “brutal Chinese majority tries to crush a minority group.” In China, however, audiences have been led to believe that the violence in Xinjiang was an orchestrated attempt by ethnic Uighurs to terrorize Han Chinese in the region. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has since stood with his Turkic-speaking Uighur brethren, calling the violence “a genocide.” Likewise, Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of the World Uighur Congress and the prime target of China’s outside meddling accusations, has alleged that more than 1,000 Uighurs have been killed in Xinjiang — a far cry from the government’s official tally of 192 dead, 137 of which were reportedly of the Han ethnicity.

Sadly, as each part of the world presents its own narrative of the events in Xinjiang, there has been scant coverage of the events in Xinjiang that can be called genuinely objective.

In the Western media, coverage of Han attacks comes with little to no investigation of Uighur attacks against Han, who reportedly suffered the greater number of casualties in the conflict and who evidence suggests were the first victims. Much sympathy is given to the generally poorer, less-educated minority — and for good reason. Before this incident, the conditions of the Uighurs were almost wholly neglected in media coverage when compared with their neighbors to the south in Tibet.

The truth is that each side in the conflict has its own grievances and should be portrayed as such in the media. Overly biased reporting in either direction only threatens to fan the flames of extremism on both sides. And given the nearly limitless access granted to foreign reporters in Urumqi (compared with their outright forbiddance from Tibet after last year’s unrest), a richer and more constructive story deserves to be told.

From the point of view of some Han Chinese, Uighurs are “spoiled” because of government-enforced affirmative action programs. Uighur students are given boosts on standardized test scores, families are exempted from the one-child policy, and a good number are given jobs in far-off provinces that are far more lucrative than ones they can find in Xinjiang.

Conversely, some Uighurs are embittered toward the majority Han Chinese, viewing them as quasi-imperialists because of their better-paying and more powerful employment opportunities in Xinjiang. Uighurs view the Han as encroaching on the very land and culture that was once virtually all theirs: Han presence in Xinjiang has risen from 6 percent to 40 percent since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

In the end, neither of these perceptions tells the whole story.

At its core, China is an ethnic melting pot, with 56 distinct ethnic groups and even more linguistic and historical divides. Antagonisms certainly exist between some groups, but fundamentally China is a diverse country full of powerful narratives of struggle and success. In this regard, they are comparable to, say, the United States, having faced its own fair share of racial inequalities and tensions over the years.

Although it is an important function of the media to be able to air the grievances of the bereaved, dispossessed and disenfranchised, this should not be an end in and of itself. The loss of hundreds of innocent civilian lives should certainly not be overlooked; however, the continued analysis of what divisive forces caused the violence should be geared toward what real solutions are available in Xinjiang.

Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang remain under martial law today. As some reports would lead you to believe, China is clenching the Uighurs and their cherished culture in a deadly vice. But is this really the case? The best way forward is for the media to aid our understanding of the unity that exists not just between Uighurs and Han, but between Chinese and Americans, men and women, and Muslims, Christians and Jews. With a greater understanding purveyed, racist extremism no longer has an excuse to cause such needless bloodshed.

Fred S. Teng is chief executive officer of NewsChina magazine, based in New York. He is president of the Chinese Community Relations Council and a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

(Asia Times)  Xinjiang riots confound Islamists By Sreeram Chaulia   July 29, 2009.

Despite the outbreak of devastating violence affecting the Uyghur Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region, the Muslim world has not shrieked unanimously or decisively in outrage. More Muslims in far-flung parts of the planet protested the denial of democratic rights in Iran in the last few days than the plight of their co-religionists in Xinjiang.

Since the state crackdown after the street battles took hold in Urumqi, Kashgar and other parts in Xinjiang, the protest banner has been languishing in the hands of only a handful of ethnic

Uyghur citadels outside China. This is a far cry from millions of angry fellow Muslims moved by solidarity for Uyghur activists demanding self-determination from Chinese rule.

As an issue, Xinjiang has failed to whip up pan-Islamic fervor despite the steady marginalization of the largely Sunni Muslim Uyghurs under Chinese communist control.

Over the years, spleen vented at abuses or humiliation of Muslims and their sacred symbols has been channeled into mass protests from Morocco to Malaysia. The wave of disturbances following the publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Denmark in 2005 shook virtually every place on Earth where Muslims resided in sizeable numbers. Death threats, burning of effigies, arson against public utilities, torching of embassies, bomb attacks and related acts resulted at that time in the deaths of over 139 people. The conflagration was so forceful that the media dubbed it the "Cartoon intifada"- a dark pun on the Palestinian uprisings, which usually set fire to the Muslim sensibility, irrespective of nationality.

Earlier in 2005, when Newsweek magazine alleged that some American personnel manning the Guantanamo Bay prison had deliberately flushed copies of the Koran down the toilet, it set off a furor in countries as far apart as Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia. So infuriating was the memory of this act that it inspired one of the Pakistani-origin suicide bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, to bomb the London public transport system in July 2005.

Come July 2009 and the Xinjiang violence, where is the inflamed "Muslim street" and its rabble-rousing leaders? Officially, Turkey was the only country which huffed that "genocide" was being committed by China against the Uyghurs. But Ankara's harsh language had more to do with ethnic affinity for Uyghurs, who are racially Turkic in origin, than with a general sympathy for "Muslim brothers and sisters".

Thousands of Uyghur immigrants live in Turkey and remind Turkish nationalists of the dream of an independent "East Turkestan" (the former name of Xinjiang). While most contemporary Turks have mixed blood after mingling with Europeans and Arabs, the Uyghurs isolated themselves from other ethnic groups and are admired by Turks as the closest to their pure-bred ancestors. The survival of the Uyghurs, who face demographic flooding in China, is associated with stirrings of national identity in Turkey.

It is because of such emotional attachment to Uyghurs that the Turkish Industry minister risked economic relations with Beijing by urging a boycott of Chinese imported goods after violence flared up in Urumqi. As many as 107 Turkish lawmakers from a China-Turkey inter-parliamentary group resigned in disgust. Thousands of Turks joined Uyghurs in Istanbul and other Turkish cities after Friday prayers chanting "Murderer China" and "No to ethnic cleansing."

A Turkish delegation of five MPs, led by the chairman of the Committee on Human Rights, Zafer Uskul, announced that they would travel to Xinjiang to assess the situation on the ground. The very tag "human rights" which these MPs carried raised antlers in Beijing, which unceremoniously squelched the proposed trip without offering a public explanation. More than 12 days since the Turkish delegation expressed intent, it is still waiting for China's permission.

Turkey's angst over Xinjiang did not infect or enthuse other Muslim countries, not even in its immediate neighborhood. Many observers noted the irony that a state which many believe has yet to accept its own genocide against Armenia during World War I is casting stones at China with the slogan of genocide against Uyghurs.

The only non-Turkic Muslim country where some noise was drummed up immediately after the Xinjiang mayhem was Indonesia. Islamic organizations in Jakarta gathered before the Chinese embassy, displaying flags and posters and criticizing Beijing's treatment of Uyghurs. They reiterated the pet project of "holy war" against infidels. The timing of these demonstrations could be related to Indonesia's presidential elections, which were just around the corner as flames broke out around Urumqi.

Apart from this, a shady Algerian outfit known as "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" issued a threat that it would target Chinese people abroad in revenge for "the deaths of Muslims" in Xinjiang. Some strategic consultants aver that "jihadists want to see action against China" for its harsh policies towards Uyghurs, but much of this remains in the realm of speculation.

A key Muslim country, Iran, which has a history of kicking up storms over desecration of Islamic symbols (recall the Salman Rushdie affair) and the sufferings of fellow Muslims (both Shi'ites and Sunnis), has notably remained silent on Xinjiang. There appears to be a verbal pact between Tehran and Beijing that they will not berate each other over internal political challenges. Tehran's absolute tight-lippedness on the Uyghur question is likely to be payback for Beijing's recognition of President Mahmud Ahmadinjad's controversial re-election in June.

The general realization that Iran needs China on its side at the UN Security Council on each occasion when the former's nuclear program comes under the scanner seems to have also held back the fire-spewing ayatollahs from denouncing the bloodshed in Xinjiang.

Why did Islamic establishments and publics let go of the Xinjiang violence so lightly, with barely a murmur or two? The answer lies in the complicated construction of enemies by Islamists. The "West", as a category, has been blamed by radical Muslims as the bane which ruined former Islamic political and cultural glory. So, when atrocities or slights are seen to be committed against Islam and its adherents in a European or North American country, they confirm the pre-existing prejudices and hatreds nursed by the Muslim street and its instigators in positions of power.

Sometimes, the "West" is also extended to include countries like Russia,
Israel

and India - all of whom are viewed by Islamists and their followers to be oppressing Muslims in their respective disputed territories. But China's image as a staunch rival of Western powers and which does not intervene in the Middle East confuses hardline Muslims, who place it in a nebulous mental space.

China does not fit neatly into the binary jihadist classification of the world into dar-ul-Islam (a land where Islamic laws are followed and the ruler is a Muslim) and dar-ul-Harb (a land ruled by infidels and where Muslims suffer).

That China has so far escaped major jihadist attacks on its soil or its overseas representations in spite of its harshness towards Uyghurs is not a function of its superior counter-terrorism strategies but rather of the label fixation among Islamists. The West, however geographically and politically incongruous a concept, continues to be the favorite dartboard for fiery Muslims.

It is a fixation that absorbs the Islamist heat and allows China a free hand to deal severely with the Uyghurs.

(Zaobao)  By Han Yonghong.  July 26, 2009.

According to the latest official bulletin, more than 200 people died during the July 5th incident.  The majority of them were innocent civilians who were beaten to death or burned alive.  Most of them were from the Han group.  Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region chairman Nur Berkl was interviewed by our newspaper and Reuters last week and said that the police shot 12 rioters dead during the course of putting the riots down.

Certain western or Turkish media believed even now that the riots occurred because the government suppressed a peaceful demonstration.  They raised doubts about the claim by the Chinese government that the riots were "organized."  But as the incident progressed and the results showed, it is more and more pointless to debate whether the riots were "organized."

All the intellectuals, reporters and government officials, Han or Uighur, that I interviewed all acknowledged openly or tacitly that three groups of people participated in the July 5th incident: the demonstrators, the troublemakers who eventually escalated into assault, looting, robbing and arson and the bloodthirsty killers.

The three groups of people are not necessarily connected to each other.  The demonstrators who are mainly university students are not necessarily violent.  It is that third group which committed violent crimes in an organized manner.  Most of them are transients from places such as Kasghar and Hotin in southern Xinjiang.  This analysis does not change the outcome of the July 5th incident, but it will help to distinguish between the student demonstrators and the rioters.

Two to three hundred demonstrators gathered in People's Plaza in the city centre at around 6pm on July 5.  They demanded the government to explain the Han-Uighur brawl in Shaoguan (Guangdong).  When the police dispersed and arrested the demonstrators, the remaining demonstrators gathered in the Uighur areas around Erdaoqiao (Jiefangnan Road), Shanxi Lane and other districts, and their numbers grew rapidly.

The situation tilted towards violence after 8pm.  There were small numbers of violent crimes such as setting police vehicles on fire, smashing public buses and shops and assaulting civilians in the Erdaoqiao area.  By 9p, violence broke out in many locations across the city at the same time, including People's Plaza, the Urumqi Embassay Lane, the Ministry of Education, Yanan Road, the television station, Unity Road, the Race Track and so on.  Later, some rioters attempted to assault the buildings of government and law enforcement units including police stations, radio stations and television stations.  The government is using the special characteristics that the violent incidents broke out in "multiple locations at the same time" to prove that the July 5th incident was "organized violence."

Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences Central Asia Research Institute director Pan Zhiping described the rioters as "evil murderers" whose brutality was unprecedented.  The rioters aimed right at the vulnerable heads of the victims.  "Two or three blows were sufficient to kill.  The brain matters of some of the people were flowing on the ground."  They knew whom to target and they acted quickly.  This is not something that untrained people can do.

Pan Zhiping also reminded: "When a new soldier enters a battleground and has to use a weapon to kill, his hands may be shaking.  Besides, these rioters were not using guns.  They were attacking with knives and rods at close distance.  More than 100 innocent civilians were killed.  Everyone of them were beaten dead."

He acknolweged that there many of the troublemakers in the July 5th incident may be impoverished, dissatisfied Uighurs, but they could not be so cruel.  The murderers are dare-to-die teams organized in southern Xinjiang.  They deliberately did not use modern weaponry because they wanted to win international sympathy and did not want to be called terrorists.  He said that the Xinjiang government possesses a lot of videos of the killings.  But they considered that the release of these videos may trigger serious inter-ethnic violence: "If they release the videos, I can see that many people will go crazy."

The American media who gathered news in Xinjiang obtained confirmation from the families of the victims that when they went down to the police station to identify the victims from the book of photos, many of the 100 photos showed people who were bashed beyond recognition and the majority of them were Han people.

According to our information, 1400 or so people were arrested at first and 700 or 800 of them have been identified as participants in the crimes and currently held.  Of these 700 or 800, more than 400 came from Hotin (Xinjiang), more than 200 came from Kashgar and just over 100 were from Urumqi city itself.

(China Daily)   Short message service coming back in Xinjiang    July 28, 2009.

Mobile phone users in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region received their first text messages in more than 20 days on Sunday night after the service, which had been suspended following the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi, was resumed.

A short message service (SMS) text was sent to all users at 8 pm from the news center of the information office of the region. The message said the public security situation in Urumqi had improved and urged residents not to believe rumors. However, even though phone users received the public information service text from the government, they have not yet been able to send messages to one another.

The authorities say they have been gradually unblocking the Internet, as well as the SMS systems, in Xinjiang after the services in the autonomous region were suspended following riots that claimed almost 200 lives in Urumqi.  The government will also resume business and government-related Internet services, such as sites used by online business and government web sites, according to a Telecommunications Administration statement issued at the weekend.

Xinjiang has already restored Internet access for some "specialized" operations, such as Internet banking services, the online stock exchange and university enrollment services. The text messaging service for weather reports is also back online, the statement said.

The government suspended Internet access and the SMS system in some areas of Xinjiang in a bid to stop violence spreading. The Internet and SMS are believed to have played central roles in mobilizing rioters, according to Nur Berkri, the chairman of the region. The authority also feared that unfettered commentaries and images circulating on websites would stir up tensions. Social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, were blocked across the country following the riots, and those Web sites remained inaccessible at press time.

The Telecommunications Administration appealed for the public's understanding but did not give any further details on when full Internet and SMS facilities would be resumed. "We have received no instruction on when to fully resume the public Internet connection in Xinjiang," Haimiti Mijiti, vice-president of China Telecom's Xinjiang branch, told China Daily yesterday.

Responding to rumors that the Internet would not be restored until the Oct 1 anniversary of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Mijiti said: "There is no set time given yet."

"Cutting off the Internet and short messaging service is the action that Chinese government decided to take. Under extreme circumstances, such as after the Urumqi riot, it is understandable," said Nigel Hickson, the acting director of the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills. "But I don't think it is a long-term solution because the Chinese government cannot block the Internet and short messaging service forever."

For many in the region, the full restoration of Internet and messaging services will be a big step toward normality. "Just like everyone else, I cannot wait to be reconnected," said Wu Di, a 27-year-old reporter from Xinjiang TV station in Urumqi. Wu said his work had been deeply affected by the Internet lockdown and he misses being able to do online research and stay connected with contacts around the globe.

The Internet outage has also greatly impacted online businesses in the region. "No Internet, no business for me," said Li Fenfa, an Urumqi resident who runs an online business selling dry fruit and who has seen no transactions after the Internet was cut.

Hostage rumors dispelled

Police in Urumqi have said that rumors about hostages being seized by people demanding the release of suspects arrested following the July 5 riot are fabrications.

Stories have spread around Urumqi in recent days claiming that senior citizens, women and children had been kidnapped. The rumors also said a large number of bodies had been found in some apartments and that Han women had been sexually assaulted.

Police said only one rape and two murders had been reported in Urumqi between July 13 and 24.

(XinhuaNetizen blamed for Urumqi riot by spreading fake violence video.  July 28, 2009.

A netizen, who was believed to be a key member of the World Uygur Congress (WUC), was blamed by Chinese authorities for fanning ethnic confrontation that caused the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi by spreading online a fake video about "a Uygur girl beaten to death". The video, about a girl in red being beaten to death by a group of people using stones, was originally broadcast by the CNN in May, 2007, as something happened in the Mosul city of Iraq on April 7, 2007.

However, on July 3, 2009, the netizen, named "Mukadaisi", spread it on an Internet group of Uygurs on qq.com and said it was a Uygur girl beaten to death by the Han people. Authorities said their investigations found that the man was a key member of the WUC in Germany and his fake video fanned ethnic confrontation and "added fuel to the fire". In the Internet group, the man used extreme words to encourage Uygur people to "fight back with violence" and "repay blood with blood".

 

 

(Reuters)  Kadeer says 10,000 'disappeared' in Urumqi   July 29, 2009.

Nearly 10,000 Uygurs involved in deadly riots in northwestern Xinjiang region went missing in one night, exiled Uygur activist Rebiya Kadeer said on Wednesday, calling for an international investigation.

In Xinjiang’s worst ethnic violence in decades, Uygurs on July 5 attacked Han Chinese in the regional capital of Urumqi after police tried to break up a protest against fatal attacks on Uygur workers at a factory in south China.

Han Chinese in Urumqi launched revenge attacks later that week.

The official death toll now stands at 197, most of whom were were Han Chinese, who form the majority of China’s 1.3 billion population. Almost all the others were Uygurs, a Muslim people native to Xinjiang and culturally tied to Central Asia and Turkey.

More than 1,000 people were detained in the immediate aftermath of the riots, and over 200 more in recent days, state media said. None has been publicly charged.

Beijing has accused Mrs Kadeer of triggering the riots and of spreading misinformation and took great glee in pointing out that pictures she said were taken in Urumqi actually came from an unrelated incident in another part of the country.

China has also condemned Japan for allowing Mrs Kadeer to visit.

Mrs Kadeer, who rejects the Chinese accusations, said she thought the death toll was much higher after learning that there was random gunfire one night when electricity in the city was shut down.

“The nearly 10,000 [Uygur] people who were at the protest, they disappeared from Urumqi in one night,” she told a news conference in Tokyo through an interpreter. “If they are dead, where are their bodies? If they are detained, where are they?”

She called on the international community to send an independent investigative team to Urumqi to uncover details of what had taken place.

“We call on the international community, including the United Nations, to send an independent investigative team to the site and find out the truth,” Mrs Kadeer said.

“If China is truly confident that the Uygurs were wrong, that they fuelled the riots and that the Han Chinese were the ones being attacked, we want them to disclose information to a third party.”

(New York TimesUighur Leader Raises New Accusations    By Andrew Jacobs and Martin Fackler.  July 30, 2009.

In the weeks since ethnic bloodletting claimed nearly 200 lives in the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang, the government has been waging a global propaganda war against Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur leader it accuses of instigating the violence.

As a result, Ms. Kadeer, who spent more than four years in a Chinese prison and now lives in the United States, has emerged as the international face of the Uighur cause. On Wednesday, she ratcheted up the war of words during a visit to Japan, where she claimed that “nearly 10,000” Uighurs had disappeared “overnight” in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital.

“Where did they go?” she asked during a news conference, according to The Associated Press. “Were they all killed or sent somewhere? The Chinese government should disclose what happened to them.” Ms. Kadeer did not provide evidence to back up her assertion, which stands in stark contrast to government figures that place the numbers of those arrested at 1,200. But her comments infuriated China, which summoned Japan’s ambassador in Beijing to express “strong dissatisfaction” with the decision to grant her a visa.

China’s Foreign Ministry demanded that Japan “take effective action to stop her anti-China, splittist activities.” The Japanese government declined to intervene, saying that Ms. Kadeer was visiting as a private citizen.

The true story of what happened in Urumqi may never be known. But Ms. Kadeer’s and the Chinese government’s dueling, sometimes hyperbolic, accounts have sowed confusion and created an even wider chasm between the government and those pressing for greater Uighur autonomy.

“This has become an exercise in influence-building and image management,” said Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based analyst of Chinese politics. “As each side scrambles to push their version of events, the chances for dialogue are rapidly receding. Xinjiang could very well reignite, but instead of fire prevention, each party seems bent on trying to prove the other side is the one with the lighter fluid.” China has not minced words in its approach to Ms. Kadeer, 62, who heads the World Uighur Congress, which advocates for Uighur self-determination. Editorial writers, government officials and even normally staid diplomats have described her as “a terrorist” and “a criminal” who caused the death of 197 people, most of them Han Chinese. As proof, they cite a phone call she made to her brother in Urumqi shortly before the strife began, warning him to stay off the streets. Ms. Kadeer does not deny making the call but says she was just looking out for his safety.

On Wednesday, Chinese officials delivered a DVD to the offices of The New York Times in Beijing titled “Xinjiang, Urumqi, July 5 Riots: Truth.” The 20-minute film, with versions in Arabic, Turkish, English and other languages, begins with idyllic scenes of Uighurs and members of other ethnic groups who inhabit the region and goes on to show graphic images of beatings that it says were “incited and controlled” by Ms. Kadeer.

According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the July 5 mayhem was orchestrated through text and e-mail messages. Gangs of killers, it said, were sent to 50 locations in Urumqi after protesters gathered at a downtown square to express anger over a brawl at a south China toy factory during which two Uighurs were beaten to death by Han Chinese co-workers.

In the official accounting of how events unfolded on July 5, security officials described mysterious women in “long Islamic robes” who issued orders to the rioters. One woman, they said, even passed out clubs.

Such assertions, however, are difficult to verify, and the government has yet to provide proof showing that Ms. Kadeer or her organization had a hand in planning the chaos.

In recent weeks Ms. Kadeer has given a very different narrative. She says that most of the dead were Uighur, not Han, and that as many as 1,000 people were killed, many of them peaceful demonstrators shot dead by security officials who chased them down dead-end streets and opened fire after turning off street lamps. She has not provided evidence to back up such claims, saying to reveal her sources would put them in peril. Interviews with both Han and Uighur residents in Urumqi, however, have not yielded any witnesses who can corroborate such accounts.

Ms. Kadeer’s next trip, to the Melbourne Film Festival in Australia, is sure to produce a fresh round of invective. A documentary about Ms. Kadeer’s life, which will be shown on Aug. 8, has already prompted three Chinese filmmakers to pull out of the festival. Last weekend, after a Chinese consular official told organizers to drop the film, the festival’s Web site was overrun by hackers, who replaced film schedules with a Chinese flag and slogans denouncing Ms. Kadeer.

CCTV

 

France 24

 

NHK (in three parts)

 

 

 

(The Guardian)  China denies 10,000 Uighurs have disappeared   By Tania Branigan.  July 30, 2009.

China has denied claims by an exiled Uighur leader that almost 10,000 people disappeared following the riots in Urumqi, dismissing them as "fabricated".

Rebiya Kadeer, who heads the exile group the World Uighur Congress, alleged in a speech in Tokyo yesterday that snatch squads had targeted Uighurs. But a spokeswoman for the Xinjiang regional government, Hou Hanmin, said the figures were inaccurate and "completely fabricated." Hou said: "How many prisons and holding cells do you think we would need in Urumqi to hold 10,000 people? She was not there that day, so she has no place to talk about what happened." Hou said Kadeer had no proof and "no matter who she tells, no one will believe her".

The government has accused Kadeer and other exiles of orchestrating the violence that took place during ethnic unrest in China's north-western region of Xinjiang earlier this month. She denies this and says security forces shot dead peaceful protesters.

Urumqi officials today released a "most-wanted" list with the names and photos of 15 suspects they are seeking in connection with the violence. One was Han Chinese while the others appeared to be Uighur. The notice said suspects who surrendered within 10 days would be treated leniently. "The ones who refuse to turn themselves in will be dealt with severely according to the law," it said.

The state news agency, Xinhua, said yesterday that authorities in western China had arrested 253 more people suspected of being involved in the violence in Urumqi, in addition to the 1,434 detained earlier over suspected involvement in the 5 July riot. There are no details of the ethnicity of suspects. The violence began after police attempted to break up a peaceful protest against the killings days earlier of two Uighur workers by Han Chinese colleagues at a factory in Guangdong, southern China. At least 197 people died – including 137 Han and 46 Uighurs – and 1,800 others were injured in the worst ethnic violence China has seen for decades.

(Global TimesXinjiang refutes Kadeer's '10,000 missing' claim    By Yu Qing in Tokyo and Guo Qiang in Beijing    July 30, 2009.

The claim by Rebiya Kadeer that more than 10,000 Uygurs disappeared in the wake of the July 5 riots, believed to have been arrested or killed, is groundless, a spokeswoman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region told the Global Times yesterday in reaction to the World Uygur Congress (WUC) leader's speech during her visit to Japan.

Kadeer, accused by the Chinese government of being a separatist and masterminding the riots that left about 200 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, told a Tokyo press conference yesterday during the second day of her visit to Japan that nearly 10,000 people “disappeared in one night” following the riots in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. “If they are dead, where are their bodies? If they are detained, where are they?” she said.

Hou Hanmin, spokeswoman of the regional government, said the claim was so groundless that it was “not even worth a counter reaction.” “If there were more than 10,000 missing, how many more of them would have taken part in the riot?” Hou asked.

According to an AP report shortly after the riot, “police showed up to disperse a crowd of between 1,000 and 3,000 demonstrators,” which is close to the estimates of reports by other media organizations, both Chinese and foreign. Urumqi police yesterday announced that they had arrested 253 more suspects allegedly closely connected to the riots, following the initial arrests of 1,434 suspects by July 7, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Police said most of the latest arrests were made from tip-offs provided by local residents, including one report in which a family of five burned to death after rioters locked the door of their store selling grain and edible oil and set it on fire.

“I felt uneasy for at least two nights. Once I closed my eyes, I would picture the scene of the raging fire shrouding the store,” a Uygur man who did not give his name told the police July 7. “I would never find peace if I didn't inform the police of it.”

Some of the suspects arrested earlier have been released after police found they did not commit serious crimes, Hou told the Global Times.

In response to a Global Times' inquiry as to how Kadeer set the number of disappeared at 10,000, Dilshat Rashit, spokesman for the US-based WUC, said the organization has been following the situation in Xinjiang via foreign reports. “When Uygur women were interviewed by foreign media, they said more than 1,000 Uygurs were killed and nearly 10,000 were arrested,” he said. “As far as we know, the arrest of Uygurs is continuing, so there are definitely more than 10,000 arrested.” However, he didn't explain how those “Uygur women interviewed by foreign media” put the total number of those arrested. He suggested that the United States, which “has always been concerned with China's religious and human rights issues,” take tougher measures against China, including economic sanctions.

Earlier in July, Mu-Card Deiss, a member of the WUC, circulated online a video clip of a “Uygur girl” being beaten to death. “It was actually a piece edited from footage of a CNN video showing a girl killed in Iraq on April 7, 2007,” Xinhua pointed out.

Kadeer's remarks also backfired among Uygur residents in China. Rustan, manager of a Muslim restaurant at the Beijing Language and Culture University said, “When I was young, I just thought she was a very rich woman, and I admired her a lot. But I never expected that she would attack China with ridiculous remarks while staying overseas.” He said he doesn't understand why Kadeer does all these “evil things” to China. “We're all Chinese, and I don't want to follow what she's talking about,” he said.

Tuson Nizam, a Uygur from Kuqa County, Xinjiang, who now sells jade in Beijing, expressed his indignation at the riots, saying the Uygurs who participated in the riots are nothing but “lazy bones.” “I treat all Han and Uygur people equally well, so they will treat me well in return,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry summoned Japan's ambassador in Beijing, expressing its “dissatisfaction” with Japan's treatment of Kadeer, believed to be a “criminal” by China.

Kadeer's visits to Australia and Japan have put those countries' ties with China to the test.

Yang Bojiang, a researcher at the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said: “Kadeer's ‘separatist activities' would have an impact on the overall situation of China's relationship with the US, Japan and European countries.”

(China Daily)  Trials for riots suspects set for August.  By Cui Jia.  July 31, 2009.

Trials for suspects in the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi are expected to start the middle of next month, a source told China Daily Thursday, on the same day that police issued photos of 15 suspects they want to apprehend.

The Urumqi Intermediate People's Court has been preparing for the hearings, according to the source.

Authorities have arrested 253 more suspects in connection with the riot in the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region; 1,400 were detained earlier, according to police.

The police have not said how many of the detainees were released after being investigated.

Only "a small number" of those arrested are charged and will stand trial for the riot, which left 197 dead and 1,700 injured, the source said.

Several panels have already been set up in preparation for the trials, reported the Beijing-based Legal Daily, which is overseen by the Ministry of Justice, on Wednesday.

The collegial panels are composed of three to seven judges, the number of which must be odd. In case of differing opinions on a ruling, the majority's opinion is adopted.

The Higher People's Court of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has selected dozens of judicial personnel across the region for the trials, Zhang Yahao, deputy director of the criminal division's No 1 courtroom of Urumqi intermediate court, was quoted as saying by the paper. "The personnel have been given training on related legal provisions in order to have great exactitude when handling the cases," said Zhang. Lawyers who were assigned to the suspects also received special training.

Zhang said a detailed security plan -- including how to secure the court during the trials and how to escort the suspects - has been formulated.

It remains unknown whether the trials will be made public. But in previous riot cases, only designated personnel were allowed to attend the hearings, according to another source with the justice system.

The source said the Uygur language is likely to be used at the trials of Uygur suspects.

While the suspects await trial, the Urumqi Public Security Bureau announced late Wednesday a wanted list and photos of 15 suspects on the run. Among the wanted suspects, two are female. One of them is Han; the rest are Uygurs.

The list and photos of the wanted suspects were published on the website of the Ministry of Public Security, Xinjiang Daily and Xinjiang Morning Post.

The police urged the suspects to turn themselves in. Those who do so within 10 days will be dealt with leniently while others will be punished severely, police said.

People who report the suspects or offer clues will be rewarded while those who help protect the suspects will be punished, police said.

(Xinhua)  Survivors speak out against UK website's fake report on Urumqi riot    July 30, 2009.

    

    A mother and her daughter who survived rioters' attack in the July 5 violence in northwest China's Urumqi City had denounced a UK website report, which had wrongly blamed their sufferings on Chinese riot police.

    Pictures on the website of London Evening Standard on July 7 showed Gao Wenhong and her daughter Yang Shuya standing in a street in Urumqi, holding each other's arms and soaked in blood with terror in eyes. The captions read "Women fought with rio