Tuesday, July 21, 2009

China's oppression of Uyghurs remains largely ignored by the global community

Monday, July 20, 2009

China's oppression of Uyghurs remains largely ignored by the global community
11:31 PM ET

Mehmet Tohti [Former Vice President, World Uyghur Congress]: "Horrible video footage posted on the internet regarding the July 5th Urumqi massacre has brought some international attention and at the same time revealed the bitter reality that can be summarized as miserable Uyghurs, cruel Chinese and a generally uninterested world when it comes to the reaction to this tragedy that resulted in more than 1000 dead and the subsequent arrests of as many as 10,000, according to a RFA Uyghur service caller from Urumqi where riots have taken place.

All Uyghurs are unanimous in calling the July 5th Urumqi massacre a tragic event, as both Chinese armed forces and civilian Chinese mobsters were given a free hand in attacking and killing Uyghurs in Urumqi without proper restrictions. It was reported that on the late evening of July 5th, electricity was cut in a mainstream Uyghur neighborhood upon the order of Wang Lequan, Communist Party chief in Uyghur Autonomous Region, and that Chinese military forces the began a "Uyghur Hunt" that lasted the whole night, resulting in the killing and arrest of an unspecified number of Uyghurs. According to the eye witness statements to RFA Uyghur service of Kazak nationals who came to Urumqi for a business trip, 150-200 Uyghurs were murdered right in front of their hotel and the Chinese military cleaned up the body and blood from the streets just prior to dawn on July 6th. According to Edward Wong from the New York Times, "Hospital officials in Urumqi have generally declined to allow foreign reporters to interview injured Uyghurs, but have allowed them to interview injured Han." So far the Chinese government has failed to show any injured or dead Uyghurs out of fear that most of them were apparently killed by bullets shot by the armed forces.

Uyghurs in East Turkistan are in the state of shock and anger for lack of condemnation from the outside world - especially from the United States of America -particularly considering the greater global reaction to the much smaller scale riots that occurred in Tibet last year. The lack of concern from the Western world gave a much needed free hand to the Chinese regime to expand its brutal crackdown throughout the region with the threat of execution to be used for those who have been part of the public unrest.

The July 5th outbreak is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to long existing ethnic tensions and evem hatred between the Uyghurs, who are the rightful owners of "Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" and the Chinese, who are a migrant boss from mainland China that arrived to colonize the region due to its abundant natural resources and strategic location.

Despite the incorporation of East Turkistan into mainland China in 1949, Uyghurs have not accepted Chinese rule and want to restore their independent statehood while China remains determined to colonize this territory with a massive Chinese settlement program under the shadow of guns. As a result of this program the ethnic Han Chinese population has jumped from 5-6% in 1950s to almost 60% to today, even though many media outlets are using the old census numbers that put the Chinese population in the region around 40%, which is exclusive of the nearly 3.5 million Bingtuan, 1.5 million unregistered migrant workers and nearly 300,000 military personal and their family members. This colonization has brought cultural marginalization, ethnic isolation, social injustice and political deprivation to Uyghurs in East Turkistan as the central government in Beijing has consistently put the interest of the Han Chinese on the top of its priority list.

As early as 1980 China started a "Go West” campaign with tremendous incentives to encourage more and more Chinese settlers to resettle in East Turkistan. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and emergence of neighboring Turkic republics alongside the border of East Turkistan as independent states, a campaign was launched targeting Uyghurs to prevent a possible break up of East Turkistan from China and thus tighten Chinese control over the region. After 1997, right after publishing an official White Paper under former President Jiang Zemin, the central government identified East Turkistan as a high risk area for Chinese national security and adopted harsh measures to prevent the East Turkistan problem from being internationalized. They established the Shanghai Corporation Organization with the persuasion of the neighboring countries of East Turkistan (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) in the name of border security, which put Uyghurs as prime target. Short after the establishment of SCO almost all Uyghur organizations in central Asia that were kept open since the Soviet era were dismantled or sanctioned, a number of influential Uyghur organizational leaders have been assassinated and Uyghur refugees were deported back to China for prosecution.

The September 11 terrorist attacks provided a perfect opportunity for China to step up pressure on Uyghurs and the Uyghur national identity. Further diluting Uyghur identity is a short cut answer for the Chinese government to complete the long-term elimination of a Uyghur voice. Chinese efforts in this regard include branding every incidence of civil unrest or discontent with the terrorism label; increased religious persecution; harsh political suppression; sharp ethnic discrimination in employment, education and social participation; banning the more than 2000 year old Uyghur language from schools and forcefully imposing Chinese education starting from the kindergarten level; implementing the same Chinese law differently for Uyghurs; forcing Uyghur families to send their children to mainland China for employment arrangements while bringing millions of Han Chinese to the Uyghur region to fill employment vacancies; and generally coercing Uyghurs to become like the Chinese by sacrificing their unique identity.

There are further recent examples of Chinese oppression of Uyghurs.

In May 2009 a 33 year-old Chinese teacher surnamed Zhao, who was recruited by government to teach Uyghur pupils in the historical Uyghur city of Yarkend, was discovered to have sexually assaulted more than 20 pre-teen Uyghur girls. For this unforgivable crime, he was protected by the school principal Liu Yu Mei, along with other local Chinese police. One parent of the assaulted pupil traveled to Urumqi to have his voice heard but officials ignored him.

Then video footage surfaced of brutal beatings and killings of Uyghur workers in a Shaoguan toy factory on June 26, 2009, which resulted in more than 56 dead. Both the regional government in Urumqi and authorities in Shaoguan have downplayed this brutal killing of Uyghurs issuing a report of 2 dead and have done nothing to punish the perpetrators.

Ilham Tohti, Economic Professor in Beijing Nationality University and owner of an online Uyghur website intended to promote ethnic dialogue between Hans and Uyghurs has been arrested after the July 5th massacre for his sharp criticism of the government's wrong policy stating that "unemployment among Uyghurs are the highest on earth."

As many independent analysts have pointed out, it was the Chinese government's discriminatory policy that instigated the July 5th uprisings and and so the government needs to review its hard line policies in the region and move towards the prospect of reconciliation.

One anonymous Uyghur posted his outcry as follows:

I am very shocked to find out that the world is much [more] disabled than I imagined. The images show the Chinese in Urumqi are carrying out ethnic cleansing with the protection of the Chinese Army and the Police. The world is not seeing it and could not see it. But they saw it when it happened in Darfur, Even George Clooney saw it. Fareed Zakaria saw it when it happened to Tibetans. Bill Clinton saw it when it happened to Kosovar people. And the world spoke out on behalf of all of them.

But now? They are all deaf and blind."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

China tries to suppress its minority problem.

by Ross Terrill

07/27/2009, Volume 014, Issue 42

While the Chinese state often appears masterful in its dealings with the non-Chinese areas of the People's Republic of China (PRC) like Xinjiang and Tibet, it also seems alarmed at the volatility of its vast semi-empire.

Two weeks ago a false rumor about the rape of two Chinese (Han) women by Muslim Uighurs in a toy factory in the southern city of Shaoguan hit the Internet. In the resulting fights several Uighurs, who had been lured like many thousands to the non-Muslim south by work at high wages, were killed. Soon Xinjiang, the homeland of the Uighurs, which borders eight nations and is 2,000 miles from Shaoguan, was in turmoil. Hundreds were dead, and thousands of lives were derailed. President Hu Jintao rushed back from the G-8 summit in Rome to assert his authority.

In Urumqi, the capital of Xin-jiang, Han bystanders said they were attacked without provocation by Uighurs. Han groups retaliated. Both sides received scraps of information from the toy factory by cell phone and email (until Beijing cut off all such communications). Events spun out of control when People's Armed Police fired on protesters, and rioters torched cars and shops. Predictably, troublemakers jumped in, police were attacked, and age-old resentments flared.

One cannot fault the Chinese police's actions in Xinjiang. Mostly they tried to keep order between Han and Uighur in a parlous situation. Given the passions on both sides, it may have been impossible for security forces to avoid deaths. We can, however, fault the underlying approach of Beijing to Xinjiang, its largest autonomous region.

None of the western half of the PRC--Inner Mongolia in the north, Tibet in the south, and Xinjiang between them--was historically Chinese. The Chinese dynasties always had trouble dealing with Muslim areas, more even than with Tibet. The emperors were unfamiliar with Islam. An emperor could not enter a mosque since he wasn't a Muslim. Islam implies a realm hidden from the state's gaze, a worry for the emperors as it today is for Hu Jintao.

Xinjiang is larger than the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Italy put together. As recently as 1944 it was the separate state of East Turkistan. This desert land of mosques and oil is as different from east China as Japan is from Bangladesh. Thanks to Stalin, in 1949 it became part of Mao's new Chinese empire: secular Han ruling Uighurs and other Muslims.

Cecil Rhodes once remarked that to avoid civil war, you must have empire. This is China's approach in Xinjiang (and Tibet). Han wear the uniforms and give the orders, minority languages have been phased out of schools, and mosques are treated as hostile zones.
Zhao Ziyang, the number two figure in the Chinese Communist government in the 1980s--he fell from power during the Tiananmen crisis of 1989--once asked Deng Xiaoping's son: "How come when we're so nice to those intellectuals, they turn round and oppose us?" Beijing today can't understand why affirmative action and the many concessions given to Uighurs bring only further defiance. But Muslims in western China want something hard for Beijing to give: space to be themselves, to disappear into a mosque for the hour of Friday prayers, to write a nihilistic poem or an essay that says Marxism is mistaken.

While the development of the west has never matched the speed and success of that in the coastal areas, Xinjiang has advanced economically. The government says GDP in Xinjiang leaped from $28 billion in 2004 to $60 billion in 2008, and that life expectancy has doubled over the 60 years of the PRC. The trouble is that Xinjiang society is Chinese-style apartheid. The pain of Han-Uighur tension outweighs the pleasure of rising incomes. Economic success recasts but does not remove empire.

We can begin to understand Beijing's imperial cast of mind by considering that Chinese school children are told Xinjiang has been part of China for two millennia since the Han Dynasty (false: only the Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911, incorporated Xinjiang into China). In one spectacle at the Beijing Olympics, "minority children" were dressed in the costumes of Xinjiang, Mongolia, Tibet, and so on, but every child was Han.

On two trips to Xinjiang in recent years, I found a tense and strident atmosphere. Radio and newspapers spoke of Mao Zedong Thought, class struggle, and the danger of enemies undermining the unity of the PRC. One day in the oasis city of Turfan I heard a radio message in Mandarin Chinese: "Every friend of ours in religious circles [i.e. restive Muslims] should recognize that only the Chinese Communist party represents the interests of the people of all ethnic groups."

Deng once said in a moment of insight: "The loudest thunder comes from dead silence. We are not afraid of the masses speaking up; what we do fear is ten thousand horses standing mute." The sullen silence of repressed Uighurs can mislead. Deng knew it, Hu knows it.
When I went to cross the western border of Xinjiang into Kazakhstan, every inch of my luggage, papers, clothes, and toilet gear was inspected by Chinese immigration officials. In triumph one declared, "You have taken our local newspapers!" He pulled out from the rubble of my luggage newspapers from Xian and Shanghai. "You should know with your experience that it is illegal to take local [non-Beijing] papers out of China." He folded the two newspapers under his arm, my passport inside them, and disappeared for an hour. The train had to wait. A rule from the Mao era, long disregarded in eastern China, was being used against me. Mother China watches especially closely in Xinjiang.

The present crisis began, not with demonstrations against the government, but with Uighur and Han trashing each other. Social group came up against social group. "They don't speak Chinese!" Han cried of Uighur "rapists" in the south. "They steal!"

The Chinese government quickly publicized the Urumqi riots, contrary to its longstanding practice, believing that pictures of the confrontation and carnage would arouse Han feeling on the government side. True enough, racial emotions surfaced. Uighur "are all terrorists," some Han shouted. "They're spoiled like pandas," said a woman irritated with the preferential treatment that Uighurs have received from Beijing.

The Han and Uighur truly dislike each other. Emotions run deeper than between Han and Tibetan or between Han and Mongol and argue against any hope that economic development will work its magic.

But there's larger trouble for Beijing. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and other Muslim countries have been displaying sympathy for their brothers in Xinjiang and being rebuked by Beijing as a result. Last week Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan said, "The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There's no point in interpreting this otherwise."
On top of this, there may be different views in the politburo about how to handle ethnic unrest. President Hu's career was shaped in non-Han areas, and his sensitivity to minority issues helps explain his unprecedented departure from an international summit to handle a domestic crisis. Under Hu, national security white papers from the military openly mention independence for Xinjiang and Tibet as threats to China. But his recipe for "stability"--guns plus propaganda--is not necessarily shared by every senior colleague. Some of the Communist rising stars below the politburo wonder if a non-Han empire is a liability to China's modern image and smiling international stance.

Still, without a major international dispute or a party split, Hu may well pull off the Communist melting pot strategy in Xinjiang (and Tibet). Muslims may be softened by growing prosperity and Xinjiang integrated internationally by the new rail, road, and pipeline links. Modernization may overcome apartheid.

Yet even so, at some point the new China must throw up a political system that allows minorities more latitude. The PRC is more populous than Europe and South and North America put together. In the United States, Mormon, Puerto Rican, Wall Street titan, Southern Baptist, Hawaiian hippie, Harvard professor, Amish grandma, Californian anarchist--thousands of such varied types coexist decade after decade. All are peas in a pod at election time or before a judge; each person is merely, and proudly, a citizen in the United States of America. The diversity is not lethal; in fact each election with the result accepted by all parties cements a unity deeper than the diversity. America's cacophony and fundamental stability are both missing in Xinjiang. Federalism is what China needs to gain true unity and stability. But it cannot come until the rule of law arrives first.

Ross Terrill is the author of The New Chinese Empire (Basic Books) and the biographies Mao and Madame Mao (both Stanford).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

China's Uighurs hope to gain from world spotlight

China's Uighurs hope to gain from world spotlight
AFP July 13, 2009, 5:01 pm

A policeman passes an ethnic Uighur man selling bags on a street in Urumqi. The recent uprising in the city, capital of China s Xinjiang region, has put the remote area on the world stage with many local people welcoming the attention but, warn experts, the hopes of the Uighurs could soon prove unfounded with the unrest likely to fortify China s resolve in maintaining its tight grip on the region.

AFP © [Enlarge photo]

URUMQI, China (AFP) - Like many ethnic Uighurs, businessman Anwar hopes greater world interest in the Muslim minority following deadly unrest in this remote Chinese city of Urumqi could lead to long-time grievances being addressed.

Sitting on an overturned bucket he uses as a chair in his cramped apartment, Anwar spoke in angry whispers about religious restrictions and other forms of repression many Uighurs say they suffer under Chinese rule.

"In my lifetime we have not had an opportunity like this," Anwar said of the recent international attention on the eight million Uighurs in China's far northwest Xinjiang region.

"We call on America or the United Nations to come here and see the situation for themselves and help us."

The Uighurs created headlines around the world after taking to the streets of Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, on July 5 in protests that quickly turned violent.

The government said 184 people died that day, when some Uighurs savagely attacked members of China's dominant Han ethnic group and razed their shops.

However the death toll from that day of unrest, a security crackdown and subsequent clashes is likely to be higher.

When told of world criticism about some of China's policies toward Uighurs, Anwar, who wore a traditional four-cornered embroidered Uighur cap, broke into a broad grin as he stroked a scruffy beard.

"We welcome this. We hope the rest of the world can stop ignoring us," Anwar said in Mandarin.

Tucked in a remote corner of China, and without a charismatic globe-trotting figure like Tibet's Dalai Lama to trumpet their cause, many Uighurs expressed hope that the recent unrest here had finally given them a window on the world.

Aside from what they say is Beijing's religious and political oppression, Uighurs complain of an influx of Han migrants that they say is extinguishing their culture.

But those hopes could soon prove unfounded, experts said, with the unrest likely fortifying China's resolve to maintain its tight grip on Xinjiang, a strategic and energy-rich region that crosses into Central Asia.

Publicity about Uighurs attacking Han will also likely damage their public relations efforts.

"In some ways, this has helped the Uighur cause by raising their (world) profile," said Dru Gladney, an expert on the Turkic-speaking central Asian people at Pomona College in California.

"But domestically, the government has successfully turned this against the Uighurs and made them look very bad. It has demonstrated that the Uighurs are violent."

The Islamic world's criticism of Chinese policies towards the Uighurs has been the strongest, with Turkey's prime minister last week calling them "a kind of genocide."

But China, which says Xinjiang faces a Uighur terrorist threat, has given no hint of any softening. Official pronouncements have vowed a tough crackdown and made little or no mention of Uighur complaints.

Communist Party Politburo member Zhou Yongkang, the nation's security czar, over the weekend called for a "steel wall" of security against "hostile forces".

Gladney said he saw little hope of a government rethink to any policies relating to Uighur grievances.

"That has all been put on hold for a while," he said.

The Islamic world's criticism also is likely to prove only a blip against China's rising economic and diplomatic clout, Gladney added.

Many Uighurs agreed, expressing deep dismay that the violent riots had cost them the moral high ground and saying darker times lay ahead.

Akbar, a college-educated Uighur in his late 20s, has not held a steady job for three years, saying job fairs in Urumqi often say "Uighurs need not apply."

He left Urumqi at the weekend for his rural hometown several hours' drive away, fearing arrest amid reported police sweeps on young Uighur men, although he denies involvement in the unrest.

"Many of us (Uighurs) had wondered how it could be worse for us but we are now entering into a new period that will be bad for a long time, so I just want to spend time with my family now," he said.

Beijing can't bury the Xinjiang story

Beijing can't bury the Xinjiang story
By Antoaneta Bezlova

BEIJING - 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 it found space on the front pages of almost every other Chinese daily.

Unlike the Tibetan riots last year, when the media were initially told to suppress the story, the clashes between Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghurs that erupted in the provincial capital of Urumqi on July 5 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 was broadcast to the rest of the world, Beijing was eager to put its own version out as quickly as possible.

On July 7, 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 news agency, Xinhua, claimed the violence that erupted was "a pre-empted, organized 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 emigre, 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' fight is 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 the 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 have 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 have 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 the Chinese economic miracle. Hoping to benefit from the economic reforms that Han Chinese spearheaded and introduced through the country, they have instead been marginalized 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% of the total), the Han Chinese population has risen to 38%.

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 Han-majority capital city of 2.3 million people. Sympathy protests followed in the traditionally restive towns of Kashgar and Khotan, and 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 labor 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 labor in the manufacturing hubs of China's east and south. According to the report, the project had transformed the remote county into a model "labor export" center, attracting some 8,000 recruits since 2008.

"In the poorest areas of China where resources are scarce, labor 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 labor 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 laborers, 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 labor export experiment in ethnic minority areas plagued by poverty.

Electronic media has been even more effective in raising public awareness about political and economic inequality between Han and non-Han.

A Chinese-language website, www.uyghurbiz.cn, 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.

As Beijing tried to silence the forum after the riots, 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 www.uyghurbiz.cn'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.

(Inter Press Service)

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy by Christina Larson
The Uighurs aren't extremists--but the Chinese government may change that.
Post Date Thursday, 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."

Christina Larson is an editor at Foreign Policy magazine and a fellow at the New America Foundation. She reports from Washington, DC, and Asia.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cruel China, Miserable Uyghur and Disabled World

Cruel China, Miserable Uyghur and Disabled World"

By Uyghur Oghlu
It is an undeniable fact that Uyghur people have suffered tremendously under the Chinese communist regime over the past 60 years. The destruction and tragedy that China has imposed on Uyghurs is no less than the holocaust that the fascist Germany committed against innocent Jews people. Although the nature of China's oppression of Uyghurs has been static prior to "9.11", the scale and intensity of it have been widended and acclerated after "9.11".

Seven years ago from today, although there is a day and light, Earth and Mars differences between the way of Uyghur life and lunatic Al-Qaida and Taliban Maniacs, Richard Armitage declared in Bejing that "ETIM", a fake organization that Uyghurs have never heard of as a terrorist organization. The opportunistic Chinese communist leaders took advantage of this, began to categorically demonize the Uyghur people as terrorists or terror suspects. Needless to say, US listing of so-called "ETIM" has played a catalyst role for China to oppress Uyghurs even harsher. With that declaration, the United Stated of America which stands for as a beacon of hope for oppressed people, and only one country on earth that can tremble the dictators in China and around the globe has sold out its core value, and debased its image among the oppressed people. Having won their jackpot from US, China attacked Uyghurs in every dimension of life.

Let's not talk about the innocent Uyghurs killed during the various political campaigns directed at Uyghurs since 1949.

Let's not talk about the untimely deaths of thousands of poor Uyghurs who without knowing what the cause of their diseases due to China's numerous atomic bomb tests in Uyghur Land since 1960.

Let's not talk about the mental and physical deaths of kind and naive uyghur women whose babies were aborted in an abject condition due to forced abortion.
Let's talk about how China increased its oppression of uyghurs since "9..11";
In violation of their own constituion and Autonomus Regional Law, China restricted Uyghur culture. Uyghur lanuguage was forbidden to teach at schools, and Mandarin was forced on Uyghur Children when they were in kindergarden. Uyghur teachers, and government staff were laid off due to insuffient Chinese language, where it is not needed at all. Uyghur government workers were forced to shave off their symbol of manhood - moustaches and beards and fined or reprimanded them for going to the mosque or attending the burial rituals. Uyghur youth who were found jogging or doing physical exercise were questioned for their motive of their increasing physical strength. Since 2006, hundreds and thousand of young and beautiful Uyghur girls were transferred to China's coastal regions in the name of employment. These girls' age range from 14-22 and are at the best of their reproductive age. Due to the revelation of this political campaign and subsequent international inquiry on this campaign, Wang le quan and his puppet Nur Bekri began to transfer young and able Uyghur men to the coastal region to cover their motive. Those young Uyghurs literaly were turned into modern slaves working for a dime per hour. Uyghurs who protested these policy were imprisoned at best, and executed at the worts, despite international organizations' criticism of China's human rights record. The local Chinese officials have turned Uyghur land which located in Central Asia into a "new concentration camp" in 21th century with Chinese caracteristics.

Uyghurs complained, screamed and cried, but no government dared to say anything to China.

As if these misery were not enough for uyghurs, Newt Ginggrich and Rush Limbaugh took sides with Communst China and demonized Uyghurs. what a dirty lap dancing?

Three things have happened recently in Uyghur life and it reminded us the cruelty of China, misery of uyghurs, and impotency of the world.

Listen world, you are semi-deaf. you heard the "calling" from Iran, and mourned the death of innocent girl - "Neda". but you have not heard the cry of uyghurs. Uyghurs started to cry louder since May'2009, when a 33 year old Chinese beast surnamed Zhao, a primary school language teacher who was recruited by government to teach Uyghur pupils in the historical Uyghur city of Yarkand- were discovered to have had sexually assaulted more than a dozen innocent Uyghur girls whose age ranges 8-11 old. For his unforgivable crime, he was protected by the school principal Liu Yu Mei, and along with other local Chinese police. The uyghur parents who demanded him be punished harshly were intimitated, discouraged.

Hello Chinese people, Hello parents in the world, don't you have kids? what were you do, if that happens to your children?

The second incident happened in Shao guan, Guangdong. The victims are 800 Uyghur young workers, of whom most were female. They were brought there by the intimidation and deception of so-called ineffective Autonomous Regional Government in mid-June of 2009. On June 26th, thousands of Chinese gangsters in Shaoguan attacked these young Uyghurs who were unaware of the death was falling on them. Any normal person with a human heart who sees the video distributed by the Chinese themselves will be furious at the crulety of those Chinese. In it, Uyghurs who were attempting to escape the Chinese terrorists were beaten to death. The more enraging fact is that the Chinese police did not come on time, and delayed protection of these innocent Uyghurs who were the victims of Wang Le quan's terror policy. As a result, a number of them died, and many of them were severely injured. I could not believe that Chinese people would show such cruelty toward Uyghurs who have done nothing wrong and happened to be their fellow citizens. Later, it turned out that these Chinese terrorists were instigated by a rumor made by another dissatisfied Chinese factory worker.
Poor Uyghurs, poor and soulless Chinese.

Had the police protected these innocent victims at the time, and Wang le quan or Nur Bekri flew to Guang Dong and paid attention to Uyghurs' pain, things would not have gotten this bad. The incoming tragedy must have been averted. I have the sympathy for the victims of Nanking massacre, and hate those war criminals, and I thought Chinese were better than those war criminals. but not anymore. In that video, holding the metal rods and other violent tools, shouts the Chinese: "Kill the Uyghurs, Kill them all!", and they raise their hands with pride and sense of victory each time an Uyghur falls. Did they think these Uyghurs came from Japan?

I did not forget that Chinese internet police has built the strongest online great wall to serve their national interest. I thought that unity comes from equality, and I believed that equality, unity and harmony among ethnic groups would make China stronger and greater. Having seen that video, I am convinced that Chinese descended to evilness, and Chinese people don't care about their image in the interconnected world. And they want to stay forever selfish and cruel as third class world citizens by trading the greatness with their surging nationalism. What a expensive trade, and what a high price to pay?

It must be noted that nationalism is a double edge sword. I worry that it hurts all parties involved. immediately after Shao guan massacre, young Chinese vented their anger toward Uyghurs, and instigated other Chinese to wipe out Uyghurs from the face of earth. I am surprised that when and how they began to share Ahmadi Nijad's idiology that "wipe out those whom you don't like". Some Chinese netizens even recommended government carry out a holocaust against Uyghurs. Until this day, I did not know that Chinese internet police along with Chinese netizens share the same feeling and would openly adore Adolf Hitler. "China needs Adolf Hitler, slaughter these Uyghur pigs", some Chinese netizens commented. May Almighty forbid that one of these fanatics will become the President of China in the future. If that happens, the possibility that he will turn the world into ashes will increase..

The holocaust that happened in the last century was a stain and shame that humanity can't and should not erase easily. It must be remembered to forewarn the present and future generations who may like to taste the blood of others.

Reports came out since yesterday that Uyghur students were suppressed by the Chinese military and we don't know how many Uyghurs died in Urumqi as of now. We also saw that incompetent governor, Nur Bekri finally gave an explanation about Shao Guan Massacre. Although he twisted the facts, he was late. Wang le quan and Nur Bekri could have easily prevented Urumqi massacre by taking a just and humble approach. But they showed the true face of blood thirsty dictators. We don't know what is going on in Urumqi now. It was also reported that Chinese civilians and semi-military population in Bing Tuan were armed themselves, organized and began to attack innocent people as long as they are Uyghurs. I doubt that Chinese state television will show the Uyghur victims of Chinese attack to the visiting foreign press.
Yes, all this happened and happening now in Urumqi, the capital of an ethnic Autonomous Region that China's constitution granted.

I am very shocked to find out that the world is much disabled than I imagined. The images show that Chinese in Urumqi is carrying out ethnic cleansing with the protection of Chinese Army and the Police. The world is not seeing it and could not see it. But they saw it when it happened in Darfur, Even George Clooney saw it. Fareed Zakaria saw it when it happened to Tibetans. Bill Clinton saw it when it happened to Kosovar people. And the world spoke out on behalf of all of them.

But now? They are all deaf and blind.

Whom do we expect some kind of humantarian gesture, a kind of ethical response to this incident?

By biologically defined marks, Uyghurs were related to Turks. Did not we hear from them? yes, we did. We heard that Turkish Authorities entrusted Chinese justice System standing in line with Beijing. Abdulla Gul must have been well received in Zhong nan hai.
It is useless to mention the independent Turkic states in Central Asia. They have a history of harming Uyghurs at the request of Beijing, because they can get benefits from China. Our neighbor, Pakistan and its army also have the history of killing or extraditing Uyghurs per Beijing's demand. The former Pakistani dictator- president Musharrap (May god curse him forever) was the first head of a sovereign government that accused Uyghurs of terrorsim without evidence, just to please Jiang Ze min.

Yes, I emphasize that the majority of Uyghurs were muslims, therefore it is natural to observe other muslim countries' attitude toward Uyghurs.
Syria has expelled Axmatjan Osman, a famous uyghur poet whose wife is Syrian, because China asked her to do so.
Neither Saudi king nor other so-called protectors of Islam has uttered a word on Chinese persecution of Uyghur muslims. China and these muslim states lick each other's lips as they think they have a common enemy - The West and Democracy. That leaves Uyghurs with some China-wary democratic western countries and although small but beautiful, kind and couragous great states like Albania, Bermuda and Palau..

I believe Uyghurs who are good at businesses remember those transactions. Believe me we will give the due credit when time comes to those who helped us in times of great diffuclty and do the same to those who had done the worst to us.

Hello world, have you lost your senses? something horrible must be happening in Uyghur land now. Please speak up!! What you do for Uyghurs today, will be your doings for yourself in tomorrow!
Please ask the United Nations, The United States and The European Union send an independent, impartial delegation to Urumqi, and have them investigate this massacre!.
Where are you, Spanish Judge? Wang le quan is committing genocidal crime aganist Uyghurs.

Hello Texas, Can you ask George W. Bush, if he still remembers by his statement that the United States Government stands by oppressed people. As a former president , his words still carries some weight.

Finally America, and freedom loving American people, can you please tell President Obama that Uyghurs can't expect an audacious hope for their freedom from him, but only craving a tiny ray of hope for their basic human rights???

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A civil rights movement for Uighurs

A civil rights movement for Uighurs

No peace or reconciliation is possible in Xinjiang while China rides roughshod over Uighurs' rights to shore up its authority

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.

Jordan MPs urge government to protest China's crackdown on Muslims

Jordan MPs urge government to protest China's crackdown on Muslims
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 18:21
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Amman - At least 40 Jordanian lawmakers signed a memorandum Monday urging the government to lodge an official protest over China's crackdown on Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region, parliamentary sources said.

'The government should summon the Chinese envoy and relay to him a strongly worded protest and condemnation over what is going on in the Xinjiang province,' the deputies said in a memorandum handed to Abdul Hadi Majali, speaker of the lower house of Parliament.

'We have followed up with great concern the dangerous developments there and the horrible and bloody crackdown on Uighur Muslims and the threats by the Chinese authorities to execute more of them and prevent them from praying at mosques.'

Jordan's influential Muslim Brotherhood movement has condemned the killing of hundreds of Uighur Mislims and what it called the 'savage suppression' of the Chinese Muslims' peaceful activity.

'Dealing with Muslims in such an extremely cruel and violent manner has left deep wounds with us and with all Muslims all over the globe,' Brotherhood leader Hammam Saeed said in a message to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Saeed urged Beijing to resort to dialogue instead of violence and to allow Muslims to exercise their right of free worship, saying China should preserve the 'traditional friendship with the Arab and Islamic nations.'

Is The World Ignoring A Massacre of Uighurs In China?

Is The World Ignoring A Massacre of Uighurs In China?
Andy Worthington
I have just received disturbing information from several Uighur correspondents in the United States, regarding the "riots" that began just nine days ago in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China.

When the unrest began, the world's media suddenly discovered the story of the Uighurs, who describe their situation as akin to that of the Tibetans, but without the popular support. Once known as East Turkestan, the Uighurs' long-contested homeland was conquered by the People's Liberation Army in 1949, and anyone even remotely familiar with recent Uighur history will be aware that, in the 1960s, Mao Zedong encouraged Han Chinese to settle in the area in large numbers, and that the Uighurs - some of whom came to the attention of the West when 22 refugees were sold to US forces and imprisoned in Guantánamo - maintain that, as a result, they are marginalized and persecuted in their own country.

According to a 2005 report by Human Rights Watch, the Chinese government has established a "multi-tiered system of surveillance, control, and suppression of religious activity aimed at Xinjiang's Uighurs. At its most extreme, peaceful activists who practice their religion in a manner deemed unacceptable by state authorities or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials are arrested, tortured, and at times executed. The harshest punishments are meted out to those accused of involvement in separatist activity, which is increasingly equated by officials with ‘terrorism.' Because of fears in Beijing of the power of separatist messages, independent religious activity or dissent is at times arbitrarily equated with a breach of state security, a serious crime in China and one that is frequently prosecuted."

Unlike last year, when the violence in Tibet played out unfavorably for the Chinese government, coverage of the unrest in Urumqi, which coincided with a major Uighur demonstration, was commandeered by the government, which, in an unprecedented move, set up a press office and pumped out stories blaming the violence on the Uighurs - and specifically, on Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the World Uyghur Congress, who was blamed for inciting the violence.

The New York Times explained, "As with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, Chinese officials often blame Ms. Kadeer for ethnic unrest." For her part, Kadeer, who lives in Washington D.C., and was an extraordinarily successful businesswoman in Xinjiang until she was imprisoned on dubious spying charges by the Chinese government, not only denied the allegations, but also provided a glimpse of the strength of character that continues to draw supporters to the Uighurs' cause. "Instead of blaming me," she told the Times, "the Chinese government should start listening to the complaints of the Uighur people and choose dialogue."

As Arianna Huffington reports today, the government also "choked off the Internet, blocked Twitter, and deleted updates and videos from social networking sites," preventing the Uighurs from mounting an Iranian-style grass-roots response, and released news footage showing film of Han Chinese who had been wounded, and of Uighur youths attacking vehicles and buildings, which was broadcast around the world, effectively endorsing their one-sided message that the Uighurs were to blame for all the violence, and making it remarkably difficult to establish what actually took place.

Largely absent from the story, however, was a reason for the demonstration, which, it later transpired, was because a number of Uighur workers (two, according to the government's figures) had been murdered on June 25 in a toy factory in Guangdong (2,000 miles away from Xinjiang, on the other side of China) after Han Chinese workers falsely accused a number of their Uighur colleagues of raping two young Han Chinese women.

Also missing was a coherent explanation of why a demonstrably peaceful demonstration had suddenly turned violent, but by July 10, when the government issued a statement, claiming that 137 Han Chinese and 46 Uighurs had died in Urumqi (and 1,680 people had been wounded), the press wondered, briefly, about the fate of an unspecified number of Uighurs detained after the unrest, mentioned mobs of Han Chinese roaming the streets of Urumqi armed with swords and other weapons (and in some cases photographed them), and then largely moved on.

And yet, the reports I received from Uighurs in the US - drawing on accounts from inside Urumqi - provide uncomfortable answers to the questions posed above, and indicate that the government's suppression of the Uighurs may be so severe - involving the murder of up to 1,500 Uighurs, and the disappearance of thousands more, who, it is feared, will either not be seen again or will face unjust "show trials" - that it is nothing short of a massacre, whose true contours may never be known without concerted demands for accountability and restraint from the international community.

The toy factory murders

According to the reports, the murders in the Guangdong toy factory (in the city of Shaoguan), which prompted the demonstration on July 5 after government inaction, were more extensive than the official government report suggested, and involved the murder of between 18 and 30 Uighurs, with hundreds more wounded.

The Uighurs reporting from the US cast doubt on government claims that the toy factory murders followed an Internet posting in which a former Han employee of the toy factory said that several Uighur workers had raped two Han Chinese girls. "We believe," they wrote, "that the above account told by the Chinese government to the outside world is false. It is unimaginable that one accusation posted on the Internet can mobilize several thousand Han workers to take up iron pipes and other weapons, come to the factory campus, and start beating Uighur workers wherever they can find them, in most cases until their deaths."

They cited an article published in the Guardian on July 10, in which Jonathan Watts reported that the first of what would eventually be 818 Uighur migrants arrived at the toy factory on May 2, as part of "a controversial government program to encourage migration from poorer western regions such as Xinjiang to wealthy eastern provinces such as Guangdong," which has led to 200,000 young Uighurs leaving Xinjiang since the start of 2008. "Han colleagues initially treated them as a curiosity," Watts wrote, citing a female worker at the factory, who said, "At first, we thought they were fun because in the evenings they danced and it was very lively. But then many others arrived. The more of them there were, the worst relations became."

Reporting the story about the alleged rapes, and the Han Chinese workers' response to it, Watts noted that the allegation was "repeated by almost all of the 20 or so local people" that he spoke to, but "no one could provide evidence or the names of the victims." However, the racial tensions it inspired were clearly deep-seated, as Watts explained:

A local man said he took part in the assault because he was furious that the rapes had gone unpunished. "I just wanted to beat them. I hate Xinjiang people," he said. "Seven or eight of us beat a person together. Some Xinjiang people hid under their beds. We used iron bars to batter them to death and then dragged them out and put the bodies together." Squatting on his haunches in the shadows of a half-constructed apartment block, the Han man - who gave no name - said the government was lying about the death toll. He claims he helped to kill seven or eight Uighurs, battering them until they stopped screaming. He thinks the death toll is more than 30, including a few Han.

The US Uighurs added that, according to witness reports received by representatives of the World Uyghur Congress in several countries, "at least 30 Uighurs were killed and more than 300 were injured in this clash. It took about two days for the police to clean up bloodstains in streets and dormitories inside the factory campus." They added that several families of the victims from villages in Kashgar District, in Xinjiang province, had received the bodies of their loved ones, but "were threatened by police, telling them that they cannot talk to anybody about this incident; otherwise they will lose their homes, their farming lands and they will go to jail."

The Urumqi protest and its bloody aftermath

According to witnesses in Urumqi, who contacted Uighur organizations in the US, Germany and Turkey, the protest on July 5 began peacefully, and only turned violent when the Chinese police, who were "in position in People's Square before the Uighur protesters arrived, started kicking, beating and arresting them from the very beginning of their arrival. This is the reason why a well-prepared peaceful protest turned into violence within the first couple of hours of the protest."

In a press release, Rebiya Kadeer pointed out, "The fact that Uighurs were holding Chinese national flags speaks volumes for the nature of this peaceful protest and for what they were demanding - civil rights and equal justice under the law." Witnesses added that the Chinese authorities "had full knowledge of the upcoming protest because it was announced on the Internet, so they made full preparations and arrangements about how to deal with it and how to take advantage of it."

Witnesses also explained that the protest began at around 5 pm local time, and that "the police's beating, arresting and chasing started at that time, and lasted for many hours after that." By about 8:30 pm, when it was becoming dark, "the police chased the Uighur protesters into three alleyways mostly populated by Uighurs," and cut off the city's electricity supply for about 90 minutes. They continued:

During this time, the police, who were fully armed with armored vehicles and machine guns surrounded the crowds in the three alleyways from both sides, and fired at them with full military power en masse. The sounds of these gunshots can be heard in many YouTube videos filmed that night and posted on the Internet.

According to the witnesses, "an estimated 800 to 1000 people, most of them Uighurs, were shot to death during that one and a half hour period of time. For this reason, the Turkish Prime Minister compared this violence to genocide."

One witness reported that "a young Uighur man, in his 20s, was shot twice, but crawled into a nearby trench before he died. He was discovered by several Uighurs next morning. The news spread through the neighborhood quickly, and more than ten Uighur residents, most of them women and children, gathered at the spot. Right at that moment, a full truck of police arrived and took the dead body as well as all the bystanders with them. The whereabouts of those people as well as others detained are still not known."

According to "reports obtained by World Uyghur Congress representatives from several knowledgeable people" inside Xinjiang province, the Chinese authorities erased the evidence of the mass execution of Uighur victims by "burying the dead bodies two meters deep in a desert location so that nobody could find them."

The witnesses added that, "after electricity in Urumqi was set to normal at 10 pm, the police searched all the homes in the three alleyways where the police killing took place, and arrested all the males approximately 14 years or older." The Uighurs in the US added, "Knowing China's history of brutal crackdown and mass arrest of the Uighur participants in the past demonstrations, we strongly believe the Chinese authorities arrested an estimated 3,000 Uighur males that night. This is the reason why the Uighur protesters who took to the streets on July 7 and afterwards were mostly women and children."

Reporting on a Chinese website, T.D., a Han Chinese blogger, provided the most harrowing account of the Han Chinese response to the violence on July 5, when, as the US Uighurs described it, "a mob of several thousand Han Chinese, carrying meat cleavers, machetes, axes, clubs and shovels, went to Urumqi's streets, killed or injured every Uighur they could find, and destroyed shops and restaurants owned by Uighurs and two mosques." T.D. wrote:

I just made a phone call to Xinjiang. The situation has spread on a large scale. Immigrant Han Chinese have already started actions. They are beating and killing every Uighur they can find. The number of the Uighur shops destroyed far exceeds that of those destroyed on July 5 and owned by Han Chinese. The number of the Uighurs killed and injured is also many times more than what was reported. I was told that the people walking on the streets are only Han Chinese. Almost all of the Han Chinese walking on the streets are carrying long knives. It is [reported] that some Han Chinese killed Uighurs and then hung their dead bodies on trees. Some Han Chinese are standing on bridges and throwing Uighurs off them. There were so many dead bodies that trash-collecting trucks started to move them away. The policemen standing nearby were pretending they didn't see anything, and sometimes saying, "hit the Uighurs at the life-threatening places." This has greatly encouraged those Han Chinese.

The Uighurs in the US added that, according to other reports they received, the Han Chinese mobs were "probably military personnel dressed like civilians, because they acted, when beating and killing Uighurs, like well-trained professionals." They also reiterated the blogger's report that "the police made no attempts to stop the armed Han Chinese mobs, and no reports have been made that any members of Han Chinese mobs who killed or injured Uighur victims or [damaged] Uighur properties have been arrested."

They also noted that Urumqi's CCP chief, Li Zhi, said "those who had used ‘cruel means' during the rioting would be executed," and added, "Because the Han mobs who used ‘cruel means' to injure and kill Uighurs and damaged properties owned by Uighurs were not arrested, Li Zhi was referring to those several thousand Uighurs who have been detained."

In conclusion, they stated,

We, the Uighurs around the world, call for urgent intervention in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region by the UN and human rights bodies. We appeal to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva to send independent observers to XUAR, and force the Chinese authorities to immediately launch an independent investigation into the protests, accounting for all those who have died in the protests and who have been detained, [because they] are at great risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Given these alarming developments and given the history of over 60 years of human rights violations by the Chinese authorities in XUAR, what we are asking today is for a high-level UN engagement with the Chinese authorities to stop these brutal crackdowns against the Uighur people.

In the Guardian today, cementing her role as a sensitive and capable leader-in-exile, Rebiya Kadeer confronted the actions of her own people in Urumqi, but stressed that reports of the murders of large numbers of Uighurs were too numerous to dismiss. "It is irrefutable that acts of violence, including murders, were committed by Uighurs against Han Chinese," she wrote. "However, numerous residents of East Turkestan have told the organizations 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." Like her compatriots, Rebiya Kadeer called for justice and accountability, demanding "fair trials for those accused of perpetrating violence," and "an independent, international investigation into the events of the past week."

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon - click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
Mehmet Tohti
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Old suspicions magnified mistrust into ethnic riots in Urumqi

Old suspicions magnified mistrust into ethnic riots in Urumqi

Job creation and integration went violently wrong in Guangdong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Shaoguan, they continue to swirl.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

EU must put pressure on China to stop human rights violation in Xinjiang

China - Xinjiang : EU must put pressure on China to stop human rights violation in Xinjiang and elsewhere
Today | Uyghur Related


Commenting on the violence in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, which has left many people dead and injured, Helga Trüpel MEP, member of the EP's China delegation, said:

"These riots are a direct result of China's repressive policies against the Uighur minority. The Uighur minority has been systematically repressed and discriminated against, with measures such as the closing of the minority schools and the prohibition of Turkic languages in lectures. These policies, combined with ethnic resettlement policies of the Beijing government, have disadvantaged the Uighurs and caused suffering.

"China must stop its repressive policies against minorities and respect the cultural identity of the Uighurs and other ethnic groups, such as the Tibetans. Unfortunately, the EU seems to have given up the ambition to make human rights issues a focus of its foreign policy. This is particularly true of relations with China, with human rights issues being brushed under the table. The new Swedish presidency of the EU must put pressure on China to stop human rights violations in Xinjiang and elsewhere

US must help Uighurs

US must help Uighurs

By Ellen Bork, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post
Published: July 11, 2009, 23:29

Unrest in China's far western region, known as Xinjiang, should not come as a surprise.

The communist authorities maintain intense and unrelenting pressure on Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group. Over the past week, the violence that has killed at least 156 and injured hundreds more came after the ethnically motivated murder of two Uighur migrant workers late last month.

Communist Party control of the media makes it difficult to know what actually happened when initially peaceful protests became riots. Chinese authorities have arrested hundreds, sent in troops and begun a propaganda campaign against the Uighurs.

Comparisons to the uprising in Tibet last year seem apt. In Tibet, peaceful protests by monks were met with force, and demonstrations proliferated throughout the region. Like those of the Tibetans, Uighurs' efforts at asserting their identity are smeared as subversive by Chinese authorities and used as justification for further repression.

Unlike the Tibetans, though, Uighurs do not benefit from a well-defined US policy supporting their political rights, autonomy and cultural identity. In fact, the United States has distinct policies toward all of the major territorial or ethnic conflicts in China except in Xinjiang, which Uighurs call East Turkestan.

The high-level post of special coordinator for Tibet was created at the State Department a decade ago. Taiwan has a defence commitment from the United States and unofficial but substantive relations through a quasi-diplomatic entity, both of which are underwritten by the Taiwan Relations Act. Hong Kong benefits from US law setting out support for its autonomy, rule of law and limited democracy, as well as the considerable interest of the American business community.

The task of supporting Uighurs has become more difficult than it should be. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, China capitalised on the American desire for cooperation in fighting terrorism - and general suspicion of Muslims. The State Department's designation of the small East Turkestan Independence Movement as a terrorist organisation was derided by human rights activists, who saw the danger of approving a freer Chinese hand, as well as scholarly experts on Xinjiang. Moreover, the detention of fewer than two dozen Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay dominates American perceptions of this ethnic group.

The priority on counter-terrorism efforts has distracted Washington from the need to support a secular, democratic movement as a counterweight to potential radicalisation. Traditionally, Uighur nationalism was secular and led by intellectuals. But Chinese communists, who consider any opposition as 'splittist' or 'terrorist', have sought to repress Uighur language and education. Moreover, the Communist Party's religious policies, along with a reaction to non-Muslim rule that scholars have noted in many countries, have led to a growing role for Islam in Uighur nationalism. It is in America's interest to cultivate democratic, secular political thinking among Uighurs no less than among Iraqis or other Muslim populations.

At a modest level, America already supports this. In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helped secure the release of Rebiya Kadeer, an Uighur businesswoman who lives in Fairfax County, Virginia, and leads the Uighurs in exile (even as two of her adult children are in prison in Xinjiang).

Kadeer has condemned acts of violence by Uighurs as well as Han Chinese, and while Chinese officials reportedly blame Kadeer for the recent riots, she has said the Chinese police provoked the riots.

The National Endowment for Democracy, an independent organisation funded by Congress, supports the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which documents and disseminates information about Chinese abuses. Radio Free Asia broadcasts in Uighur one hour a day. These programmes should be expanded and new initiatives undertaken.

The choice in Xinjiang is not between Chinese communist repression of the Uighurs and radical Islamism. It is time for the United States to choose another option and develop a Uighur policy rooted in democracy and secularism.

The writer is director of Democracy and Human Rights at the Foreign Policy Initiative.

Death Toll Debated In China's Rioting

Death Toll Debated In China's Rioting
Today | Uyghur Related

Death Toll Debated In China's Rioting
Officially, 184 People Died on Sunday

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, 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. Photo Credit: By Nelson Ching -- Bloomberg NewsURUMQI, China -- 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 the victims 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 heads. 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 not all of the Uighurs' bodies are 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 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 might 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 could not find their brothers, who were 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 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 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 suffered 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 suffered a concussion and gashes on his back and legs. The same afternoon, Nuryeraly, 25, was running errands with his brother when someone yelled 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 have 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 to 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 their 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."

Researchers Zhang Jie in Urumqi and Liu Liu in Beijing contributed to this report.