Anniversary Of Ethnic Riots China
Posted on 5 July 2010 by LynThomas in Uncategorized
In Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region security is tight ahead of the first anniversary of deadly ethnic riots. Armed police have been deployed in the city and thousands of “riot-proof” CCTV cameras set up in public places. It is reported that all police leave has been cancelled.
Almost 200 people were killed and more than a were thousand injured, in the violence that erupted on 5 July 2009, between Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese. It was the region’s worst ethnic violence in decades, as thousands of Han residents armed with clubs, poured onto the streets. Just two days earlier 1000 members of the Uighur minority had rioted.
It was the deadliest eruption of public violence in China since the People’s Liberation Army soldiers killed several hundred people during the 1989 crackdown on demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The violence ended only after huge numbers of troops were deployed in the remote western region and many sections of the city had been set on fire.
Following the riots, the government suspended the region’s communication links to the rest of the world, including text messaging, the internet and international telephone calls.
“We have confidence and we totally have the ability to maintain stability in Xinjiang,” said Major General Qi Baowen, chief of the local paramilitary police, as it came close to the anniversary of the violence.
One restaurant owner told the AFP news agency that police had collected all the large knives from his restaurant and advised him to stay indoors on Monday.
Surveillance cameras in protective casing had been put up in stations, schools and shops and were being monitored around the clock, Xinhua news agency said.
China blamed last year’s violence on the local ethnic Uighur population, saying most of the recorded dead were Han Chinese.
But Amnesty International has challenged the official Chinese version of events, saying police used unnecessary force against Uighurs, followed by mass arrests and torture.
While Han Chinese make up more than 75% of Irumqui’s population, over a million Uighurs live in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia. Many are unhappy about the large influx of Han Chinese settlers which they say has increasingly marginalized their interests and culture.
“It is hard for you to understand what it is like to be a Uighur,” said a 25-year-old Uighur man named Musa. “Uighur people can’t get jobs.”