China has severely cracked down on dissent among ethnic Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang, according to reports released on the second anniversary of riots in Urumchi in which nearly 200 people were killed.
The Communist authorities executed nine Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs accused of instigating the riots, and jailed and prosecuted hundreds of others, according to state media and foreign human rights groups.
The two-year anniversary of the rioting has seen a pronounced tightening of security, said Dilxat Raxit of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress.
“Uyghurs are scared to go outside today lest they get picked up by the police just for being in a group of three or four people. They are choosing to stay at home,” he told Reuters.
A new report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project contrasts the Chinese government’s portrayal of July 5 with information that challenges Beijing’s account and portrays the government’s role in exacerbating ethnic tensions:
In line with accounts provided by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and Amnesty International in their reports on July 5, 2009 unrest in Urumchi, a newly-released video [above] graphically reveals the arbitrary, brutal nature of detentions of Uyghurs carried out by armed Chinese security forces in the wake of July 5. The video is consistent with the “sweeping house-to-house searches” described in the reports issued by UHRP and Amnesty, and shows military forces, People’s Armed Police and regular police carrying out detentions of Uyghurs in Urumchi.
“Instead of working to ease ethnic tensions, the Chinese state incited Chinese residents of Urumchi to attack Uyghurs,” said Uyghur American Association president Alim Seytoff. “Chinese officials responded to the unrest on July 5 in the only way they know how- with violence and bloodshed. They justified their actions by demonizing the Uyghur people.”
Xinjiang is strategically vital to China as a depository of huge oil, gas and coal reserves that borders Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia.
Last month, Beijing secured the extradition from Kazakhstan of a Uyghur schoolteacher who had been granted U.N. refugee status. The extradition was negotiated under the protocols of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which claims to be a cooperative network for regional security, but is undermining human rights and rule of law, while jeopardizing the global struggle against terrorism, according to a recent analysis.
“The SCO approach to counter-terrorism, modeled on China’s Three Evils doctrine, and highlighting principles of territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, and social stability, contributes to supporting repressive regimes at the expense of national, regional, and global human rights,” according to a whitepaper from Human Rights in China.
“The government is not only still muzzling people who speak out about July 2009, it is using its influence outside its borders to shut them up,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s director for the Asia-Pacific..
“The general trend towards repression that we see all over China is particularly pronounced in Xinjiang, where the Uighur population has become a minority in its own homeland.”