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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

China riots: 156 dead in ethnic unrest

It might be too simplistic to say that China (as a political body, and/or nation) is at fault for this. I've shared this before, and it probably holds water that the problem really lies in the overdominance of the Han majority that like a tidal river, consumes and assimilates all around it. In a time of global convergence (though how much of it is by choice?), cultures with strong identities grow stronger in an effort to resist losing their cultural 'center'. This I guess, is a time when someone basically said, ok hang on, this erosion of who we are has to stop. Now.

My condolences to all the lives so wastefully lost. Surely a middle path must be found.

This just in, sad news indeed if the Hans do decide to gang up against the minority.


China riots: 156 dead in ethnic unrest
AFP 7 July 2009
Source - The Age

July 7, 2009 - 5:53AM
China said on Tuesday at least 156 people were killed when Muslim Uighurs rioted in the restive region of Xinjiang in some of the deadliest ethnic unrest to hit the country in decades.

The violence in the regional capital Urumqi on Sunday involved thousands of people and triggered an enormous security crackdown across Xinjiang, where Uighurs have long complained of repressive Chinese rule.

In a sign tensions were still running high, state media reported that police had dispersed more than 200 rioters on Monday evening as they gathered at the main mosque in Kashgar, a city in western Xinjiang on the ancient Silk Road.

Police believed people were "trying to organise more unrest" in other cities in the vast mountainous and desert region that borders Central Asia, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhua said more than 700 people had been arrested for involvement in Sunday's riots, which authorities blamed on Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who have closer cultural links to regional neighbours than the Han Chinese.

Exiled Uighur groups accused Chinese security forces of over-reacting to peaceful protests and firing indiscriminately on crowds.

The deadly unrest drew attention around the world, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon leading international calls for restraint, a sentiment echoed by Britain and the United States.

"We deeply regret the loss of life" in Urumqi, US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said. "We call on all sides for calm and restraint."

Citing police, Xinhua said early Tuesday the death toll had risen to 156, up from the previous figure of at least 140 dead and 828 injured.

"This seriously violent and criminal incident led to the injury and death to nearly 1,000 innocent people," China News Service quoted Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang region, as saying earlier.

The government and state-run media have not given a full breakdown of the dead and injured.

Dramatic footage broadcast of the unrest by the state-run CCTV network showed men turning over a police car and smashing its windows, a woman being kicked as she lay on the ground and buses and other vehicles aflame.

Han Chinese businesspeople told AFP there were around 3000 Uighur protesters, a figure repeated by exiled Uighur groups.

The Xinjiang regional government blamed Rebiya Kadeer, the Uighurs' leader living in exile in the United States, for orchestrating the unrest.

But Kadeer and other Uighur exiles blamed the Chinese authorities.

"They randomly fired on men and women," Asgar Can, vice-president of the World Uighur Congress - the main international organisation representing the minority -- told AFP in Berlin.

"In addition, the police pooled their vehicles together in certain parts of the city and then began to run demonstrators over," Can said.