184 Dead in Urumqi Protests

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Sunday, 12 July 2009
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.

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.

These clashes come only a year after the Han clashes with Tibetans but is considerably worse in terms of deaths and injuries. Though less publicised because of last years Olympics had the eyes of the world on Beijing.

At the heart of the escalating problem are China's antiquated policies towards its ethnic minorities - a raft of Marxist measures that are now pleasing neither the ethnic Han, nor the minorities. As China's gargantuan economy has advanced, former leader Mao Zedong's vision of political and economic equality between Han and non-Han has gradually been undermined.

The end result could be seen on the bloody streets of Urumqi.

News Source:
Asia Times

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