July 25, 2011
It is with great concern that UNPO calls attention to a violent incident in Hotan, East Turkestan on Monday 18 July 2011, which claimed the lives of at least 20 people. In response to the incident, Beijing has further tightened its control on information while promoting its own version of events.
Following contact with local residents, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) has reported that the incident was not an assault on a police station as claimed by state media, but rather a police attack against a peaceful demonstration by relatives of persons who had gone missing after being taken into police custody. Roads surrounding the city have since been blocked by state security forces, and internet searches related to the incident have also reportedly been blocked.
After a week of disinformation, the incident in Hotan underscores the need for transparency, independent reporting and a free flow of information in the People’s Republic of China. Beijing has been quick to attribute the attacks to the forces of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism – themes which are regularly used to spread groundless fears about China’s Muslim population.
The UNPO strongly condemns the long-standing policies of repression, including through violence, of Uyghur culture, identity, freedom of expression and religion pursued by Beijing. Furthermore, UNPO emphasizes that independent observers and journalists must be allowed the freedom to fully investigate this incident and report their findings.