Sep 03, 2009

East Turkestan: New Protests in Western China

Active ImageThere have been fresh protests in western China's Xinjiang region, where almost 200 people were killed in ethnic violence in July.



Below is an article published by the BBC News:



There have been fresh protests in western China's Xinjiang region, where almost 200 people were killed in ethnic violence in July.

A witness told the BBC that as many as 2,000 ethnic Han Chinese have been demonstrating in the capital Urumqi.
The protesters are said to be angry at the deteriorating security situation in the wake of the July riots.

A trigger for the protests appears to have been a spate of unexplained stabbings using hypodermic needles.

State-run news agency Xinhua said that 15 people had been arrested over the stabbings and that four of them had been prosecuted and would receive their judgements soon.

July's violence was the worst ethnic unrest in China for decades; at least 197 people died and hundreds injured.

The government says most of the dead were Han, but the exile activist group the World Uighur Congress claims many Uighurs were also killed.

Members of the city's Han community last held mass protests shortly after July's violence by ethnic Uighurs.

Safety fears

A businessman in Urumqi told the BBC that members of the Han community were demonstrating to complain about the worsening security situation.

"Han Chinese people have been protesting in the streets since yesterday," he said.

"Nearly everyone in Urumqi is on strike or protesting. Right now in front of me there are at least 2,000 people," he said from the centre of Urumqi.

Another resident said Han Chinese were concerned for their safety in the wake of the reported syringe attacks.

"The local government is not doing enough to protect Han people there... I am really [worried about] my family and relatives there. I urge [the] Chinese government should do more to prevent this," the resident told the BBC.

Xinhua news agency said the stabbing victims came from nine ethnic groups, including Uighurs and Han.

Protesters have accused the provincial government of being "useless", and some even asked for the dismissal of regional Communist Party boss Wang Lequan, who is thought to be an ally of President Hu Jintao.

Large numbers of police were reported to have turned out to block the protesters from reaching People's Square in the city centre.

There has been tension for many years between Xinjiang's Uighur and Han communities.

Some Uighurs complain that Han migration into the province has diluted their culture and influence.

Han currently account for roughly 40% of Xinjiang's population, while about 45% are Uighurs.

The tensions exploded in early July after an initially peaceful protest by Uighur youths, apparently prompted by an earlier riot in a factory in southern China.