East Turkestan: The Need for Security
Below is an article published by the Straits Times :
The exiled leader of north-western China's Uighur minority called on Thursday [3 September 2009] for Beijing's regional chief to ensure public safety and to step down as fresh protests broke out in the area.
Tens of thousands of protesters and hundreds of police took to the streets of Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, two months after deadly clashes between the region's predominantly Muslim Uighur people and China's majority Han.
'I call on Chinese officials to guarantee the security of all people living in East Turkestan, including Uighurs and Han Chinese,' said Rebiya Kadeer, the US-based leader of the World Uighur Congress, using the Uighur name for the region.
Some witnesses said tens of thousands of people, largely Han, shouted slogans against regional Communist Party chief Wang Lequan, demanding he take action against a spate of attacks with syringes.
'The mere fact that Han Chinese protesters were permitted to voice their concerns shows that the Chinese authorities are applying a double standard,' Ms Kadeer said in a statement.
'A precondition for peaceful coexistence between Uighurs and Han Chinese is the resignation of Wang Lequan, leading to the appointment of moderate officials, who understand the legitimate grievances of the Uighur people and the needs of the Han Chinese,' she said.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency said that Uighurs were also among the demonstrators.
China has accused Ms Kadeer, who spent six years in a Chinese prison before being released to the United States in 2005, of orchestrating the violence in July .
Ms Kadeer has strongly denied the allegations and insists that police used excessive force against Uighurs, who were airing grievances after an ethnically charged brawl among factory workers.