Sep 07, 2009

East Turkestan: Urumqi Erupts Again, Following Needle Attacks

Active ImageUrumqi, the capital of Xinjiang (East Turkestan) home to the indigenous Uyghur ethnicity has been recently targeted by an attack from Chinese using syringes.

Below is an article published by Tibetan Review:


Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang (East Turkestan) has been hit by a wave of mysterious syringe (hypodermic needle) attacks, prompting demonstrations on Sep 3 [2009] involving possibly thousands of people who demanded a "security guarantee". AP Sep 3 [2009] cited a public service announcement on Xinjiang TV Sep 3 [2009] as saying 476 people had sought treatment for stabbings. It was not clear who were behind the attacks, but the Xinjiang TV report was cited as saying 433 of the victims were Chinese.


China’s official Xinhua news agency Sep 3 [2009] insisted that the victims included people from nine ethnic groups and that Uighurs too were among the protesting crowd.


The protest was apparently not one huge demonstration; rather, large crowds of people gathered in several points across the city, leading to Shops and markets being shuttered. "There are about 10 to 20,000 people and many police in the street at every intersection," the AFP Sep 3 quoted a Han woman who runs a local medical clinic as saying. "There are more than 100 police stationed every 400 to 500 metres.”


The report said Police ordered residents to stay indoors and stationed officers throughout the city, in a forceful response aimed at staving off a second wave of bloodshed following that seen in the city in July [2009], when China said 197 people were killed and 1,600 others injured.


According to the AP report, the demonstrators were Chinese immigrants who waved Chinese flags, confronted local Communist Party leaders demanding they step down, and shouted "severely punish the hooligans" — a reference to the Jul 5 rioters. They seemingly took care not to rile ethnic grievances, calling out "maintain ethnic unity" and venting their anger on local officials. They called for the ouster of Xinjiang party secretary Wang Lequan, an ally of President Hu Jintao, and Urumqi party secretary Li Zhi, the report cited an editor at a local newspaper, who requested anonymity as he worked for the government, as saying. It said both Wang and Li came to talk to the demonstrators to head off further trouble.


The demonstration followed days of rumors that gangs were roaming the city, stabbing mostly Chinese people with hypodermic needles, scaring residents. The AP reported cited City officials as confirming the attacks, saying 15 had been detained.


Meanwhile, addressing the European Parliament's human rights committee in Brussels on Sep 1 [2009], the best known Uighur rights activist Mrs Rebiya Kadeer said, “I'm ready to discuss with the Chinese government the way we can address its policy failures of the past 60 years and seek political reforms.”


“It is time for the Chinese government to sit and talk with me, his holiness the Dalai Lama and all those leaders of non Han Chinese communities who have been vilified, imprisoned and slandered just because we happen to disagree with the bankrupt official policy.”


But China dismissed her suggestion and warned other countries to avoid her. “We hope relevant parties can recognise her true nature and not provide a stage for or facilitate her anti-China separatist activities,” the AFP Sep 3 quoted China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying.