Mar 12, 2012

East Turkestan, Tibet: Outbursts Of State Violence In Autonomous Regions

Last week two spates of killings occurred in China’s autonomous regions, following weeks of mounting tension between the State and the ethnic populations.

Below is an article published by The New York Times:

Two outbursts of violence involving fatal shootings by security forces took place last week in areas of China where ethnic tensions are running high, according to weekend reports by a Tibet advocacy group and Radio Free Asia.

The advocacy group, Free Tibet, said three Tibetan men were shot, one fatally, by security forces outside a police station where the men had gone to protest. The shootings took place on March 6 in Daka, known as Tagkhar in Tibetan, in the autonomous prefecture of Guoluo, or Golog, which is in the barren and remote western province of Qinghai. The man killed was Choeri, 28, and the two men with him who were wounded were Jamphal Lobdu and Karkho, both brothers, Free Tibet said. (Many Tibetans have only one name.) The shootings could not be independently confirmed.

The group said Chinese security forces have shot and killed at least eight Tibetans in separate episodes during and after protests in the past month. The violence in Daka took place after about 100 Tibetans held a protest on Jan. 25 during which they tore down a Chinese flag at the town’s government offices. The police then sought out the leaders of the protest, and on March 6 they detained a man named Thubwang. Choeri, Jamphal Lobdu and Karkho went to the police station to protest Thubwang’s detention, and were shot, Free Tibet said. It is unclear what set off the shooting.

The past year has been an especially fraught one across the Tibetan plateau. Since March 2011, at least 25 Tibetans have set fire to themselves to protest Chinese rule and policies; of those, at least 17 have died. The self-immolations have prompted Chinese leaders to flood parts of the Tibetan plateau with security forces. That has raised tensions further, and protests have flared. Tibetans have complained of a state of siege in some towns on the plateau since a widespread Tibetan uprising in 2008.

The other act of violence involving fatal shootings took place in the region of Xinjiang, which is to the north of Tibet. There, ethnic Uighurs have protested discrimination by the ethnic Han, who are the majority in China. The shootings, in which at least four people died, took place last Friday, when police officers went into a house on a predawn raid, Radio Free Asia reported, citing interviews with police officials in the area. Radio Free Asia, which has a Uighur-language service, is financed by the United States government.

The police suspected a bomb-making group was in the house, and officers trying to enter were confronted by men armed with axes and knives, Radio Free Asia reported. The police opened fire. Those killed were Nesrullah, 21, who had been wanted by the police; Nurmemet, 25; Abdurehim, who was in his 30s; and Abdulla, also over 30, Radio Free Asia reported.

As in Tibetan areas, violence has erupted in recent years in towns where Uighurs and ethnic Han, who dominate China, are in a struggle over political power and economic opportunities. On Feb. 28, about 20 people were killed in clashes in the region. The party chief of Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian, has, like his predecessor, adopted an iron-fist strategy since taking office in 2010 and has announced “strike hard” campaigns in Uighur areas. Human rights advocates say such campaigns, which take place occasionally in Xinjiang, contribute to the discontent that is growing among the Uighurs.