East Turkestan: Uyghur Demonstrators Arrested
China have detained at least 16 people for protesting what they say is an
unfair relocation package, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.
About 1,000 farmers, forestry workers, and herdsmen from the
forestry farm protested June 11 outside the offices of a reservoir and water
power station project on the Tikas branch of the Ili River, local sources
told RFA's Uyghur service.
Local authorities launched the project-on the border between
Tokkuz Tara countries in Ili Prefecture-in 2000 in a bid to meet China's
skyrocketing energy demand. Plans call for the relocation of some 18,000
local farmers, forest workers, and herdsmen to allow its completion.
"There are 16 people brought to our station-yesterday there were 10, and
today we have 6," a municipal police officer said on condition of anonymity.
"I don't know details. I heard it was about a land dispute."
Other witnesses said in interviews that up to 50 people were
of them members of the Uyghur ethnic group that forms a tiny minority in
China but a majority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
"Police came in and detained about 50 demonstrators, accusing
opposing plans to relocate them to make way for the water power station,"
one witness said. "There is no information on where those 50 people were
taken, and we are worried about the detainees' safety."
The witness said demonstrators were demanding the 38,000 yuan
they had been promised as compensation for moving, after they received only
880 yuan (U.S. $106) each.
The June 11 demonstration is the first major protest reported
Prefecture in seven years.
In February 1997, young Uyghurs marched through Ili to protest
the arrest of
a youth leader and demand an end to rights abuses. Armed police confronted
them, and local people say many were killed and hundreds detained.
Source: Radio Free Asia