Monday, 6 July 2009

Protest in Urumchi violently suppressed by Chinese government forces

For immediate release

July 5, 2009, 9:15 pm EST

Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1496

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) condemns in the strongest possible terms the Chinese government’s use of excessive force against peaceful protestors in Urumchi.

On Sunday, July 5, 2009, Uyghur students organized a protest in Urumchi to express discontent with the Chinese authorities’ response to the mob killing and beating of Uyghur workers at a toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong on June 26, 2009. The aim of the protesters was to seek justice for the victims in Shaoguan and to express sympathy with the families of those killed and injured.

Reports indicate that between 1,000 to 3,000 protestors marched through the Döng Körük (Erdaoqiao) area of Urumchi on July 5, 2009, some of whom were waving the flag of the People’s Republic of China. The protestors were met by a fierce Chinese government response to quell the protest, which included the deployment of four kinds of police (regular police, anti-riot police, special police and the People's Armed Police). Protest participants, who wish to remain anonymous for safety reasons, have indicated in phone conversations with the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) that an unknown number of Uyghurs were fired upon by Chinese authorities and killed.

“The East Turkestan issue has reached a critical juncture and the Chinese government must act now to address Uyghur concerns”, said Uyghur democracy leader, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, in a statement. “This incident could have been avoided if the Chinese authorities had properly investigated the Shaoguan killings. Young Uyghurs exercised their right to peacefully protest the mishandling of the killings and were in turn met with government violence. The Chinese authorities should not only find those responsible for the killing of Uyghurs in Shaoguan and Urumchi, but it should also release all those Uyghurs detained in Urumchi during the protest and compensate those Uyghurs killed and injured.”

According to official Chinese media, a massive mob attack at a factory in the city of Shaoguan left two Uyghur workers dead and 118 workers injured. Some news reports stated that the majority of the injured were Uyghurs. Unconfirmed reports indicate that more Uyghurs were killed in the attack than the two reported in the official media. In addition, according to a report posted on a Shaoguan government website that has now been taken down, 81 Uyghur workers were injured, 66 of whom were in critical condition in the hospital. Since the incident no arrests have been made in connection with the killing of Uyghurs in Shaoguan.

2009 marks the sixtieth year of Chinese Communist Party rule in East Turkestan. Since 1949, contrary to Chinese claims, Uyghurs in East Turkestan have experienced a deterioration in human rights conditions in the region. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. Department of State have all documented the suppression of Uyghur political and civil rights, while the Chinese government conducts an eradication of the Uyghur identity through violations of economic, social and cultural rights.

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