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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

For the Uygur The Propoganda is Maintained

Simayi Teliwardi Chairman of Xinjinag Uygur Autonomous Region"There have been no blasts or assassination incidents in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region over recent years, according to a news conference held in Beijing on Monday. "China daily:

"The violent terrorists in Xinjiang are like rats scurrying across a street, hated and detested by everybody,"

So says Ismail Tiliwaldi Chairman of Xinjiang Uygur A.R and an Uygur .

The China Daily went on to quote him as saying that the "growing" stability was as a result of the Chinese Government crackdowns on "separatist" activity and the growth of the economy.

Such a statement as this by Tiliwaldi, that there have been no "bomb blasts" or "assassinations", would make a casual observer believe that Xinjiang has been rife with such occurances and that only in the last year or two have they been brought under control as a result of Chinese diligence and improved economic circumstances.

Let's look at this Teliwardi's assertion in the light of known facts and put this allusion of his into some context.

In February 1997, the year Hong Kong was returned to the mainland, a demonstration by some 1,000 Uygurs in the small town of Yining (population c. 250,000) was met by a brutal response by the Chinese officials. Whilst official Chinese records indicate that 9 people died and 198 were injured as a result of the clashes, Uygur eyewitness and diaspora organisations claim that the immediate death toll was significantly higher, upwards of 400, the majority of whom were Uygur.

The Chinese response to the incident was swift and brutal. It is alleged that within days of the incident over 30,000 troops were sent to Xinjiang and many to Yining in particular. So great was the troop movement in fact that it has been stated that Chinese Foreign Affairs contacted Kazakhstan counterparts to allay any fears of a strike against that country!

It is claimed also that thousands of Uygurs were rounded up and detained, not only in Yining but in other areas of Xinjiang . One Uygur "eyewitness" claims 90% of all Uygur families in Yining had at least one member detained. Martial law was immediately implemented in the major cities of Xinjiang and communications to Xinjiang were cut. Official executions of some of those arrested began days after the "riots" were put down and it is estimated that as a result of the Yining incident 124 Uygurs were officially executed, many quickly after the event. Some witnesses claim the approximately 30 Uygurs were sumarily executed on the day and their deaths kept secret. The situation, as can be imagined, with the lack of information, the troop movements and "official" executions, let alone the claimed summary executions, would have been absolute chaos. Even today what really happened in Yining is unclear.

It is also claimed that the Chinese fearing greater unrest throughout Xinjiang should the true extent of what happened in Yining get out issued a decree in Yining called the "three no's": "no questioning" "no telling" and "no visiting" to hide the extent of what happened in Yining from the rest of Xinjiang and the world.

In late February 1997 there were two bomb blasts in Urumqi the capital of Xinjiang Killing 5 people and one later in Beijing that injured five people. The two in Urumqi can definitely be attributed to Uygurs, not so the one in Beijing in which the modus operandi was completly different to the Urumqi bombings. In fact if one was a real conspiracy theorist one would say that the Beijing bombing was rather timely to say the least. In all incidences though Uygurs were tried and executed for the crimes.

That then is the extent of the "bomb blasts" in over 13 years in Xinjiang (Chinese claim an Uygur bomb attack in 1991) and, whilst not condoning violence, one would think that given the reports and rumours that were coming out of Yining of mass arrests and executions that these Urumqi bombings were as a result of exceptional provocation in a particular set of circumstances. Not as one would think as being part of a widespread and ongoing programme of bombings that the Xinjiang leader would have us think.

With regard to "assassinations" the only assassinations Tiliwaldi could be alluding to is the death of two Uygur Muslim clerics who were killed in Xinjiang in the 1990's supposedly as a result of their pro-Chinese stance and alleged informant activities.

Three (two?) bombings and two murders in over 13 years does not, in my view, justify the comments of the Xinjiang leader that infer an extensive history of bombings and assassinations plaguing Xinjiang until recently.

This statement is essentially scaremongering and an attempted re-enforcement of the notion of an "Uygur Terrorist threat" that China has been peddling, rather successfully I might add, to the world since "9/11", to justify their repressive policies against the Uygur in Xinjiang.

There is no reduction in terrorist and separatist violence as Tiliwaldi stated because quite simply there has never been any such thing. The bombings in Urumqi happened 7 years ago and were as a direct response to a particular set of very emotion charged circumstances and had never been part of any pattern prior to that time nor have they been repeated. Likewise the "assassinations" were one off events that have no precedents or similar events occuring afterwards.