Monday, July 13, 2009
FURTHER VIOLENCE IN URUMQI
iolence flared again in Urumqi this afternoon, as Chinese soldiers gunned down at least two Uyghur men after they and a third man tried to attack the soldiers with knives. Two Uyghur men who witnessed the incident said the three had "hacked at the soldiers with big knives, and then were shot." Two Uyghurs were killed and the third was wounded. His condition is not known.
However in a later report, an Urumqi city official named Mr. Fan told Associated Press that the three attackers had been going after another Uyghur man when the paramilitary police shot them. The AP goes on to cite construction worker Zhang Ming, who said he also saw the men try to attack the soldiers. The security forces chased them, beat them and fired shots, he said.
Photos taken at the time show one policeman raising his rifle to strike a man. Beaten, the man in a blue shirt with blood on his right leg lay on the ground. Police formed a ring around him, pointing their guns up at surrounding buildings.And according to a still later dispatch from Reuters, the official Xinhua state mouthpiece has now reported the incident, and stays on-message with Mr. Fan's version. Uyghurs were attacking Uyghurs, and the People's Armed Police saved the day.
Xinhua also had more good news for China, revealing the long-awaited proof that the unrest in Uyghur country was organized by outsiders. Demonstrations against China's longstanding suppression of the Uyghurs have been occurring around the world, some of which have resulted in attacks against Chinese consulates and embassies.
"Supporters of the East Turkestan separatists started well-orchestrated and sometimes violent attacks on Chinese embassies and consulates in several countries soon after the riots occurred," Xinhua said, referring to name given to their desert homeland by some Uighurs.And there you go, what more proof could you need? Supportive demonstrations were organized in many countries, and were carried out by foreigners. Therefore the protesting students who marched in Urumqi's streets last Sunday afternoon were organized by foreigners too. It's so obvious! It couldn't possibly have anything to do with this:
"The attacks against China's diplomatic missions and the Urumqi riots seemed to be well-organized."
A Uighur security guard, who declined to give his name, said that while he did not support the violence, he understood people's frustration.A few days ago I mentioned that a Canadian journalist was among those being ejected from Kashgar, the Uyghur cultural capital in the western part of the territory. Mark MacKinnon is the Toronto Globe and Mail's Beijing bureau chief, and was in Kashgar to report on the demolishing of Kashgar's Old City by Chinese authorities. MacKinnon writes of his rushed eviction with fellow journalists here. His story on the destruction of Kashgar's Old City, for which (surprise!) the Chinese government has never applied for a well-deserved UNESCO world heritage listing, has now been published.
"Look around you -- 90 percent of all the businesses are owned by the Han," he said, standing in Urumqi's main bazaar.
"All I can do is get a job as a security guard," complained the university graduate. "The Han here can't even speak Uighur."
The Chinese government did the right thing by immediately allowing journalists into their 'New Dominion' to report on the conflict, but angry Han mobs probably didn't exactly fit into the desired narrative. An ABC news crew happened to see an attempted Uyghur lynching by a Chinese mob, which then promptly turned on the journalists.
Thirty Han Chinese men were beating a Uighur man, kicking him and punching him and hitting him with sticks. He was not fighting back but just trying to get away. Hundreds of Han Chinese were cheering the men on. Eventually, the police dragged the Uighur away and put him in a vehicle for his protection. Then, the mob turned on us. They blocked our cameras, not wanting the images of Han Chinese beating a Uighur to get out. I was pushed. Then the group surrounded us and started yelling. They pushed us back up a highway ramp where we were shooting. They yelled that western journalists were biased against the Han Chinese and that we should delete our footage. One man tried to grab our camera and then pulled out a baton and held it over his head as if he were going to hit us. We turned around and ran. The oddest part of the whole experience was that there were swarms of police and troops around and none of them were really trying to break up the fight.The Boston Globe has another fine Big Picture series on the ethnic violence in East Turkestan. It's good to see those big format images which make it easier to see people's faces. Some of it is disturbing, but the gallery offers a prior warning over the images which you may choose to skip.
Last night I watched Alim Seytoff, the Vice President of the Uyghur American Association, interviewed on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. The thirty minute interview, with video footage and phone-in callers can be viewed here.
I'll be in Indonesia this week, so I'm unlikely to post again until next weekend. Pro-Uyghur demonstrations have been held today in Surabaya and Jakarta, so I'm looking forward to learning what the Indonesian views are on the situation. (I'm also looking forward to ketoprak, sate, tempeh, nasi goreng, ikan bakar, etc. Heh.)