Sunday, July 5, 2009

Uyghur riots in Urumqi

There's been unrest among the Uyghurs in Urumqi, China over the weekend. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang, a massive province in the west of China, and home to the Uyghur people, a non-Han minority which has accused China of trying to Hanify its homeland:

Uighurs are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang but are a minority in Urumqi, where Han Chinese make up more than 70 percent of the population of two million or so. The Chinese government has encouraged Han migration to the city and other parts of Xinjiang, fueling resentment among the Uighurs. Urumqi is a deeply segregated city, with Han Chinese there rarely venturing into the Uighur quarter.

Xinjiang is an absolutely enormous province – it takes up one-sixth the size of China and is larger than the entire nation of Mongolia – and the Chinese government is scrambling to turn it majority Han, so that if one day they lose their iron grip on the country, they'll have one more excuse not to let the Uyghurs, who are more closely related to the Turkic Central Asian peoples than to the Han Chinese who rule the prosperous coastal regions in the east, secede.

Update: I wouldn't take this at face value, but Reuters is reporting that the Chinese state news agency is reporting some deaths caused by Uyghur rioters. First they claimed "three ordinary people of the Han ethnic group" were killed, but later amended that to one police oficer and "a number of innocent members of the public." I suspect what probably happened is that the Chinese propagandists realized that they'd gone too far in stoking ethnic tension by accusing the Uyghur rioters of killing Han, so they backtracked. I'd be surprised if any police officers or innocent Han civilians were killed.

Update II: The NYT is now reporting that Chinese officials are putting the death toll at over 100 (!!), however neutral observers say they haven't seen any bodies in the streets (which would be expected if that many people died). Also puzzling is the fact that news agencies put the number of protesters at about 1,000, which would mean that one in ten protesters was killed...which doesn't seem likely.

Update III: The aforelinked NYT article says that Xinhua has upped the death toll to 156, and that the Chinese have learned their lesson from recent events in Iran and have disabled Twitter (along with the rest of the internet):

Local Internet service was largely disabled, and online bulletin boards and search engines across China were purged of references to the violence. The social networking service Twitter, which effectively rallied demonstrators in Iran last month, was also disabled. China Mobile, the nation’s largest cellphone provider, curtailed service in Urumqi, and cellphone calls from some Beijing numbers to the area were blocked. But Chinese television carried images showing some of the violence.

Update IV: Enough of this. I made a new post that concentrates on the death toll and the Western media's coverage of the protests.


Anonymous said...

many, i mean many ordinary uyghurs were killed, what are they? not civilians because they chose to protest the deaths of the innocent uyghur workers in Guang Dong?

its tiananmen square all over again, young students were killed, and the chinese is trying to hide the truth from the world!!!!

Anonymous said...

why the world set satellite to find out the whole truth , the protesters are university students, how police showed up? why all uyghur region shutdown the computer? even in the chinese outside website they analyzed in detail how the government changed the whole story, in the picture in the hospital , according to analyzer how this person not going into the emergency room, but going out from the emergency room? why cant world find out the truth? what happened to those innocent uyghur?