“Uyghur Leaflets Prompt Crackdown”

The city of Aksu is making trouble for Beijing again, as RFA notes:

Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have detained at least six people following the appearance of leaflets in Aksu city calling for independence from Beijing, an overseas Uyghur group said.

Leaflets containing the phrases “Demand independence,””Resist Sinicization,” and “Uyghur people unite” began appearing in the western city of Aksu on July 1, as the ruling Communist Party marked its 90th anniversary with nationwide events, according to Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress.

The leaflets sparked a city-wide investigation by state security police, who feared the leaflets would arrive in the regional capital of Urumqi ahead of the July 5 anniversary of bloody ethnic riots, Raxit said.

“Armed Chinese military personnel, including special police, were carrying out investigations of people they suspected of distributing the leaflets,” he said.

“At least six or seven people were taken away against their will in police cars in the middle of the night,” Raxit said. “It is not clear what has happened to them.”

Earlier bomb attack

A bomb attack in Aksu last August left eight people dead, including two of the bombers, and 15 wounded after a man riding a three-wheeled vehicle threw explosives at a group of uniformed patrolmen.

Four Uyghurs were arrested shortly after the attack and two Uyghur men were later executed for their alleged role in the Aug. 19 blasts.

Raxit said the Aksu authorities had begun a 100-day “strike hard” campaign in the city after the leaflets were discovered, stepping up security patrols around the clock, even in small residential neighborhoods and alleyways.

He said the leaflets were in keeping with growing discontent among Aksu’s Uyghur population with increasing pressure in recent years on their traditional culture, Muslim religious practice, and ability to make a living.

Many Uyghurs see China as exploiting natural resources in their region, which enjoyed two brief periods of independence as East Turkestan in the early 20th century, and which has chafed under Beijing’s rule since 1949.

Anyone think a “strike hard” campaign will ease ethnic tensions in the region?


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Filed under China, ethnic conflict, Xinjiang

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