Hotan, a Uyghur-majority town in Xinjiang, has been the subject of a lot of chatter this morning. Something happened there- but right now the details aren’t entirely clear. To start with, the Chinese government claims that a police station was attacked, as reported by RFA:
An attack on a police station in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang left four people dead and one person critically injured, official media reported.
Several “thugs” invaded a police station in Hotan, near the border with Pakistan, took hostages and set fire to the place, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
It said four people, including a police officer, were killed in the attack.
Later reports from Xinhua seem to say that the death toll was even higher. Uyghur groups and non-state media are reporting a very different story, though:
However, according to accounts from the World Uyghur Congress, the shooting took place not at a police station, but in Hotan’s main bazaar, when more than 100 local Uyghurs peacefully demonstrated against illegal seizures of land and the forcible disappearances of relatives by Chinese security forces during unrest in 2009. World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit said that according to sources inside East Turkestan, police opened fire on the demonstrators, leading to a clash between demonstrators and police.
UAA unequivocally condemns acts of violence. UAA urges Chinese officials to allow international media and observers to freely and independently investigate the incident in Hotan.
The UHRP certainly has its own agenda, but between trusting them or Xinhua it’s no contest. The attack on the police station was likely a reprisal for the earlier bazaar shooting, if it happened at all. Perhaps evidence will come out that proves me wrong, but the government doesn’t have a very good track record for providing evidence, whereas photos, videos, and tons of witness testimony always makes its way out in support of the Uyghur groups.
More as it develops.
Update: France24 has updated casualty figures from Uyghur groups:
Official reports have described Monday’s clash as a “terrorist” attack and said four people including a police officer were killed when a crowd set upon a police station in the remote city of Hotan.
But Uighur activists called it an outburst of anger by ordinary members of the mainly Muslim ethnic minority, and accused authorities of attempting to block information on the deadly incident.
The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, citing sources in Xinjiang, said security forces beat 14 people to death and shot dead six others during the unrest.