Battle in Kargilik, Xinjiang

A few more reports have come out about the fighting yesterday in Xinjiang. First, from UHRP:

The reported deaths of residents of Kargilik (Chinese: Yecheng) in Kashgar Prefecture on February 28 have taken place against a backdrop of a heavy Chinese security presence in the region, mass detentions and heightened restrictions on Uyghurs’ religious practices. The Uyghur American Association (UAA) calls upon the international community to view official Chinese statements about the reported deaths with extreme caution until independent observers are allowed to investigate the incident.

“China’s demonstrated lack of transparency when it comes to unrest in East Turkestan necessitates deep speculation of official Chinese claims,” said UAA president Alim Seytoff. “In the absence of compelling evidence, international observers should be extremely careful when hearing Chinese claims about “rioters” and “terrorists”.

Heightened repression and accompanying unrest in East Turkestan reflect the heavy-handed, violent tactics of Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian. Despite his official image as a comparatively liberal leader, Zhang has reverted to the oppressive measures used by his predecessor Wang Lequan, and has failed to design policies examining the root of unrest in East Turkestan.

From NYT, quoting Bequelin:

“Zhang Chunxian brought a new style, but the policies haven’t changed,” Nicholas Bequelin, a senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mail. “They were laid out at the Xinjiang work conference in 2010. These policies promised a rapid boost to the local economy — which has happened — but absent from this blueprint were the issues that top the list of the Uighur discontent: discrimination, Han in-migration and the ever-more invasive curbs on language, culture, religious expression.”

Mr. Bequelin added that the one notable change since Mr. Zhang took office is that there is a greater recognition that socio-economic discrimination against Uighurs needs to be addressed. “But not much has been done in this respect, and the polarization between Uighurs and Chinese continues to grow,” he said.

Finally, WaPo on competing claims:

China says those events were organized terror attacks, but overseas Uighur groups say they were anti-government riots carried out by angry citizens. Uighur (pronounced WEE’-gur) activists and security analysts blame the violence on economic marginalization and restrictions on Uighur culture and the Muslim religion that are breeding frustration and anger among young Uighurs.

Chinese authorities have offered little evidence to back up their claims of outside involvement and rarely provide details on arrests or punishment of the suspects. Tight information controls and the remoteness of the area, more than 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) west of Beijing, ensure that the circumstances surrounding such incidents often remain murky.

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Filed under ethnic conflict, Xinjiang

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