More and more details are getting out now, as news organizations and Uyghur groups start contacting their sources in the area. First, RFA with more on exactly what happened:
Local officials, meanwhile, were striving to keep a lid on rumors swirling after the worst violence in seven months in the volatile region and have given strict orders to government employees not to speak to the media.
But a senior official told RFA that he had witnessed the violence which left nearly 20 dead on a busy street in Kargilik (in Chinese, Yecheng) county in Kashgar prefecture on Tuesday night.
“We saw the people were crying and fleeing and later all the streets in the town were blocked by police,” said Abdukeyim, chief of the county’s land management department, just 100 meters (330 feet) from a market where the violence occurred.
“This morning I attended a conference held by the county which all chiefs of county level departments were present at. Attendees were given a brief report on the incident,” Abdukeyim said.
“According to the report, nine [Uyghurs] took part in the attack and eight of them were shot [dead] by police. Ten Han [Chinese] were killed and five were injured.”
Several residents of Kargilik county interviewed by RFA Wednesday said the violence stemmed from a massive influx of Han Chinese, resulting in fewer economic opportunities for the Uyghur community.
One Uyghur resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Uyghurs were fed up with being treated like second class citizens in their traditional homeland.
“Growing up in a village, I had never even seen a Han Chinese before I was 18 year old. Now you can see Han Chinese in all corners of Kargilik county,” he said.
“Their population is exploding and they have now occupied almost all of the towns in the county.”
“The flood of immigrants was a key reason behind the attack.”
A Han Chinese doctor from Bo-Ai Hospital in Kaghilik county expressed sympathy for the region’s Uyghurs, saying that Tuesday’s attack could have been an act of frustration with the government’s measures against the minority ethnic group.
“I think the sense of dissatisfaction and resistance is a direct result of the government enforcing a high-pressure policy on Uyghur people,” said the doctor, who says he had good relations with Uyghur doctors at the hospital.
“I have a very good relationship with my Uyghur colleagues at the hospital. I don’t want to see this kind thing happen, but I also don’t want to see excessive controls on the local Uygur people,” he said.
A senior teacher in Kargilik county compared Han immigrants in the area to an invading army.
“Yes, it’s true that civilians were targeted in the attack, but in the view of the Uyghurs—myself included—there is no difference between Han civilians and the army,” he said, citing the July 5, 2009 riots in which he claimed Han Chinese civilians attacked Uyghur civilians “with support of the armed police.”
The teacher also complained that nearly all Han citizens in Xinjiang sided with the government on all ethnic issues.
“They never ask the government to end religious pressure on the local people, to stop arrests and executions, or call for equal job opportunities,” the teacher said.
He said Han citizens were likely targeted because the Uyghurs were not well armed enough to take on the security forces.
“The difference in power of arms between the two sides is incomparable. You can’t do anything to the armed police with a knife,” he said.
“I think this is the main reason they attacked Han civilians.”
Attacks on civilians in Xinjiang and self-immolations in Tibet. Wouldn’t it be nice if Beijing hadn’t cut off every other way for minorities to express their discontentment?
A new blog called Xinjiang Source has a post about why Beijing is trying to conflate separatism and terrorism. Obviously this isn’t a new tactic, and the Three Evils campaigns have paved the way for it, but the conscious effort to muddle the two has been in full swing recently:
However, there is a stand-out feature of the reports that have emerged; the immediate labeling of the Uyghur individuals involved as ‘terrorists.’ This is a common response by the Chinese authorities when dealing with high-profile incidents involving Uyghurs, be they violent or non-violent, and be they instigated by Uyghurs or not. The words ‘terrorists’ and ‘separatists’ are used interchangeably to mean the same thing, and are seemingly used to decry any Uyghur individual who engages in activism of any kind.
By labeling Uyghur individuals as ‘terrorists’, the Chinese authorities seek and are granted legitimation to enact the liberty-limiting policies which they so clearly pursue in Xinjiang, in order to preserve the ‘security’ which is threatened.
By the standards Beijing is using, a man blowing up a public bus and a man distributing fliers calling for new ethnic policies are the same thing- terrorists. What’s sad is seeing that the policy occasionally works, as we saw recently with American senator Mark Kirk, who spoke about the need to be wary against “terrorism” in Xinjiang.