Category Archives: violence

“Chinese take to streets on reports truck driver killed by police”

Reuters on the newest mass protests to emerge in Sichuan:

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the southwestern Chinese city of Luzhou on Wednesday after reports a truck driver had been beaten to death by policemen, residents said, but state media said the driver had died after falling ill.

“People are very angry about this and are out on the streets to show their anger,” said one resident of the Hongxingcun neighbourhood where the unrest was focused. He did not witness the incident and declined to give his name.

A manager at a local restaurant who gave her family name as Wang added that several thousand people had taken to the streets.

Images posted later in the evening showed overturned police cars, some of which had been set alight. Some Weibo posts said police had used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

The official Xinhua news agency said the driver had “suddenly felt uncomfortable” during a scuffle with police about where to park his truck, and doctors called to the scene were unable to save his life.

“As a result, some people attacked police cars at the site, the report added.

I hope ‘suddenly felt uncomfortable’ will join the ranks of sad excuse catchphrases of the year.

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“The Body Count”

Elliot Sperling has a pretty chilling post about the mass killings that took place in Tibet during the two decades immediately following the Chinese invasion. The recent discovery of mass graves has brought this topic back into the light, although it’s still completely denied by the Chinese government:

In May, just a few months ago, preparations were made for the start of a building project in Nang-chen county in the modern Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, part of what was once the old kingdom of Nang-chen in Upper Kham. This is also the site of some of the instances of self-immolation, the act of protest that has been repeated again and again across Tibet and in exile over the last several years. As the ground was turned to start the construction of a house, something horrid—unexpected and uninvited—suddenly materialized. Human bones began emerging from below the soil. Lots of them, it was said.

The images are clear, the local explanations were whispered: it was where monks and laypeople had been massacred in 1958, a bloody, terrible year in Eastern Tibet.

Elsewhere in Yushu, in the grasslands near Dpal-thang, the commencement of another construction project for houses brought more of the same: three mass burial pits filled with human remains. But not everything had decomposed, it was said. There were remnants of the clothes that the victims were wearing when they were thrown in: both lay clothing and monastic robes. The long hair of some of the dead was also still there. According to elders these pits were from 1958 too, with bodies added as a result of later famine deaths around 1960. Several trucks were needed to take the remains away.

In place of intense criticism or condemnation of the Chinese authorities, who have for decades refused to open up records relating to what took place in Tibet (let alone of those whom the records would likely implicate in the savagery), there is a sort of indulgence that one might call the Chinese dispensation: the actions of China are to be seen as something akin to natural phenomena for which little or no moral judgment or critique is imaginable. It is the other actors who should be judged. This can involve the selective use of available (and problematic) Chinese statistics as well as the ascription of much, if not most, of the population loss in Tibet to migration and exile. And there is also the common, droning refrain that accounts from Tibetan exiles are exaggerated and can’t be trusted. Instead of seeking to work through exaggerations to find underlying truths, this rhetorical device is deployed to dismiss, tout court, testimony from those who have fled Tibet. Hence this sentence (from the pen of Barry Sautman): “The [1.2 million] figure is not based on eyewitness accounts or access to state statistics, and refugee reports have often been skewed to please exile authorities.” Well, at least it implies the existence of Chinese records on the subject. Still, if passed over too quickly a reader might not fully take in that the criticism contained in it is directed not at China for preventing access to those records but at Tibetans for not using them: records to which neither they nor any serious researchers are allowed access! And then there’s the schizophrenia of: a) removing from consideration any accounts (including those by eyewitnesses) reported in exile because they are ‘skewed’ and then, having done so; b) saying Tibetans don’t have “eyewitness” accounts… Of course, the utter unreliability of the 1.2 million figure is not an issue of real contention among serious observers: Human Rights Watch already in 1988 termed it unverifiable. But this is not the same as dismissing (as Sautman does) the fact of mass killings in Tibet in the first decades of rule by the PRC.

Do read the rest, although be warned: the topic itself is grim enough, and there are pictures from one of the mass graves found recently.

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“Tibetans clash with police in west China; 1 dead”

Two more Tibetans have self-immolated in Ngaba, and the AP has a story about the violence that followed:

Police in far west China beat a Tibetan man to death during a clash that broke out after two Tibetans set themselves on fire, a U.S. broadcaster said Tuesday, in the worst flaring of violence in the region in months.

The violence occurred Monday in Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture, which has emerged as a center of political activism and the site of dozens of self-immolations in the past few years. The area, home to the influential Kirti Monastery, has been flooded with security forces, but they have been unable to stop the immolation protests.

Radio Free Asia said in an emailed statement that a Kirti monk named Lungtok and another man, identified only as Tashi, set themselves alight Monday evening. It cited a Tibetan in the Aba area who was not identified by name and other unidentified people inside Tibet.

The report said a large number of police tried to clear the immolation site and ended up clashing with Tibetans.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Aba police department said there had been no immolations or confrontations between police and Tibetan locals. “Nothing like that has happened,” said the woman, who like many bureaucrats in China refused to give her name. The phone of the local Communist Party Propaganda Office rang unanswered.

Nearly 50 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China since 2009, with many shouting anti-government slogans and calling for the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. At least 17 were monks or former monks from Kirti, according to an earlier tally from the International Campaign for Tibet.

Monday’s clash with police marked the worst flaring of violence in Sichuan since a series of protests in January that Tibetan activist groups say left six Tibetans dead. The Chinese government said at the time that two rioters were killed.

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“Slain Uyghurs Not Linked to Bomb”

Another incredibly unsurprising report about the Xinjiang shootings, where it turns out the Uyghurs killed weren’t actually terrorist bomb-makers:

Four Uyghur men shot dead by police in China’s troubled Xinjiang region last week were not linked to bomb-making activities as suspected but may have had “terror plans,” security officials said Tuesday, as residents disputed any terrorism intentions.

Korla police said that there was evidence that the men, who defended themselves with knives during the raid, had plans for terrorist activity, though they did not elaborate.

Local residents who knew the Uyghurs involved disputed the police theory that those killed were suspected terrorists, claiming that the Chinese authorities had fabricated evidence in the past to justify the killings of Uyghurs.

“Yes, it was wrong to make the conjecture [that they were linked], but the shooting was not wrong, because the four disobeyed police during the raid operation,” said Seypidin, a senior security official in Korla.

Moreover, the four killed had shown evidence of extremism, he said, defending the police action.

“Even though they don’t have an organizational link with the bomb-maker, their ideology and political views are 100 percent the same. And in addition, we found enough evidence of a terror plan, like axes and boxing gloves,” he said.

Boxing gloves: evidence of a terror plan, when in the possession of a minority in China.

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“Uyghurs ‘Prepared To Fight And Die'”

RFA has the latest on a story that’s slowly been breaking over the last two days. More violence in Xinjiang:

Four Uyghur men shot dead by Chinese authorities last week for suspected bomb-making in the restive northwestern Xinjiang region were prepared for their death and even had made their own funeral arrangements, according to police.

The men were gunned down in a pre-dawn raid at a farmhouse near Korla city in central Xinjiang on Thursday as part of the Chinese government’s “strike hard” anti-crime campaign in the region.

The four men, armed only with knives, knew they had no chance against the gun-toting police.

They gave farewell hugs to their wives and children and made their own funeral arrangements before confronting the pursuers, officers who supervised the operation said.

Six policemen were initially involved in the raid at the farmhouse near Korla city in the Bayin’gholin prefecture but they had to seek reinforcements after a police officer’s arms were chopped at by an assailant, they said.

Seypidin said some top officials had criticized the police operation because none of the suspects were captured alive.

Police identified the ringleader of the suspected bomb-making activity as Nesrulla, who they said moved to the farmhouse from Korla city after a warrant for his arrest was issued on March 5.

Nesrulla also moved his wife and their son to Hejing county two days before the shooting.

Police who monitored the wife’s house in Hejing had detained 12 people who visited her.

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“WUC Firmly Rejects Beijing´s Accusations regarding Kargilik Incident”

“Firmly rejects”? Sounds like someone is using Beijing-style speech patterns against them. The World Uyghur Congress takes on the way Beijing is portraying the Kargilik incident:

In light of the recent violent incident in Kargilik (Chinese: Yecheng), Kashgar Prefecture, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly refutes Beijing´s accusations that the WUC has masterminded and incited the incident. The WUC hereby reiterates once again its strong commitment to the principle of nonviolence, and to peaceful and democratic means for the solution of the conflict in East Turkestan. The WUC urges the international community to not get drawn into China´s official propaganda regarding the issues related to the Uyghur people.

In typical fashion, the Chinese authorities are labelling the Kargilik incident as a “terrorist attack,” recalling the so-called “three evils” (terrorism, separatism, extremism). While social tensions and protests are springing up throughout the country, only events related to the Uyghur Muslim population are considered “terrorism.” The incident has taken place amidst a heavy crackdown on Uyghurs’ human rights, especially in areas of religious freedom, increased and tightened security presence in East Turkestan, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances amongst the Uyghur population.

Immediately following the incident, the Chinese security forces mobilized a large number of armed personnel to enforce the imposition of martial law in the city. The authorities prohibited inhabitants to leave the city as traffic to and from Kargilik was blocked. In addition, information on the incident is being reportedly censored in Chinese media and internet.

The incident comes only a few weeks after seven Uyghurs were extra-judicially killed in Guma (Chinese: Pishan) County in an alleged attempt to flee the country in December 2011. A six-year-old boy is still missing since the incidents. One month later, in January 2012, the Chinese authorities announced that 8,000 police officers were recruited to “beef up security in the vast countryside” and “crack down on illegal religious activities.” One month after the Hotan and Kashgar incidents in July 2011, the Chinese government implemented a two-month “Strike Hard” campaign in East Turkestan “in order to strengthen anti-terrorism efforts.”

I’ve seen people trying to equivocate about the difference between Xinhua and WUC press releases, but while they both have an agenda, can anyone really say the WUC has the same disregard for the truth as Xinhua? A proud one-party state propaganda outlet should be presumed guilty until proven innocent, especially when they have a decades-long record of lying about ethnic problems.

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More on Kargilik

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.

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