My thoughts on the Urumqi riot:
I’ve seen photos of the victims and dead bodies caused by the mayhem taken just after the event. It was horrible…, and I just couldn’t fathom the kind of cruelties and sickness that these people could inflict on innocent people, of which a number are women. These mobs who pepetrated these violence are pure terrorists or animals. Period.
China needs to act with restraint and calmness – I am sure the leadership is doing that. Publicise the atrocities being perpetrated by these group of criminals and their backers, and at the same time beef up securities in the vulnerable part of China. Expand intelligence network and ensure that those who spread rumours that incite violence be prosecuted in severe manner. In the long run, process of assimilation must run its course. The educational system must be overhauled – bringing people together, and vast sum of money must be spend on social services in the far flung Western region of China.
The Western press will somehow blame China for the unrust, play down the act of violence by the mobs. That is to be expected of them. Nevertheless, publicising more facts will make it hard for Western press to distort the truth.
Another point worth noting is high mortality given the scale of the riot, which is relatively small by Chinese standard. This could be due to the action of hard core fanatical supporters ( a few hundred perhaps) that converged and carried out the act of terrorism. They did not want to burn only, but kill too. Justice must be served on them! Meanwhile, it is imperative to see the Xinjiang Uigurs as people who are no less than Chinese. Crack down on the murderous mobs, but treat fellow Hans and Uigurs civilians as the ordinary people that they are.
Here’s a balanced article on the situation from The Star, Malaysia columnist:
Wednesday July 8, 2009
Following Tibet script will help nobody in Xinjiang
By BUNN NAGARA
TO Chinese authorities in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, police acted when rowdy Uighur demonstrators in Urumqi city refused to disperse on Sunday afternoon.
To Uighur activists based abroad, the demonstrators were peaceful and turned violent only after police suppressed their demonstration.
The objective result: hundreds of ordinary Chinese were randomly attacked on the streets because of their race. By yesterday, some 160 people were murdered, about 800 injured and nearly 1,500 arrested.
Uighur separatist leaders based in the United States immediately condemned Chinese authorities for their “brutal crackdown,” without censuring the Uighurs’ own deadly violence. The high casualty figures were made to leave the impression that police action was largely responsible for them.
However, Reuters and Britain’s Guardian newspaper cited hospital figures on the proportion of wounded people admitted as 80% Chinese and 13% Uighur. A majority of the dead being Chinese is also expected.
Western media typically did not question Uighur leaders over the rationale of the attacks, or how the racial killing and maiming of ordinary Chinese could be justified. The attackers rejected official allegations of terrorism, although terrorism defined as indiscriminate violence aimed at killing and maiming innocent civilians for political ends seems to fit.
Sunday’s demonstration was said to be in response to years of marginalisation by Chinese authorities, triggered by the deaths of two Uighurs in Guangdong after a clash on June 26 following rumours of six Uighur men having raped two Chinese women. But in coming nine days after the event, it is difficult for Urumqi’s Uighurs to claim a spontaneous reaction.
On Monday, Xinjiang governor Nur Bekin said the previous day’s attacks had been planned by Uighur exiles of the US-based World Uighur Congress (WUC). Western media quoted Uighur leaders responding to the allegation as a standard line of the Chinese authorities, without denying involvement.
Bekin said traced phone calls showed WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer telling supporters in Xinjiang on Sunday to stage “something big.” Eyewitnesses later reported knife-wielding Uighurs stabbing ethnic Chinese, revealing premeditation.
Uighur separatists seeking independence enjoy a ready-made constituency in the West whenever China’s state forces are seen to clamp down on them. The Tibetan experience has created a pool of sympathy among Western human rights groups, media and the general public for whoever is seen to be the object of official action.
So far this week, Uighur leaders have been interviewed on mainstream Western broadcast news media without an equivalent representation from Chinese figures, whether victims or government officials. But the apparent “Tibetan model” for Xinjiang coverage is a problem for all concerned.
As in Tibet last August, just four days before the Beijing Olympics opened, Sunday’s attacks on Urumqi’s Han Chinese were racial and opportunistically timed for China’s moment in the world media spotlight.
The attacks came just days after Tibet’s Dalai Lama had been making waves abroad again, on the closing day of China’s first “World Think-tank Summit” with foreign policymakers in Beijing, and three days before China’s attendance of the G8 summit in Italy.
Internet chatter has already speculated on possible CIA involvement in Xinjiang’s disturbances, on the 1950s Tibetan model and following suspicious circumstances also in anti-government protests in Iran. The motive could be to keep a rising China occasionally off-balance and embarrassed.
In 1990 and 1997, violent anti-Chinese rioting by Uighurs also left innocent people dead, but the mayhem this time is worse. With an evident economic gap between Uighurs and the Han Chinese majority in Urumqi and Xinjiang, a vital question is how much Chinese authorities will learn from past experience.
By yesterday morning, something had been learned about handling foreign news media after Lhasa’s media blackout in August. Journalists were taken on a tour of Urumqi’s hottest spots, even meeting the families of detained persons.
In dealing with Uighur activists however, much more needs to be done beyond legal penalties for violent criminals. But as an indication of China’s size and global significance, this week’s disturbances are already expecte