News / Asia

China Blames ‘Religious Extremists’ for Xinjiang Province Attack

Innocent or not, Xinjiang's ethnic Uighurs claim the Chinese government treats them as second-class citizens

Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary police men march past the site of the late April explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.  China blames Islamic extremists for this and other recent deadly attacks.
Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary police men march past the site of the late April explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. China blames Islamic extremists for this and other recent deadly attacks.
Sarah Williams

An Islamist militant group called the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb attack at a train station in China's western city of Urumqi in late April that killed three people and injured 79.
 

China had said the attack in its restive Xinjiang region, home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic group, was carried out by two religious extremists who were among those killed in the blast.
 

The government of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) identified one of the alleged assailants as Sedirdin Sawut, a 39-year-old man from southern part of the region, home to the country's mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority who complain of oppressive Chinese policies and strict religious controls.  
 
China cities Urumqi, Guangzhou and Kunming
China cities Urumqi, Guangzhou and Kunming

Other attacks, expanding government concern

Earlier, police in Xinjiang were seeking assailants who brutally killed three Han officials in late April. Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that the brutal slayings appeared to have been timed to the visit of President Xi Jinping, who urged greater integration between the Uighurs and the China’s majority ethnic Han.    A bomb explosion on the final day of Xi’s four-day visit was widely interpreted as a rejection of his conciliatory comments.

Recently,  violence has spread to other cities.  Ethnic Uighurs were blamed for violent attacks at railway stations in Guangzhou and Kunming.

Authorities in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have increased surveillance in public transportation centers following the attacks.  In October, five people were killed in an assault at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square which officials blamed on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

Reasons behind unrest

The reasons for the unrest among Uighurs in Xinjiang are varied, according to Nury Turkel, Uighur-American attorney and former president of the Uighur American Association. 

“Since [Beijing’s] occupation of the Uighur’s homeland that the Uighurs called East Turkestan,  which is referred to as the Xinjiang Autonomous Region,  all forms of political repression have escalated, particularly since 9-11, and then they reached a new level after the July 5 [2009] ethnic clash in Urumqi,” Turkel said.

“Instead of looking at reexamining its minority policy, the Chinese government mistakenly believed that they can subjugate the Uighurs and they can continue to make the Uighurs second-class citizens,” he said.

Others say the government and Uighur extremists have both contributed to the current tense situation. Yan Sun, a political science professor at the City University of New York, says both the Chinese government and the Uighur extremists have contributed to the current tense situation.

Sun says the Chinese government’s policy in regard to Uighur religious practices has been brutal.  “The policy has been draconian, especially on youngsters under the age of 18, who are not allowed to have legitimate Islamic education,” she said. 

Sun, who visited Xinjiang last fall, believes the restrictions have encouraged some parents to seek underground madrassas for their children.  These same madrassas, she notes, have Central Asian, Wahabi, Pakistani and Afghan influences that can encourage radicalism.

“I have actually visited some of the underground sites, some of them have weapons, they teach violence, they teach jihad,” Sun adds.  “I would say the overwhelming majority of Uighurs are squeezed in between the draconian policies of the Chinese government and the fundamentalists.”

But religious and cultural issues are not the only sources of tension.  Sean Roberts, associate professor of international affairs at The George Washington University says China’s continuing development in Xinjiang is also a factor in the unrest.  He says the expansion is related to Beijing’s economic and natural resource interests in the west and south. 

“I think a lot of Uighurs right now feel that they are marginalized in the areas they see as their homeland, “ Roberts says.  “They feel as though they are being pushed aside in Xinjiang.”

“I think that’s something that’s often overlooked in terms of reasons that there might be a lot of discontent among the Uighurs,” says Roberts
.
Turkel suggests China’s president does not understand the concerns of Xinjiang’s residents.  He says the recent arrest of writer and scholar Ilham Tohti for inciting separatism fuels those concerns.

Turkel says the arrest of a moderate scholar who promotes cultural understanding between the Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese, has caused many Uighurs to feel “hopeless.”

“The hopelessness sometimes leads you to making poor judgments, and doing something not so acceptable in various societies and various cultures,” he said.

But Sun believes that the Chinese government has tried to help the Uighurs through affirmative action. “I don’t think it’s fair to arrest [Tohti],” she said. “On the other hand…the [government’s] biggest harm is to actually deprive Uighurs of the motive of finding some way to work to this transition to the market; economic liberalization has not been kind to a lot of people, Han people too.”

Beijing says its policies have brought economic development and a higher standard of living to Uighurs in Xinjiang.  But Roberts says the improvements have come at a cost.

 “I think the Chinese government is attempting to do various things to integrate the Uighurs more into the PRC and into the general idea in the PRC of what is a better life, the question is whether that’s appealing to all Uighurs, I think it is to some, but not to all,” he said.

Last week’s attack in Guangzhou coincided with the release of an academic review of China’s national security, which said that the country’s terror threats are growing.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Negishabi from: Canada
May 16, 2014 1:03 AM
The Islamist militant group called the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) is a terrorist group, using violence and killing innocent civilian people, they are also separatists.

There are also separatists in North America (e.g. Canada) and European countries (e.g. UK), but they should not kill innocent civilians no matter what type of reasons.

Chinese government treats minority much better than majority in education, working and promotions, compared to other countries, including some developed countries. See wiki, Uyghur population increases faster than Han majority people in Xinjiang province, so China government actually encourage Uyghur populations in the past tens of years. Don't attribute all brutal violence and terrorism of these separatists to China government.

Some terrorists attacked USA in the past years, but we cannot only blame USA government and encourage terrorists, is it right? The same principle holds true for China, please don't encourage violence and terrorism by these terrorists in China.


by: uighur from: somewhere
May 15, 2014 10:47 PM
The Sub is telling a lie here. I am a uighur, I live in yoghurt heartland. There is no underground madress with weapon as sun said. Police search everyhouse at anytime without permission, it is impossible to have madress with weapons. Another point which Reveal his fake statement is his so called visit to such madress. If I am not wrong, you have Chinese face. Those days if there is such madress, do you think they let a Chinese visit it? Police killing people, arresting for just being suspicious, in this situation, how did you able visit underground madress which is enough crime being jailed for life or to dead?
Clearly, that sun guy is trying to support Chinese government as much as he can. Just like his another statement that government try to help uighur. This is another pure fake. Try to help what? Help us to lose everything we have, land, language, culture, faith, everything.
His so cakes integration of uighur to rest of China is another name for forced assimilation. You can cheat someone who dose not know situation kaybe, but not us Anymore. If such occupy other country and integrate them to yours is justice, then China should do that to whole world, after all you have population to outnumber others. But China will be kicked his ass in east Turkestan.
Any kind of Tactics you use, such as, using your so-called experts abroad, using police, army in east Turkestan, both no longer useful.
People will not buy your lie any more.


by: Chi Ly from: USA
May 15, 2014 8:07 PM
Rise up the heroic Uighurs! Never trust Han's reconciliation; it is just a tactic. Fight them. That was how the Vietnamese found their independence after a thousands years of resistance.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid