News / Asia

China’s Xinjiang Violence Highlights Tensions with Uighurs

In this August 2, 2011 photo, a policeman patrols near the site of an attack in Kashgar in China's far western Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region.
In this August 2, 2011 photo, a policeman patrols near the site of an attack in Kashgar in China's far western Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region.
VOA News
Deadly clashes this week in China’s western province Xinjiang that killed 21 people have again drawn attention to the long-running tensions between the predominantly Muslim Uighur community and the Han Chinese majority.
 
Officials say Tuesday’s incident began in a rural town near Kashgar, when a group of social workers and police visited a home allegedly occupied by a gang of thugs. After authorities found weapons stashed inside, they say the home’s occupants set their house on fire and attacked.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Chinese officials called the incident a premeditated terrorist act.  State media outlets portrayed the assailants as separatist extremists.
 
But Ilham Tohti, a Uighur scholar at the Beijing-based Minzu University, is doubtful of the official version, calling it unlikely that a group of terrorists would hide together in their own home.
 
Xinjiang authorities have had a very poor record in similar situations, with limited information provided about what really happened, Tohti said.  
 
U.S. officials called for a transparent investigation and expressed concern about reports of discrimination of Uighurs and other Muslims in China.
 
Uighur rights groups in exile say the incident is more likely related to the struggle of the nine-million-strong Uighur minority in Xinjiang against a regime they deem oppressive.
 
In recent decades the region has seen an influx of Han Chinese, brought to the resource-rich province by a central government scheme that encourages investment and development.
 
Resentment over economic discrimination and cultural repression peaked in 2009 when violent riots in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi left 200 people dead and triggered an increase in security forces and surveillance. Since then, there have been only sporadic episodes of violence.

According to Tohti, although many Uighurs in Xinjiang do not dare protest against Chinese rule out of fear, the majority of them chafe at the policies of local authorities.
 
This silence does not mean that they agree with local authorities, he said, adding that now many are speaking out.
 
Linking al-Qaida affiliates
 
Although no group has formally been accused for Tuesday's attack, previous incidents in the region have been ascribed to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, an al-Qaida affiliated group accused of fomenting separatist actions among Uighur communities in Central Asia.
 
Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, believes that the latest incident in Xinjiang was in fact an act of terrorism and said the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and al-Qaida have worked together against China in the past.
 
They already attempted a number of attacks during the Beijing Olympics, he said.  Since then they have been recruiting and training a very small, but significant, number of Uighurs on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
 
In March, China sentenced 20 men on charges of terrorism and inciting secession in Xinjiang. According to the court, some of the men had plotted to kill local policemen, and had been distributing propaganda material related to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
 
Raffaello Pantucci, Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said there is almost no tangible evidence that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and al-Qaida are working together to strike China.
 
Pantucci said although some Uighur organizations exist in Pakistan's tribal areas, China has been effective in preventing them from crossing over to neighboring Xinjiang.  Pantucci added those who are launching attacks appear to be more domestically radicalized.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NY
April 26, 2013 10:10 AM
The tension in Xinjiang is due to the Chinese occupation of East Turkestan which was independent in 1949. Since then the CCP has colonized this territory & treated Uighurs as 2d class citizens & discriminated against them. Uighurs were the vast majority in 1949 but due to Chinese resettlement projects, they are now less than 50%. China gave Uighur land to ex-PLA soldiers to farm.

There's a huge economic disparity between Uighurs and Chinese in Xinjiang and the Chinese police harass & persecute Uighurs for their political & religious views. Amnesty Int'l & Human Rights Watch have condemned the PRC's human rights violations in Xinjiang. The PRC uses the excuse of terrorism to deny Uighurs their basic civil rights. As long as the PRC treats Xinjiang as a colony & mistreats Uighurs, there will be strife in that land.


by: believe what you see
April 26, 2013 8:17 AM
I grew up in Xingjiang province. I saw friendship between Han and Uighur since girlhood. Some Han and Uighur can even speak two languages. We sharing each cultural gifts, foods and weddings. And we even learned and still remembered some polite uighur words in middle school, for example, thanks, pls sit, bye bye in Uighur words. My mother worked in a professional college, teaching plant genetics. A young Uighur teacher comes home often, sharing the teaching experience together.

And we sometimes visited their fruit yard, enjoying the delicious fruits, which is part of my wonderful memory. And I still remembered an uncle who was deputy mayor of a county. He said when Han people killed a person, this will be sentenced quickly; but when minority people killed a young kid and his old grandpa, the county court and mayor dare not decide the sentence, waited for the supervisor to decide a year later. Now I already left Xinjiang and I felt so sorry for those terrible killings in 2009. I hate those ones who used innocent lives to win their political purpose. We have peaceful life and friendship, who has time and money to break them??


by: Batur from: Mongolia
April 26, 2013 2:43 AM
VOA comment blog should not offer free space for those Chinese who are writing here on behalf of Chinese secret services !


by: Job from: Sichuan
April 26, 2013 12:12 AM
VOA Shame on you! I am a student from a Minzu university. And I am Minority.If you don't know truth,don't misleading people.


by: li from: beijing
April 25, 2013 8:16 PM
I can not understand why VOA hold a dual criteria on terrorist attack took place in US and China? That bias attitude hurt Chinese feeling severely, and also the credibility of VOA.


by: Sebastian V. from: USA
April 25, 2013 4:40 PM
My tax dollars for VOA is definitely worthwhile. Hope people do a bit more research... and see the differences...


by: Aeris from: Henan
April 25, 2013 3:38 PM
Ilham Tohti, a Uighur scholar at the Beijing-based Minzu University

The description of this kind made me confused and so I asked my friend in Minzu University of China, her answer "the scholar is neither a professor nor a teacher of the university, simply a graduate, now banished by government for crimes" LOL

VOA. You could turn a terrorist act into a clash, good enough


by: ChasL from: Seattle
April 25, 2013 12:39 PM
Should the Chinese say "tension" wrt Boston bombing? Does anything excuse violence like this anywhere?

I can't believe my tax dollar is funding VOA propaganda like this. Shame on you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid