July 7, 2009

Our Man in Xinjiang

BAGnewsNotes contributer Alan Chin, who has been in China for the past month, filed these photos and brief report this afternoon on the ethnic violence in Xinjiang.

Urumqi, Xinjiang, China

7/7/09 AM

I caught up with a government press tour this morning at the same time a group of several hundred Uighur women were protesting against their men being detained. It was a tense scene with the women screaming and yelling and the police deploying in force. It seemed to disperse peacefully but it was unclear what would happen next as we were herded away.

The amount of property damage and destroyed vehicles seems very small compared to the government claim of 150+ dead and 800+ wounded. Of course there may be worse areas that I haven’t been able to access. But compared to aftermath of other riots (with much less loss of life), the destruction here seems slight.

Saw some young men being searched and ID’d outside Xinjiang University where there were apparently many arrests.

7/7/09 PM

The sense of almost-normalcy disappeared by afternoon as thousands of Han Chinese with metal and wood sticks and clubs headed to attack the Uighur neighborhood.

I could only get as far as the edge of the Muslim Quarter where the PAP and police turned the crowd pack with tear gas, truncheons, and somewhat friendly entreaties to go home. General Secretary of the Urumqi Communist Party Li Zhi spoke with a loudspeaker to the mob standing on top of a SUV, blaming the crisis on exiled Uighur activists and stressing Chinese unity.

Some of the crowd had gotten into the Uighur area before though; unknown how much damage they were able to cause before police dealt with them. I did not see police arrest or disarm anybody; they just wanted to disperse the crowd.

What was odd about the crowd was that it included young women as well as young men, brandishing makeshift weapons.

Don’t know what tomorrow will be like; night curfew is about to start soon.
(images: Alan Chin 2009, Xinjiang, China. See photo gallery for captions.)

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Alan Chin
See other posts by Alan here.

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