View Full Version : Troops Move into Urumqi / Hitay eskerliri Urumchini qaplidi

08-07-09, 12:21

Armed Chinese troops move into a tense and battle-scarred city after deadly clashes.

RFA Cantonese/Hailan

Troops move into Urumqi, July 8, 2009.

HONG KONG—Chinese authorities in the restive northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) sent troops into the regional capital Urumqi on Wednesday, chanting slogans for unity and placing the city under effective martial law.

Many residents, both majority Han Chinese and ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs, were still armed and fearful of further violence, however.

Foreign correspondents on the ground in Urumqi said they had been told to leave as soon as possible.

“At one point a dozen Han men broke past riot police and rushed into Uyghur neighborhood—everyone was running,” al-Jazeera’s Melissa K. Chan said via the online micro-blogging service Twitter.

“I’ve seen Chinese-made AK-47s out now, carried by the soldiers. They’ve marched in chanting, ‘Protect the Country! Serve the People!’” Chan said.

Calls for revenge

An AFP TV grab shows a mob of Han Chinese attacking a lone Uyghur man along a street in Urumqi, July 8, 2009. AFP The latest ethnic violence between Han Chinese and Uyghurs, which was sparked following attacks on Uyghur migrant workers at a factory in the southern province of Guangdong last month, prompted Chinese President Hu Jintao to abandon a G-8 summit in Italy and fly home to deal with the crisis.

Official media said 156 people died in riots on Sunday. The ethnicity of the dead was not specified.

Photos of dead bodies posted on the Internet sparked calls for revenge, and thousands of armed Han Chinese poured onto Urumqi’s streets Tuesday, trying to break through police lines into Uyghur neighborhoods.

Many Han Chinese say Sunday’s dead were mostly Han killed by Uyghurs, while exiled Uyghur groups say many Uyghurs were attacked, with some killed, by armed Han Chinese mobs.

The government has blamed the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress for inflaming anti-Chinese sentiment and causing Sunday’s riots.

Chaos in the streets

The city descended into chaos Tuesday, and police fired tear gas to keep Han Chinese mobs under control.

A curfew was declared Tuesday night, and troops continued to pour into the city Wednesday.

Thousands of riot police wearing helmets and carrying shields lined up on a main road in Urumqi dividing the city center from a Uyghur district, with columns of soldiers behind them.

Military trucks rolled by with loudspeakers blaring: “Everybody please cooperate, please go home.”

Journalists at the scene said some armed mobs were still abroad brandishing makeshift weapons on the city’s streets.

International alarm over the crisis intensified, with Muslim countries, the United Nations, and the European Union expressing concern.

President Hu left for China due to the “situation” in Xinjiang, where 1,080 people have been injured and 1,434 arrested in unrest between Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghurs since Sunday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said State Councillor Dai Bingguo would attend the G-8 summit in Hu’s place.

More charges

Meanwhile, exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer accused Chinese police of killing 400 Uyghurs in “police shootings and beatings” in Urumqi.

Kadeer, chairperson of the World Uyghur Congress, also denied instigating the riots.

“Overseas incitement cannot cause this kind of thing to happen, and overseas figures didn’t incite it at all. The incident occurred due to the six decades of oppression, crackdown, and control of the Uyghur people by the dictatorial and despotic rule of the Chinese government,” Kadeer said.

“Through political brainwashing, the Chinese government purposely induces the Han Chinese to hate the Uyghur, painting Uyghurs as the enemy of China. Therefore, the Uyghur people can no longer endure this,” Kadeer added.

Original reporting by RFA’s Uyghur, Mandarin, and Cantonese services. Uyghur service director: Dolkun Kamberi. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.