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25-04-08, 16:53
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Follow-Up: Video of Attack on Chinese Men in Pakistan


Recently, The New Dominion commented on a report regarding a video of an attack on three Chinese men, one apparently produced or packaged with the intent to rally Xinjiang Uyghur Muslims against Chinese rule. Venkatesan Vambu at India’s Daily News & Analysis (DNA) has published an article on the video. His article tracks the discovery of the video by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and intelligently discusses its possible significance.

We at The New Dominion have also been privileged to view the short video. This is a description of what it shows:

About ten seconds in, the video opens with the Uyghur passage pakistanning pishawur shähiridä xitay jallatlirigha berilgän zärbä, meaning “A blow to the Chinese(pejorative) butchers in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan.” This is the only Uyghur in the entire video; the rest, what little is spoken, appears to be in Urdu, with music in Arabic. There are also a few short words of Arabic displayed at the beginning and end of the video.

Next, we see some clips of three men, apparently Chinese, in their underwear, standing in a doorway in a bare apartment at night. A man holding a gun, his face off-screen, forces them to line up in the doorway. They seem confused and unaware of what is about to happen. One of them is shown yelling at his assailant, though not in Chinese, and possibly in Urdu.

Then, the man holding the gun, wearing what appears to be Pakistani dress (shalwar kameez), is seen more fully. He shoots one of the Chinese men, who falls. One crouches down and turns to his companion. The other jumps off to the left. The one kneeling is shot next. The one who ran is shot less than a moment afterward. Where he falls, a dog runs out of the way. The man with the gun keeps shooting the fallen men. All through this section, the handheld camera zips around, and the individual holding it runs up behind the gunman to record the executions in more detail. What we see next is a montage of newspapers, apparently in Urdu, concerning the shooting of three men in Peshawar. These newspapers show photographs of the dead men and one other injured man who is not seen in the video.

The video appears to be connected with – though how is unclear – the shooting of three Chinese citizens in Peshawar, Pakistan in July 2007, following the massacre at the Lal Mosque in Islamabad. The exact connection is uncertain. If this is the video of the shooting of these men, why has it not been released until now? The newspaper clippings in the video also show an injured fourth man, reported by some media accounts of the Peshawar incident. Where was this man – possibly the father and uncle of the murdered men – and how was he injured and not killed, as were his companions?

Were three men shot to death just for the sake of stirring up dissent? I cannot think of another reason why someone would videotape a murder. Vambu’s article states that the video has since spread to several Uyghur-language websites. How is this being received, with disgust or with triumph? I feel that this is a gross manipulation, a somewhat unskilled and thuggish attempt at manipulating dissatisfied Uyghurs. I wonder how much on-the-ground impact it can really have and which audience, exactly, it is reaching. If angry young Uyghur men are seeing this, are they stirred to violence in the name of Islam, or might they at most enjoy it out of a guilty and immature racism? Could this even be part of an attempt to worsen Sino-Pakistani relations, which have been slightly uneasy since the election of the new government? All in all, it seems that Vambu’s conclusions are correct: this is not a Uyghur-made video. It is, at least, not a video of a Uyghur killing Chinese people. It is a video packaged to affect the politics of Xinjiang, China, and Pakistan. I sincerely hope that anyone who happens to view it will recognize the attempt at manipulation for what it is.