CHINA. FIVE UYGHURS KILLED IN RAID IN URUMCHI
July 10, 2008: According to Chinese state media reports, five Uyghurs were shot to death by police in Urumchi, the regional capital of East
Turkistan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) on July 9. The Xinhua News Agency reported that the five were members of a
15-member criminal gang, including five women and 10 men, that had trained for âholy warâ and had wielded knives, injuring one policeman, during the raid. Two
other Uyghurs were said to have been injured in the raid.
Xinhua also reported that three men in the group had been implicated in a recent stabbing at a
beauty salon in Urumchi.
No independent sources have verified the official version of events. In addition, the
Chinese-language Xinhua report of the incident made no mention of the "holy war" training or intent to harm Han Chinese people that were
included in the English-language Xinhua report. In recent months, as the Beijing Olympic Games have drawn closer, officials in the Peopleâs Republic of
China (PRC) have intensified the persecution of Uyghurs in East Turkistan, while simultaneously ratcheting up claims of Uyghur terrorism and religious
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) has learned of unofficial accounts of the Urumchi raid that are at odds with the official version of events. According to these
accounts, the 15 young Uyghurs were not religious extremists, and were merely gathered peacefully in an apartment in the Chen Guang residential area of
Urumchi. After police used teargas on the premises and entered the location without any warning or call to surrender, the unarmed young men and women fled
the house into an open field, where police fired at them with machine guns.
âWe are unequivocally opposed to any kind of violence, and we can see from recent history that PRC authorities do not hesitate to use violence on their own citizens, especially
Uyghurs and Tibetans,â said human rights leader and Uyghur American Association president Rebiya Kadeer. âThe experience of Uyghurs has shown that the
Beijing regime is prone to manipulating threats of religious extremism and terrorism in order to crack down on peaceful dissent. Therefore, we must
evaluate allegations such as these with extreme caution.â
Official media reports have asserted that Chinese police found no firearms or explosives in the apartment,
but found a number of knives. However, it should be noted that traditional Uyghur knives can be found in almost every Uyghur residence, and
that knives are commonly kept for cultural and traditional purposes, without any intent to harm others.
UAA calls upon the PRC government to provide evidence to the international community regarding its
allegations of the criminal nature of the 15 Uyghurs, and to ensure that any criminal proceedings carried out with regard to the ten surviving Uyghurs are
held in a free and fair court, in accordance with international legal norms. UAA also urges the international community to ask Beijing to provide a full
accounting of the raid, and more broadly to cease the intense persecution of Uyghurs in the name of terrorism, religious extremism, and related charges on
the eve of the Olympic Games. (Sources: Uyghur American Association, 10/07/2008)