By B. Raman
Two Uighurs working for the Ministry of Public Security in the Hotan area of the Xinjiang province of China are reported to have been killed on April 26, 2013, when the local Uighurs in the village of Yengi Awat protested against fellow Uighurs forcibly being used by the Han Police to make a physical search of Uighur women suspected of being separatists.
Radio Free Asia, funded by the US State Department, which, inter alia reports on the state of the non-Han minorities in China, has quoted Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, as stating that the Hotan deaths followed clashes between local Muslim Uighurs and local people hired to “maintain stability” and watch over the neighborhood.
He said in an interview to the radio: “We are still trying to establish the actual cause of the clashes, but one issue is that China has recently stepped up security patrols in the Hotan area. They have sent large numbers of uniformed personnel there along the state highway from Kashgar, and you can see Chinese military vehicles everywhere, frequently.”
Before this fresh incident, the Xinjiang authorities had organised a conference on April 25 to discuss measures for maintaining stability in the region under the chairmanship of Zhang Chunxian, the Party chief of Xinjiang.
In a message read out at the conference, President Xi Jinping called for the early restoration of stability in the region. Party and State Government speakers at the conference said that terrorists are enemies of the people of all ethnic groups across the country and should be fought with no mercy. They added that it is also important to learn the right lessons from the latest clash and to boost the powers of community-level officials to maintain stability.
The “Global Times” of the Communist Party of China (CPC) reported in its web site that Xi gave instructions on “how to handle the case, deal with the aftermath, and maintain stability in Xinjiang”.
In a commentary carried on April 26, the “China Daily” said: “ Whoever they are, wherever they are, and with whatever it takes, there has to be decisive moves to wipe out terrorist cells in the country. The violent attacks are another bloody reminder that terrorist threats remain a clear and present danger in the country’s north-western region. Since the 2009 riot in the region’s capital, Urumqi, which left 197 dead, the local government has been working hard to deal with the threats from separatist, terrorist and extremist forces. While the overall situation in Xinjiang remains stable, Tuesday’s violence tells us the battle against the “three evil forces” is still severe and challenging. Previous violent incidents in Kashgar have all been traced to three evil forces, and overseas separatists, extremists and terrorists have also been found taking advantage of modern communication technologies, such as the Internet, to instigate unrest in Xinjiang. There has been evidence of infiltration of terrorist organizations from neighbouring countries, some of which have even been found to have links with al-Qaeda.”
The Chinese authorities have accused the US of double standards in dealing with terrorism for calling for an impartial enquiry into the violent incidents in Xinjiang.
About the author: B. Raman
B. Raman was Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: [email protected]