Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Violence Welcomes China Ramadan

Sunday, 31 July 2011 12:28
The violence occurred as China's Muslims prepare to celebrate Ramadan on Monday

BEIJING – A day before the start of the holy fasting month for China's Muslims, at least 11 people were killed in a series of attacks in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

"There were cries and blood everywhere ... Terrified people flooded into our office to hide," Yang Hongmei, a female resident in Xinjaing, told the official Xinhua news agency.

At least eight people were killed when two attacks rocked the far-west city of Kashgar before two gunmen using knives went on assaulting residents.

"Our security guards tried to save the residents while our manager attempted to subdue an attacker by holding him, but the man had a knife and stabbed him in his abdomen," said Yang.

Three people, including a policeman, were also killed and 28 injured in an explosion in the same city.

The attacks came less than two weeks after 18 people were killed in an attack in the restive Xinjiang region.

The violence also comes as the Muslim minority in China is preparing to welcome the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to start on Monday, August 1.

Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, was the scene of deadly violence in July 2009 when the mainly Muslim Uighur minority vented resentment over Chinese restrictions in the region.

In the following days, mobs of angry Han took to the streets looking for revenge in the worst ethnic violence that China had seen in decades.

The unrest left nearly 200 dead and 1,700 injured, according to government figures. But Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, say the toll was much higher and mainly from their community.

China’s authorities have convicted about 200 people, mostly Uighurs, over the riots and sentenced 26 of them to death.

Martial Laws

Exiled Uighur leaders say that the city has been placed under martial law with dozens of people arrested.

"The entire city of Kashgar is under martial law, and authorities have arrested at least 100 Uighurs," the German-based World Uyghur Congress said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"There is no way to protest peacefully the Chinese suppression there, and the policy of calculated resettlement," added group spokesman Dilxat Raxit, referring to ethnic Han Chinese being relocated to live in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.

Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million, in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.

Muslims accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.

And analysts say the policy of transferring Han Chinese to Xinjiang to consolidate Beijing's authority has increased the proportion of Han in the region from five percent in the 1940s to more than 40 percent now.

Beijing views the vast region of Xinjiang as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.

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