Two years ago: Massacre of Uyghur people in China (July 28)
The “Uyghur Tiananmen Incident” must be resolved! End impunity now! (Press Release)
Two years after Chinese security forces killed hundreds of Uyghurs in the district of Yarkand in Xinjiang / East Turkestan, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands an independent investigation into the occurrence. “For the Uyghur people, the massacre of Yarkand is as meaningful as the Tiananmen massacre for the Chinese public. If the background of the violent deaths of countless Uyghur women, children, and men is not elucidated, there will be even more tensions between the Han Chinese and the Muslim minority,” said the STP’s China-expert, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Wednesday.
“The massacre did not get as much international attention as the massacre on Tiananmen Square, which is due to the restrictive information policy in the remote region in the far northwest of the country. However, regarding the attempts to clarify what happened exactly, this incident is even more upsetting that what happened in Beijing in 1989,” said Delius. To date, there is no undisputed explanation for what happened in the villages in the district of Yarkand on July 28, 2014. According to official reports, at least 96 people were killed. Uyghur sources have mentioned thousands of victims. China’s security authorities had reacted to reports about the killings with mass arrests in the surrounding villages as well as an information blockade. Thus, journalists were systematically kept from doing research. In addition, the mobile phone network in the region was closed down, and several Uyghur bloggers were arrested.
The Chinese authorities claimed that armed terrorists had attacked several police stations. However, there are Uyghur eyewitnesses who stated that farmers in the region had merely protested after 45 women and children were killed in an attack on a private prayer meeting to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The husbands and fathers – who had attended a prayer meeting in the mosque while their women and children were attacked – had started a protest march to the local authorities, demanding the responsible persons to be held accountable. Then, the police had opened fired on the protesters. A few days earlier, an Uyghur family had been shot already in the course of a house search in the region.
A few weeks after the massacre, twelve Uyghurs were sentenced to death for being involved in alleged “terrorist attacks” in the district of Yarkand in October 13, 2014. Another 15 Uyghurs received death sentences with a two-year reprieve – and twenty members of the minority group will have to serve long prison sentences.
Header Photo: Colegata via Wikimedia Commons