China Casts Wide Net to Curb Terrorism

In The National, Paul Mooney looks at Chinese government claims of terrorist activity in Xinjiang, most recently with the execution of two Uighurs for a violent attack on police officers in Kashgar last August:

Officials said Abdurahman Azat, 34, and Krubanjan Hemit, 29, were members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist group the government says has been behind a string of terrorist acts in Xinjiang.

Experts on Xinjiang say, however, that the organisation no longer exists, it never had more than two handfuls of members, and there is no evidence it was ever involved in terrorist attacks. Some argue it never existed at all.

The executions came as the Chinese launched a clampdown in the predominantly Uighur cities of Hotan and Kashgar, in southern Xinjiang, in which more than 100 Uighurs have been arrested in recent months, many on charges of engaging in unspecified “illegal religious activities”. The Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group, have long bristled at Chinese control of Xinjiang, which they call East Turkistan.

[…] Uighurs are perplexed by the claims of terrorism. “They just turn small incidents into big ones,” said a Kashgar taxi driver, when asked about such incidents.

Many experts on the Xinjiang region say the Chinese rhetoric has been effective, and criticise foreign media for doing a “cut and paste” of official statements when reporting on the issue.

April 17, 2009 11:32 AM
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Categories: Human Rights, Politics