Three years after nearly 200 people died when thousands of Uyghurs clashed with Han Chinese in Urumqi after protesting against the death of two Uyghur migrant workers in southern China, Amnesty International reports that dozens who disappeared in the ensuing arrests are still missing:
Those missing include a butcher, a car mechanic, a restaurant manager, a bus driver, a street fruit vendor, a chef, a student, a recent university graduate, a chef/musician, and a recent graduate of a forest design school. Only 19 of these families have allowed their names to be made public. All fear retaliation by the authorities.
It is likely that this group of families is just a small portion of those with disappeared relatives.
Wang Mingshan, the chief of the Urumqi Public Security Department, is reported to have said he had received 300 requests from families for help in locating relatives.
According to one family member, there are more than two hundred families in one county in Hotan prefecture alone with disappeared relatives. Many of these families have been afraid to come forward out of fear of retribution by the authorities. For many families, the financial burden of travelling to Urumqi and Beijing is considerable, nevertheless many have made repeated trips in their hunt for information.
Instead of assistance from the authorities, many family members describe years of threats, intimidation, and even detention for petitioning the authorities and searching for information. The families who came forward publicly with their stories in interviews with Radio Free Asia describe intensified surveillance, threats, and orders to stop speaking to overseas groups.
Amnesty’s director for the Asia-Pacific told Reuters that repression in Xinjiang is “particularly pronounced”. In a Wall Street Journal piece published on Monday, World Uyghur Congress head Rebiya Kadeer wrote that Xinjiang “has become a second Tibet”
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