Three weeks after simmering racial tension escalated to mayhem and a double murder at a toy factory here, about 750 Uighur workers remain largely out of sight, behind locked gates and guarded doors — perhaps because they are at the center of a storm that has brought international attention to a remote Chinese province.
Most of the Xinjiang migrants who arrived at the massive factory in northern Guangdong province in May are apparently being held in a branch workshop 15 miles up the road, after the fight here led to mass protests and killings 2,000 miles away in their home province. Their tightly guarded new home and workshop is sealed off, and requests to visit inside and interview the Uighur men playing pool behind the gates after dark were refused by guards without explanation.
When asked if those inside were allowed to leave, a guard replied sternly, “No, they can’t go out.” About 10 locals said they haven’t seen the Uighurs outside the gates since they were moved here following the Shaoguan factory murders on June 26, but government officials say they can come and go. Onlookers are quickly shuffled away from the gates and police closely monitor every move.