Hundreds of Chinese protested deteriorating public safety Thursday after a series of mysterious syringe attacks further unnerved residents in the western Chinese city of Urumqi where ethnic rioting in July killed nearly 200 people.
People living near the city center reached by telephone said hundreds, possibly thousands, of members of China’s Han majority marched peacefully in the city center. They waved Chinese flags, confronted local Communist Party leaders demanding they step down, and shouted “severely punish the hooligans” — a reference to the July 5 rioters.
The demonstration underscored public jitters and lingering grievances despite the city’s still high police presence. It also posed a challenge for the Beijing leadership and a propaganda drive portraying Urumqi and all of China as harmonious ahead of the 60th anniversary of communist rule Oct. 1
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China Daily posted the following report from Xinhua about the syringe attacks:
Police have seized 15 people for stabbing members of the public with hypodermic syringe needles in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a senior local official said Wednesday.
Of the 15, four were officially arrested and prosecuted, said Zhu Hailun, head of the political and legal affairs commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committee in Xinjiang.
The court would pronounce judgment on the four in the near future, Zhu said.
Members of nine ethnic groups including Han Chinese, Uygur, Hui, Kazak and Mongolian had reported stabbing incidents to the police, said Zhu.
Police investigations are under way.
Yin Yulin, deputy director of the region’s health department, said nobody had been infected or poisoned from being stabbed so far.
However, the same Xinhua report in Chinese is now quickly disappearing from websites inside China, deleted by Internet censors.
More reports on this topic are here.
Update: AP has an update on the situation in Urumqi:
Police imposed tight security in Urumqi as residents voiced anger Friday, a day after thousands marched to protest a series of needle stabbings that appeared ethnically motivated in a city already on edge from deadly rioting.
Chinese officials had put a security cordon around the city Thursday after more than 10,000 people, mostly from the Han Chinese majority, took to the streets to demand increased security in Urumqi, the capital of the western region of Xinjiang.
The protesters want punishment for those behind the July riots between Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs and culprits in a series of stabbing attacks with needles in the past couple of weeks that state media has said targeted predominantly Han victims.
Demonstrators said police beat some protesters, but there were no major clashes.
See also “Police impose calm on China city” from BBC. And from France24: