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Ethnic Tensions in China Turn Bloody as Uighurs and Han Chinese Clash in Western China
Ethnic Tensions in China Turn Bloody as Uighurs and Han Chinese Clash in Western China
Reports have surfaced indicating systematic Han reprisals against Uighur Muslims seeking to pray.
Most of the world is aware of the tension in China over the occupation, and some might say, oppression of the Buddhist majority of Tibet by the majority Han people who rule the People’s Republic. Since 1950, untold numbers of monasteries and other Tibetan cultural institutions have been destroyed, while the massive resettlement of ethnic Han Chinese in Tibet has altered the cultural landscape of the region perhaps for all time.
Friday, July 10,2009 13:31
by Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey MAS

Most of the world is aware of the tension in China over the occupation, and some might say, oppression of the Buddhist majority of Tibet by the majority Han people who rule the People"s Republic. Since 1950, untold numbers of monasteries and other Tibetan cultural institutions have been destroyed, while the massive resettlement of ethnic Han Chinese in Tibet has altered the cultural landscape of the region perhaps for all time.

 

Now we are witnessing yet another spasm of ethnic/racial violence in the world"s most populous nation; but this time the killing involves people of the Uighur nationality, made up of roughly 20 million Chinese Muslims.

 

To date, news reports indicate numerous clashes in the streets of the city of Urumqi in China"s western Xingiang province, with more than 150 persons - likely far more - killed and scores seriously injured.

 

After an incident in which two Uighurs were killed in a factory fight, Uighurs began attacking Han people on the streets, which led to the retaliation of local Han residents along with a crackdown on local news reporting, internet and Twitter access in the region.

 

There are also reports of systematic Han reprisals against Uighur Muslims who seek to pray, or to fast during the upcoming month of Ramadan.

 

But the deeper underlying conflicts are not widely known. The Uighur population of China, like the people of Tibet, has been dealing with attempts by the central Chinese government to vigorously oppose the free practice of Islam, and to enforce the secularization of the Uighur society, including the imposition of Communist/atheist education in local schools. Moreover, the Uighur people, like the Tibetans, have witnessed the displacement of vast areas of their pastoral lands by energy and industrial operations. Like in Tibet, ethnic Han people have also been massively settled by the government into the region.

 

This spasm of mass killing should force us to confront some central questions: do all Chinese ethnic groups have equal access to the Chinese economic miracle. Is freedom of religion a right for Chinese citizens who belong to religious minorities? And are there any mechanisms in place to deal with the frustrations of the Uighurs (and others) who are regarded as marginalized within the larger society.

 

Certainly, mob violence - regardless of who instigates it or suffers from it - cannot be a way forward for Chinese Muslims or Chinese of any description.

 

The killing must stop immediately, for the sake of all human beings.

 

We should morn the deaths and injuries resulting from this latest wave of violent attacks. But the Muslim population of Xinjiang, from all indications, has numerous legitimate grievances that can only be addressed by negotiation with the Chinese national government. And the world is waiting to see if such possibilities exist, or if mechanisms for settling the disputes might be operative.

 

Muslim Uighurs, like Buddhists in Tibet, should enjoy the full human rights afforded to all citizens of their nation. These rights include the freedom of worship and cultural expression. They are conveyed upon human beings by our creator, and they must never be arbitrarily abolished or truncated by the powers of a state.

 

The majority Han government may be a powerful one, but Muslims should be prepared to voice their concern for the freedoms of our brothers and sisters in faith, and indeed, the human rights of all the citizens of China. 

 

If the world cares about the situation in Tibet - as we should - we must also

care about the sad plight of religious Muslims in China.

 

 

Other Links:

 

 


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