|code: 254491||Date: 2011/07/19||source: AFP|
20 Muslim Killed;
China Set to Kill Muslims in Xinjiang
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - World Wee-gur Congress -- an organization for exiled Muslim minorities, reported that security forces beat 14 protesters to death and shot dead six others in the city of Hotan.
China's state media, however, put the number of the killed at four, citing Monday's clashes as “terrorist attacks” on a police station in the volatile region.
Yet, the group said the unrest was an outburst of anger by ordinary members of the Muslim ethnic minority and urged the authorities to stop what it called systematic oppression of Wee-gur Muslims.
"The Chinese authorities should immediately cease their systematic oppression to prevent a further escalation of the situation," said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the group.
Xinjiang province has been the scene of violent unrest in recent years due to the minority's attacks on members of China's dominant Han group in the regional capital Urumqi in July 2009.
In 2009, 140 people were killed and 800 injured in an ethnic violence in the volatile region following a protest against government handling of a clash between China's dominant Han group and Uighur factory workers, when two Uighurs died.
Blocking Social Media
Applying similar methods used during last year’s unrest, Chinese authorities blocked searches on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging services, on the attack.
When searching for the Chinese renderings of "Xinjiang unrest" and "Hotan," a page appears saying, "according to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results are not displayed."
Hotan is a city of some 300,000 people, 88 percent of them from minority groups, according to the Hotan government website.
Today’s clashes are the worst violence Xinjiang has experienced in about a year.
In July 2009, Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, erupted in violence when the mainly Muslim Uighur minority vented resentment over Chinese restrictions in the region.
In the following days, mobs of angry Han took to the streets looking for revenge in the worst ethnic violence that China had seen in decades.
The unrest left nearly 200 dead and 1,700 injured, according to government figures. But Uighurs affirm the toll was much higher and mainly from their community.
China’s authorities have convicted about 200 people, mostly Uighurs, over the riots and sentenced 26 of them to death.
Following the unrest, Chinese officials added about 17,000 surveillance cameras to the tens of thousands already installed in Urumqi, basically in neighborhoods frequented by Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority.
Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.
Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million, in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.
Muslims accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.
And analysts say the policy of transferring Han Chinese to Xinjiang to consolidate Beijing's authority has increased the proportion of Han in the region from five percent in the 1940s to more than 40 percent now.
Beijing views the vast region of Xinjiang as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.