Washington, UAA, 01.03.2011 – Amidst harsh Chinese security measures to stamp out even the smallest sign of dissent in major Chinese cities, and as Chinese citizens have called for a pro-democracy “Jasmine Revolution”, authorities in East Turkestan have acted forcefully to clamp down on Uyghurs and preempt any possible unrest. Five Uyghurs were reportedly detained in the regional capital of Urumchi on February 22 and February 23, where authorities have recently intensified a propaganda campaign against Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. In the predominantly Uyghur city of Kashgar in the southern part of East Turkestan, authorities deployed fire engines and armored vehicles to ensure that the slightest indication of disorder could be thwarted quickly.
Among those arrested in Urumchi was 23-year-old Halmurat Imin from Hotan, who was detained on February 22 on charges of “illegal possession of a counterrevolutionary propaganda DVD” and “endangering state security” in connection with a campaign to confiscate copies of the DVD “Ten Conditions of Love” and other “illegal” publications and DVDs. The film “Ten Conditions of Love” focuses on the life and struggles of Rebiya Kadeer.
Four young Uyghurs were also detained in front of the Rebiya Kadeer department store in Urumchi on February 23 on charges of “disturbing public order” and “obstruction of public business”, and other Uyghurs gathered nearby were forcefully dispersed.
According to residents of Urumchi and Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, armed police have been patrolling the cities around the clock, keeping a close watch on residents. In Urumchi, armed police were seen not only on streets, but also on public buses.
“Chinese authorities are reacting with a show of force, the only way they know how, in response to peaceful gatherings,” said Ms. Kadeer. “They view even the possibility of dissent as a threat to their power that must be eliminated, because the Chinese government has no mechanism to deal with popular grievances. There is no room in the one-party Chinese state for any challenge to their policies.”
Chinese authorities have also worked to quickly delete any mentions of a “Jasmine Revolution” appearing in the Uyghur language on the Internet. Officials in East Turkestan have been especially wary of regional instability in the wake of mass protests that took place in Urumchi in July 2009, and have kept a tight grip on the city by installing thousands of video cameras and shutting down Uyghur-run media.
Security forces have been deployed en masse in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities in recent days as calls have circulated online for Chinese citizens to gather in public places to protest in support of political reform and against corruption in the Chinese government. A number of foreign journalists have been beaten and/or detained, even as Jasmine-related protests have largely failed to materialize.
Chinese official media reported on February 23 that four Uyghur men had been sentenced to death for their alleged roles in three separate incidents that took place between August and November 2010. The Uyghur American Association believes that the death sentences were handed down in an attempt to intimidate the Uyghur population, and questions the fairness of criminal and judicial procedures applied in their cases.
According to a December 30, 2010 report by Radio Free Asia (RFA), 19-year-old Uyghur student Pezilet Ekber was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve following a closed trial in April 2010 on charges of involvement in violence in Urumchi that took place on July 5, 2009. At least nine executions have been carried out in East Turkestan in connection with the July 2009 unrest in Urumchi.Number of View: 1457