Han-Uighur solidarity amid Xinjiang violence

Wed, 10/23/2013 - 21:34 -- Kanat

Tue, 11/19/2013 - 03:28

New violence is reported from China's far western province of Xinjiang Nov. 16, when a group of Uighur youths attacked the police station in Siriqbuya (Chinese: Selibuya) township, Maralbeshi (Bachu) county, Kashgar prefecture. Two auxiliary officers were bludgeoned to death, and all nine of the attackers were reported to be killed. The youths were said to be armed with knives, swords and sickles The same town was also the scene ofdeadly clashes in April. Radio Free Asia, citing eyewitness accounts (presumably via cellphone), reported that "residents pleaded with the police not to kill the young Uyghurs"—implying at least some of the deaths may have been extrajudicial executions carried out after the attackers were pinned down or subdued. (Al Jazeera, Nov. 17; RFA, Nov. 16)

Uighurs have been especially targeted for harassment and surveillance in China since last month's deadly attack in Tiananmen Square. In response, Yang Haipeng, a Shanghai-based journalist, announced on the Sina Weibo micro-blogging network he would wear traditional Uighur headgear at security checkpoints as a gesture of solidarity. South China Morning Post reports that Yang, who is of Han background, has since passed through security checks at train stations and airports in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen wearing a doppa, or traditional Uighur skullcap. "My Uighur brothers, if you feel humiliated by excessive security checks, please know a Han Chinese person is willing to go through this with you," Yang wrote on Sina Weibo. He also published a photo of himself wearing a doppa he had ordered fromTaobao, China's popular online retail store.

"I am deeply touched that a Han Chinese person is willing to take action to support us," Eliar Abla, a Uighur blogger in Urumqi, province, told the South China Morning Post. "It's rare and precious." Uighur micro-bloggers report that they are denied accommodations when traveling outside Xinjiang, with hotel management citing "government regulations." If they do find rooms, they are routinely visited by local police who "register" their personal information.

Yang's "live-tweeting" of his experience at the checkpoints has sparked some angry exchanges on Sina Weibo. When one supporter decried the profiling of Uighurs, another retorted: "But what about the feelings of the Han victims they murder? How about their feelings?" Wrote another in response: "Talking about murder, the Han people have murdered more Chinese than any other ethnic groups in history—so should we pick them out for stricter security checks? Tolerance is the only way to solve the ethnic conflicts in China." (SCMP, Nov. 16)

There have also been recent signs of Han-Tibetan solidarity emerging.