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China says its $450 million desert expressway will bring peace and riches—but peace looks unlikely

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 16:13 -- Kanat
The Wucaiwan-Dahuangshan expressway (Sunny World Logistics)

This week, China unveiled 96 km-long (60 miles-long) expressway in Xinjiang, the poor but resource-rich Western province that is home to China’s restive Uighur minority. In October, three people from Xinjiang intentionally crashed a car in Tiananmen Square, killing themselves and two tourists, and Beijing has been conducting harsh crackdowns on the region for years. The four-lane Wucaiwan-Dahuangshan expressway is part of an expensive campaign by Beijing to soothe discontent in the region, but is seen by some critics as an “economic band-aid“ (pdf) for the region’s bigger social problems. “The completion of the highway…will play a significant role in the development of the local economy,” state-media People’s Daily reported (link in Chinese).

China stepping up ideological education in Xinjiang, Tibet

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 15:59 -- Kanat

Chinese authorities have started carrying out stricter ideological education among ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang and Tibet regions this month and detained those who are not obedient to what they call programs aimed at teaching a more modern way of living, people familiar with the situation said Thursday. A copy of a notice regarding education issued by authorities of Hotan in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region obtained by Kyodo News demands Muslim women not wear head scarves. The notice, dated Dec. 4 and written in the Uyghur language, asks Muslim women to dress in a modern way and says they will have to take reeducation if they do not comply with the request. It also warns that a serious violator of the order will be subject to criminal charges.

Coal mine explosion kills 21

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 15:43 -- Kanat
Chinese miners process coal from a mine in Huaibei, east China's Anhui province on July 13, 2010 (AFP/File)

Beijing — An explosion on Friday killed 21 workers at a coal mine in China's western Xinjiang province, reports said. The blast occurred at the Baiyanggou coal mine at 1:26am (1756 GMT Thursday), the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the local regional emergency response office. According to the report, 34 miners were working underground at the time of the explosion. Twelve workers managed to escape but 22 were trapped by the blast. Only one of the trapped miners survived the explosion. Mining accidents are common in China, which is the world's largest consumer of coal and where mine operators often skirt safety regulations. In 2012, 1,384 people were killed in coal mining accidents in the country, according to official figures, down from 1,973 in 2011. Some rights groups argue that the actual figure is significantly higher due to underreporting by mining companies.

Inside China's troubled far west

Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:01 -- Kanat
Security forces have a heavy presence in China's far-west Xinjiang province [Andrey Kovalenko/Al Jazeera]

Urumqi, China - Police regularly patrol the streets of almost every significant town in China's troubled Xinjiang province. China's far west remains among its most unstable regions, with frequent clashes between ethnic Uighurs and the government, which is dominated by Han Chinese. The most recent incident occurred in the town of Serikbuya in Bachu County. "On the 16th of November, at around five o'clock, nine people attacked the police station and killed two auxiliary officers and injured another two police officers," Zhang Zeqiang, the head of the Kashgar government's media and propaganda office, told Al Jazeera. All the attackers were killed, he said, and the situation in the town is now "under control". Many residents of Xinjiang province have gotten used to the sporadic fighting, especially after a wave of ethnic violence in 2009 left almost 200 people dead and more than 1,500 injured.

China’s treatment of minorities troubles Canada’s religious freedom ambassador

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 17:17 -- Anonymous (not verified)
Canada's Religious Freedom Officer Andrew Bennett speaks with reporters from his Ottawa office. PHOTO: ANDREA HILL/POSTMEDIA NEWS

OTTAWA — Canada’s religious freedom ambassador says he is deeply troubled about the Chinese government’s “egregious” treatment of religious minorities, and that he won’t hold his tongue despite growing trade ties between the two countries. Since becoming Canada’s inaugural ambassador for religious freedom in February, Andrew Bennett has condemned attacks and restrictions on religious minorities in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran and Syria. But Bennett pulled no punches on China in an interview Monday, saying he remains very worried about the Chinese government’s “unacceptable” treatment of Falun Gong practitioners as well as Buddhist Tibetans, Uighur Muslims and Christians.

China’s treatment of minorities troubles Canada’s religious freedom ambassador

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 17:17 -- Kanat
Andrew Bennet picture Canadas Office of Religious Freedom.jpg

OTTAWA — Canada’s religious freedom ambassador says he is deeply troubled about the Chinese government’s “egregious” treatment of religious minorities, and that he won’t hold his tongue despite growing trade ties between the two countries. Since becoming Canada’s inaugural ambassador for religious freedom in February, Andrew Bennett has condemned attacks and restrictions on religious minorities in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran and Syria. But Bennett pulled no punches on China in an interview Monday, saying he remains very worried about the Chinese government’s “unacceptable” treatment of Falun Gong practitioners as well as Buddhist Tibetans, Uighur Muslims and Christians.

Beijing Hits Out Amid Criticism on Human Rights

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 16:49 -- Anonymous (not verified)
A dozen petitioners facing repatriation exit a van outside a government complex in Beijing, Dec. 9, 2013. Photo courtesy of petitioners

Beijing officials on Tuesday hit out at international concern over its human rights situation, saying that only the Chinese people have the right to speak out on the subject. But police in the Chinese capital swooped on the thousands of petitioners who arrived in the Chinese capital to pursue complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party ahead of Human Rights Day on Tuesday. "There are tens of thousands of petitioners lurking in Beijing," retired People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer Gao Hongyi told RFA's Mandarin Service.Gao, who hails from the eastern port city of Qingdao, said he and dozens of other former PLA officers planned to converge on the United Nations representative offices in Beijing's embassy district on Tuesday. Thousands of petitioners thronged the alleyway outside the complaints offices of the central government, Supreme People's Court and National People's Congress on Tuesday, on a street dubbed by petitioners the "Dead End Alley of the Three Cheats."

Beijing Hits Out Amid Criticism on Human Rights

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 16:49 -- Kanat
A dozen petitioners facing repatriation exit a van outside a government complex in Beijing, Dec. 9, 2013. Photo courtesy of petitioners

Beijing officials on Tuesday hit out at international concern over its human rights situation, saying that only the Chinese people have the right to speak out on the subject. But police in the Chinese capital swooped on the thousands of petitioners who arrived in the Chinese capital to pursue complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party ahead of Human Rights Day on Tuesday. "There are tens of thousands of petitioners lurking in Beijing," retired People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer Gao Hongyi told RFA's Mandarin Service.Gao, who hails from the eastern port city of Qingdao, said he and dozens of other former PLA officers planned to converge on the United Nations representative offices in Beijing's embassy district on Tuesday. Thousands of petitioners thronged the alleyway outside the complaints offices of the central government, Supreme People's Court and National People's Congress on Tuesday, on a street dubbed by petitioners the "Dead End Alley of the Three Cheats."

Tibet neither seeks separation nor high degree of autonomy: Sikyong

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:29 -- Anonymous (not verified)
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay delivering his tatement during the 10 December function at the main Tibetan Temple in Dharamshala, India. Photo: TPI/Yeshe Choesang

In a statement marking the Human Rights Day, observed across the world every year on 10 December, Dr. Sangay recalled that the Nobel Peace Price was awarded to His Holiness for his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people's struggle for basic freedom. "The Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama catapulted the Tibetan struggle to greater international visibility. His Holiness the Dalai Lama's global stature directly and positively impacted on the image of the Tibetan people and fundamentally strengthened the Tibetan cause. Tibet became synonymous with non-violence and justice." Sikyong Dr Sangay reiterated the Central Tibetan Administration's commitment to Middle-Way Approach. "Dialogue is the most realistic approach and the only way to find a mutually beneficial solution to the Tibet issue. The Middle-Way Approach neither seeks separation from the People's Republic of China nor "high degree of autonomy", but Genuine Autonomy for all Tibetan people under a single administration. This is consistent with both the National Regional Autonomy Law and the Constitution of the People's Republic of China."

Xinjiang Public Security Department Called for Respect and Protection of Human Rights

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:06 -- Anonymous (not verified)
Human Rights for the victims of Enforced Disappearances!

I, Mutellip Imin, from Lop County of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, am the master student of IstanbulUniversity, majoring in Sociology. I was illegally intercepted by the customs police of BeijingCapitalInternationalAirport in the name of ‘criminal detention’, on my way back school on July 15, 2013. Officers from the Public Security Department of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region deported me to Urumqi, where I was interrogated and held in three different hotels for 79days, without any legal procedure or notifying my family.

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