Dozens of people were killed or injured in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China, after an attack on a military police unit. Immediately after the attack, Chinese authorities said there would be no problems with security at the Olympics, but in May a bomb went off in a bus in Shanghai, there was an explosion at a lama school in Sichuan Province, and then bus bomb attacks in Kunming, and so this latest incident contributes to greater concern about Olympic security.
While the Olympics is criticized for abandoning its original ideals, and has become too commercialized or has turned into a confrontation between powerful nations, it is unchanged insofar as it is a time when the people of the world join in friendship through sports. Therefore, any attempt to turn this festival of world peace and human friendship into a forum for terror cannot be justified for any reason and is rightly deserving of criticism.
The problem is that all terror is a product of failed politics and distorted relations. Though it has yet to be fully confirmed, Chinese authorities have arrested two Uighur youths and are blaming Uighur separatists for the incident. In fact, an organization called the Islamic Party of Turkestan has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Shanghai and Kunming and has declared in a video that it will target the Olympics with terrorist attacks.
However, China has some degree of responsibility to bear if separatists were behind the attack. China annexed the Uighur region during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Its language and cultural traditions are different from those of the Han Chinese. Uighur separatists believe that the Chinese government is destroying their religion and traditions and is plundering its natural resources, just like it is doing with Tibet. Having so many minorities, the Chinese government surely must have some deep agonizing to do, but the resistance movements in Tibet and Xinjiang show you that the current high-handed approach is not going to quiet the independence movement.
The Chinese government’s rush to move irregular workers who have come from the countryside to earn their livelihoods in Beijing away from the city and back to their hometowns under the pretext of preventing acts of terrorism is similar to its high-handed policies towards ethnic minorities, in that it is not respecting its own people. No one watching the Olympics wants to see this festival of the world’s people celebrated atop the tears of the people of the host nation. Both ethnic minorities and the poor need to be included in the definition of “one” humanity. China must not use this incident as an excuse to oppress Uighurs or the poor.
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