For immediate Release
July 29, 2014, 6:00 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 478 1920
The Uyghur American Association unequivocally condemns the use of excessive state violence used against Uyghurs on Monday, July 28, 2014 in Elishku Township, Yarkent County. According to local Uyghur sources, more than 20 Uyghurs were killed and more than 70 were arrested. Local sources state the Uyghur residents protested en masse against Chinese security forces’ heavy-handed Ramadan crackdown since the beginning of the Holy Month and extrajudicial use of lethal force in recent weeks in the county.
On July 29, Chinese state media reported that a knife-wielding mob killed dozens of Han and Uyghur civilians in an attack that was labeled a “terrorist incident.” Overseas media, such as the Guardian and BBC, explained that the details of the incident provided by Xinhua couldn’t be verified due to tight reporting restrictions. Local authorities have already shut down both the Internet and instant messaging services in Yarkent county.
According to Xinhua, “public security police quickly responded according to the law, and shot dead dozens of thugs.” UAA suspects that the dozens of individuals labeled as “thugs” and killed by police were in fact victims of extrajudicial killings. As little is known of the circumstances of their killing, due to tight restrictions on information, UAA seeks an open investigation into the incident and the loss of dozens of lives.
“China does not want the world to know what occurred on Monday in Elishku Township,” said UAA President Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC. “That state media could label the killing of dozens of people as in line with the law reflects the poor regard the state has for its own laws and judicial process. China’s newly launched one-year anti-terror campaign promises only more bloodshed, as the fundamental causes of Uyghur grievances remain unaddressed.”
Monday marked the celebration of Eid, Roza Heyt in the Uyghur langauge. The festival marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, and is traditionally celebrated by Uyghurs through community assembly and prayer. As reported by the BBC, Reuters and al Jazeera, China’s restrictions on Ramadan this year were particularly harsh, and were met with international condemnation from entities such as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
According to UAA sources in East Turkestan, the incident on July 28 in Elishku Township, which was not reported until the following day by Chinese state media, came shortly after a related incident in nearby Bashkent Township. A protest there on July 18 led to the extrajudicial killing of one Uyghur family, resulting in the flight of many Uyghurs to Elishku, where they participated in a second demonstration. State media has not cited the July 18 protest in its reports and overseas journalists have been unable to obtain any more information about the incident. UAA urges China to allow a transparent investigation into these events.
Last week, Radio Free Asia reported that 17 Uyghurs were imprisoned after protesting the death in April 2014 of 17-year-old Abdulbasit Ablimit in Aksu prefecture, approximately 300 km from Monday’s incident. According to reports, Chinese security forces shot Abdulbasit Ablimit after he ran a red light. UAA condemned the incident as an extrajudicial killing and believes the intensification of security measures in the region has resulted in an alarming trend of shoot-to-kill incidents.
On May 23, 2014, the Chinese government announced a one-year “anti-terror” campaign. Overseas media reports cited Xinjiang party chief, Zhang Chunxian as stating the crackdown will employ “unconventional measures.”
UAA asks the international community to step up its vigilance of deteriorating human rights conditions in East Turkestan and to seek clarification from the Chinese government on credible allegations of extra-legal measures during alleged security operations.