New report highlights assimilative language policy through firsthand accounts
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) issues a Chinese-language version of its report on the 2009 unrest in Urumchi
For immediate release
July 5, 2012, 03:36AM EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 478 1920
On the third anniversary of the unrest that took place on July 5, 2009 in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkestan, the Uyghur American Association (UAA) is releasing the Chinese-language version of UHRP’s report Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices From The 2009 Unrest In Urumchi. The report, published in English in 2010, examines the unrest through the accounts of Uyghur eyewitnesses. Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices From The 2009 Unrest In Urumchi also investigates the economic, social and political factors that set the context for the unrest, as well as the information lockdown that followed.
UAA hopes to engage the international Chinese-speaking community in dialogue regarding the events of 2009 and the state of ethnic relations in East Turkestan today. This is especially important as, three years after the unrest, “ethnic harmony” in the region only exists in official propaganda, and key government officials have actively worked to exacerbate tensions between Han Chinese and Uyghurs, in spite of “ethnic unity” propaganda. The region remains subject to intense security crackdowns, and the security presence has been heightened in Urumchi to mark the anniversary of the July 5 unrest. Chinese officials have thus far refused to allow independent investigators to visit East Turkestan to allow a comprehensive accounting of the events in Urumchi.
Violence that was perpetrated by Uyghurs, Chinese and Chinese security forces in July and September 2009 in Urumchi should be condemned. However, Chinese officials have aggressively portrayed the unrest in Urumchi solely as an episode of “smashing, looting and burning” carried out by Uyghur rioters who attacked Chinese residents of the city. Missing from Chinese official narratives have been accounts of a terrifying police crackdown on peaceful Uyghur demonstrators on July 5, resulting in an untold number of dead; the indiscriminate nature of detentions and forcible disappearances that were carried out beginning that evening; and the attacks that were carried out on members of the Uyghur community by Chinese residents of the city in July and September of 2009.
Residents of Urumchi who spoke to UHRP have described witnessing security forces’ use of deadly live fire against Uyghur demonstrators on July 5, extensive beatings of Uyghurs by civilians in July and September and arbitrary detentions that have exacerbated the growing divide between the Uyghur and Han communities. The accounts provided to UHRP cast sufficient doubt on the Chinese government version of events that should compel an independent and international investigation into the unrest.
On July 5, 2009, in the city of Urumchi, Uyghur men, women and children peacefully assembled in People’s Square to protest government inaction over a deadly attack on Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province.
The details of what happened that day, and over the following months, have been unclear. What is known is that the city erupted into unprecedented unrest that resulted in the deaths of an unknown number of people. In line with accounts provided by UHRP in its report, Amnesty International’s report on the unrest in Urumchi provides accounts of the deaths of Uyghurs at the hands of security forces on July 5. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have also documented the arbitrary, brutal nature of detentions of Uyghurs carried out by armed Chinese security forces in the wake of July 5. Witnesses to the arrests of Uyghurs indicate that the arrests were carried out in violation of Chinese and international law. In the immediate aftermath of the July 2009 unrest, the Chinese government separately blamed anyone from Uyghur overseas forces, mobsters, plotters, separatists and terrorists for fomenting the unrest.
Since July 5, 2009, Chinese officials have spared no effort to silence and intimidate Uyghur voices, and have actively sought to suppress information that contradicts the official narrative. A communications blackout and harsh punishments for Uyghur webmasters and journalists aided official efforts to manage and control information emerging from the region.
This has left the world with scant information about the unrest besides the Chinese government version. Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices from the 2009 Unrest in Urumchi lifts the veil on the Chinese government account of the 2009 unrest. In interviews conducted by UHRP staff, Uyghurs and foreigners who were in Urumchi in July and September 2009 have provided information that starkly contrasts with the government’s version of events.
The report gives a rare insight into Uyghur accounts of the July and September 2009 unrest, as well as the information lockdown and detentions of Uyghurs that occurred during the period. Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices from the 2009 Unrest in Urumchi gives a forum for the Uyghur voice that is seldom heard within China and the outside world.
The Chinese-language version of the report, Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices From The 2009 Unrest In Urumchi, can be downloaded at http://docs.uyghuramerican.